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Mauri Ylä-Kotola

Mauri Tapani Ylä-Kotola
Born September 18, 1971, Mikkeli

Master of Arts 1996, Licentiate 1996 PhD 1998 (theoretical philosophy), University of Helsinki

Rector, University of Lapland 2006–
Rector, 2006–06, Academy of Fine Arts
Dean, 1999–05, University of Lapland Faculty of Art
Professor of media science 1997–, University of Lapland Faculty of Art (leave of absence 2005–)
Lecturer in art and media and communications studies 1996–97, University of Lapland

Positions of responsibility:
Board member 1999–2003, European Master in Multimedia and Audiovisual Business Administration (EMMABA)
Vice-chairman 2005–, European Institute for a Sustainable Information Society
Board member, 2003–, CITI Media Lab, New University of Lisbon
Chairman of the Lapland Regional fund 2007–13, Finnish Cultural Foundation
Chairman 2007–13, FinELib, National Digital Library
Chairman 2008–11, European Master in Art and Culture Management (EMACIM)
Chairman 2009–12, Lapin Elämystuotanto Osakeyhtiö
Chairman 2010–, Särestöniemi Museum Foundation
Board member 2010–, Seppo Säynäjäkankaan tiedesäätiö (science foundation)
Vice-chairman 2012–, The Fine Arts Academy of Finland
Board member 2013–, Lapinmaan kiinteistöyhtiö
Chairman 2013–, Rovalan setlementti (local settlement )
Chairman 2013–, Rovalan Kiinteistöyhtiö

Selected publications:
Mitä on mediatiede? (‘What is media science?’), University of Lapland 1999.
Mediakasvatus simulaatiokulttuurissa (’Media education in a simulation culture,’ together with Juha Suoranta) WSOY 2000
The Integrated Media Machine I–IV (published as a tetralogy) EDITA 2000–2004
“Morphological Idealism, Kant and Historical Senses”, in I. Kant and M. Bakhtin: Perpetual Peace and Dialogue. Murmansk State Humanities University 2014.

Selected work of art:
The radio opera Takaisin Xanaduun (‘Return to Xanadu’ together with Hannu Puttonen), Radio Theatre, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)

Honorary PhD, Urbana University (Ohio, USA)
Honorary professor, University of Murmansk, 2009 (Russian Federation)

Photo: Arto Litti
Written by Olli Siitonen

Translated by Matthew Billington

Media Studies and Art

At the University of Helsinki, Mauri Ylä-Kotola wrote his Master’s thesis on the philosophy of the motion picture. His interest in media studies had grown ever deeper during his student days. In the mid-1990s, he ended up as a teacher at the University of Lapland, where Media Studies had been established as an independent subject at the Faculty of Art and Design in 1992. He became Professor of Media Studies in 1997, at time when when the crucial question had become how to define the discipline in the context of applied arts. With Professor Ylä-Kotola at the helm, the subject produced Masters and Doctors of Arts (Art and Design).

“In the definition process, I employed the idea of a “design science.” The basic idea of media studies became a progression; if you want result A in situation B, then do X. For example, since in the 1990s video games were still mostly a hobby for boys, we studied how to go about making computer games for girls in the cultural climate of the day”.

Media studies students created such things as a virtual model of winter, funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

“In the project we used CAVE technology to project scenes from Lapland onto the interior walls of the trailer of an articulated lorry. Visitors had to wrap up warmly, since the temperature inside was kept at -30 degrees. The trailer toured Europe, appearing at the likes of the Da Vinci Museum in Milan and the La Villette Science Museum in Paris.

The University of Lapland’s media studies and industrial design students also used a web-based projection technique to create a Room of Silence for Finland’s pavilion at the Expo 2000 World Fair in Hanover, Germany.

“As a humanities scholar, I have always been interested in the history of the senses. Virtual reality can be understood as a kind aggregate of the individual senses. Rather than VR glasses I am more interested in projection technology that projects a reality around the viewer. This environment created by technology changes and reacts as a person moves in the space.

Professor Ylä-Kotola moved from Rovaniemi to Helsinki to become Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in 2005. In the early 2000s, new media art had already risen to rival the traditional arts of painting, printmaking, and sculpture, and students wanted to utilise new technology in their work.

“Being Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts was stimulating. Unfortunately mildew problems in the Academy building and some other administrative issues swallowed far too much of my time.”

Photo: Mauri Pänttäjä.


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