Art of Research Conference 2017: Art as Catalyst!

Posted on February 2018


The Empirica research group, together with the Aalto University, Department of Art and Department of Film and Scenography had the pleasure to host the 6th Art of Research Conference in November 29-30.

This year the conference addressed the agency of the artist-researcher as a catalyst, that challenges established ideas and produces new thinking through artistic and practice-led research and posed the questions:

– How do artistic research activities act as catalysts in the domain of different praxes?

– How can ideas and/or practices of catalysis be considered within a particular research processes, or in relation to larger contexts and realms of art, politics and society?

We received contributions from as many as 28 countries across all five continents of the world. Through the double-blind peer review we made a selection of 26 papers that were presented in the conference. Subject matters stretched from personal knowledge to societal activism, from the material agency and the individual making processes to collaborative and multimodal expressions.

All contributions are available on our conference website:

We also have plans to publish an electronic Conference proceeding including an Editorial and the Keynote speeches in due time.

Our high-profile keynotes; Tim Ingold, Dorita Hannah and Mona Livholts epitomised the theme of the conference through their grounding work in Knowing, Processing and Presenting artistic reflections. Tim Ingold talked about the Art of paying attention, Dorita Hannah about Processes of performance and Mona Livholts about the Writing subject, a topic much discussed also in the presenting of artistic research through the format of text.

We are processing the video recordings of these Keynotes at the moment and hope to be able to publish them on the conference website in the near future.

Keynote by Tim Ingold. Image by Camilla Groth. His lecture can be viewed from here


Keynote by Mona Livholts. Image by Camilla Groth. Her lecture can be viewed from here


The conference venue itself, the Dipoli building in the Aalto University Otaniemi campus, designed by architects Reima and Raili Pietilä, concretisised the topic of art as catalyst as these architects pushed the boundaries of their time through their art work. As such this building suited the conference perfectly and the atmosphere was set for intriguing conversations.

One of the rooms in Dipoli. Image by Matti Hämäläinen


The conference also hosted two artistic performances, one by a Doctoral Candidate of Aalto University; Jon Irigoyen, and another by professional Dancer Carmen Ohlson.

Dance Performance by Carmen Ohlson. Image by Priska Falin.


Following the Art of Research tradition, the significance of the creative output in the form of the artefact was acknowledged. Therefore, we had also this year included an exhibition, consisting of the related artefacts of the paper presentations. This enabled the audience to gain a fuller comprehension of the research undertaken, including also the implicit meanings embodied and communicated through these artefacts.

Detail from the exhibition. Image by Julia Valle.