PeopleFaculty, Professor

Erkki Huhtamo

Professor Erkki Huhtamo is a shared professor between the Departments of Design Media Arts, and Film, Television, and Digital Media. He holds a PhD in Cultural History from the University of Turku, Finland. He is a media archaeologist, author, and exhibition curator. At DMA his areas are the history and theory of media culture and media arts. He is internationally known as a pioneer of an emerging approach to media studies called media archaeology. It excavates forgotten, neglected and suppressed media-cultural phenomena, helping us to penetrate beyond canonized "grand narratives" of media culture. Professor Huhtamo pays particular attention to the "life" of topoi, or clichés and commonplaces that emerge over and over again within media history and provide "molds" for new experiences. What may seem new things often prove to be just newly packaged ideas repeated during hundreds and even thousands of years. Professor Huhtamo has applied this approach to phenomena like "peep media" (a notion he has coined), the screen, panoramas and dioramas, video games, and mobile media. He has also written about the work of many media artists, including Paul deMarinis, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Golan Levin, and Bernie Lubell. Professor Huhtamo's most recent books are Media Archaeology. Approaches, Applications, and Implications (ed. with Dr. Jussi Parikka, University of California Press, 2011) and the large monograph Illusions in Motion. Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles (The MIT Press, 2013). He is currently working on a number of new books: a media archaeology of interactive media (The MIT Press, under contract), a history of mechanical theaters and a theoretical volume tentative titled “Media Archaeology as Topos Study.”

Professor Huhtamo has curated numerous exhibitions and events, including the major international exhibition Alien Intelligence (KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, 2000). He has served in many art exhibition and festival juries, including Siggraph, Ars Electronica, and the Interactive Media Festival. His writings have been translated into twelve languages, with new single-authored books in Italian and Japanese coming in 2014-2015. Huhtamo has lectured widely in Europe, the United States, Japan, and elsewhere, and written and directed television series about media culture, including Archaeology of the Moving Image (YLE, The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, 1995-96). Professor Huhtamo has also adapted his ideas to stage works. In 2005-06 he performed a multi-media performance titled Musings on Hands with acclaimed media artists Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman (Tmema) at Waseda University's Ono Memorial Hall, Tokyo, and at the Ars Electronica 2006 festival in Linz, Austria. More recently Professor Huhtamo introduced Mareorama Resurrected, a stage work that features a reconstruction of a nineteenth-century moving panorama and live piano music (performed so far in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Pittsburgh), and From Dole to the Pole, or Professor Huhtamo's Daring Adventures (Los Angeles, 2012). The latter performance features authentic nineteenth-century magic lanterns and hand-painted lantern slides, live music, and 'follies' sound effects. Professor Huhtamo owns an extensive collection of antique optical viewing devices and documents, such as magic lanterns, peep show boxes, camera obscuras, praxinoscopes, kinoras, etc., which he often demonstrates to his students.