On October 28, 2016 ArtSciLab team members will be performing “Data Stethoscope” brain connectome data in Seattle. Performance is dedicated to celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nine Evenings held in New York by EAT and Bell labs in 1966.
The performing team includes: artist/musician Scot Gresham Lancaster, Tim Perkis, neuroscientist Gagan Wig and Roger Malina. The project includes also neuroscientists Micaela Chan and Neil Savalia, Art and Technology PhD student Veena Somareddy and the Make or Break gaming company, with Mike Leach and Robert Nally. A truly transdisciplinary, inter-generational, intercultural team.
The performance will include the FMRI brain Connectome data sets for cohorts of 20, 40, 60, 80 year old. Gagan developed a team to understand the way brain interconnections evolve with age and experience for healthy adults. The hope is to identify precursor anomalies that may lead to cognitive problems. The software has been developed with the use of data sonification to augment the data visualization of the networks, hence the title ‘data stethoscope”.
Scot Gresham Lancaster, Tim Perkis and Andrew Blanton will be performing three solos, with differing aesthetic approaches to the visualization and sound. At the conclusion of the performance, Scot has designed a chess board interface in homage to John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, who in 1968 performed a celebrated game of chess that triggered sound and music that they titled ”Reunion”.
Scot has invited Gagan and Roger to be chess performers for this chess performance in homage to John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, hence the meme John Duchamp and Marcel Cage!
To underline the appropriateness of this device, board was practiced by University of Texas at Dallas Chess Team, which repeatedly wins national and international chess tournaments. Special thanks go out to James Stallings, Director of UTD chess program, and to International master Zurabi Javakhadze from Georgia, who is ATEC major and member of ArtScience Lab. According to Roger Malina: his father, scientist-artist Frank Malina was an avid chess player and at home, playing chess was often the social platform for art-science technology discussions.
Scot Gresham Lancaster provides this personal recollection:
”Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to work closely with composer/performers John Cage and David Tudor. It was John Cage that connected me with Lowell Cross who designed the photoelectric enabled chess board that was an important part of the “Reunion” electro-acoustically enhanced chess match between Cage and Marcel Duchamp. I received the circuit for this chess board from Mr. Cross and built a working version of the board for a reenactment of the piece for a celebration of Cage’s work at a memorial concert at Mills College in Oakland,CA in 1998. This cemented my interest in using chess play as a source of indeterminacy as a Post-Cage style musical performance organizing principle.
Fast forward some years later and we are working with the Art/Science lab and the Center for Vital Longevity at UTD and discover that the university has a world class chess program with full scholarships and several World Grand Masters. That program also has a new generation of digital chess boards that can be used to digitally communicate the moves of a chess game in real time. The opportunity arose to use the Art part of our Art/Science collaboration presented itself with an invitation for us to participate in the 50th Anniversary of the historic Engineering Art and Technology (EAT) 9 evenings performance. This time in Seattle and entitled 9E2. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show our work and dedication to really fully playing at the Art/Science boundary.
The Artists on the team are seasoned performers with decades of experience but the thought occurred to us that we could integrate the symbolic representation of brain activity, the chess game, as a way to get the scientists on the project directly involved in the performance itself. So while we are using a good part of the evening to directly create music using the tools we have been developing to research by visualizing and sonifying fMRI and EEG data in many different ways. Some of these techniques proved useful for the scientists, but all were created with an idea that they would be part of a human experience and therefore be crafted to bear some artistic interest. By the end of the evening the scientists themselves are driving the form of the visual and sonic interactions directly from the chess moves they are making. The symbolic meeting of the minds driving the multi sensory experience the audience is witnessing.
Special thanks go out to James Stalling of the UTD chess program, of course, the director of the two labs collaborating on this complex and fascinating project, Drs. Roger Malina and Gagan Wig and finally my artistic collaborators Andrew Blanton and Tim Perkis.”
Here is What Malina has to say about the event:
”We are unbearable excited as we countdown for tonight’s performance! I must admit this Art-Science collaboration is one of the most interesting and difficult projects I have been involved in – more difficult than most of the research projects in astrophysics that I have been involved in, for NASA or the European and French Space Agencies! The goal of having an art-science collaboration develop both research software that will help Gagan’s team make scientific discoveries and also the artists perform compelling art is a sweet spot of art-science practice.”
Event 9e2 is an art exhibition and performance series commemorating “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering,” an iconic exhibition 50 years ago in New York that sparked a new era of collaboration between artists, scientists, and engineers.
For scholarly work that exists outside the realm of traditional peer-reviewed journals, outlets for getting research recognized and read can be few and far between.
To overcome this challenge, the ArtSciLab, UT Dallas’ transdisciplinary research lab, recently launched ARTECA. The new online reading platform will serve as a curated space for academic literature at the intersection of the arts, humanities, science and technology.
A collaborative effort between the ArtSciLab, the MIT Press and the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (ISAST), ARTECA includes an expanding collection of more than 200 books and access to three MIT Press journals.
“The ArtSciLab seeks to be a pioneer in the field of experimental publishing. We hope to probe, test and experiment with new ways for professionals to document their work and show it to others,” said Dr. Roger Malina, Arts and Technology Distinguished Chair and director of the lab. “ARTECA provides a way for us to ‘beta test’ the future for the art-science-technology community.”
Malina said the aim is for ARTECA to enable new collaborative practices within transdisciplinary social communities, an idea he embodies as a physicist and astronomer working in the arts.
Chaz Lilly BA’11, MA’15, a research assistant for the project and a doctoral candidate in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC), said the aggregator was modeled after MIT CogNet, a similar MIT Press platform that consolidates literature in the brain and cognitive sciences.
“There are a lot of issues in how we disseminate research in academia,” Lilly said. “We live in a digital world where online research and publishing is an immediate resource, but a lot of it doesn’t reach its audience without an access point.”
With CogNet, the MIT Press developed a platform that facilitates access to more than 700 books, six journals and 13 reference works, and subscriptions from more than 100 academic institutions. The hope is to re-create its success with ARTECA.
“We’re thrilled to be working with ISAST and The University of Texas at Dallas to expand the dimensions of scholarly publishing in the art, science and technology space,” said Nick Lindsay, journals director for the MIT Press. “The Press has a long-established history of bold experimentation in publishing, and ARTECA fits that tradition perfectly.”
While the site only houses books and journal issues, subsequent phases will introduce increasingly experimental resources such as podcasts, multimedia-based materials, a job board and online textbooks for massive open online courses.
The subscription-based platform has been made available at no cost to UT Dallas students and faculty linked to the campus network. Remote access is needed to use the resource off campus.
“With ARTECA, we are experimenting with a hybrid open access and paywall system,” Malina said. “Professionals who contribute to the content and quality of ARTECA will have open access.”
Malina said that authors who prefer to pay author fees and have their articles accessible via open access may do so. Other faculty and students will have access by subscribing to institutions’ libraries.
“We will also be developing functions and tools to promote and enable transdisciplinary collaboration,” Malina said.
From Dell Technologies to Capital One, companies that rely on the use of intuitive customer experiences are finding a wealth of talented designers among students and alumni from the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at UT Dallas.
The ArtSciLab — the school’s transdisciplinary research lab focused on the intersection of art and science — is immersing students into the field of user experience, or UX, design.
Cassini Nazir, professor in the arts and technology (ATEC) program and director of design and research for the lab, said UT Dallas is emerging as a leader in UX education in North Texas.
“There’s a growing trend in more courses focused on user experience (UX) design and interaction design at colleges across the nation,” he said. “Many of these concepts have come out of human computer interaction concepts, but design research and UX have really emerged as disciplines in their own right. Industry has helped by investing in design researchers and user experience designers in their spaces.”
Nazir said more companies, both established and startup, are employing a design-centric ethos, cognizant of the role UX plays in customer relations.
The Design Value Index — an evolving metric that tracks the value of companies that meet specific design-related criteria — showed in 2014 that 15 design-driven companies had outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index by 228 percent over 10 years.
Several enterprise-level companies such as Intuit and Sabre want to work with the ATEC program to recruit talent, he said.
“UTD has really benefited from it because there’s a boom of businesses setting up offices in Dallas,” said Nazir, who is part of the Dallas Design Council. “Many of those companies have been hiring teams of designers, and we’ve been successful in filling those needs.”
Clear Line to Job Opportunities
The lab has had students move into design positions at companies such as Sabre, Cisco Systems, AT&T, Siemens, General Motors, Fossil and J.C. Penney.
Debi Terry Ndindjock BA’13, a digital experience designer at Dell, first gained an interest in UX design while taking the interaction design course as a sophomore.
Ndindjock considered herself as purely a graphic designer, but she said she was intrigued by the psychological aspects of design, realizing UX design merges the two concepts.
“The turning point was when (design consultant) Stephen Anderson visited our class and spoke about his work,” she said. “I knew that was what I wanted to do. Since it is a relatively new field, we get a part in defining the industry as a whole.
“UX design requires such varied skills and education: visual design, writing, research and technology. You get to get in where you fit in.”
Cathryn Ploehn BA’14 said the same course — taught by Nazir — also propelled her into the field. Ploehn also served as designer for the ArtSciLab.
“Cassini’s enthusiasm was a gateway to taking further related courses, and finally a capstone in UX,” she said. “The application of the concept of empathy to design and development captivated me.”
Ploehn, who manages UX design problems and data visualization for Visionist Inc., said that developing a sense of empathy is fundamental to what makes user experiences successful.
“Really listen to what a person says to you both inside and outside of a user research setting,” she said. “Try to feel what it is like to be somebody else. Practice by exposing yourself to points of view beyond your comfort zone.”
For senior and UX Club president Lina Moon, there wasn’t an aha moment that led to an interest in UX design.
“I think being part of the UX Club as an officer and working in the ArtSciLab really gave me the confidence to pursue the field further, as it gave me a good support network and provided me access to more collective knowledge,” Moon said.
In July, Moon started a full-time position with Capital One’s inaugural Design Development Program.
The two-year program pairs students and recent graduates with a mentor who guides new associates through different fields such as interaction design and coding.
The growing demand for UX designers can be attributed, at least in part, to the growing demands of consumers of digital products. Nazir said designers often play the role of customer lobbyist, researching and voicing the needs of consumers to their business.
“Audience expectations of what constitutes a good experience are now much higher than they were in the past,” he said. “If businesses exist in a digital space — be it a website, app, digital kiosk — they need to invest in good design.”
Twenty-four UT Dallas students, most of them freshmen, got a head start on their undergraduate experiences by spending nine weeks this summer conducting research on campus.
The Anson L. Clark Summer Research Program, coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Education, saw projects ranging from the development of prosthetic casings to the design of “smart” agricultural systems. Students recently displayed their research results during a poster presentation and symposium. Incoming UT Dallas students who have been awarded Academic Excellence Scholarships are eligible to apply to be Clark Scholars. No previous research experience is necessary.
“Every year I’m amazed at how these students progress in nine short weeks, both socially and in their grasp of advanced research methods,” said Courtney Brecheen, associate dean in the Office of Undergraduate Education. “For many, participation in this program is their first chance to socialize with other university students and become acclimated to campus. It doesn’t take long before they really come together as a group, and by the end of the summer, they have mastered the art of articulating complex research to a general audience.”
The 2016 class of Clark Scholars collaborated with mentors in School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC), the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Nearly all of the students intend to continue their research with their mentors’ lab groups during the upcoming year, Brecheen said.
Dr. Paul Pantano, associate professor of chemistry and past recipient of the Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring, serves as the program’s scientific adviser.
Among the participants was Joel Ewing, a first-year ATEC student, who worked with Cassini Nazir, ATEC professor and director of design and research of ArtSciLab, and Dr.Roger Malina Distinguished Professor of Arts and Technology, to design a website. ARTECA — a collaboration between UT Dallas’ ArtSciLab, which Malina directs, and the MIT Press — will be an online curated space of essential content in an interdisciplinary field where art, science and technology meet.
“The problem was, there was no central place to access materials related to this field,” Ewing said. “When ARTECA is launched, UT Dallas students will have free access to it, and other universities can subscribe. My role as a designer was to look for and address issues that affect user experience.”
Hannah Barber, a first-year student in biomedical engineering who led a collaborative project with ATEC students to design and produce decorative casings for lower limb prosthetics. She worked with faculty mentor Dr. Robert Gregg, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering, along with students of Andrew Scott, associate professor of arts and technology.
Computer science students Daniel Garcia and Christopher Janusa spent the summer working together to develop “smart” electronics for agriculture applications. Their faculty mentor was Dr. Subbarayan Venkatesan, professor of computer science.
“There is a need for agriculture systems that are automated, simple to use and configurable,” Garcia said. “This could include systems like automated irrigation and temperature control.”
The students envisioned a smart system that includes sensors and actuators that monitor, for example, temperature and soil moisture, and could be integrated with weather data to automatically adjust irrigation and other actions according to the forecast. Users could use a web interface to regulate the system, Garcia said.
The Clark Summer Research Program is funded by an endowment from the Clark Foundation, whose philanthropy has supported scholarly endeavors at several Texas colleges and universities, such as the Anson L. Clark Memorial Lecture and the Dr. Anson L. Clark Presidential Scholarship at UT Dallas.
To be published in the Leonardo Electronic Almanac Special Issue: The Culture of Digital Education
A survey of current cross-disciplinary offerings in higher education is needed to understand the mechanisms that were employed to offer them and their pedagogical basis. We present here a study that analyzes a compendium of arts-science-humanities cross-disciplinary courses that was created through several Calls for Contributions from 2009 to 2013.
A web site was created and over 100 submissions were posted at utdallas.edu/atec/cdash/ . The data from the courses was analyzed as to the nature of the cross-disciplines, level of offering (graduate vs. undergraduate), geographical location, level of collaboration (number of instructors), and the department(s) offering the course.
A comprehensive re-visioning of curricular structure to encourage collaborative teaching of integrative courses and programs is needed. Suggested actions include specific ideas to enhance networking and visibility, sharing of syllabi and course materials, and a research effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of cross-disciplinary art-science-humanities courses.
This preliminary study points the way towards further efforts in curricular design and research that will be required for cross-disciplinary arts-science-humanities courses to be integrated into the college curriculum.
Kathryn Evans, Senior Lecturer in Music, School of Arts and Humanities,
Roger Malina, Professor and Associate Director, Arts and Technology (ATEC), and CNRS Aix-Marseille University. School of Arts and Humanities,
An ArtSciLab paper by Kathryn Evans, Senior Lecturer in Music and ATEC PhD Candidate at UT Dallas, has been accepted for the Union College “Engineering and the Liberal Education” symposium in Schenectedy, NY.
Below is an abstract:
“Does studying music enhance higher order learning skills in undergraduate non-music majors?”
Kathryn Evans, Senior Lecturer in Music, School of Arts and Humanities, Frank Dufour, Associate Professor, Rosanna Guadagno, Associate Professor and Roger Malina, Professor, Arts and Technology, The University of Texas at Dallas
Many studies have looked at the correlation between music study and academic skills. A review of over 11,000 studies between 1950 and 1990 conducted by Harvard Project Zero tested the claim that studying the arts leads to some form of academic improvement. Only three areas were found that demonstrated a clear causal link between education in an art form and achievement in a non-arts, academic area. Two were in music: a medium-size causal relationship between listening to music and spatial-temporal reasoning and a large causal relationship between learning to make music and spatial-temporal reasoning. (Winner 2001). The majority of these studies have been conducted with students in primary and secondary education, but little research has been done on students at the undergraduate college level who study music, either as a minor or for general interest. Most pedagogical studies in music address the needs of music majors and not non-majors.
This pilot study looked at students at the University of Texas at Dallas who enrolled in music studies (either music performance, music theory or sound design) who are not majoring in music. Many are students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas. Through phenomenological research methods, we looked at the experiences of students who study music or sound design and how they perceived it affects their academic skills in other areas. Emails for students currently enrolled in music or sound design courses in AY2014-15 were obtained from registration records and they were solicited to take an on-line survey, with an option to volunteer for an in-depth interview. Over 800 students were solicited in February 2015 and a response rate of 20% has already been obtained. Additionally, over 30 students have volunteered for the interview. Initial data and a preliminary analysis will be presented.
The ArtSciLab is a transdisciplinary research lab carrying out national and international collaborations of work that focuses on the hybridization of art and science.
Contact the Lab
Edith O'Donnell Arts & Technology
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W Campbell Rd
Richardson, TX 75080