3 Keynotes: Helsinki, Overseas & on Naissaar

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Keynotes this year are on the following themes: New Media Art & Culture in Asia, Tallinn-Helsinki & Feminist Economics

Three keynote speakers have been invited to give presentations at three different festival locations: Escher Tsai, founder and artistic director of ‘microplayground’ (Taiwan), associated with D.I.Y./D.I.W.O., open source, creative commons and creative industry, will present in Helsinki on 16.5 at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. Spatial Intelligence Unit’s and Kristi Grišakov’s keynote is the first public Tallinn-Helsinki twin city presentation and discussion to be held on a common ground, an in-between place – the ferry between the two cities on 17.5. On Naissaar, rumoured to be “Terra Feminarum” (the island’s Estonian name literally translates as ‘island of women’), Mary Mellor, Social Science Professor at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) will address issues of alternative, green and feminist economics.

South of the Border_The Development of New Media Art under the Frame of Free Culture

Keynote presentation by:  Escher Tsai (Taiwan)
Location: Finnish Art Academy auditorium, Kaikukatu 4, Helsinki
Date: 16.5 at 18.00
Video stream: http://bambuser.com/v/3594072

Taiwan has long been related to technological terms and products. Given such a strong first impression in the past few years, it makes me think if there is any inter-relationship between technology and new media art in Taiwan. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) has been declining, and a huge increase of creative consumption would further stimulate this country to acquire talents from all sorts of fields and industries, namely product research, marketing and interaction design. How much more effort do we really need to put to deepen the belief that new media art really isn’t any of them?

Playaround workshop, founded in 2008, educates local people with its core spirit, free, open and share FLOSS (Free / Libre Open Source Software). Applying untraditional methods to sharing knowledge and teaching new media art courses has successfully open up unexpected opportunities for people from different backgrounds. Playaround, Technomad, DIWO Culture and Space Colonization are the previous four workshops that have encouraged local enthusiasts respectively. Pure Data, Open Lab and Bioart communities in Taiwan were formerly supported and educated by these free culture workshops.

Other than Taiwan, new media art in Asian countries, such as China and Hong Kong, is affected by free culture and transformed into a newborn hybrid. What are the impacts? Would an industrial boom in trends such as Open Space, Hacker Space and Fablab bring in mutually beneficial results? Are we able to rethink and digest the significance and change between technology development, and new media art creation?

Escher Tsai, Master of Art History of National Taiwan University of Art. He devotes himself into digital art research, promotion and creation. He was project manager of Acer Digital Art Centre, planner of many digital arts creation and centre, host of Digital art exchange platform, creative director of microplayground.

Established by Escher Tsai and Keith Lam, well-known curator and artist from Taiwan and Hong Kong, Dimension+ is a creative team that devotes themselves to the interactive digital environment. We are constantly been generating new ideas that deal with digital and analog technologies. We also dedicate ourselves to digital art education and environment change.

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Twin city of Talsinki/Hellinn – between borders, visions and reality

Keynote presentation by:  Spatial Intelligence Unit & Kristi Grišakov (EE/FI)
Location: Viking Ferry between Tallinn & Helsinki (conference room)
Date: 17.5 at 22.30
Video documentation: http://vimeo.com/67372639

This keynote presentation is concentrating on the connection and communication between two capital cities Tallinn and Helsinki, both located in the Baltic Sea Region and separated by 78km distance between them. This presentation will offer a unique opportunity to peek into the most mobile unit of Talsinki/Hellinn for just one night. For the first time a public Tallinn-Helsinki twin city presentation and discussion will be held on “common ground”, an in-between place – the ferry.

Since Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the connections between the two countries and capital cities have intensified. The physical distance between Tallinn and Helsinki has almost disappeared due to the intensive traffic and communication flows. There are more than 7 million trips made between Tallinn and Helsinki in a year. As Tallinn has become a Nordic gateway and transit destination for Eastern riches and Helsinki locates close to a technology hub, in the land of Nokia and Angry Birds, then one could easily envision these national capital cities forming a single functional entity.

The future of city pairs reaching towards each other has been a topic of lively yet somewhat episodic discussion since the early 1990s, with persistent talks about a twin-city as well of viewpoints emphasizing strong interaction without twinning. There have also been ironic speculations about whether the city pair should in future be called Talsinki or Hellinn. One persistent topic that has evolved in connection with the plans of cross-border cooperation has been the undersea tunnel, meant to be uniting and further integrating the two cities. While Talsinki is a reality for tens of thousands of regular commuters and a inspiration for dozens of scenarios, visions and research projects, it remains to be an intangible and under represented entity – like an urban legend believed by some and ignored by others. This presentation will introduce the story of Talsinki/Hellinn through the perspective of conflicting narratives derived from our fellow passengers and a variety of research projects to search for new opportunities for the future of these connecting cities.

Spatial Intelligence Unit is a research group focusing on human abilities to comprehend, analyse and conceive spatial structures. Space and structures are analysed at scales where human interactions are perceived and can be studied. Established as a anthropocentric discipline, our approach considers spatial modifications as an outcome of human actions and interactions; vice-versa it also studies how spatial structures are influencing humans and their behaviours. Our background and experience in urban and regional planning will be expanded towards an interdisciplinary approach, in order to swell our range of research questions and bring different academic fields under one body of expertise. By opening our practice to art-research and design, we mean to approach also research questions what can be explored only by debate or practice.

Kristi Grišakov is PhD researcher in the Aalto University School of Engineering, Land Use and Urban Studies Group. She has B.A. in Art History and M.A in European Urban Cultures. Her current research topic is looking into the use of digital tools in the process of planning border­crossing regions of Europe, in particular Helsinki and Tallinn. Scientific interests also include Future Studies, specifically scenario planning for urban areas. Additionally to running courses in Aalto University, is also coordinating a master course in European Urban Cultures (POLIS) in Estonian Academy of Arts, Department of Architecture.

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Sustaining Life: From ‘Economic Man’ to ‘Women’s Work’

Keynote presentation by: Mary Mellor (UK)
Location: Naissaar (EE)
Date: 18.5 at 20.00
Video documentation: http://vimeo.com/66843011

‘Economic man’ symbolizes modern economies. ‘He’ (who may be a she) is rational, calculating, driven by a desire for money, power, ownership and insatiable consumption. ‘Women’s work’ (which may be done by a man) represents what ‘Economic Man’ leaves behind, the physical embodiment of humanity and its embeddedness in nature.

While ‘Economic Man’ seeks to turn nature into money, women’s work is sustaining of life. Modern economies are gendered in that they have been constructed without reference to the lives and experience of work in the home, community and subsistence non-market sector. Equally, modern economies do not take account of their reliance on the resource base and resilience of the natural world. As a result, these are exploited and damaged.  Women’s work and lives beyond the formal economy, like the natural world, is disregarded. As a result, human societies are unbalanced and lopsided, yet without the work of women and nature they would not be able to exist.

An ecologically sustainable economy would start from the embodiment and embeddedness of human lives, from the life of the body and the ecosystem.  It would start from women’s work and the vitality of the natural world. Prioritizing the life-world of women’s work would mean that patterns of work and consumption would be sensitive to the human life cycle. Necessary production and exchange would be fully integrated with the dynamics of the body and the environment. Providing necessary goods and services (provisioning) would be the main focus of the economy in which all work would be fulfilling and shared. Work and life would not be separated.

Money is the key mechanism that separates modern economies from all the unpaid work done in the home and community representing care, reciprocity and the production and maintenance of human beings, as well as the intrinsic value of nature. The global financial crisis creates an opportunity to question the priorities of modern economies and their money systems. One solution is to abolish money but this is only practical on a small scale. For large scale economies it will be necessary to challenge the way the current money system has distorted the idea of value and replace it with a democratized money system that would enable large scale economies to move towards the development of an ecologically sustainable and socially-just economy.

Mary Mellor is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Languages at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK, where she was founding chair of the Sustainable Cities Research Institute. She is also a founding member of the recently formed World Economics Association. She has published extensively on ecofeminism, ecofeminist political economy, social economics, money and finance, financial exclusion, co-operation and sustainable cities. Her books include  The Future of Money: From Financial Crisis to Public Resource (Pluto 2010) and The Politics of Money: Towards Sustainability And Economic Democracy  (Pluto 2002 with Frances Hutchinson and Wendy Olsen) Feminism and Ecology (Polity 1997). She has addressed audiences in many parts of the world on ecofeminism and alternative economics and her work has been translated into many languages.

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