The mission of the Media Lab is to explore, discover and comprehend the new digital technology and its impact in society; to find and exploit the possibilities it opens to communication, interaction and expression and to evaluate, understand and deal with the challenges it poses to design and creative production.
Before 1993, the premises of the lab-to-be were inhabited by a number of related projects. Many individuals later migrated from these groups to the newly formed unit, as they were merged or phased out.
In 1991 - 1992, The Computer Aided Photography (CAP) lab of the dept. of Photography and the new Computer Imaging Institute (IMI) animation program, run by the Visual Communication Faculty had made these remote corners of the third floor their home. During 1993 - 1994 the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA) 1994 offices were housed here too. The MA in New Media program emerged as the first step in establishing the Media Lab after a major agreement between the University of Art and Design and the Ministry of Education to fund the Lab, initially as a '5-year experimental project'.
The MA program took in its first 18 students in 1994 and continues to run to this day, with the intake now at about 25 per year. Doctoral studies and research groups soon sprouted around this core, kicking off our research scene.
Our second MA programme, the MA in Sound in New Media, was launched in December 2007.
The 10 first years of the Lab are summarized in our aptly named 10- year book, 'Media Lab Helsinki 10 Years', available as a hardcopy version.
Today, the Lab employs about 50 people and has a student population of over 200. Our operations and studies are run in English, and almost half of our students come from abroad. This international networking effect is one of our main assets for Finnish students, as well.
New MA programs are being planned, to branch into areas we consider our specialities. New facilities are planned to replace some of our oldest areas.
The department is managed by the head of department, professor Philip Dean. Specific operations, such as study and research coordination, are run by dedicated committees, allowing participation for both staff and student representatives.
Our student union Mela looks after our students' interests and when not involved in politics, makes parties happen.
Our spaces are located in the main building of the former TAIK (nowadays School of Arts, Design and Architecture), spread out on two floors. The Lab's spaces offer the usual assortment of offices, teaching facilities and project areas and are equipped with modern resources for authoring and development. We have a wide selection of software available for the Mac OS X, Linux and Windows platforms and good resources for audiovisual production, in an environment open for students 24/7/365+
The Media Centre Lume, which offers an array of professional production and post-production facilities for us to use, is conveniently located right next door.
Currently, the use of our resources is limited to people with an official working permit at the Media Lab. For students of other schools and departments, gaining access usually requires active participation in some of our projects or courses. Our alumni are welcome to inquire for a permit for such non-profit projects that could also contributed in by our current students.