Aalto Math & Arts in Shanghai Future Lab exhibition

The exhibition introduces the interdisciplinary Math & Arts program, Crystal Flowers in Halls of Mirrors, to visitors
Math & Arts
Photo: Juho-Pekka Virtanen

Aalto Math & Arts in Shanghai Future Art Lab exhibition is a joint effort of three schools of Aalto University:  School of Arts, Design and Architecture, School of Science and School of Engineering.

'The focus of our contribution in the exhibition is to introduce the interdisciplinary Math & Arts program, especially its underlying course Crystal Flowers in Halls of  Mirrors: mathematics, arts and architecture related to activities of the audience', explains Kirsi Peltonen, Adjunct Professor  in Mathematics from  the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis Science.

Past, present & future – the elements of the exhibition

The exhibition concept is designed by Laura Isoniemi, designer and art pedagogue from the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

'In the Future Lab exhibition we have three sections showcasing the development of Aalto Math & Arts program, the Past, Present and Future', Isoniemi says. 

The Past section tells the story of the Aalto Math & Arts program through videos, posters, graphical info material, hands on educational models and ideas related to surface design.

The Present part continues the story by showing the latest course outcomes from the exhibition IN TRANSITION – Mathematics and Art at Espoo Cultural Centre in Finland via textiles and an interactive virtual exhibition realised by the School of Engineering.

The Future part communicates with different workshop outcomes how art and math can collaborate. It presents the pedagogical ideas implemented with students of Tongji-Huangpu School of Design & Innovation, teachers from different schools and universities in China and showcases a large-scale model designed by Taneli Luotoniemi. This sculpture, SPACE HUG, invites the visitor to join a non-stop installation process and build his/her own small-scale model from bamboo sticks.

Participating in the collaborative building process.
Participating in the collaborative building process. Photo: Juho-Pekka Virtanen

The virtual exhibition combines conventional online content with panoramic images, illustrations, augmented reality and 3D scenes.

'By utilising the techniques from 3D geomatics, such as photogrammetry and laser scanning, the virtual exhibition allows the user to study the IN TRANSITION exhibition contents. It also creates a lasting digital footprint for the otherwise temporary event', says Juho-Pekka Virtanen, D.Sc. (Tech.) from the School of Engineering.

The virtual exhibition can be accessed online at:

Math & Arts
Visitors exploring the virtual exhibition on a touch screen. Photo: Juho-Pekka Virtanen

Aalto University Team in Shanghai

  • Saija Hollmén,  Vice Dean , School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Laura Isoniemi, MA, Designer, Art Pedagogue, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
  • Taneli Luotoniemi, Doctor of Arts , School of Science
  • Kirsi Peltonen, Adjunct Professor in Mathematics,  School of Science
  • Juho-Pekka Virtanen, D.Sc. (Tech.), School of Engineering, Research Institute of Measuring and Modeling for the Built Environment

Collaborators in Shanghai

  • West Bund Art Center
  • Tiina Laurila, Head of Creative Curriculum Development, Associate Professor and Senior Adviser for the Tongji College of Design and Innovation
  • Students  and Techers from Tongji-Huangpu School of Design &  Innovation and other schools in Shanghai
  • Students from local universities
  • Sino-Finnish Centre, Tongji University

The production of virtual exhibition has been supported by:

  • 3D Cultural Hub (ERDF)
  • CoE-LaSR (Academy of Finland)
  • STN-Combat (Academy of Finland)
  • 3D-Culture Hub (Aalto University)

Future Lab

Further information on Aalto Math & Arts

There is both a need and an opportunity for students to engage with modern mathematics not contained in the current curriculum. This includes students in not only traditional schools of science and engineering, but also programs in arts and economics. To respond to these needs, Aalto Math & Arts offers a platform where not only students from diverse fields, but also teachers with different backgrounds, can share their ideas and views.

Many recent achievements in mathematics have accessible layers, without heavy prerequisites. As the skills of mathematics are of increasing importance to everybody, we want to create an open and encouraging learning environment for a broader audience than is addressed in conventional courses.

Our goal is to share the beauty of mathematics, that is obvious to researchers in the field, by trying to find common language and places where there is a possibility for deeper investigations. To show that mathematics is not only useful, but also fun, is one of our key motives. Not only mathematics and arts will benefit from this collaboration, but also broad applied fields of physics, computer science and engineering.

At the same time we want to emphasise that the visual methods and possibilities provided by arts are not yet fully understood inside the mathematical community. Through the collaboration at hand we want both to share the breakthroughs of modern mathematics and communicate it through arts for wide audience as well as benefit from the artistic point of views of the subject and potential methods.

The älvdans on the moon bridge. Image: Kalle Kataila.

A fairy dance takes over Kuunsilta: student art exhibition opened at the Espoo Cultural Centre

The exhibition was inspired by the students' own experiences and relationship with the environment, and adapted to fit into the Cultural Centre.

The älvdans on the moon bridge was designed by interior architecture student Yi-Chiao Tien, bioinformation technology student Jannica Savander, arts and business student Alisa Kurganova and design student Tomi Hyyppä. They were familiar with the cultural centre’s architecture and wanted to construct their work in the empty space of the staircase.

‘The work was inspired by misty fields at dawn. In Swedish, this natural phenomenon is called älvdans, fairy dance. Fairy dance is a natural, visual work of art in an empty space through which air flows from one floor to another’, says Jannica Savander.

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