About the Research Group


Welcome to the Research Group in Interdisciplinary Improvisation. A project from the Arts University of Helsinki.

Beginning September 2012, the Research Group in Interdisciplinary Improvisation will bring together students and practitioners from the many fields of artistic practice represented at the Arts University, including sound, theatre, studio art (drawing, painting, etc.), performance art, dance, film/video, etc.

This project will explore improvisation at the intersection of multiple arts practices, through workshops, discussion, performances and public presentations. The focus of the group is an investigation of the theoretical and practical dimensions of improvisation: interactions and tensions between different art forms and perspectives, strategies for collective performance, understanding of the cognitive processes involved, and analytical tools.

Improvisation is an extremely important part of artistic practice for many of us, in a wide range of artistic and performative fields. These include fields more commonly associated with modes of improvisation practice – musicians, sound artists, dancers, actors, performance artists – and, increasingly, fields which have not traditionally been associated with performative improvisation – visual art, studio arts, film or video, for example. In many such fields, improvisation is becoming an increasingly visible practice – either through the opening and development of new performative and improvised aspects of the art form, or by calling attention to aspects of improvisation practice which have long been an important, but obscured, part of a given field of artistic pursuit.

However, improvisation practice is largely confined to individual art forms, focusing on the specific modes, techniques, and languages of improvisation within each given field. There is very little space for exploring improvisation as a cross-disciplinary practice, despite the enormous potential for a multi-platform exploration of improvisation as a practice, for finding common ground across artistic fields, for better understanding important differences in outlook and approach, and better collaborative practice.

The Research Group in Interdisciplinary Improvisation project will attempt to address these issues. The group combines students and practitioners from Siba, Kuva and Teak, and includes forums for discussion, as well as practical sessions for exploration and elaboration of new group practice and lines of experimentation. We combine practical artistic work with more research-oriented angles, exploring and discussing our findings in cross- disciplinary improvisation practice: Where have we found common ground? Where do we find significant differences in perspective, or challenges in improvised communication? How can these be explained? Are there any broader implications, extending beyond the scope of improvisation practice?

But, perhaps most importantly of all, it provides a forum for us to collaborate, perform, and improvise together.

For more information, feel free to contact us:


This project is organised in the framework of the pilot projects for the University of the Arts Helsinki and is coordinated by James Andean and Luis Alejandro Olarte.

James Andean is a musician and sound artist. He is active as both a performer and a composer in a range of fields, including electroacoustic composition and performance, improvisation, sound installation, and sound recording.  He is a founding member of improvisation and new music quartet Rank Ensemble and of the sound collective Resonator Helsinki, and one half of the audiovisual performance art duo Plucié/DesAndes. He has performed in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Italy and Canada, and his works have been performed in Finland, Norway, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Slovenia, Canada and China. He teaches Sound Production at the North Karelia University of Applied Sciences, and is completing a doctorate in electroacoustic composition at the Centre for Music & Technology of the Sibelius Academy, in Helsinki, Finland, focusing on the musical vs. the narrative properties in acousmatic music.

Luis Alejandro Olarte is an electroacoustic musician. He is a doctoral candidate developing pedagogical tools for live electronics and improvisation at the Centre for Music and Technology of the Sibelius Academy, supervised by Dr. Andrew Bentley. He studied Guitar and Electroacoustic Music in Colombia, and Generative Improvisation and Musical Acoustics at the National Conservatory of Paris under the guidance of composers Alain Savouret and Charles Besnaionou. He studied Computer Music with Horacio Vaggione and Anne Sedes at Paris University. Olarte works as a freelance artist in Helsinki, performing and teaching, and is interested in cross disciplinary collaborations with dancers and actors.


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