Enactive Virtuality Lab fall seminar 24 Nov, 2pm – 6 pm – Open for online attendance!

Enactive Virtuality Lab present the most recent work by the team members.

The event takes place in Tallinn University, Nova building N-406 Kinosaal

Date: 24.11.2022. 14:00-18:00 Please mark the date in your calendar.

Program (see below, details t.b.c.)



Tanja Bastamow: Virtual scenography in transformation

The performative possibilities of virtual environments

Tanja Bastamow is a virtual scenographer working with experimental projects combining scenography with virtual and mixed reality environments. Bastamow’s key areas of interest are immersive virtual environments, the creative potential of technology as a tool for designing emergent spatial narratives, and creating scenographic encounters in which human and non-human elements can mix in new and unexpected ways. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate at Aalto University’s Department of Film, Television and Scenography, doing research on the performative possibilities of real-time virtual environments. In addition to this, she is working in LiDiA – Live + Digital Audiences artistic research project (2021-23) as a virtual designer. She is also a founding member of Virtual Cinema Lab research group and has previously held the position of lecturer in digital design methods at Aalto University. 

Ats Kurvet: DESIGNING VIRTUAL characters 

Ats Kurvet is a 3D real-time graphics and virtual reality application developer and consultant with over 8 years of industry experience. He specialises in lighting, character development and animation, game and user experience design, 3D modeling and environment development, shaders and material development and tech art. He has worked for Crytek GmbH as a lighting artist and runs ExteriorBox OÜ. His focus working with the Enactive Virtuality Lab in researching the visual aspects of digital human development and implementation.


Matias Harju is a sound designer and musician living in Helsinki, Finland. He holds master’s degrees from Sibelius Academy (2008) and Aalto University (2021). With a background in multiple musical genres and music education, he has since 2017 worked as a full-time sound designer and composer specialised in immersive and interactive sonic storytelling in XR, video games, installations, and live performances. Matias is currently sharing his time between his own game company Mindhaven and various freelance projects mostly in the field of interactive 3D sound. He loves to pioneer in using technology in new ways for narrative and experiential purposes, Audio Augmented Reality (AAR) and its storytelling capabilities being his particular area of interest.

MARIE-LAURE CAZIN: Experimenting with Emotive VR cinema

Marie-Laure Cazin is a French filmmaker and new media artist born in 1969 in Casablanca (Marocco). She teaches in the High Art School ESBA-TALM in Le Mans and in the Fine Arts department of Sorbonne University, Paris 1. She is nowadays following a PhD in Fine Arts for a thesis untitled « Cinema and neuroscience », in Aix-Marseille university. She had studied in Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, Jan van Eyck Academy, the Netherlands, Le Fresnoy, studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing. She started with photography and short films, some were selected in international festivals like Locarno in Switzerland and the Mostra of Sao Paolo, Brésil. Then she has worked in the crossing fields of cinema and new media, with many experimental cinematic prototypes, using digital tools to create a live interaction between the film and performers or spectators. She has collaborated with scientific laboratories for some art-science projects, working with brains’ data analysed in terms of emotions in her last interactive film prototype, Emotive Cinema. Her last developments is a 360° film on Freud for a neuro-interactive experience in Virtual Reality, in collaboration with LS2N laboratory in Polytech Nantes (France), prod. DV Group and le Crabe Fantôme.


MATI MÕTTUS: Psyhco-physiology and eye-tracking of CINEMATIC VR

There are various ways to track our emotions through physiometric signals. Most common of these signals are electrical conductance of skin, facial expressions, cardiography and encephalography. In my talk I’d like to discuss the reliability and intrusiveness of physiological measurements in interactive art. While the reliability of measurements is not too critical in the domain of art, the intrusive sensors over art-enjoyers’ bodies can easily spoil the artistic experience.

Mati Mõttus is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Digital Technologies, Tallinn University. His doctoral degree on computer science in the field of human-computer interaction focused on “Aesthetics in Interaction Design” (2018). The current research interests are hedonic experiences in human-computer interaction. The focus is two-fold. The use of psycho-physiological signals in detecting users’ feelings while interacting with technology and explaining emotional behavior on one hand. On the other hand, the design of interactive systems, based on psycho-physiological loops.

Robert McNamara: Empathic nuances with virtual avatars – a novel theory of compassion

Robert McNamara has a background in American criminal law as well as degrees related to audiovisual ethnography and eastern classics. He is from New York State, but has lived in Tallinn for the last five years. Currently, he specifically focuses on researching related to ethical, socio-political, anthropological, and legal aspects in the context of employing human-like VR avatars and related XR technology. He is co-authoring journal papers in collaboration with other experts on the team related to the social and legal issues surrounding the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality avatars for governmental immigration regimes. During 05-09/2020 Robert G. McNamara worked as a visiting research fellow working with the MOBTT90 team. 10/2020 onwards he continues working with the project as a doctoral student.


Debora C. F. de Souza is a Brazilian visual artist and journalist. Graduated in Social Communication, at the University of Mato Grosso do Sul Foundation in Brazil. Her artwork and research are marked by experiments with different kinds of images and audiovisual media. Throughout the graduation, she investigated the appeal of photography on journalistic pieces, winning in 2012 a national award for experimental research in the field.Currently, she is a Human-Computer Interaction master’s student at Tallinn University, from where she has been researching how the use of anthropomorphic virtual agents has implications on the human affective states and social interactions.

SCHEDULE (t.b.c.)

14:00-14:10 Pia Tikka: State of Darkness (S0D)- Enactive VR experience

14:10-14:45 Tanja Bastamow – Designing performative scenography (SoD)

14:45-15:00 Ats Kurvet –Designing humanlike characters (SoD)

15:00-15:20 Matias Harju – Designing sound world (SoD)

15:20-15:40 Marie-Laure Cazin: Experimenting with Emotive VR cinema (Part I)

15:40-16:00 Mati Mōttus: Experimenting with Emotive VR cinema (Part II)

Break (10 min)

16:15-17:15 Robert McNamara: Empathic nuances with virtual avatars: a novel theory of compassion.

17:15-17:35 Debora Souza: Title (t.b.c.)

17:35- 18:00 Discussion

18:00 – Refreshments and snacks


Talk at CILECT2022 San Sebastian conference Oct, 2022



Pia Tikka

 Exploring human-likeness of virtual characters in cinematic context

The scope of technologies available to filmmakers is expanding and apparently opening new avenues of storytelling. My focus is on the application of new findings in the fields of psychophysiological tracking and machine learning in order to create virtual characters, whose behavior resembles that of humans in the most natural ways. 

In this talk I will share some recent updates in this fast developing domain and discuss their possible applications to the co-presence of human participants and humanlike virtual characters in narrative contexts. This  implies a range of multidisciplinary challenges. The core research question is what types of roles can the filmmaker give to machine learning and psycho-physiological tracking in the process of creating humanlike behaviors in narrative settings. The discussion draws from the holistic embodied approach to the mind,  which in my view provides useful explanatory frames for my claims. The talk aims to inspire discussions related to the use of adaptive artificial characters in the future of virtual storytelling.

Activities at the sTARTUp Day 2022

Pia Tikka, and Max Schich, the head of CUDAN (image) were invited by ETAg to participate in the SpeedDating with industry and start-ups https://www.startupday.ee

sTARTUp Day 2022

Wednesday 24. August at 09:00 – Friday 26. August at 18:00 EEST

The University of Tartu Academic Sports Club • Ujula 4A, 51008 Tartu, Tartu maakond

Images from Tartu event by Julii Selianko.


Symposium at ICON International conference of Cognitive neuroscience May 2022

International Conference of Cognitive Neuroscience. May,18th-22nd, 2022


Pia Tikka: Organiser of  Neurocinematics symposium at the ICON International conference of Cognitive neuroscience May 21

Speakers: Clare Grall, Uri Hasson, Heini Saarimäki, Pia Tikka

Panelist: “Beyond Matter” at Tallinn Art Hall Nov 19


Invited panelist: “Beyond Matter” at Tallinn Art Hall Nov 19

A panel session organised in the connection of an installation within the framework of the international project Beyond Matter – “Summoning Ghosts – Past Exhibitions as Digital Experiences.” The installation is created at ZKM by Commonplace Studio and will be on display in the main building of the Tallinn Art Hall, between November 10 – January 15th.

The discussion will be recorded and made available on the Beyond Matter website.

Unio Mystica by Helen Kaplinsky at Tallinn Art Hall Oct 26

26.10 at Niguliste Museum, Tallinn

Unio Mystica: Medieval women’s visions and the virtual imagination

Still from ‘Tragodia’ VR play (2019) by Tai Shani. 30 minutes, with original soundtrack by Maxwell Sterling. Commissioned by Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Jindřich Chalupecký society, and Graz Kunstverein.

The storytelling event ‘Unio Mystica’ concludes the two-month residency research of contemporary art curator Helen Kaplinsky at Tallinn Art Hall for international project Beyond Matter, exploring the virtual technological and mystical visions of women.

17.00 – Intro by curator Helen Kaplinsky at St Catherine’s Friary
17.10 – Anu Mänd is an Art Historian focusing on gender, death, and animal symbolism in the late medieval Baltic region. She will begin by taking us on a tour of the oldest known Estonian woman’s gravestone. At Niguliste museum we will discuss the experiences of poor women and their children – how could the underprivileged prepare their souls for death?
17.45 – Artist Dominika Trapp will read from a hand-written scroll providing an over-view of ten years of her art practice against a backdrop of autobiographical ruminations – coming of age as a young woman in the Hungarian countryside, discomforts with contemporary feminism and her commitment to somatic intelligence, influenced of mystic and philosopher Simone Weil.
18.00 – Artist and conservationist Olesja Katšanovskaja-Münd will present her reconstruction of a rare and deteriorated 15th century painting – ‘The vision of St. Emerentia’. This will be followed by a somatic exercise, guiding a connection between the trinity of visual stimuli, inner feelings and bodily expression.
18.30 – VR screening of ‘Tragodía’ (2019) by artist Tai Shani. Tragodía is a VR play written about three generations of women in the artist’s family and their nonhuman kin. The viewer embodies the avatar of the Ghost Child with each family members’ colossal head orbiting just out of reach. The work could be understood as a mystical vision of undefinable states of being that emerge during grief.

The residency is part of the large-scale cooperation project BEYOND MATTER – Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. It is dedicated to novel, digital approaches to exhibition revival, documentation, and dissemination, as well as the artistic, curatorial and museological development of the opportunities presented by virtual representation.

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