University of Art and Design

School of Art Education

VIRT@ MA Program

Vallan merkit- toisenlainen valta / Signs of Power – an Other Power

The notion of power and the challenge to find ideas for new visualizations on this evasive concept is the topic of for the MA course at the School of Art Education. It started in the middle of October 2008. The students that signed up for this optional course, 6 students, all work currently as art teachers around Finland. They finish their MA program in a scheduled two years that runs mostly in virtual learning environments, on the net. Included are also seminars, workshops and meetings at the University of Art and Design, Helsinki, soon to join into a newly established Aalto University.

VIRT@MA welcomes FADD students to collaborate on a common theme: signs of power, developed together with the head of VIRT@MA, Professor Martti Raevaara, Helsinki, Professor Ian Damerell, Oslo, artist Jan Kenneth Weckman, Turku, tutor of the Finnish Signs of Power, together with artist Mika Karhu, Hyvinkää. Here are the urls of the Finnish tutors: and

Together with Ian and Mika, and Esa Salmio, ITC-consultant within the School of Art Education, we run a module together with FADD running from now on to at least end of March 2009. About further collaboration, let´s decide as we move on while working. Why collaborate? Why not? would be one answer. Contemporary art strategies stress narrative approaches, sometimes at the cost of formal quality. One important option for any discussion on contemporary art is to admit the hybrid structure of art works and processes. We are in the open air regarding chosen media, but eventually have to decide on at least the media of presentation, some materials and techniques, some of which could be listed as traditional, some not, secondly we have to give in to visual form in timebased and/or static framework, and last but not least, there is the challenge of meaning production as well as interpretation. This last field of action is a certainly a sign-related process as well. We articulate our ideas combining matters of presentation into narrative solutions. A simple narrative example is our well known image-text hybrid, something the French writer Roland Barthes felt is more than symbiotic, since images never go without their texts, however implicitly.

FADD and UAD tries by establishing a third rail, in blog format, to develop the narrative innovation together. What are those concepts on power we might share in search for a contemporary art solution? Or, what do we pick out of the examples of power we encounter in society? Power as an abstract concept seems to evade all simple definitions. Power seems to come alive only through its tokens. There is no visible type of power, but many kinds of power representations, out of which we should discuss those that we feel most acutely – or, perhaps, just interesting?

Jan Kenneth Weckman, VIRT@ MA tutor (Virta is the word for stream in Finnish)


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