LASER Talk: Adaptation and Interconnected Agencies

Join us for presentations and an interactive discussion about the transformation of the Arctic imposed by climate change on geopolitical and environmental levels with the artist Kaisu Koivisto, researcher in Arctic identities and politics Ingrid A.Medby, designer and doctoral researcher Emilia Tikka, and Jukka Tuhkuri, professor of ice mechanics at Aalto University.
LASER Talk cover
Photo by Laura Beloff. Graphic design by Federico Simeoni.

This LASER Talk, part of the Designs for a Cooler Planetprogram during Helsinki Design Week, discusses different perspectives on the Arctic and its lifewords, informed by research in the fields of art, design, science and technology. Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) Talks are hosted at Aalto University by the LASER Team: Laura Beloff, Pia Fricker, Ksenia Kaverina, Kirsi Peltonen, Nitin Sawhney and Koray Tahiroğlu

The panel guests – artist Kaisu Koivisto, researcher in Arctic identities and politics Ingrid A.Medby, designer and researcher Emilia Tikka, and professor and ice mechanics researcher Jukka Tuhkuri – are all closely working with the Arctic region and relate to the theme of ADAPTATION with critical questions concerning environmental, geopolitical and perceptual changes affecting living and non-living entities in the region, of which Finland is also a part. The impact of climate change is leading to a significant range of transformations in the Arctic, for example by allowing new transportation routes to emerge that will impact both local and global situations on many levels. Brief presentations by speakers are followed by a discussion and Q&A with the audience. 

The event is co-hosted by Laura Beloff, Professor of Visual Culture and Artistic Practices and Pia Fricker, Professor of Practice, Computational Methodologies in Landscape Architecture and Urbanism, and coordinated by Ksenia Kaverina, curator and doctoral candidate at Aalto University.

Join the speakers on Zoom (link above) or watch on YouTube LEONARDO / ISAST channel.

Art Electronica 2021

The live talk is also part of the programme Garden LEONARDO LASER: [Anti]disciplinary Topographies in Ars Electronica. More on the festival programme, featuring the LASER Hosts Global Network here

The event is made possible with the support of Aalto Networking Platform.


Kaisu Koivisto
Photo by Antonina Savvinova

Kaisu Koivisto (FIN)

Kaisu Koivisto is a visual artist based in Helsinki, Finland. The thematic focus of her artistic practice is rooted in the notions of place, history and landscape, and in the different ways in which environments are represented, commodified and stereotyped. In her works, she incorporates installations, photography, sculptures and video.

Koivisto’s interests are deeply rooted in the North, its landscapes and political dimensions. Her interest in history, as well as the future, has led her to explore abandoned Cold War era military areas in Eastern Europe. New Nuuk is an ongoing project, a visual essay in which she explores the urbanisation of Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.

Ingrid Agnete Medby
Photo by Davis Strait

Ingrid Agnete Medby (UK)

Dr Ingrid A. Medby is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Newcastle University (UK). Her research focuses on the intersection between Arctic geopolitics and identity, and in particular how political actors re-narrate state histories, futures, and territories as ‘Arctic’.

In her work, she is interested in exploring agency in questions of Arctic futures and geopolitics, and how political decisions are made (and unmade) in a time of rapid climatic change. She has published in international journals such as Political Geography and Antipode, and is currently working on a monograph.

Emilia Tikka
Photo by

Emilia Tikka (FIN)

Emilia Tikka is a transdisciplinary designer and researcher. Her work explores philosophical dimensions and cultural implications of novel genome editing technology CRISPR, engaging with questions of human biomedical enhancement.

In this frame, her current research and writing focuses on investigating human-nature-technology relations in technoscientific discourse. Her practice combines critical storytelling, lab experiments and speculative design – aiming to generate alternative modes of knowledge production in technoscientific cultures. Her on-going PhD research project Xeno-Genealogies is funded by the Finnish Kone Foundation.

Jukka Tuhkuri
Photo by Adolfo Vera

Jukka Tuhkuri

Jukka Tuhkuri is a Professor of Solid Mechanics at Aalto School of Engineering. His main research interest is in ice mechanics and he is studying ice through laboratory experiments, field experiments and numerical simulations. He has been a visiting scientist in Canada, the USA and the UK. He is the editor of the journal Cold Regions Science and Technology and is the leader of COLHUB, a Nordic Research Infrastructure Hub on cold climate engineering. Tuhkuri has studied ice at 78 degrees North and 70 degrees South. He has met three polar bears and hundreds of penguins.


Laura Beloff
Photo by Laura Beloff

Laura Beloff (FIN)

Is an internationally acclaimed artist and a researcher in the cross-section of art, technology and science. Additionally to research papers, articles and book chapters, her research outcomes are in the form of process-based installations, wearable artefacts, and experiments with scientific methods that deal with the merger of technological and biological matter at large. Her research engages with such areas as human enhancement, biosemiotics, biological matter, artificial life, and artificial intelligence, robotics, and information technology in connection to art, humans and society. Currently, she holds a position at Aalto University's School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Beloff has been the chair of LASER Talks in Helsinki/Espoo since 2020.

More information

Photo by Anne Kinnunen
Photo by Anne Kinnunen

Pia Fricker (DE/FIN) 

Pia Fricker serves as Professor of Practice and Vice Head of the Department of Architecture at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture. She holds the Professorship of Computational Methodologies in Landscape Architecture and Urbanism and directs the interdisciplinary Urban Studies and Planning Programme at the Department of Architecture.

More information

Aalto University joined the list of LASER Talks hosts in 2020. The Aalto LASER-team decided to have a continuous theme of Adaptation throughout the year; this focus-topic is investigated from diverse perspectives within the four LASER Talks in 2021. The first talk Adaptation and Bodies in Context focused on critical questions concerning human evolution, our abilities to adapt to the future conditions and understand models produced by sciences, as well as on the topical questions of changes in our lives, attitudes and expectations impacted by the pandemic. You can watch the recording on YouTube.

During COVID-19, we convene online, and the programme of the future talks will be announced in 2021. The aim is to organise 2-4 LASER Talks every year at Aalto. If you are interested in giving a LASER Talk at Aalto, please send an abstract to [email protected]i.

LASER Talks series at Aalto University is organised by:

  • Laura Beloff, Professor of Visual Culture and Artistic Practices
  • Pia Fricker, Professor of Practice, Computational Methodologies in Landscape Architecture and Urbanism
  • Ksenia Kaverina, Doctoral Candidate in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Kirsi Peltonen, Senior University Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis
  • Nitin Sawhney, Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer Science, and
  • Koray Tahiroğlu, Academy Research Fellow in the Department of Media.

The mission of LASER is to encourage contribution to the cultural environment of a region by fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and opportunities for community building to over 40 cities worldwide.


The mission of LASER is to encourage contribution to the cultural environment of a region by fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and opportunities for community building to over 40 cities worldwide.

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Visual designer Merle Karp made this collage with AI, using photos by Mikko Raskinen, Anne Kinnunen and Aleksi Poutanen.

Aalto Networking Platform

The Aalto Networking Platform brings together research expertise across departments, supporting collaboration both inside and outside of Aalto.

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Networking at Aalto

Past events

Laser Talks Helsinki Espoo Aalto University

LASER Talks: Adaptation and Bodies in Context

In what ways are we (humans) as a species able to adapt to the changes in our habitat and environment? And what does that imply?

Abstract image of rectangular shapes with a LASER Espoo / Helsinki logo in the centre.

LASER Talks: Adaptation and Space

Under the theme ‘Adaptation and Space’ this LASER Talk at Aalto University will intersect different practices and discourses as heterogeneous but complementary articulations of ‘space’, that address, operate on and contribute, in different ways and capacities, to the transformation of the contemporary environment and its challenges: the social, the infrastructural, the technological, the sensory, the virtual, the built and the unbuilt.

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