Conference on Bogdanov’s systemic thinking and film arts, Helsinki May 15 -16, 2014

Special topic: Influence of A. Bogdanov’s systemic thinking on film arts via the Proletkult-movement

We invite academic scholars, students, and free thinkers to participate in the two-day international conference to be held at Aalto University, Helsinki, May 15-16, 2014.

Exstasis, Sergei Eisenstein

An inspiring selection of presentations by the leading scholars aim at identifying tangential points between the early systemic thinking, film arts and the Proletkult-movement.
Among the specific issues are, for example, who was Alexander Bogdanov, and to what extent Eisenstein theoretical work on montage systems was influenced by his systemic thinking. To reach for present day, one may even ask, to what extent are these early systemic ideas recycled in contemporary media art theories?

Welcome to join us!

The first day opens with the welcoming speech by conference organiser Pia Tikka, and two keynotes open for public, academic audience, and Aalto University staff and students at the Aalto University LUME Sampo Hall.

John Biggart (MA, BLitt, PhD) studied Russian and French at the University of Glasgow and then “Soviet Studies” in what is now the university’s Institute of Europe and Asia Studies. He taught the history of Russia, Poland and of the Czechs and Slovaks in the School of European Studies and in the School of History of the University of East Anglia (Norwich) until 2000, when he formed a consultancy to engage in technical assistance work in Russia, primarily in the field of public finance reform. Until 2010 he managed projects at Federal and regional level, working with the RF Ministry of Finance, the RF Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the RF Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv), the Higher School of Economics and the Presidential Academy for Economic Reform and Public Administration. In 2010 he returned to historical research. His publications on Bogdanov include, with Georgii Gloveli and Avraham Yassour, Bogdanov and his work: A guide to the published and unpublished works of Alexander A.Bogdanov (Malinovsky) 1973-1928 (Ashgate, 1998); and, with Peter Dudley and Francis King, Alexander Bogdanov and the Origins of Systems Thinking in Russia (Ashgate, 1998). John Biggart has also published on Bogdanov’s theory of a “new class” and on the cultural theory of Nikolai Bukharin. He is currently preparing a political biography of Bogdanov and an anthology of his writings. An additional interest is the propaganda theory of the Russian cell-biologist, Pavlovian, “Taylorist”and member of the Smena vekh circle, Sergei Stepanovich Chakhotin (1883-1973). An article on Chakhotin (in Russian) has appeared in the Yearbook (2012) of the Solzhenitsyn Institute for the Study of Russian Culture Abroad (

Oksana Bulgakowa, Professor of Film Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mayans, published several books on Russian and German cinema (Sergei Eisenstein: Three Utopias. Architectural drafts for a Film Theory, 1996; FEKS – The Factory of Eccentric Actors, 1997; The Adventures of Doctor Mabuse in the Country of Bolsheviks, 1995; The White Rectangle. Kazimir Malevitch on Film, 1997 (English Edition 2002); Sergej Eisenstein. A Biography. German Edition 1998; English edition 2003;Factory of Gestures, Moscow 2005; Soviet Hearing Eye: Film and its Senses, Moscow 2010; Resonance-Space: The Voice and The Media, Berlin, 2012), directed films (Stalin – a Mosfilmproduction, 1993; The Girl who kissed Stalin, SR, 1995; The Different Faces of Sergei Eisenstein, 1998), curated exhibits (film section of an exhibit Moscow – Berlin, Berlin – Moscow 1900-1950; Eisenstein’s Mexican Drawings, Antwerp 2009) and developed multimedia projects (a website The Visual Universe of Sergei Eisenstein, Daniel Langlois-Foundation, Montreal, 2005; DVD „Factory of Gestures. On Body Language in Film”, Stanford Humanities Lab, 2008). She taught at the Humboldt University and Free University, Berlin, Stanford, UC Berkeley and the International Film School in Cologne. In 2012-2012 she received a Fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center and is working on the book Voice and Traces of Time: Russian Archive of Vocal Memory.

The conference continues with presentations by speakers at the Aalto University Media_Factory Auditorium open only for registered audience.

Lyubov Bugaeva is Dr. hab. in Philology and Associate Professor at St. Petersburg State University, Russia. She is the founder of the Kinotext Group in St. Petersburg. She is the author of Literature and rite de passage (St. Petersburg, 2010), editor of four books in Russian, and co-editor of Ent-Grenzen: Intellektuelle Emigration in der russischen Kultur des 20. Jahrhunderts (Frankfurt am Main, 2006). Her current interests are in film analysis, neurocinematics, and theory of literature.

Peter Dudley is a freelance academic and management consultant. He holds a PhD in Management Systems and Sciences (cybernetics) from the University of Hull, and is a visiting fellow of the University of Manchester Business School (MBS) and an associate of the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA). Peter was the editor and team leader of the group that brought the first complete translation of Bogdanov’s Tektology into English, as part of his collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for Systems Analysis, and continues to integrate ideas from the Tektology into his current work.

Pekka Hongisto is a free philosopher who has studied and lectured on films: “Sergei Eisenstein and Leonardo da Vinci” (Filmihullu 2008), “Eisenstein and Prokofjev” (Sibelius- Academy 2009), “The Sounds of Jacques Tati” (Kino Kaiku 2013), “Anarchy of Creation and Fassbinder” (Kino Kaiku 2013), “Absurd Dance of Freedom in Bertolucci” (Kontrasti 2014).

Simona Poustilnik, PhD, studied History of Science at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Her PhD Thesis : Biological ideas of A.A.Bogdanov’s Tektology: To Genesis of General Systems Theory, Her main research interests are in the history of 20th-century Russian science, particularly, systems theory, evolutionary theory and Bolshevistic science. Her special interest is Bogdanov’s Tektology, Russian Darwinism and development of proletarian science during the first post revolutionary decades. She works at Communicaid, London, UK, member of the British Society for the History of Science and the Authors and Publicists International Association (APIA)

Giulia Rispoli is a PhD candidate in Philosophy, Logic and Epistemology at Sapienza University of Rome. Her current research focuses on the development of systems thinking and the eco-evolutionary theories in the XX century Western World and in Russia and the Soviet Union. She has been scholarship holder at the National University of Science and Technology «MISiS» in Moscow, and spent a research period at Moscow State University M. V. Lomonosov thanks to a dissertation fellowship.

Jutta Scherrer is Director of research at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris since 1980. She is teaching Russian history and is particularly engaged with analysis of socio-cultural, philosophical and political phenomena of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published extensively on Russian intelligentsia, Russian Marxism, Russian orthodoxy and religious philosophy. Her more recent research deals with identity construction in post-Soviet Russia, historical memory and « politics of history ». She is member of the scientific council of the Institute for the Study of Eastern Europe in Leipzig (GWZO), of the German Historical Museum in Berlin and the German-Russian Museum in Berlin-Karlshorst.

Maya Soboleva studied chemistry in St. Petersburg and philosophy in St. Petersburg, Erlangen and Marburg. She received a doctor’s degree in chemistry in 1992, a PhD in philosophy in 2000, and habilitated in philosophy 2005. In 2008/09 she was the Mildred Miller Fort Visiting Scholar in European Studies at Columbus State University (USA). 2010 she rehabilitated in the Philipps-University of Marburg. Since 2007 she was a lecturer and research associate in the Philipps-University of Marburg (Germany). In 2013 she has won a visiting fellowship award in Russian and Eastern European studies from the Aleksanteri Institute in Helsinki (Finland). Now she is professor of theoretical philosophy at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria).

Daniela Steila is Professor of History of Russian Philosophy at the University of Turin (Italy). She studied in Turin, Saint Petersburg, and Paris, and received her PhD at the University of Florence in 1991. She wrote on Russian Marxists (Plekhanov, Bogdanov, Gor’kij, Lunacharskij), Russian reception of empiriocriticism, Russian philosophical historiography, the philosophical implications of L. S. Vygotskij’s thought, Merab Mamardashvili and Aleksandr Zinov’ev. Her research interests include the interactions between Russian and European philosophies since the 19th century, the quest for “Russian identity”, and the history of Russian and Soviet thought. Among her books are Genesis and Development of Plekhanov’s Theory of Knowledge (Kluwer, 1991) and Scienza e rivoluzione (Le Lettere, 1996), recently translated into Russian (Nauka i revoljucija, Akademicheskij Proekt 2013).

Ilmari Susiluoto is a Finnish political scientist, professor at the University of Helsinki, senior advisor at the Foreign Ministry of Finland since 1982, an expert in Russian and Soviet history, politics and society, an author of a number of books in this area.

Pia Tikka, PhD, filmmaker, has directed features Daughters of Yemanjá (Brazil-Finland 1996), Sand Bride (Finland 1998), and worked in international film productions. The author of Enactive Cinema: Simulatorium Eisensteinense (2008), Enactive Cinema project Obsession (2005) awarded with Möbius Prix Nordic prize, and co-author of interactive film-game Third Woman exhibited in Galapagos Art Space, NY (2011), she is also a founding member of research project Enactive Media (2009-2011), Aalto University Finland. Currently, Tikka is affiliated in the research project aivoAALTO. Her research team NeuroCine combines filmmaking practice with the methods of neuroimaging in order to study neural basis of cinematic imagination and filmmaker’s expertise.

Elena Trencheva, Ph.D., is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Costume Design at Aalto University, Finland and an active costume and production designer. Author of From Metropolis to the Matrix: Semiotics of Costume in Science Fiction Film (2009) and a number of articles on film costume.

Elina Viljanen is a musicologist and Ph.D. candidate at the Aleksanteri Institute and at the Helsinki University, Faculty of Arts. Viljanen lectures at the Finnish Master’s School in Russian and East European Studies and she was the chief editor of a book on research methodology (Helsinki: Edita, 2010). Viljanen is the author of several scholarly articles and international conference papers. She is also the founder of the “Aleksanteri Cultural Forum” an annual international series of lectures focusing on the study of Russian culture. Viljanen has spent several years abroad studying (St. Petersburg State University and St. Petersburg European University) and has carried out archive work in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In 2010–2011 Viljanen spent a year at Columbia University (New York) as an Asla Fulbright visiting scholar. She is currently finishing her dissertation “The Problem of Modern and Tradition: Boris Asafiev and the Birth of Soviet Musicology.”

Clea von Chamier-Waite is an intermedia-artist, scholar, and experimental filmmaker whose somatic, cinematic works explore proprioception through immersion, stereoscopy, somatic montage, interactivity, and sensual interfaces — as well as one inter-species collaboration with several hundred spiders. Her research investigates the correlations between art and science with projects focusing on particle physics, astronomy, climate change, water ecology, and the history of science — as juxtaposed with mythology, poetry, literature, and pop culture. She has been a Humboldt Fellow, a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, and a fellow at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. She was Professor of Digital and Artistic Montage at the Academy of Film and Television Babelsberg. She graduated from the MIT Media Laboratory and is currently an Annenberg Fellow at USC pursuing her PhD in Media Arts and Practice.

The Panel of Tangential points joins all conference speakers and participants to discussion about the main issues emerged during the two-days. The panel will be opened by Ilmari Susiluoto.