INTRODUCTION >› back to menu

CITY SETS Seminar – Visual Urban Identities
15–16 November 2010

Media Centre Lume, Sampo Hall
Hämeentie 135 C, 00510 Helsinki

Watch live stream

City Sets media player:

Aalto University School of Art and Design
in collaboration with DIMEKE Content Development for Digital Media and Aalto University Media Factory

City Sets is a metaphor that refers to cities as stages where passers-by are seen as actors. People with different motives come to cities to live, work, do business, spend free time and meet other people. These encounters have inspired many artists and designers from filmmakers and photographers to writers and architects.

The architecture of an urban environment tells history and frames places, which can be seen as stages for various episodes and happenings to come about. Quarters in a town differ according to their histories and functions and although the architecture is relatively permanent, the atmosphere of a place changes with lightning and weather. The character of Helsinki is different in summer and winter months and the visual identity seems to vary when a spectator moves from one quarter to another.

Advertising and signage in a city can be seen as sets, which also influence the appearance of a place. The signage is set to inform people, to direct traffic or to identify buildings and companies. Outdoor advertisements and posters are topical information but their purpose may also be to persuade, entertain and tell stories. These city sets together with the architecture, history and people create the identity and narrative of a city.

The City Sets seminar takes a look into these identities and narratives of cities as portrayed in visual practice, research and new media. It also presents and discusses the results of the Aalto University School of Art and Design workshop 8-12 Nov 2010, in which these subjects are investigated by art and design students through the realisation of a multiple-point-of-view web narrative of Helsinki and its visual identity. The seminar also functions as a kick-off for larger national and international collaboration on the themes in order to formulate a European wide CITY SETS project.

City Sets – multi-linear urban identities is a collaborative research and education initiative to explore visual urban identities and narration in cities worldwide and particularly in Europe. The outcome of the CITY SETS project will be an interactive multi-linear online installation to be developed into a Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 event in the context of the Cumulus Helsinki conference May 2012 via collaboration with various international art and design universities. The City Sets project has received preliminary funding from Aalto University Media Factory.

Posted in pages, Uncategorized | Comments Off



Practical issues:
Virpi Vihervuori, virpi.vihervuori(at)

You can also contact the organisers about the seminar:
Marja Seliger – marja.seliger(at)
Mika Tuomola – mika.tuomola(at)

Participation to the seminar is free, but requires registration before 5.11.2010.

Registered participants

Posted in pages | Comments Off


Navigaatioankkuri – ÄLÄ POISTA!


MONDAY 15.11.2010

10:00 Opening of the seminar Abstract
Professor D.A. Lily Díaz, Aalto University

10:15 Observing the Observed – learning about cities from cinema and moving image experimentations Abstract
Dip Arch PhD. François Penz, University of Cambridge

11:00-11.20 Urban screens and media facades – a new context for artists, curators and audiences Abstract
Media Researcher, Director, Minna Tarkka, M-cult centre for new media culture

11:25-11.45 Affective Reconfigurations – Case: At Hand Abstract
Media Artist Heidi Tikka Aalto University

11:45 Introduction: Walking Tour to Arabianranta Abstract
Art Director Tuula Isohanni, Arabianranta

12:00 LUNCH

13:00 Walking Tour to Arabianranta
Art Director Tuula Isohanni, Arabianranta

14:30 Multiplicity & Visual Identities in Cities Abstract
Designer Evert Ypma, Evert Ypma & Accociates

15:15 COFFEE

15:45 City Space for Media, Art and Design Abstract
Researcher D.A. Marja Seliger, Aalto University

16:30-17:15 City Sounds Abstract
Researcher D.A. & sound artist
Koray Tahiroğlu, Aalto University

TUESDAY 16.11.2010

10:00 Workshop Introduction: Staged City and Choral Narrative Abstract
Workshop tutors: Mika Tuomola and Marja Seliger

10:30 Student Presentations 1-4 Abstract
15 min each, 15 min Q&A and feedback
Suse Miessner & Heikki Nuutinen – video
Mina Arko & Teresa Winter – video
Benjamin Dromey & Anna Nyyssönen – video
Satoko Hinomizu & Li Jian – video

12:30 LUNCH

13:30 Panel & Discussion: Cities as Audiovisual Narratives
François Penz, Koray Tahiroğlu & Evert Ypma
interviewed and audience chaired by Marja Seliger and Mika Tuomola

14:30 Closing Statement: Seminar summary
 & future work
Lily Díaz and later confirmed participant

15:00 COFFEE fare well

15:30 City Sets Working Session
For the speakers and participants, who want to do the City Sets workshop in their home institution and develop the project further.

Posted in pages | Comments Off


Navigaatioankkuri – ÄLÄ POISTA!


François Penz, an architect by training, teaches in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge where he is a Reader in Architecture and the Moving Image. Read more.

Tuula Isohanni is a Doctor of Arts working for the City of Helsinki as Art Coordinator and Consultant for the Arabianranta. Read more.

Evert Ypma is designer, researcher, and strategist on identity questions, image politics and creative innovation. He is based in Zurich and Amsterdam. Read more.

Marja Seliger
is a senior researcher at Aalto University School of Art and Design. Read more.

Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola is artistic researcher, concept designer, writer, dramaturge and director – and occasional performer – for procedural, participatory New Media. Read more.

M. Koray Tahiroğlu is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the Department of Media, School of Art and Design Aalto University, practices art as a researcher focusing on embodied approaches to sonic interaction in participative music experiencing as well as a performer of live electronic music. Read more.

Lily Díaz is an artist, designer, and researcher working in the area of informatics and interactive digital media. Read more.

Heidi Tikka is an artist, and researcher working on participatory and site-specific new media projects. Read more.

Minna Tarkka is media researcher, producer and director of m-cult, centre for new media culture in Helsinki.  Read more.

Posted in pages | Comments Off