BFH Centre for Arts in Context
The BFH Centre for Arts in Context develops solutions for the practical use of the arts in society, culture, public administration and business – from creation and interpretation through to dissemination and conservation.
The BFH Centre’s interdisciplinary research groups from the arts, humanities and natural sciences have expertise in fields of application further explained below.
Visual design in context
From posters on healthy eating to campus signposts and the user interfaces of ticket machines – information design, visualised instructions and user-friendly interfaces are all aspects of everyday life. In all such areas, the BFH Centre for Arts in Context offers comprehensive research and development services. Its spectrum ranges from process management and knowledge depictions to visual object analyses, spatial analyses and orientation systems.
Artistic practices in context
Artists who research into urgent societal questions can open up new perspectives on them. This is why our research is focussed on issues pertaining to artistic practice and to analysing creative processes. New methods of knowledge production can be developed through employing research strategies and an artistic approach. These in turn are made available for carrying out evaluations, coaching, applied research and development work.
Materials knowledge in context
Art and cultural heritage comprise a multitude of materials that need to be investigated with regard to their significance, their (im)permanence and conservation. Researchers carry out material examinations and compile documentation of artworks and cultural heritage objects. They also develop and implement research-based conservation-restoration concepts and advise on materials to be used in artworks and buildings.
Music instruments and interpretation in context
The interpretation of music and music theatre from the Classical, Romantic and Modern periods is a subject of research at the BFH Centre. Copies of historical
instruments are built and lent out, while new instruments are also developed. This is achieved thanks to our knowledge of historically informed interpretative practice, which we pass on by means of expert reports, consultations and coaching.
The research and development projects of the BFH Centre have resulted in applied solutions for partners from the worlds of culture, business, public administration and society as shown below:
Waiting rooms – University Department of Emergency Medicine, Inselspital Bern
In emergency waiting rooms, stress is the order of the day. This means that conflicts can develop – such as with the distressed families of patients admitted, or with patients under the influence of alcohol. The University Department of Emergency Medicine, Inselspital Bern, aims to deal with this problem by means of careful waiting management and with a specially designed waiting room. This project picks up where the SNSF project “Waiting times” (fig.) left off: The researchers are here developing a concept for an improved waiting zone in the emergency department for adults. Taking “natural design” as its watchword, this project aims to improve the well-being of patients, the safety of staff and the security of data.
PedVis – Pedestrian Flow Visualizations
The Swiss Federal Railways SBB is expanding its railway stations and redesigning them so that the growing numbers of passengers will in future still reach their goal safely and quickly, regardless of whether it is in the station itself or in the city outside. The planning, simulation and management of these diverse pedestrian flows are thus of increasing importance. This project is providing new, fundamental knowledge to this end. Different aspects of pedestrian flows and their interactions with spatial conditions are being analysed visually, and a comprehensive image collection is being utilised to enable new visualizations of these pedestrian flows. The resultant depictions will serve to improve the management of public spaces in railway stations, both today and in the stations of the future.
Dynamic balance training – Developing a mobile device
People prone to falling have difficulty in regaining their sense of balance. A specially developed mobile device – comprising a smartphone, a holder, a smartphone app and a head-mounted display – can support them in a dynamic balance training programme that is particularly suited to being applied in physiotherapy. This device leads the user through specific movement exercises and enables bio-feedback to be given to help correct the movement of the torso. In this manner, the patient’s sense of balance is strengthened.
Practical theatrical knowledge
Actors are being increasingly consulted in contexts outside their own discipline, such as in training nursing staff. Within the framework of communication training, they take on the role of a patient. They can also act as communication trainers, giving the students qualified feedback on the scenarios they play out. Researchers from the fields of theatre and health are investigating the theatrical, communicative and subject-specific expertise that actors need for this.
Much packaging for transporting fragile paintings fails to reduce the occurrence of vibrations and instead only intensifies them. The reason for this lies in resonances that can be caused by the combined system comprising packaging, the painting itself and the protection for the back of the painting. This project examines a representative selection of packagings to determine their capacity for dampening vibrations. It also aims to develop new, optimised packaging solutions.
pARTicipate – Rediscovering art in public spaces
Art can be found in public spaces in almost all cities across the world, but many such artworks stand out in the open without any explanation and with no hint to the observer of either the identity of the artist or the title of their work. The newly developed app “pARTicip” helps out here. On the one hand, it offers interactive background information on a work, helping the user to a full experience of works of art in public; on the other hand, it enables the public to participate in registering and conserving artworks by allowing them, for example, to use the app to notify the owners of any damage to the artwork that they might observe.
Contrabass Clarinet Extended CLEX
The contrabass clarinets generally on the market today are compromise instruments: sheer physiological facts mean that the sound and intonation of this deepest instrument of the clarinet family are only moderately satisfactory. The solution – developed in the predecessor project Contrabass Clarinet Unlimited – is a sensorydynamic instrument in which the air holes are placed according to acoustic considerations, and in which playability is guaranteed by keypads that are controlled electronically. Furthermore, a MIDI interface enables this new instrument to control other parameters such as videos or light design.
A historically informed performance practice for the music of earlier times means being able to play on original instruments. Only in this manner can understanding of the time and its music be gained, and the knowledge acquired that is necessary to replicate the instruments in question. The Burri Instrument Collection in Bern, which is maintained today under the name of “Klingende Sammlung” (“Playing Collection”), possesses vast holdings, and a number of representative wind instruments from it has been restored to make them playable today. These include a Classical flute, French brass instruments of the Second Empire, and the tuba for Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”. They are now at the disposal of musicians who wish to experience them in a performing context, and they may be used for concert projects and teaching purposes.
Creative processes in the arts harbour innovation potential and open up new conceptual spaces in other contexts. Their methodologies and research results enable us to find new approaches to known topics, allowing us to understand, mediate and communicate them differently and to find different visual means for their depiction. This creates new perspectives on the familiar, facilitating innovative solutions to concrete problems in the realms of business, culture, public administration and society. The BFH Centre for Arts in Context performs this act of transfer by means of applied research and development projects.
Partnerships and collaborations
The research groups have a broad network comprising external research institutions, various BFH departments, universities and partners from the worlds of business, culture and public administration, thereby making complex transdisciplinary projects possible. Collaborative development processes further ensure the applicability of results and guarantee practice-oriented solutions.
The BFH Centre cooperates with museums, collections, administrative bodies, hospitals, SMEs, large businesses, schools, foundations, art insurance firms, transport companies and instrument makers amongst others.
Research and development
The BFH Centre for Arts in Context covers a broad spectrum of expertise. It has research-based, application oriented knowledge at its disposal.
- It investigates the materials used in artworks and cultural heritage objects, developing concepts for their conservation and restoration.
- It explores how to improve our communicative environment through visual design, especially in the health sector.
- It helps to develop new perspectives on urgent societal problems through comprehending artisticwork processes.
- And it creates replicas of historical instruments to study how musical works of former epochs can be interpreted.
The Centre’s services range from research and development projects to consultancy, coaching, compiling expert reports and making evaluations.
For inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Degrees and further education courses
The research results from the BFH Centre for Arts in Context are incorporated into the curriculum of the master degree programme as well as into the further education courses.
Master degree courses