Defence of doctoral thesis in the field of Visual Communication Design, MA Arja Karhumaa

The title of the thesis is Epä/igenesis: Tekstin muotoilu uusmateriaalisena kirjoitta/umisena. Tutkielma Y
Press release Arja Karhumaa_ Nocturne

MA Arja Karhumaa will defend the thesis "Epä/igenesis: Tekstin muotoilu uusmateriaalisena kirjoitta/umisena. Tutkielma Y" on 18 June 2021 at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media.

Opponent: Docent Veijo Pulkkinen, University of Helsinki, Finland
Supervisor: Prof. Teemu Leinonen, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media

The public defense will be organized via remote technology. Follow defence:
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Thesis available for public display at:
Doctoral theses in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture:

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Epä/igenesis is an artistic research on typographic text. The purpose of the thesis is to examine the relationship between graphic design and language through gestures of experimental writing.

Ordinary, everyday texts are often regarded invisible, however at the same time, they are recognised already before reading, just by looking. This is especially true in the case of non-linear texts, where the categories of language and image are thus perhaps not as isolated than previous research in different fields has often led to conclude.

This thesis persists in focusing on the material aspects of writing. This persuasion is achieved by Epägenesis, a project in experimental writing which forms the artistic component of the thesis. The project is based on appropriating both text and from found text documents, then rewriting and redesigning those. The title (“Ungenesis”) refers to questions regarding birth and origin, inherent in experimental writing. Can acts of design be seen as writing? Do writing and form have a source of origin? When does writing become design and vice versa?

In the thesis, a multidisciplinary framework is entangled with new materialist thinking, which creates new patterns within previous conceptions of the linearity of text, of content and form, and of authorship. Setting typographic practices and habits within the context of contemporary knowledge, this thesis creates building blocks for a new ”visual epistemology” of text, an understanding how form produces knowledge everywhere, even in typographic writing.

Currently, many domains of knowledge share the urgent need of a better understanding of the networked quality of environments, as well as the epigenetic processes of change and variation. This thesis maps out the connections of writing, printing, and typography at the exact moment when more and more texts are joining digital environments – these are vast networks supporting change and entanglement rather than claims of authorship or point of origin. The Epägenesis project is evidence of the fact that typographic text is never pure language or pure form, but rather, always, an event, which sends out multiple ripples of impact over our shared and public spheres.

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