Myth and Design: A Generative Approach

A one-week workshop by Pierre-Yves Jacopin on the subject of myth analysis and its application to art and design will be held on October 1-5, 2001 at the Media Lab of the University of Art and Design Helsinki/UIAH. The workshop is organized by Lily Díaz, as part of the work of the Systems of Representation research group, in collaboration with Raimo Lång.

The workshop deals with the subject of the interpretation and analysis of mythical narrative using the methods developed by Dr.Pierre-Yves Jacopin. The method is called generative because it is based upon the simple idea that giving account for how people create their way of life, reinvent their stories and rites, and manufacture their objects is a good way to understand them.

The question of meaning, that is so important nowadays in social sciences, is not considered abstractly and off context but in relation to form: it should be obvious that no meaning can take place without form, and that form is actually part of meaning. Although the approach is based upon Lévi-Strauss' structuralism, it is basically formalist. It pays most attention to contexts, to the sequential dimension of social phenomena, and to their performative aspects. Mythical speech is taken as a heuristic case that can be generalized to other fields.

Pierre-Yves Jacopin is an educator and a researcher who teaches at Institut des Hautes Études de l'Amérique Latine,Université de Paris III Sorbonne, and at Swiss National Fonds. Though a specialist in myth and story telling, Dr. Jacopin has applied his approach to other types of narratives, such as Greek tragedy, and Mexican "telenovelas" (soap operas). He has taught similar workshops at the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia y de Historia (INAH) in Mexico City. He is a frequent contributor of essays in specialized anthropology journals, and has just completed a book, The Language of Myth, about his model of interpretation. Last year he also published an illustrated children's book, Les Cailloux de Chacha.

The workshop will be carried on in a multi-disciplinary environment. Participation is open to practicioners from diverse disciplines, including anthropology, art, information design, media studies, music education, philosophy, and theater. The workshop is targeted to advanced master students, doctoral students, as well as teachers, professors and others who are developing educational materials.

The work will consist of theoretical presentations, as well as applied exercises. The theoretical presentations, during the morning, will be followed by hands on work throughout the day. Every day will finalize with presentations by the different groups of the work performed during the day.

Participants are requested to submit an application that includes the identification and pre-analysis of a myth, mythical story, or mythical account. (See below for description of application.)

Interested parties should submit an application that consists of the following materials:

1. In one A4 please send name and contact information of the interested party.

Faculty and department
Field of specialization, or major
Telephone number during business hours
Telephone number during regular hours
Fax number
Email address

2. Find a myth, mythical story or narrative, that you feel passionate about, with which you feel an emotional connection, or that you are interested in working with during the workshop. In one A4 describe: Why is it important to you? What aspects of it you would like to work out during the workshop? How do you intend to apply the results?

3. Please send the information, by email, as an attached RTF file document to : <>

The application can also be sent via FAX or regular mail to:

Myth and Design: A Generative Approach
c/o Lily Díaz Media Lab, University of Art and Design Helsinki/UIAH
135C Hämeentie SF 00560 Helsinki, Finland FAX: 358 9 75630 555.

4. Stipends to cover travel expenses are available to participants from the Nordic countries. If interested please contact us as soon as possible. In the application form, indicate an interest in being considered for a stipend.


The workshop is made possible through a grant from NordPlus and realized with the assistance of the Media Lab of the University of Art and Design Helsinki.