1. Synthesis Center: An Overview

    How do we build a world that is richer, not complicated.

    # vimeo.com/191833104 Uploaded 27 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Of Earth and Sun: Generative Soundscape Composition and Biophilic Design


    Despite well-documented benefits experienced by communities and individuals with easy access and direct exposure to nature, many individuals spend a majority of their working hours indoors. The field of sustainable design has tackled this issue through biophilic design, which strives to elicit a positive, valued experience of nature in the human built environment.

    But although biophilic design principles are increasingly employed within the visual domain, auditory applications of these principles are underutilized and underexplored. This talk will examine sonic approaches to biophilic design in the generative soundscape installation "Of Earth and Sun."

    In 2013, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh commissioned "Of Earth and Sun," a permanent sound installation for the public atrium of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). This project is part of its Biophilia Enhanced Through Art initiative, which uses art to remind people about nature’s beauty and the connections between humans and the natural world.

    "Of Earth and Sun" is a dynamic sound installation that evolves throughout the day and with the seasons. The systems at the CSL respond to environmental input in order to reduce its ecological footprint. Similarly, "Of Earth and Sun" uses data from the CSL’s on-site weather station to dynamically control the sounds and processes that will create the installation. Sounds and soundscapes gathered from throughout the Pittsburgh region are stored in a local database, processed, and played back through transducers placed on windows throughout the CSL’s atrium.

    Abby Aresty is installing the fourth and final iteration of this project in January 2017. In her presentation, she will describe the project goals, processes and outcomes of the various project iterations. She will also examine listener experience and propose models for enhancing listener engagement in soundscape composition


    Dr. Abby Aresty is a composer and sound artist who uses technology to facilitate unexpected interactions between people, the built environment, and the natural world. Aresty’s work is rooted in the fields of acoustic ecology, sound art and electroacoustic composition, and has included concert works, public sound installations, soundwalks, pop-up galleries, multimedia collaborations, biofeedback interfaces and sound sculptures, including prosthetic listening devices. Themes that permeate her creative work include mindfulness, personal well-being, and community and environmental health. Aresty’s research also explores the juxtaposition of noise and nature, technology and humanity, and the liminal spaces these juxtapositions create. Within these frameworks, listening has taken a central role in Aresty’s research; her projects are playful, meditative listening interventions that seek to provoke audience reflection on habitual listening practices in contemporary sonic environments.

    Aresty’s site-specific installations have been featured in local and national news outlets; "Paths II: The Music of Trees," a temporary installation in Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum, was featured in an interview with Melissa Block on NPR’s "All Things Considered" and was hailed as "otherworldly" and "sometimes eerie, sometimes transportingly lovely" by the Seattle Times. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured Aresty’s ongoing project, "Of Earth and Sun," a permanent, site-specific sound installation commissioned by the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for the public atrium of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Aresty has presented her research nationally and internationally, in conferences including Balance/Unbalance 2015 in Tempe, the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Hong Kong in May 2016, and Sonic Environments in Brisbane, Australia, in July 2016. Aresty engages the communities in which she lives and works through soundwalks, public lectures and participatory events such as her collaborative project, The Listening Laboratory and Spa (LLaS). The LLaS is a participatory pop-up gallery designed to facilitate playful interactions across a broad range of listening modes, reflecting the multifarious roles machines play in contemporary listening practices.

    Aresty received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington in 2012. From 2013-2014, Aresty was a Fellow at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, and from 2014-2016, she held the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electronic Music and Sound Studies at Grinnell College. Aresty taught at each of these institutions, including courses in music theory and musicianship at the University of Washington, a course in sound art at Carnegie Mellon University, and courses in sound art and electronic music at Grinnell College. In 2016, Aresty is joining the Acoustic Ecology Lab at Arizona State U

    # vimeo.com/191825984 Uploaded 37 Plays 0 Comments
  3. Engineering Touch


    I will describe recent work in my lab on haptics, soft electronics and creative applications. Much of our work is motivated by the goal of engineering technologies that are able to reflect the amazing perceptual and motor capabilities of biological systems for touch, including the human hand. This objective turns out to be astoundingly difficult to achieve, due, not least, to our limited understanding of the mechanics underlying touch sensation, i.e., of what it is that the skin, our largest sensory organ, feels when we touch objects in the world. Some of the challenges involved can be traced to the complexity of the mechanical interactions, the high dimensionality of the signals, and the multiple length scales, time scales, and physical regimes involved. Equally significant is the sensitive dependence of what we feel on what we do - that is, the way that touch-elicited mechanical signals depend on the way we move and contact objects. I will describe research that has aimed at addressing these challenges, and will explain how the results can inform the development of new technologies for wearable computing, virtual reality and robotics.


    Yon Visell is Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Media Arts and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the RE Touch Lab, part of the California Nanosystems Institute. His research focuses on haptic engineering, robotics, and the mechanics and neuroscience of touch, and is motivated by creative applications in haptic human-computer interaction, sensorimotor augmentation, and interaction in virtual reality. Assistant Professor (2013-2015) in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Drexel University. Post-Doctoral Fellow (2011-2012) at the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics, Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 06. PhD degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University's Center for Intelligent Machines (2011). MA and BA degrees in Physics (Univ. Texas-Austin and Wesleyan Univ.). He spent more than 5 years in industrial R&D at high technology firms, including Ableton, where he contributed to music software that is now used by artists worldwide, from Pete Townshend to Vijay Iyer and Nine Inch Nails, served as research scientist (speech technology) at Vocal Point (now Nuance), and sonar researcher at ARL Austin. Von Visell undertook interactive art and design research at FoAM, Belgium, at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, and at Zero-Th, Croatia, an art and architecture organization that he co-founded in 2005. Author of more than 60 peer reviewed articles, and editor of two books on interaction in virtual reality, including (with F. Steinicke, A. Lécuyer, and J. Campos) "Human Walking in Virtual Environments: Perception, Technology, and Applications", Springer Verlag, Series in Engineering, 2013. His work has received several awards, including a Google Faculty Research Award, and Best Paper awards at the 2010 and 2016 IEEE Haptics Symposium. His electronic music and artworks have exhibited at international venues including SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies, Ircam/Centre Pompidou, Design Biennale St. Etienne, Ars Electronica, INC Miami, FoAM Brussels, Phaeno Science Center, the city of Ivrea, Italy, the city of Kortrijk, Belgium, and elsewhere.

    # vimeo.com/190727106 Uploaded 70 Plays 0 Comments
  4. From Abstraction to Action: Climate Change through the Lens of Digital Arts and Technologies


    How do we grasp the consequences of climate change and reckon with it in our communities? Too many efforts run aground in the craggy rocks of scale and time horizon. Mathematical abstractions – such as parts per million of carbon dioxide and degrees Celsius rises in average global temperatures over decades – fail to compel emotion or guide decisions. Slow change is often not visible with our eyes or our conventional tools. Can digital technologies and artistic works – from aerial imagery to data technologies to virtual reality to installation art – offer new perspective and paths for us to navigate planetary crisis?


    Bina Venkataraman leads efforts that draw on science and technology to improve public policy and sustain the health of people and the planet. Currently, she is a Fellow at New America and teaches in MIT's department of science, technology and society. Bina previously served as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation in the Obama White House, where she developed policies and stood up coalitions, with a particular focus on private sector entrepreneurship and community resilience to climate change. She is a former journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Bina is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard's Kennedy School, and the recipient of Fulbright, a Princeton in Asia fellowship, a Metcalf fellowship and a James Reston fellowship. She serves on the Brown University President’s Leadership Council, the advisory council of the Institute at Brown for the Environment and Society, and the Board of Earthwatch. She was named a 2015 Global Young Leader by the French-American Foundation.

    # vimeo.com/189975536 Uploaded 23 Plays 0 Comments
  5. Cognitive Systems: Designing Interactions that Think With Us


    This talk explores emerging ideas about interaction design in the context of distributed technological, cultural and cognitive systems. Human thinking has always been influenced by technology, and technology is beginning to think for itself. Designed well, new systems will be increasingly able to sense and respond to human behavior in nuanced ways, profoundly influencing our actions and values. I will discuss several recent projects involving embodied and distributed cognition, and conclude with reflections on the role of interaction designers as cognitive agents.


    Haakon Faste is Assistant Professor of Interaction Design at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. From 2010-2013 he served on the faculty of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where his research centered on socially responsible innovation, design education, and computer assisted collaborative creativity. Haakon holds a Ph.D. in Perceptual Robotics from the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, and a BA in physics and studio art from Oberlin College. A former leader of IDEO's Software Experiences design practice, he has led design strategy, implementation, technology innovation and IP strategy on creative projects for some of the world's most innovative corporations including Toyota, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Intel and Cisco Systems. He has also been active in technology design in the cultural arena, having led interactive media projects with clients including Rolling Stone, the Whitney Museum of American Art and DavidBowie.com.

    # vimeo.com/186326495 Uploaded 147 Plays 0 Comments

Fall 2016 Digital Culture Speaker Series


Videos from the Arts, Media and Engineering Digital Culture Speaker Series Fall 2016.

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