The Systems of Representation group conducts research into representation, culture, and knowledge in the digital dimension. The group works on research and design projects, educational activities, and publishes frequently on topics such as cultural heritage, design research, new media, synthetic reality and simulation.

Research Topics

methods and tools
The group created some of the first implementations of Self-Organizing (SOM) Map algorithms for visualisation of cultural heritage.
The group created digital facsimiles of two of the most important maps in the history of cartography, namely the Carta Marina of 1539 by Olaus Magnus and the Map of Mexico 1550. The group also created the Image Annotation Notebook (Imanote) tool for gigapixel browsing.
cultural heritage
The group has a portfolio of projects that showcases the use of digital design and virtual reality for heritage and creative industries. We created the first interactive VR installation of the Pavilion of Finland at the 1900 World Fair in Paris.

Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Design Museum Helsinki, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Royal Academy of Arts London, Uppsala University Library in Sweden, AIA New York | Center for Architecture and most recently Oodi Public Library in Helsinki among others, are some of the places in which where we have exhibited our work.

3D user interface & experience design We have experience and conduct research in the area of virtual reality. At the moment we are developing a minor subject of studies in this area at Media Lab, Aalto University.
Activity Theory
in art and design
We have successfully used methods based on Activity Theory for collaborative art and design projects.


About representation

Representation touches diverse areas of study and research such as: art, art history, design, history, information design, literary theory and narrative, media studies, philosophy, politics, postcolonial studies, semiotics, visualization, and visual culture.

In art and design, representation is about understanding of how the different facets in an art (or design) work come together to create meaning. In digital media representation involves the additional aspect of translation of such facets into patterns that are essentially numerical.