TU Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture
The growing trend of using audio-visual and digital media in the global marketplace and the growing influence of these types of media on culture, economy and on the everyday life of people, present both new opportunities and new challenges for Europe. Even though Estonia can be generally considered as an advanced ‘e-country’, due to the availability of a multitude of public online services, the mediation of culture and creative industries on contemporary digital platforms has not achieved due prominence. At the same time the media and creative sectors, as well as the cultural policy of Estonia, being a small country, are facing difficult choices due to the rapid development of digitally enhanced global markets. It is precisely these preconditions and needs that were the catalyst for creating the Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (Estonian abbreviation MEDIT) in spring 2015.
The purpose of the Centre is to initiate and implement interdisciplinary creative works and research projects. On the one hand, these projects involve studies of cultural change and innovation processes that accompany digital media, mainly from the combined perspectives of the humanities and media or innovation economics. On the other hand, the target is to apply the acquired knowledge in experimenting with creating new and innovative forms of digital media. Most work in the Centre will be interdisciplinary and based on the presumption that interpreting the contemporary cultural change and creatively participating in it requires cultural, economic and technological dynamics to be viewed as a uniform system, full of complex interdependencies and therefore involving also corresponding research disciplines, together with creative practices.
The activities of the Centre will be divided into four areas, three of which are research oriented and one is focused on experimental creative and development work. All four areas are closely related and the creative work will link all others.
1. The Creative Lab of digital audio-visual culture - LoomeLab
2. The research and development unit incorporating:
(a) The research group of digital humanities
(b) The research group of audio-visual culture
(c) The research group of digital creative industries
Creative and developmental work in LoomeLab focuses on developing innovative digital applications in cooperation with institutional partners outside of the university, either private enterprices or public institutions (such as memory institutions or incubators of digital or creative industries). One important focus of the LoomeLab and other research groups is the reuse of digitil cultural heritage and heritage-based innovation, especially the development of educational applications that recycle digital heritage content. LoomeLab anticipates partnering with Estonian creative industries enterprises in developing experimental digital solutions.
The work of the Centre is interdisciplinary and although the research areas have been divided partly on a disciplinary basis, the choices of research topics will be coordinated – research activities on related topics approached from different disciplinary angles will be carried out in parallel (e.g. digital heritage or video games), most new research projects include members from all research areas.
The Director of the Centre is Indrek Ibrus.
The Council of the Centre includes:
The research area of digital humanities
This includes both the analysis of cultural datasets or contemporary “big data” of media consumption as well as the humanities-based approach to the analysis of digital cultural text or cultural artefacts. This means that firstly, the digitized (audio-visual) data sets of cultural heritage are studied by way of new quantitative methods and secondly, the peculiarities of, for instance, cross-media narratives or videogame types are analysed. Subsequently these two strands may be combined and used productively – for instance by proposing novel narrative techniques, thus providing inputs into the work in LoomeLab.
The research area of audio-visual culture
A new research programme is launched that would be unique in the Baltic region. The evolution of Estonian audio-visual culture is observed from the regional perspective, in parallel and interwoven with both the East European and Nordic picture landscapes and production processes. The development of audio-visual culture is also studied in the context of border-crossings between media, i.e. significant attention is paid to inter-textuality and inter-semiotic translations between different fields of arts in different eras, e.g. between literature and film, visual arts and film or music and film. Critical attention is also paid to analysis of production and consumption mechanisms of audio-visual culture by relating the audio-visual form and narrative system to social, political and economic fields.
The research area of digital creative industries and innovation studies
The video-gaming and audio-visual industries have become leading sub-fields within creative industries in regard to their turnovers and profitability. On the one hand, the development of audio-visual culture is strongly influenced by global market dynamics, while on the other hand, the audio-visual culture itself motivates technological innovation – the consumer interest towards games and other media products directs the investments and innovation processes of the ICT sector. Therefore, the areas of the Centre also include economic perspective and studies of digital media markets and management processes.
In its first early years, the research group focuses, for example, on the following topics:
1) Studies of innovation processes in media and creative industries in the digital era;
2) Specificities of media and digital creative industries markets of small countries;
3) Innovation opportunities, business practices and operations of media markets related to digital heritage reuse;
4) Cross-innovations within digital creative industries;
5) Evolution of the regulative environment and media policies and their influence on media and digital content production sub-sectors.
Maria Hansar, Research Coordinator
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