Aalto ARTS Summer School explores the significance of water through the lens of art

The theme of School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s Summer School this year is water, and its significance is explored in a multidisciplinary way through the perspectives of art, film and digital.
Nine large blocks of ice formed an art installation at Kansalaistori square in Helsinki 2021
Erkko Aarti and Cecilia Damström's artwork Indisputable Case of Emergency (ICE) at Kansalaistori square in Helsinki 2021 raised the issue of the climate change

The Summer School theme "Embodied Water" invites participants to delve into the issues of water and explore its cultural, environmental and socio-economic dimensions.

Through interdisciplinary collaboration, the goal is to explore the societal challenges related to water and to raise awareness of both global and local water issues. The aim is to redefine our understanding of water, seeing it not only as a natural resource but also as a catalyst for social change.

By crossing the boundaries between art, technology and design, participants will be able to find innovative solutions to water-related challenges. 

Designed as an immersive experience for art, media and film students, the summer school aims to go beyond conventional boundaries by combining dramaturgical and cinematic storytelling, digital tools and artificial intelligence with data visualisation, game design, film and virtual reality, among others.

‘We want to harness the power of data visualisation and use augmented reality and virtual reality to create immersive stories that make it easier to understand the role of water in our collective consciousness’, says Professor Rupesh Vyas from Aalto University's Department of Art and Media.

‘The Summer School brings together the visual storytelling tools of film and cinematography with the fresh perspectives of students and university film experts. We will approach the theme of water and the pervasive importance of water to our ecosystem as a cinematic emotion, deepening our understanding of visual dramaturgy’, says Professor Rauno Ronkainen from the Department of Film.

‘In the rehearsals, we will make use of the maritime dimension of the metropolitan area, collaborating with various external actors with the aim of creating different visualisations to illustrate the human relationship with water on emotional and analytical levels.’

Multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary cooperation

During the two-week course, students explore the water theme through digital and artistic perspectives at Aalto University's Otaniemi campus. The students' collaborative projects combine lectures, design, research, workshops and practical work in international working groups. The programme also includes visits including the Blominmäki water treatment plant in Espoo and the Helsinki and Espoo archipelago.

The Aalto ARTS Summer School is organised in cooperation with a wide network of partners.

Aalto University’s (FI) partners for the 2024 Summer School are Politecnico di Milano (IT)
New York University, Game Center, Tisch School of The Arts (NY, US), Technologico de Monterrey (MX), University of Lusofona (PT), National Institute of Design (IN), Singapore University of Technology and Design, SUTD (SG), National Film and Television School (UK), University of Technology Delft (NL), The New School, Parsons School of Design (NY, US) and Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IR).

At Aalto, the Summer School is designed and implemented by the Department of Arts and Media and the Department of Film. Partners such as the John Nurminen Foundation are also involved.

The summer school will take place from 18 to 30 August at Aalto University's Otaniemi campus and will be preceded by a seminar on 11 June and independent study during the summer. The results of the Summer School will be presented in an exhibition on the Aalto University campus during Helsinki Design Week in September 2024.

The Aalto ARTS Summer School has received funding from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation for 2020–2025.

Contact information: 

Venla Luukkonen, Summer School Coordinator, [email protected] 

Iina Ekholm, Head of International Relations, [email protected]


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