Reality Tinkering: An Artistic Approach to the Abundance of the Familiar

Oona Tikkaoja

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


    Everyday anomalies are fleeting curious events that take place in the middle of the familiar flow of everyday life. They are often experienced at a moment when routinized perceptive or cognitive patterns are disturbed by something different from the usual. An anomaly causes the experiencer to pause for a moment when things do not proceed as she expected. Anomalies can be spontaneously born in the environment or as perceptions of the person experiencing them, or organized by a prankster or artist. In this dissertation, I ask: How could everyday anomalies be used for recognizing the abundance in the familiar? I scrutinize the research question from two viewpoints – experience (anomalous occurrences) and production (anomalous acts) – in an attempt to determine what kind of occurrences make people experience moments of confusion in order to find suitable ways to produce new anomalies. This work continues the tradition of avant-garde art, finding inspiration especially in the urge of Situationists and Fluxus to affect the world at large. I have selected to use Allan Kaprow's term lifelike art as a lead concept, which refers to a meaning-making activity situated in the middle of life. Bricolage is considered in this project as a method for both investigating and affecting everyday life. Because the objective is to hide the anomalies into the fabric of everyday life, I consider bricolage as an appropriate artistic method in this project. Reality tinkering is the application of bricolage developed during this research process. When producing lifelike art in environments that are not demarcated for art, one inevitably affects the shared reality. Reality tinkering is available to everybody because no special skills or resources are needed. It operates along two different strategies, one of which aims to cause disruptions into the flow of everyday life, and the other of which aims to help sharpen one's perception of everyday details by concentrating on them. Reality tinkering is an ethical method that aims to cause an appreciative and participatory attitude towards the world. It is essentially about the both-and mindset, instead of the either-or mindset. We humans cannot have everything in the world, but we can affect things in various ways. For some extent, we are able to select how we do things and relate to different issues. Bricoleurs are able to see both the intended use of the things they work with and the unorthodox possibilities hidden in them. Working with the anomalies can be seen as a strategy for making one's life one's own by investing in the near environment, and by increasing the amount of stories around oneself.
    Translated title of the contributionReality Tinkering - An Artistic Approach to the Abundance of the Familiar
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Laakso, Harri, Supervising Professor
    • Ziegler, Denise, Thesis Advisor
    Print ISBNs978-952-64-0253-6
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0254-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


    • reality tinkering
    • everyday anomalies
    • everyday life
    • lifelike art
    • invisible art
    • bricoleur
    • flat attitude


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