In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Art, Fact and Artifact Production:Design Research and Multidisciplinary Collaboration
  • Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Accepted for publication by Roger F. Malina.

The development of digital media and information technology has altered the fabric of many disciplines, including art, design and archaeology. The emerging landscape within the arts, humanities and sciences is a boundary territory where multidisciplinary collaboration is no longer an option but rather the prescribed course of action. Within this arena there is a need for new methods of research and descriptive materials and for the systematic assessment of the roles of the different participants in a collaborative endeavor.

My dissertation, which recently was published as a book [1], makes use of activity theory to compare the various factors that play a role in the creation of knowledge artifacts in the fields of art, design and archaeology. Two complementary voices, one articulating theory and the other reporting on practice, are brought together in the dialectical interaction of a project-driven methodology. My method suggests that research questions can emerge and be driven by the work done as part of a professional design research project. In this manner, the project-driven method differs from traditional scientific modes of research where knowledge is based and built around a static foundation.

My thesis proposes that activity theory and the project-driven method are tools that can be successfully employed in collaborative multidisciplinary design research projects. Through these tools, a symmetrical approach to the understanding of knowledge that allows for comparison of the work of the artist, the archaeologist and the designer is facilitated.

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Fig. 1.

Lily Díaz-Kommonen, digital networked 3D environment, 2000-2001. Visitors can curate their own exhibitions from materials in the archive, which are displayed through a dynamic 3D gallery.

© Lily Díaz-Kommonen

My dissertation describes the activity of art as producing objects that can be seen as artifacts of expression and expressive artifacts dealing with aesthetics, cognition and ethics. The activity of design is depicted as encompassing the creation of design representations. Archaeology is presented as an activity that, in order to produce knowledge, makes use of diverse methods, crafts and design.

This dissertation also documents an example of such collaborative projects. The work presents a case involving artists, designers and archaeologists working together at different points in time. The final objective is the creation of the Raisio, Finland, Archaeology Archive [2]. This is an archive consisting of digital representations of archaeological materials about the culture of southwestern Finland from the late Iron Age to the early Middle Ages. The tools in the archive include a 3D digital networked environment and a controlled vocabulary that allows for navigation through the contents. In addition, there is an authoring tool that enables the contents selected by guest visitors to be displayed in the form of a dynamic 3D Gallery (see Fig. 1).

Lily Díaz-Kommonen
Media Lab, University of Art and Design Helsinki, 135C Hämeentie SF 00560, Finland. E-mail: <>.
Received 31 December 2002.


1. Lily Díaz-Kommonen, Art, Fact and Artifact Production: Design Research and Multidisciplinary Collaboration, Ilmari Design Publications A37 (Helsinki, Finland: Univ. of Art and Design Helsinki, 2002).
2. See <>. [End Page 48]


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