New Website for Curriculum Development in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities

We are excited to announce the launch of CDASH 2.0! 
Project leads Kathryn Evans, Roger Malina, and Eun Ah Lee are pleased to announce the re-launch of our 2012 project studying Curriculum Development in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities at cdash.atec.io.
Leonardo Executive Editor Roger Malina and  UT Dallas faculty member Kathryn Evans are inventorying examples of courses and curricula that are in the art-science–humanities field such as courses on art and biology, music and mathematics, art and chemistry, dance and environmental sciences, etc. The re-launched CDASH inventory includes over 120 courses. We are seeking courses at the graduate, undergraduate and primary/secondary level.
Individuals who have taught an art-science-humanities course at the university or secondary-school level, in formal or informal settings, are invited to submit their course on our new CDASH website.
After you log in or register, you may submit you course through an easy-to-complete form.  Those who submit syllabi will have access to the Cloud Curriculum portion of the site, where they can access other syllabi and resource material.
We are interested in the broad range of curriculum that combines the performing and visual arts (music, dance, theatre, film, visual arts and new media) and the sciences. We are looking for submissions of in-person, on-line and hybrid blended courses.
Our new website allows you to easily enter your course and all the relevant details.  Please log in or register before you submit your course. You may also access the other areas of the site. Those who submit syllabi will be admitted to the Cloud Curriculum, where you can download other syllabi and resources.
This project is co-sponsored by The ArtSciLab at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD),  the UTD School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication , and The UTD Center for Teaching and Learning.
For more information, contact us at cdash@utdallas.edu.

SEAD Exemplars: Defying Classification

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 Alex Garcia-Topete
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When Roger Malina invited me to join the SEAD Exemplars project back in August, I thought that the biggest challenge would be finding the elusive exemplars, not the task of giving names and bestowing categories to those exemplars. Never underestimate the power of language and the issues it can create.
Here is some background first: the project of collecting art-science exemplars came as a suggestion from Peter West and Al DeSena at the National Science Foundation (NSF), both of whom wanted to have an exhibit of such works in the NSF’s gallery in Washington D.C. They brought the idea to the SEAD (Science-Engineering-Art-Design) steering committee, to which Roger belongs, and the project was set up. Days later, Roger approached me to work on the project, knowing not only that I would be interested, but that my research interest in art-science collaboration and my background as film festival curator would be valuable for the whole process ahead.
The mission: to collect as many examples as possible of projects that combined science, engineering, art, design, and the humanities and select twenty of the most outstanding ones to be showcased at the NSF gallery. From the start, we knew there would be challenges. Some were obvious and assumed, such as how many exemplars we could actually find (at first there was a sense that we wouldn’t find even just twenty to showcase). The biggest challenge, however, was hidden—developing a taxonomy would be difficult because of terminology and language differences across disciplines, schools, and continents.
Once the call for nominations was sent out by the members of the SEAD committee, we discovered that our first assumption had been wrong: in a few weeks we had collected forty projects and in three months we had collected a hundred, ranging from works of individual artist-scientists to projects involving several institutions as collectives.
The breadth and number of collected exemplars, as well as the submission information and communications with the nominators, revealed the true challenge to overcome—language and taxonomies. Depending on the nominator’s area of expertise, the notion of “art-science” and the term used to refer to it was different, making it at times difficult even to reach an understanding. Just to name a few variations of the notion, some considered it as art at the service of science, others as artists who filed patents, and others as viewing art scientifically. Each notion, of course, had a bias behind it, the two most common being subjugating one domain to the other or being academically rigid about the disciplines involved. And the terms varied even more: Art-Science, ArtScience, STEM, STEMM, STEAM, STEAMM, STEAMMD, SEAD, ArtSci, SciArt, hybrid, T-Shaped, H-shaped… Yet, these all meant multidisciplinary projects.
That matter of language made developing a taxonomy for the projects difficult—and a major issue for the committee when selecting projects for the exhibit. There was much deliberation about what factors to consider: Disciplines? Number of collaborators? Scope of projects? Ultimately, we decided that we were thinking too much like researchers and not enough as curators—after all, the exhibit was meant as an engagement tool for the general public, and that required a different approach. Inspired by current Smithsonian exhibits, we realized that the way to classify the exemplars was to base it upon the purpose and impact of projects, without the jargon of the academic mindset.
In the end, our categories reflect the essence of the different projects: pioneering, exploring, bridging, educating, questioning, engaging, and innovating. Even though most of the projects fall within more than one category, each work has one aspect that stands out easily—its essence, so to speak. With the categories in place, the selection process became a clearer process since we could measure the proportions of each category. In other words, we could quantify the best way to split the twenty spots among the seven categories according to the sample size of nominated projects.
We have yet to finish the final selection and design the exhibit itself. That belongs to a future blog post. For now, here’s the lesson learned thus far: the first step towards any sort of collaboration begins with understanding each other’s language.
The SEAD Exemplars Exhibit is currently in development at SEADexemplars.org and exploring opportunities for a physical exhibition in the near future.
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About the author

Alex Garcia Topete is a writer-filmmaker and film festival curator currently pursuing a graduate degree in Arts & Technology at The University of Texas at Dallas. You can find out more at GarciaTopete.com
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Usability Engineering: Improving ARTECA Experience

I work as a UX designer and developer on the ARTECA project from the ArtSciLab.  Every day, I get to think about how to improve the ARTECA interface for our users.  One of the primary ways our team collects feedback from our users is through usability tests, which are run by fellow UX designer Shruthy Sreepathy and myself.  Every month, we bring in someone who has never seen ARTECA before and ask them to navigate through the site, following a set of assigned tasks.  Every time we run this process we discover new potential for improvements.
Recently, I decided to add something new to our usual procedure of testing.  To achieve a better understanding of how our navigation bar elements should be placed, I designed an activity with the purpose of understanding which layout for the navigation bar makes the most sense.
I created a printout on an 11 x 17 inch piece of paper with the basic skeleton of the page (top navigation bar, main navigation bar, main content), but with none of the navigation elements.  For these elements, Shruthy wrote out the names of the links and other navigation items on small, button shaped sticky notes.
After the main portion of the usability test, we closed the browser window and presented our subject with the 11 x 17 printout and the stickies in no order.  With no instructions or other reference, we asked the subject to place the stickies to assemble navigation on the web page that made the most sense to him.  During this process, the subject narrated his thoughts and explained his placement of the different navigation elements.

After running this activity two times, we noticed several patterns that emerged.  Both users expected to see the “Login” and “Register” buttons on the right side of the navigation, which is different than the current navigation which places these buttons on the left side.  Also, both users did not understand the difference between the “Join” functionality and “Register”.  These insights will inform our future designs for the navigation bar.

This activity is one example of a co-creation activity, where the designers work with users to craft designs.  Co-creation activities are a great way to explore how a user thinks, and they are also a lot of fun for us and the user.  Our results are just one data point but we hope to expand this activity and other co-creation activities to gain a richer body of insights for improving our site.  Sound interesting? Sign up here to be part of a future usability test.

Watch: ARTECA Presented at Digital Frontiers Conference

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by Chaz Lilly

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Students and faculty from the ArtSciLab gave a number of talks in the fall 2016 semester, making appearances at symposiums and conferences to discuss the launch and future directions of ARTECA. One such talk took place at Rice University in Houston at the Digital Frontiers conference.
At the conference, Dr. Roger Malina, director of the lab; Cassini Nazir, director of design and research; and Chaz Lilly, an Arts and Technology PhD student, gave a presentation titled “Connecting Creative Communities.”
Addressing the historical context and long legacy of the publication Leonardo that led to the emergence of ARTECA, Dr. Malina spoke about his consistent practice of adopting new technologies to network with and publish research from members of the art-sci-technology community.
Nazir, who teaches interaction design at UT Dallas, touched on technical and design challenges in creating a user-friendly platform.
Lilly’s section of the talk uncovered how he aims to experiment with new methods of scholarly and professional communication to create a more robust scholarly resource in ARTECA.
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About the author

Chaz Lilly is a PhD student in the School of Art, Technology, and Emerging Communications at the University of Texas at Dallas where he is researching experimental and emerging forms of scholarly publishing. Chaz has worked in various editorial capacities for a number of publications: Currently, he is managing editor of experimental publishing initiatives in the ArtSciLab. He is the former editor-in-chief of the literary journal, “Reunion: The Dallas Review.” In 2016, he was named a Society for Scholarly Publishing Fellow.
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Moving Shadows: the Voice of Biolumnescent Bacteria

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by Ritwik Kaikini

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The most fascinating light assumes its disguise in front of me as I open the petri dish. It looks blue and has its shades of yellowish-green. Victoria had streaked some bacteria on it a few days back.
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Bioluminescence caught on camera // photo by Adnan Naseem Khan and Ritwik Kaikini
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We call the bacteria vibrio Fischeri. They live in the belly of the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid in the marine world.
A form of bacterial communication called Quorum Sensing occurs within these bacteria which deals with genes and chemistry in the most philosophical ways. Bonnie Bassler, the molecular biologist from Princeton University, explains this mechanism in a simple manner. When it’s a heavily moonlit night, the ocean floor no longer looks dark. It becomes visible like a canvas for organisms who swim in between the sunken sand and the surface of the water. Moving shadows form over the sand, owing to the movement of organisms above. The marine life living on the ocean floor can sense they are being hunted by tracing these shadows. What can we do to prevent these shadows?
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Hawaiian Bobtail Squid // photo by Chris Frazee, University of Wisconsin, via National Geographic
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A Hawaiian Bobtail Squid swims freely over this marine life. The bacteria inside its belly undergo a chemical reaction under the presence of oxygen to form purely organic light. Luciferin is oxidized under the presence of the catalyst, Luciferase, which results in light emission. This kills its own shadow. They can hover over any creature undetected and hunt them on the ocean floor. This comes at a price. The bacteria use a part of the Bob tail Squid’s nutrition to make this light. They depend on each other. One wants light. The other wants the food.
Anna Edwards  and Victoria Nguyen, who are pursuing degrees in biology, worked with me to culture these bacteria and over the weeks of the fall 2016 semester, we developed brighter glowing bioluminescent bacteria.
Crossing generations of light results in brighter light. During observation, I kept the petri dish beside my bed and when I slept it felt like they were speaking to me in the nights using the medium of light.
I observed the bacteria overnight and they would start glowing in regions specific to different small colonies on the dish. These tiny regions never spoke concurrently. They gradually spoke out like all of us do when placed in a big crowd.
Jeremiah Gassensmith, an assistant professor of Biochemistry at University of Texas at Dallas, suggested the idea of ‘listening’ to these bacteria and using them as diagnostic devices in medicine. They can simultaneously light up different parts of the body if injected in the body and we can realize the bacteria’s death through the loss of light. This bioluminescent light is difficult to detect owing to its non- uniformity and faintness at times.
Hearing is considered one of the primary actions to detect abnormalities in different parts of the human body. Sonification of any of these parameters of the bioluminescence (be it brightness/contrast/area) can enable a new form of auscultation to listen to the death or life of these bacteria inside the body.
Our team, under the guidance of Jeremiah Gassensmith and Scot Gresham Lancaster, is working on a project called “Micro Lux Chants” where we want to sonify the life of bioluminescent bacteria. With help from one of my classmates, Adnan Naseem Khan, we have found a way to capture the bioluminescence on a suitable camera. We are currently working on using sonification software such as MAX/Msp to process these videos and try to listen to what the bacteria want to convey. A time lapse video is also under process.
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About the author

Ritwik is a student of MA in Arts and Technology at University of Texas at Dallas. After graduating with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from BMS College of Engineering in India , he completed a Film Appreciation Course at FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) and assisted a few sound engineers in radio advertising at Shankh Studios, Mumbai, India(lingo India pvt Ltd). His interests eventually coalesced into the art-science realm and he is presently involved in music, film, documentary and science communication. He works as a sound designer for Creative Disturbance (a podcast channel for the arts and sciences) in the ArtSciLab at University of Texas at Dallas.

Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/tornpages

Blog link : https://reverseconverse.wordpress.com/

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