[+UM] Unexpected Media

Center for Unexpected Media [+um] is a Research Hub based at the University of Porto, Portugal, hosted by ID+, Research Institute for Design, Media and Culture. The primary focus of +um is the socio-cultural decipherment of contemporary media, its roots and heritage, and its re-calibration towards social, cultural and economic development. The core principle of our incubated research is the evidence that the World is in need of new, even paradoxical, approaches to scientific knowledge.

+um operates at UPTEC PINC (U.Porto’s Creative Industries Incubator), and hosts the PhDDesign Program @ U.Porto, FUTUREPLACES, Creative Commons Portugal, various post-doctoral residencies, a permaculture farm, various radio shows, interfaces with SMEs, and a web of institutional partners.


Technological Emancipation, Post-Ideological Speculation, Meaning and Loss, Transmedia storytelling


This group is, first and foremost, project-driven and network-based. A governance structure is intended as a means of maintaining scientific and strategic continuity of what should, in essence, be a point of convergence for research projects sharing a common territory of knowledge and enquiry.

Group Coordinator elected by the Scientific Committee, two-year renewable term;
Scientific Committee formed by all integrated members;
Project coordinators emerge out of the projects themselves;
Plenary meetings with all members of the group (bi-yearly).

Therefore, the main driving element of the group’s development will be an annual forum that will gather researchers, students and external civic and entrepreneurial agents around the subject of contemporary media challenges of a civic, social and cultural nature. This will be the main, albeit evidently not exclusive, catalyst of social incorporation of the knowledge stemming out of the projects under development by the research group.

Additionally, the group considers the implementation of a “research culture” one of its main priorities. With this in mind, a daily coexistence in a lab environment that opens its doors to researchers, partners and PhD students is an essential ingredient to the success of a fertile research hub.

Lastly, the group acknowledges its potential to act as an incubator of research projects that may in due time become autonomous research groups themselves.

Integrated members
António Manuel Dias Costa Valente
Cláudia Raquel Lima
Cristina Maria da Silva Pinto Ferreira Fonseca
Daniel da Cruz Brandão
Jelena Savic
João Adriano Fernandes Rangel
João José Gonçalves de Barros Cruz
Jorge Brandão Pereira
José Manuel da Silva Fernandes de Carvalho Carneiro
Julio Fernando Dolbeth e Costa Henriques da Silva
Nuno Duarte Martins
Pedro Alexandre Santos Carvalho de Almeida
Pedro Jorge Couto Cardoso
Rui Paulo Vitorino dos Santos
Susana Cruz Barreto
PhD students
Abhishek Chatterjee
Ana Clara Nunes Roberti
Anselmo Neto Ferreira Canha
António João Fernandes Lourenço Gomes
Celeste Maria Lourenço da Silva de Oliveira Pedro
César Lugo-Elías
Dula Maria Bento de Lima
Ece Canli
Fátima Silva São Simão
Helena Sofia Silva
Isobel Taylor
Marta Nestor Pinheiro de Magalhães Pereira Rodrigues
Olga Glumac
Pedro Augusto Moura Palha Bellesi
Rafael Klumb Arnoni
Ricardo Manuel Coelho de Melo
Rui Miguel da Costa Monteiro
Sérgio Miguel Carvalho Januário
Other researchers
Ana Isabel da Silva Carvalho
Maria Luisa Gomes do Valle e Vasconcellos
Ricardo Lafuente Monteiro
One of the key barometers of contemporaneity is the vertigo of technology: subjective, ubiquitous and infinitely reconfigurable. This is readily witnessed in participatory media in face of its apparently orthodox content and the determinism of its use and functionality.

The Center for Unexpected Media proposes a close cooperation with media and technology research. It aims at multiple calibration of the civic vocation of contemporary and traditional media – particularly in its horizontal stream, accessible and of a playful and oneiric expectation. This calibration is primarily conducted through ethnography and design, and aims to be scalable and liable to contextual extrapolation. The contexts of enquiry range from urban environments, documentary legacies, post-industrial regeneration, online developments and historical craft.

Geo-political and geo-economic evidence has been reinforcing the duty to reconsider prior models governing the socio-cultural fabric. Individual and collective, financial and existential, emancipation may be performed via the use of media functionalities. This wide hypothesis may be tested, acknowledged, aggregated and implemented – while maintaining a critical eye in face of recent developments that reveal a potentially paradoxical vocation (e.g.: is social media still and always “social”?).

The Center for Unexpected Media proposes to contribute to the following:
– The decipherment of contemporary social, cultural and mythological paradoxes and perplexities.
– The capacitation of citizens in their relational ambivalence with the vertigo of contemporary culture.
– The legitimisation of multiple value systems and cultural/material production models.
– The calibration of contemporary media through projects that engage with factors of accessibility, horizontality, expectation, geometry, narrative, speculation, oneiricism.
– A contextual harmonisation between the axiomatic aspects of design and their current, unpredictable paradigm shifts.
– The active pedagogy of the multiple forms of wealth.
The group is, first and foremost, project-driven and network-based. A governance structure is intended as a means of maintaining scientific and strategic continuity of what should, in essence, be a point of convergence for research projects sharing a common territory of knowledge and enquiry.
PhD Research Projects:

  • A Geometry of Regeneration.
  • Designrascar: Towards an Alternate Model of Design Philosophy.
  • Codesigning communication in dementia.
  • Design, Tradition and Craft: the case of Almalaguês.
  • Designing process and narrative with local agro-industrial byproducts.
  • Exploring Universal Structure to Design.
  • The Serendipitous Web: Mechanisms and Processes for Designing Online Serendipity.
  • “Arraial” Echoes: Possible Design contributions in the systematization, appreciation and communication of the cultural representations existing in the “Arraial do Pavulagem”, Belém.
  • De/Re-Construction of Gender Performativity through Self-Representation.
Curated by Heitor Alvelos and Karen Gustafson, FUTUREPLACES has been addressing the dynamics between new media and the socio-cultural fabric since 2008. A multitude of workshops, projects, talks, creative events and think-tanks has woven itself onto a wide network of simultaneously local and international resonance.

Developed within the framework of the UTAustin-Portugal Program for Digital Media, FUTUREPLACES has served as a meeting point, incubator, facilitator, showcase and launchpad for numerous creative endeavours including the Museum of Ransom, the CCStop Musicians Collective, ±, Stories of Chairs, Creative Commons Portugal, Radio Manobras Futuras, Visible, Portugal Portefolio, Media and Perplexity, 333.

Poised between creative research, constructive activism and trans-utopian discourse, FUTUREPLACES is and will remain free – on the premise that all attending find active ways of engaging with what we call “social fertility”.

Past keynotes and distinguished guests have included Peter Sunde, Nancy Schiesari, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Jon Phillips, Golan Levin, Caroline Frick, Debbie Anzalone, Peter Principle, Jon Wozencroft, Blaine L. Reininger, Hiperbarrio Colombia, Jillian York, Hugh Forrest, David Trullo, GANA, Len Massey, Stephan Baumann, Elizabeth Stark, Negativland, Laura Malacart, Bruce Geduldig, Philip Dean, Andrew Poppy, Donato Ricci and Philip Marshall, among many others.

“Between Riot and Rave” (2012), an essay on our mission, can be found here.
A sample of our projects is here.

website: http://futureplaces.org