Practice, tradition and technology

Old and new traditions mixed together in a pattern.

This group researches into traditional art and related areas with a focus on how traditions are shaped by and shaping the use of technology.

The research comprises artistic research on the relationship between materials, production technologies and tacit/embodied knowledge, as well as more overarching theoretical perspectives on the mutual relationship between technology, aesthetic practice and identity processes.


What are our research objectives?

The concept of tradition is often associated with preservation of cultural elements from the past. However, traditions are also about the passing on of knowledge and skills for contemporary usages, leading to adaptation and change. Similarly, the relationship between cultural expression and new technology tends to be portrayed in terms of cause and effect and associated with marked discontinuities in the tradition. This may led to important continuities in cultural practices and conceptions being overlooked. On this background, the project seeks new insights into the dynamic relationship between tradition as process and technological practices.

We adopt a broad definition of technology/technological practice, including the technological and material environments of traditional art, as well as the techniques/practices that mediate between ideas, expressions and representations (playing-/ singing techniques, languages and disseminative media). Learning is an important aspect here and is understood both as practice, pedagogy and epistemological premise in the study of technological and aesthetic processes.


The research group is interdisciplinary in its approaches and comprises two main pillars: 1) Musicological research focusing on the relationship between technology, learning/practice and tradition as process. 2) Folk art research with an emphasis on design, materiality and didactics in a technological perspective. Productive synergies between these areas are anticipated and the research adopts a wide range of methodologies and approaches, including artistic research, ethnography, historiography, discourse analysis, rhythm-/sound analysis and performance analysis.

Partners and network

  • Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design, Budapest.
  • McGill University, Montreal.
  • Oldenburg University.
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology.
  • International network within rhythm research.
  • Telemark research institute.


Ongoing research

Future Traditions (collaboration with Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design, Budapest)

This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, teachers and artists/designers from Norway and Hungary. The project explores the artistic and conceptual potential in reinterpretations of the rich heritage of ornaments in traditional art with the aim of actualizing its dynamic aspects and contemporary relevance. A further aim is to develop new teaching- and research methods by combining and integrating state-of-the-art technology with traditional craft techniques. The project also represents an attempt to establish a long-term collaboration between the involved institutions.


Cultures on the Move: Music and Politics in Contemporary Norway (planned NFR project), Mats Johansson (leader)

The project examines how changing regimes of thought and action within the area of music mirror larger processes of societal change. The overall perspective concerns ownership of cultural resources and the ongoing dissolution of established institutions with definitional power. The starting point is how music increasingly is created, understood and assessed through various sharing cultures which operate across cultural boundaries and divisions of labor. This development is tightly interconnected with technological processes, notably the use of interactive media, and becomes a platform for reflecting upon emerging regimes of thought and cultural orders on a societal level.


Traditional art, technology, aesthetics and materiality

Artistic/practice research with a focus on design processes and materiality (Bodil Akselvoll, Mari Rorgemoen, Arne Magnus Johnsrød) and sustainable development (Veronika Glitsch); didactic research on learning-/transmission processes (Mari Rorgemoen, Ragnhild Knudsen); theoretical-empirical studies of the relationship between technology and aesthetic practice (Tellef Kvifte, Ånon Egeland, Benjamin Rygh, Mats Johansson).

Ånon Egeland, Per Åsmund Omholt and Ragnhild Furholt: Transcription, interpretation and reconstruction.

Analysis of early music recordings and transcriptions with a focus on questions of style, interpretation, versioning, as well as possibilities and constraints in transcription-/representation technologies.

Ragnhild Knudsen and Frode Nyvold: Tradition, mediation and cultural identity.

Research on how processes and conceptions of tradition are mediated and constituted through technological and cultural practices.

Tellef Kvifte, Per Åsmund Omholt, Ragnhild Furholt and Mats Johansson: Studies of rhythm and tonality in a technological perspective.

Mats Johansson and Ola Berge (Telemark research institute): Traditional music, copyrights and cultural ownership in a digital era.

Ongoing PhD projects

Benjamin Rygh: Norwegian-built violins: Construction, reconstruction and revitalization.

Veronika Glitsch: Design for an optimal life time of clothes.

Leder av forskningsgruppen: