Mika Elo

  • Professor, Kuvataideakatemia, Bildkonstakademin
  • +358503473969


Taiteellisen tutkimuksen professori, Tohtorinkoulutusohjelman johtaja, Tutkimuksen varadekaani


Mika Elo is professor of artistic research at the University of the Arts Helsinki. His research interests include theory of photographic media, philosophical media theory, and epistemology of artistic research. He is participating in discussions in these areas in the capacity of curator, visual artist and researcher.

In 2018–2019 he was leading the Research Pavilion #3 project realised in Helsinki and in Venice in the context of 58th Venice Biennale. In 2009–2011 he worked in the research project (figuresoftouch.com). In 2012-2013 he co-curated the Finnish exhibition Falling Trees at the Biennale Arte 2013 in Venice. Currently he is the PI of one of the research projects in the consortium Post-digital Epistemologies of the Photographic Image. He has also been a member of the editorial boards of RUUKKU (2012– ) tiede&edistys (2010– ) and JAR (2010–2019) over many years.


ajankohtainen opetus / current teaching:

Image research reading group (2021/2022)

In this collegial reading group, we familiarize ourselves with process ontology and consider its implications with regard to image research. Our main reading material will be Isabelle Stengers: Thinking with Whitehead. The participants give introductions to the book chapters in turn. The seminar is linked with the research project Post-digital Epistemologies of the Photographic Image.

Tutkimusseminaari / Research Seminar (2021/2022)

The seminar consists of group discussions on new elements of each participant’s doctoral research. Each doctoral researcher prepares approximately once a year a presentation on their current research and recent developments. The point of reference can be current exhibition or written material worked on. In their turn, the doctoral researchers also prepare all material needed for their own session, coordinate possible invited comments and invite their supervisors to their own session. For the accomplishment of the research seminar an active participation comparable to two years full attendance is required. Presentation at KuvA’s research day can be included in the research seminar credits. If the corona situation requires, the seminar will go online. Co-tecahing with Maiju Loukola and Lea Kantonen.

Tutkijaseminaarissa käydään ryhmässä läpi osallistujien omaan tutkimukseen sisältyviä uusia osioita. Kukin osallistuja valmistaa tutkijaseminaariin noin kerran lukuvuodessa alustuksen, jossa hän esittelee oman tutkimustyönsä etenemistä. Se voi liittyä juuri esillä tai tekeillä olevaan näyttelyyn tai työstettävänä olevaan kirjalliseen materiaaliin. Vuorossa oleva tohtorikoulutettava myös kokoaa tähän istuntoon tarvittavat materiaalit ja koordinoi mahdolliset kommenttipuheenvuorot ja opponoinnit sekä kutsuu paikalle työnsä ohjaaja(t) sekä mahdolliset ulkopuoliset asiantuntijat. Opintokokonaisuuden suorittaminen edellyttää aktiivista osallistumista tutkijaseminaariin vähintään kahden vuoden täyttä osallistumista vastaavan ajan. KuvAn tutkimuspäivillä esiintymisen voi sisällyttää tutkijaseminaarin suoritukseen. Koronatilanteen niin vaatiessa seminaari toteutetaan etänä. Opetus yhdessä Maiju Loukolan ja Lea Kantosen kanssa.

Thesis circle (2021/2022)

During the preparation of their thesis doctoral researchers participate in the thesis circle (in Finnish or English). The Thesis circle (in English) serves as a peer support group for the doctoral researchers who are writing in English, especially in the process of structuring and completing their doctoral thesis during the last two years.

Theme seminar: Sense (2021/2022)

The seminar offers a structured frame for individual study for deepening one’s understanding of the interplay between different dimensions of sense in view of artistic research.

The phenomenon of “artistic research” can be considered as a symptom of a manifold cultural shift. The shift at issue has often been approached in terms of various “turns”: in analogy to the “linguistic” or “cultural turn”, we find the ideas of “practical”, “medial”, “bodily”, “performative” and “non-human turn”. These new research paradigms point to the following experiences: the significance of traditional “cultural techniques” is lost or has changed, the idea of “culture as a text” (as a web of symbolically organized meanings) has become problematic and, finally, the human centered world views have encountered critical limits.
The cultural shift at issue pertains in a particularly strong way to the sensible articulation of sense, its technical-bodily constitution. Therefore, questions highly relevant to art and research come to the fore: What happens now to “art”, the work of which has always been situated at the intersection of all the senses of sense: meaning, feeling, perception, estimation, etc. ? What kind of new possibilities of artistic practice may be found, when the basic relations between experience and knowledge, technics and reality, the human being and nature are changing? In this situation, ”sense” as a thematic issue refers to the question of the place of art and research in a changing culture and to the role of the artist in it.
In order to situate their own work with respect to the challenges of our time, artist-researchers must conceive of the ways in which the aforementioned cultural shift affects the sensible and material as well as technical and institutional contexts of artistic research. In order to develop the possibilities of artistic research in a critical and creative way, we must consider the ongoing changes pertaining to the relations between “art” and “research”, “experience” and “knowledge”, “creativity” and “methods”. We must take into account for instance the basic changes challenging our conceptuality (sensible/ideal, mind/body, human/non-human etc.), the organization of knowledge (archives, taxonomies) and the dimensions of bodily existence (time, space, place). At the same time we must consider how these changes redefine the social situation of the artist in techno-scientific capitalism.

Topics addressed: 1) Philosphical discourse on senses 2) Reading as artistic research parctice 3) Artistic Rresearch as transformative practice of ”sense-making”

Co-teaching with Miika Luoto and Emma Cocker.

Konstnärligt aktivitet

Curatorial work:

2019 RP#3 Infolab, Exhibition laboratory, Helsinki, Finland.

2018–19 Research Pavilion #3, in the context of 58th Biennale in Venice.

2013 Falling Trees. The Finnish exhibitions at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, Venice Italy.

2007 Square Minutes – Young Finnish Photography, Lodz and Leipzig, Poland and Germany.

2004–5 Helsinki Photography Festival, Helsinki, Finland.

1999 Historama 2000, Ruhrlandsmuseum, Essen, Germany [curatorial consultation].

1993 Helsinki Photography Festival [assisting curator].

Performances, interventions:

2018 Commissioned writing for Satu Tuomisto’s dance production Kuusnolla, Stoa, Helsinki.

2018 Visual intervention and Sound Observer (text), and performance in Otso Lähdeoja’s research concert, Music House (Black Box), Helsinki.

2010 Tangents, Forum Box, Helsinki, Finland.

2007 Voice-over supplement to Friedl Kubelka’s film Max Turnheim, Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.

Solo exhibitions:

2017 Kivet ja me / Stones and us, Galleria Lapinlahti, Helsinki, Finland.

2014 What thinking calls?, Gallery Huuto Jätkäsaari, Helsinki.

Group exhibitions:

2021 Allmende, curated by Florian Dombois, https://filmallmende.net/

2020 Cooking for the Apocalypse, curated by Jack Faber, Exhibition laboratory, Helsinki, Finland.

2019 Helsinki encounters, featuring in Ilya Orlov’s exhibition, Academy of Fine Arts Library, Helsinki, Finland.

2019 I Experience as I Experiment – I Experiment as I Experience, curated by Denise Ziegler, Exhibition laboratory, Helsinki, Finland.

2018 Art and computation, curated by Tuomo Rainio, Exhibition laboratory, Helsinki, Finland.

2017 Varasto, curated by Heli Kaskinen, Noora Sandgren and Paula Saraste,Galleria Lapinlahti, Helsinki, Finland.

2016 Academy of Fine Arts Group Show, Exhibition laboratory, Helsinki, Finland.

2011 Otteita / Extracts, Galleria Rantakasarmi, Helsinki, Finland.

2008 Figurations of Knowledge, Villa Elisabeth, Berlin, Germany.

2007 Toisaalta tässä / Here Then, TR1 Tampere, Finland.

2007 Elo – Chagas – Mühlenstedt, Atelierhaus Roter Hahn, Bremen, Germany.

2003 Hospitalities, Voipaala Art Centre, Voipaala, Finland

2002 Künstlerhaus Bremen 10 Years, Bremen, Germany.

1997 Sketches for Arabia shore, Helsinki City Planning Office, Helsinki, Finland.

1996 Synthesis—Young Finnish Photography, Museum for Photographic Art, Helsinki, Finland.

1995 LUMO 95 -Photographic Art Festival, Gallery Becker, Jyväskylä, Finland.

1995 Saarenmaa, Savoy Theatre, Helsinki, Finland.

1994 Still-life, Gallery Vita Havet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Forskning och publikationer

Recent publications

Mika Elo

Peer-reviewed research articles

2021 ”Towards Academic Publishing in Medias Res”. Communicazioni sociali 1/2021. DOI: 10.26350/001200_000107

2018 ”Some works and their afterlife”. RUUKKU – Studies in Artistic Research, Issue 9. https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/229280/229522

2017 Annette Arlander & Mika Elo: ”Ekologinen Näkökulma taidetutkimukseen”, Tiede&edistys 4/2017. 335–346.

2017 ”Kaksi peiliä: Jacques Lacanin optinen skeema ja havainnollistamisen haaste”. Psykoanalyyttinen psykoterapia 13. 20–27.

Edited research publications

2019 Etappeja – Kuvataideakatemina tohtoriohjelma 20 vuotta / Waypoints – The Doctoral Programme at the Academy of Fine Arts 20 Years. Eds. Mika Elo, Lea Kantonen and Petri Kaverma. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki. 225 pages. [includes peer-reviewed articles]

2018 Figures of Touch. Sense, Technics, Body. Eds. Mika Elo and Miika Luoto. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki. 312 pages.  http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-7131-46-6

Publications intended for professional communities

2021 Yhä osuvammin / More and more to the point. Eds. Mika Elo and Denise Ziegler. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts.

2019 ”Fluid dynamics with Walter Benjamin”. Windtunnel Bulletin 10. Eds. Florian Dombois et al. Zurich: ZHdK.

2017 ”Taiteentutkimuksesta taidetutkimukseen”, Tahiti 1/2017.

Publications intended for the general public

2016 ”Taide tuottaa muutosvoimaa”. Kauppalehti, Johtavaa puhetta blogi 4.11.2016.



  • taiteellinen tutkimus
  • valokuvaus
  • mediaestetiikka
  • visuaalinen kulttuuri