Our First Podcast in Tamil on Creative Disturbance: Aadhavan Sibi Mathivanan with Gautam Sharma

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Aadhavan Sibi Mathivanan is proud to announce the creation of the new Creative Disturbance Channel: அ முதல் America வரை 
In this first podcast he is in dialog in Tamil with Gautam Sharma

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Aadhavan Sibi Mathivanan

அ முதல் America வரைC

Visa வில்லங்கம்

அ முதல் America வரை art

முதல் மடல்: ‘அ’ முதல் அமெரிக்காவரை. முதலாவது ‘விசா வில்லங்கம்”. எப்படியெப்படி தப்பு பண்ணலாம் ? விசா பெறுவதில் எத்தனை எத்தனை வில்லங்கம், முட்டுச் சந்து, உதவிக் கரங்கள், எளிமையான தீர்வுகள் ? உரையாடுகிறார்கள் கௌதம் ஷர்மா-ஆதவன் சிபி ! விசா வழிகாட்டும் வாட்சாப் குழுக்கள், தூதரகம் முன் நிற்கும் அனகோண்டா க்யூ வரிசை, ஒற்றை மனிதனாக கண்டம்விட்டு கண்டம் தாவி அமெரிக்கா சென்று சேரும் கொடுமையான முதல் அனுபவம் … எங்களில் எவரும் நண்பர்கள், முகம் தெரியாத முன்னாள் மாணவர்கள் துணையின்றி இந்த பதட்டக் கடலை தாண்டவில்லை. டென்ஷனாக இருக்கிறதா ? எங்களுக்கும் இருந்தது. அதை எப்படிக் கடந்தோம் என்பதுதான் இந்த முதல் காதையின் மய்யக் கரு.

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1 book that made Roger happy, 1 that made him unhappy; 1 that he has yet to read, so his future state of mind is un-prestatable due to constraint closure.


A World Beyond Physics: The emergence of evolution and Life; Stuart A. Kauffman, Oxford University Press, 2019 ISBN 978-0-19-087133-8

Reviewed by Roger F. Malina, Professor of Physics and Art and Technology, UT Dallas
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3399-3865

A book that made Roger happy.

It is not often a book just makes me happy. As I read this book on a transatlantic flight, I leafed back and forth trying to make sense of this mixture of fact and speculation and just plain lack of closure. Kauffman has been on my radar for decades, and was one of the people who alerted me to the end of physics as the queen of the sciences. Its primacy for the last 70 years was an accident of history, particularly of WWI, rather than of logic, or the methods, we call scientific at the moment.

 The sciences of complexity have been one way that sciences are being redesigned, at least in its methods , if not its social embedding. However, the Santa Fe Institute, where Kauffman worked for a while, is indeed a new kind of research institute embedded in open society that treats the arts and sciences as combined ways of knowing. New ideas about causality are emerging and being applied, he argues. In Kauffman’s phrase we must face the fact that some phenomena, including life forms, are ‘unprestatable”. One of the stimuli for his current line of thinking is the work of Mael Motevil and Matteo Mossio on “constraint closure”

(https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01192916/file/Montevil-Mossio_2015_Closure-of-constraints.pdf)

Read it again so it makes sense: un pre-state-able. Not unpredictable. Unprestatable. Not the same idea.

This book is almost an exemplar of Edward Said’s ideas on the ‘late style’ of older `creatives´ (Kauffman announces he is 79). There is no closure here on the nature of life and the scientific explanations of its development on earth and elsewhere in the universe. He states, very accurately, that there are xx billion places in the universe where what we call life, or self-organizing systems, must have originated. The discovery, using astro-physics, that there are more planets than stars in the universe shifts our gaze and that the search for life, like our own, is profoundly mistaken. There are billions of life forms, but none will be like our own and of a kind we can converse with and most will not be on planets (my conclusion).

 In the closing sections, Kauffman extends the discussion to the evolution of the economy. As with life, the economy, he argues, is another example of the emergence of the ‘adjacent possibles’ enabled by the phenomenon of auto-poesis through constraint closure. He concludes: “To think that this (life or the economy) is a Newtonian-Laplacian machine, derivable in some way from set of axioms, seems deeply wrong. Life, and we among it, is so rich in its inheritance and prospects that we can. I think, be captured by no entailing laws”. In his words the future of life, and the economy, are ‘Unprestatable”. 

But read this book and you might get wise, and wisely mad , realizing that the real world isn’t satisfied by physics. Or as we are doing in the UTDallas ArtSciLab try and develop the artscience methods that successfully combine various ways of knowing needed to understand the world at different scales of time, size, and complexity. Like Kauffman I am convinced that physics works enough of the time that it is worth funding; too bad it took astronomere 100,000 years to figure out most of the universe didnt emit light of any kind. For the key problems of climate change and the redesign of our human cultures and economic methods we must go way beyond physics, and in other ways one of which Kauffman elaborates. But this is needed also to understand all three undeniable biggies that Kaufmann enumerates: the origin of the universe, of life forms and of consciousness.

A book that made Roger sad.

The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How modern math reveals nature’s deepest secrets. 

Graham Farmelo. Basic Books.Hachette. USA. ISBN 9781541673922.

By coincidence, serendipity, or some higher mathematical logic (or constraint closure ?), I started this passionate book by Graham Farmelo. He goes into the deep end of the age-old disputes on the roles and natures of mathematics in helping us understand the world around and in us. It would be great to have Farmelo and Kauffman arm-wrestle on the three undeniable biggies cited above. Why mathematics can or should inform our understanding of phenomena, simple and complex, is presumably un-prestatable in Kauffman neologism. Farmelo in exquisite detail takes us through the debates on whether mathematics is the queen of the sciences or whether one stupid fact can derail the most beautiful mathematics. The book culminates in the work of the large hadron collider, the unresolved debates about string theory. He ends on a pacifist note: “As we have seen in the relatively recent past it has become clearer than ever that physicists have not one but two ways of improving their fundamental of how nature works: by collecting data from experiments and by discovering the mathematics that best describes the underlying order of the cosmos. The Universe is whispering its secrets to us in stereo.”

This made me deeply unhappy. Here we go again with false dichotomies that the artscience researchers are struggling to dispel. First he takes sides on the age old argument on whether mathematics is a human invention or a discovery of absolute truth. I don’t think this argument has been resolved; what is clear from Sarukkai’s ethics of curiosity argument is that the way mathematics develops is totally, lets say –largely, conditioned by human curiosity. The inevitable conclusion is that mathematics in extraterrestrial species will overlap but not be identical to human invented or discovered mathematics. In addition there are other ways than mathematics and experiment that humans try to make sense of the worlds around them. Kauffman would argue that the processes of evolution result in “successful” beings that reason in certain ways and not others, and I would argue that current mathematics knowledge is an ‘accident’ of the evolutionary path that our reasoning species have taken.  Mike Punt and I argued endlessly about these issues in the special issue of Leonardo Reviews Quarterly (http://www.trans-techresearch.net/publications/lrq/ )  where     http://malina.diatrope.com/2012/05/28/is-there-role-for-the-sublime-in-artscience-today/ I argued about the un-knowables ( eg what happens inside a black hole), the un-observables, un-translateables and I would now also use Kaufman’s concept of ‘un-prestatables’) and how the way our bodies and minds are constructed, shapes, and constrains our thinking processes so fundamentally that I just don’t see how the mathematics vs experiment can be resolved through this false thinking dichotomy. We need to combine multiple ways of ‘knowing’ or ‘making sense’ of ourselves and the worlds we are part of, not just two. I have never seen a mathematical proof that there can only be two ways of knowing Mr Farmelo !

 In our ArtSciLab, https://atec.utdallas.edu/content/artscilab/?portfolioCats=125%2C126%2C127%2C128%2C129%2C130,  we are struggling with what we mean by ‘transdisciplinary’ approaches to making sense. Fundamental to our thinking is that there are multiple ways of making sense that range from the cognitive sciences reading of signals emitted by our brain structures, to the phenomenological, to the purely mathematical to the messy, contextually experimental to many others.

So I am now confronted by the ‘fact’ that I have here compared and contrasted TWO books, why “two” (and why both by men of the human species). As I have argued elsewhere false dichotomies of the kind that Farmelo farms are one unprestatable consequence of our being a species that is bilaterally symmetric (thanks Stelarc, obviously if we were three handed we would be obsessed with tri-symmetrical structures). 

As Einstein said, I paraphrase:  our ideas are as independent of the nature and shape of our bodies, as our clothes are. 

Fortunately, Helga Nowotny has laid the groundwork for complexifying these discussions with her seminal thinking on transdisciplinarity ( http://helga-nowotny.eu/ )  and more recently on the ‘cunning of uncertainty” https://www.wiley.com/en-us/The+Cunning+of+Uncertainty-p-9780745687612 ).

Yes, the sciences are in desperate need of redesigning. The scientific method is evolving, for example with the emergence of AI beings that reason, and the social embedding of science is becoming more ‘robust’ as Nowotny argues with the open science , co working and artscience movements. I forget what its called when you are both happy and unhappy at the same time, ambivalent ( why not tri-valent). But we all function on the spectrum of wisdom and madness and in between, and beyond to make sense, so we can survive due to our own  individual constraint closures.

Roger Malina

Are Barabasi’s Laws&Formulas for Success Applicable to Transdisciplinary ArtScience Practice ?

 

Colleagues

It is with pleasure that I recommend the new book

Albert-László Barabási : The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success. Little Brown – 2018 ISBN-13: 9780316505499

Reviewed by: Roger F. Malina, February 9 2019

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3399-3865

Reviews and critiques by; Sharath Chandra Ram, Isabel Meirelles, Wolf Rainer

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, in this new book, provides unusual and compelling evidence on the patterns that underlie common sense of ‘success’. He chooses to call these insights  “laws”, with formulas ; I will question those descriptors later in the review. But as an astronomer, and observational scientist, I resonate deeply with the way he collects his data, analyses patterns and then develops tools to frame an understanding of how those patterns emerge.  Yes, if you want to both excel and succeed, read this book.

One caveat, from my background in astronomy, is that as a profession we invested a huge amount of time over the centuries looking at patterns of stars, moving stars, and later morphology of galaxies. Some of these patterns turned out to be irrelevant to understanding the underlying structures; constellations for instance, or the study of the moon and planets to explicate human behaviors. And during my own professional career we learned, thanks to Vera Rubin and many others, that dark matter, which does not emit light, was dominant in explaining the structure and evolution of galaxies. The patterns and morphologies that astronomers were obsessed with were relevant but not fundamental. Similarly my colleagues including Saul Perlmutter, found compelling evidence that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate due to an unknown ‘dark energy’. Not a common sense result, at least at the time I was getting my education

This background made me a skeptical reader of Barabasi’s claim to have found the ‘formulas’ and “laws’ for individual  human and group success. The self help industry is littered with unsubstantiated claims; be careful when searching on line for the laws of success !.But for me Barabasi reframes our thinking about all these questions, brings to bear his expertise in complex network science and data science to create guidelines on how to convert performance into success; both terms he defines clearly, in fields as separate as jazz performers and nobel prize winning biologists. And the book is peppered with fascinating vignettes, such as the mistaken identity incident that transformed Einstein from an excellent scientist to a successful world renowned one. But other exemplars of these laws include  why an average basketball player can transform a team into a superteam, and how a smart coach can spot what the average player can bring to group success.

Let me list Barabasi five laws:

  1. Performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success.
  2. Performance is bounded but success is unbounded.
  3. Previous success x fitness = future success.
  4. While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the groups achievements.
  5. With persistence success can come at any time.

First reaction as I read was “hmm nothing new here, Sounds like common sense”.  But as I read, the more and more I became convinced that this book was reframing the way I think about the ArtSciLab ( https://artscilab.atec.io/  )  at UTDallas. Cassini Nazir and I co-direct this lab as part of a network of labs in ATEC School at UTDallas . In this lab we have emerging professionals from the “arts” and “sciences” working together, in a designed heterogeneous collaboration lab ; and the performance and success criteria for each of the different professions could not be more different – from the unquantifiable performance criteria in some of the arts, to the citation driven metrics of performance in many of the sciences. Our difficulties in translating performance into success in these transdisciplinary practices has led me to joke that astronomy had been so easy.  With its well defined performance and success criteria that a whole community of practice shares, there is a perhaps a ‘formula’ for success in astronomy.

Alex Topete in the ArtSciLab is now leading our HERMES project to collect data on the structures and methods of inter and transdisciplinary research labs, and translate this into ‘apprenticeship’ training. We hope the HERMES approach will help us develop similar ‘common sense’ on how to help our colleagues both perform well and also succeed in their chosen hybrid professions that are often excluded from the silo structures of our institutions. Barabasi’s previous books were already part of our apprenticeship reading, but this book is fundamental and will reshape our approaches.

Let me finish with a few reflexions, not criticisms, of this excellent book.

First, I find the use of the words ‘formula’ and ‘law’ problematic, perhaps because of the way these words are used popularly. Barabasi’s use is very specific, they are the formalisms that can be used to predictably describe the patterns in the data that he and others have found. So far so good. But if there is any take home message that I have taken from the sciences of complexity, it is that we need many ideas of causality and be careful about our implicit biases. Not only the A causes B  implication of Barabasi’s third law. Whether in understanding the emerging structures in the Universe or the health of ecologies, or human well-being,  we know that emerging behaviors often  arise from low level rules of interaction, as well as the implication of network morphologies, not necessarily from ‘laws’ of the systemic behaviour  And in many systems (eg climate change) you can model the systems extrapolate future behaviour and develop equations that describe well the data collected in the past, but future behaviour maybe be disrupted by causalities that are of the kind A causes B, if C didn’t happen and D happened 100 years ago. Never mind the impact of sporadic events such as unusual solar cycles, asteroid impact or out of the ordinary volcanic eruptions. Kathryn Hayles has usefully complexified the differences between prediction and retrodiction; Barabasi, I think, with the use of the words ‘law’ and ‘formula’ may mislead some readers. The laws of success as explicated by Barabasi are in a different epistemological framework than the Newtonian laws of gravity. This in my view complexifies how one can translate these laws into daily practice.

The other reflection concerns the sociology of human behavior in institutions. A book that influenced my thinking and practice is Randall Collins book “ The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change”. One of the take home messages of the book is that the history of successful ideas is often dominated by ‘office politics’ rather than the excellence of the ideas or individuals. Collins studies schools of philosophy over the millennia in China, Asia, Japan, the West and finds, like Barabasi, patterns that seem to replicate, though in a less data driven quantifiable way than does Barabasi. For instance the common situation of personal disagreement between a PhD advisor and an excellent PhD students leads the student to leave rather than continue to collaborate; the student leads a new school of philosophy that is more successful than that of his mentor. Another example would be the current discussions of how the careers of many young professionals have been strongly influenced by sexual and or psychological harassment in institutions that are historically reticent to punish excellent acadmeic performers for poor or criminal personal behaviors on campus. Barabasi does discuss many examples of what I am calling ‘office politics’, but maybe there is a possible 6th law.

Certainly as part of the community of practice, including our ArtSciLab, that is trying to create research that bridges the arts and sciences, sometimes called STEM to STEAM, we face these issues. We are well aware how office politics has negatively influenced the success of some of our most brilliant colleagues. Sometimes the social structure of institutions is “incompatible” with the success of certain excellent ideas because the way incentives, such as promotion and tenure, function to reinforce ‘silo-ed’ thinking. As a result, our community of practice is still marked by intellectual and geographic migrants, “geniuses’ who have often been abandoned and forgotten. The innovation and creativity research community, including the science of team science area that Barabasi develops, is fast moving as we seek to translate  and combine “sciences” with “arts” into useful medical practices and other social outcomes.

Another thought. The 68-year-old that I am was of course encouraged by Barabasi’s 5th Law: Success can come at any time. He analyses in depths the age at which celebrated figures did their outstanding work; yes, most do this before their 30s. But he complexifies this with examples and data of how on the tail of this distribution there are many examples of successful and exceptional achievements in later years. He illustrates this work with the way John Fenn carried out his ground-breaking work in his sixties and received the Nobel prize in his later 80s. He develops the idea of the “‘Q’factor”, the ability to translate ideas into discoveries and quantifies a number of common sense ideas. But more importantly he develops the idea of how to develop ones ‘Q’ factor, through collaboration methodologies, a fundamental concept in the UT Dallas ArtSciLab. And his discussion ties in nicely with Edward Said’s ideals in his book “On Late Style” and the SOTA (Students Older than Average) being led by Linda Anderson in our ArtSciLab. Michael Punt introduced me to this line of argument as part of the COGNOVO program, on cognitive innovation, at the University of Plymouth. The idea that the brain and body have multiple ‘modes of operations , and that these ‘modes’ can be altered, or their use modified by experience or by age or other factors. The popular press on toggling between “quick thinking’ and “slow thinking’, or “thing small” and “think big” ties into this in some way. Said’s ideas helb reshape the way we think about involving older professionals in innovation work.

Said’s full book is at: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/159782/on-late-style-by-edward-w-said/9780375726330/ and I note in passing that it feeds into my colleague Nina Czegledy’s insistence that in transdisciplinar work we need to invent new mechanisms of inter-generational communication and collaboration. This hallmark of the community of Practice that uses the Leonardo SAST and OLATS organisations for part of their professional needs, as Nina discovered as she led our 50th anniversary ‘village’ birthday parties.

In conclusion we will be adding Barabasi’s new book to our transdisciplinary apprenticeship source material.

Disclaimer. I have met Barabasi a few times during my career. As he explains before becoming a successful scientist, he tried to be a sculptor. This hybrid interest has led him to talk at a Leonardo art-science event in Prague. Later I reached out to Barabasi when I was recruited at UT Dallas to ask if he had recommendations for emerging professionals that I might help recruit. This led to the UTD hiring of historian Max Schich. Max Schich and Isabel Meirelles went on to lead the influential Arts, Humanities and Complex Network symposia at the network science conferences. When Max Schich, an art historian, arrived in Dallas, he published an article in Science which now has an Altmetrics score of nearly 500, and his YouTube video has 1.5 million downloads, yes 1.5 million; certainly a measure of success for an art historian! For me, this anecdote exemplifies Barabasi’s practice over the decades, and illustrates well the laws and formulas Barabasi now proposes in his book under review here: The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success, Little Brown –

2018. I apologise for referring frequently to how I found the ideas of Barabasi’s book applicable to our ArtSciLab and would be interested in if other transdisciplinary researchers find the ideas applicable in their case.


 

Escape from the Earth and Human Foibles

Colleagues

I need to give you advance warning of a book about to come out, which describes the work of my father Frank Malina and his leadership of the team that launched the first human made object to reach outer space.

Ironically his mistreatment by the US governement of the time, during the so called “Mc Carthy” period, led to his becoming a political refugee in France. He became a full time artist, funded through the start up aerospace company Aeorojet that he co-founded. He became an early pioneer of the art and technology movement that now seems like basic cultural common sense today.

He founded the Leonardo artscitech publications that have championed and documented the work of transdisciplinary misfits whose work naturally crosses the arts, sciences and emerging technologies.

Escape from Earth:
A Secret History of the Space Rocket

by Fraser MacDonald

taken from
https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/fraser-macdonald/escape-from-earth/9781610398695/

“”The long-buried truth about the dawn of the Space Age: lies, spies, socialism, and sex magick.
Los Angeles, 1930s:
 Everyone knows that rockets are just toys, the stuff of cranks and pulp magazines. Nevertheless, an earnest engineering student named Frank Malina sets out to prove the doubters wrong. With the help of his friend Jack Parsons, a grandiose and occult-obsessed explosives enthusiast, Malina embarks on a journey that takes him from junk yards and desert lots to the heights of the military-industrial complex.


Malina designs the first American rocket to reach space and establishes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But trouble soon finds him: the FBI suspects Malina of being a communist. And when some classified documents go missing, will his comrades prove as dependable as his engineering?
Drawing on an astonishing array of untapped sources, including FBI documents and private archives, Escape From Earth tells the inspiring true story of Malina’s achievements–and the political fear that’s kept them hidden. At its heart, this is an Icarus tale: a real life fable about the miracle of human ingenuity and the frailty of dreams. “”

Frank Malina’s best friend at the time at Caltech, was Qian Xuesen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qian_Xuesen who was expelled against his will back to china, around the time my father became a political refugee in France. Qian Xuesen went on to found and head the Chinese Space Program.

My father’sPhd advisor was Theodore Von Karman
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_von_K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n . In a wonderful irony of history, the Chinese recently landed the first rover on the back side of the moon.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jan/03/china-probe-change-4-land-far-side-moon-basin-crater

And they landed in the Von Karman crater !!! Arthur C Clarke, a good friend of Frank Malina named one of the spaceship captains in his books after Frank Malina. Truth can be stranger than fiction.

History is cruel, but perhaps this book will help develop a different narrative of the space age at a time that the leadership of space exploration is transitioning from the western powers to the eastern powers and commercial companies. Frank Malina was a co founder of UNESCO, and part of a generation that advocated that outer space should be the common heritage of human kind- an idealistic vision that our current systems seem unable to grapple with.

Leonardo for a number of years has held space and the arts workshops ,
http://olats.org/space/sasc21/2019/sasc21_2019.php in collaboration with the International Federation of Astronautics Technical Activities Committee for the Cultural Utilisation of Space.

Ironically in ealier workshops there was much discussion of the “Space Option” argued by space artist Arthur Woods,
https://www.leoalmanac.org/the-space-option-by-arthur-woods/ , arguing that human survival might require emigration from earth. With the near term crisis of climate change , within the next generation, space tourism is unlikely to be the approach needed to make space a common heritage of mankind.

Yes indeed
“At its heart, this is an Icarus tale: a real life fable about the miracle of human ingenuity and the frailty of dreams. “” but also the victory of mathematics as a tool for human survival. Von Karman is particularly known for demonstrating that mathematics could be use to understand and use turbulent and complex phenomena ;this made rocketry possible for human aims at a time when mathematics was not fully part of “STEM”. Today we debate the integration of the arts and humanities into STEM, or STEAM. Yes history is cruel, but perhaps reality is more exciting than fiction.

The multidisciplinary, and somewhat weird, team that founded a succesful aerospace start up company, led to the founding of JPL, the Leonardo artscitech movement. My father advocated ‘a high degree of tolerance for strange people’. Sometimes they are geniuses expelled from the Academy, and yes sometimes they are nut cases. Bucky Fuller was part of the Leonardo founding group, now we name molecules after a strange person !

Roger Malina

Space Artists of the Universe Meet at MIT oct 28/29 2019

colleagues in the space exploration and the arts villages- am
delighted to announce
this major conference on the arts and space explortion !
roger malina

STEAM FOR SPACE LEADERS OF TOMORROW

The International Academy of Astronautics is holding the Second
Symposium on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics for
Space on October 28-29, 2019 at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
The theme is “STEAM for Space Leaders of Tomorrow.” This symposium is
organized under the auspices of the IAA Multi-commission Study Group
6.16 on “STEM/STEAM for Space Grand Challenges.” The first day will
involve presentations by experts and leaders from academia, government
and business. The next morning visits are planned to laboratories,
centers and institutes involved in space-related activities at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Participants will be free to
visit MIT faculty in the afternoon.

Possible Topics:

Programs to enhance STEAM education for space, e.g. communications,
earth observation, transportation, space physics, life sciences, space
technology, planetary science. Multi-disciplinary and
multi-institutional efforts. Contributions of national and
international space agencies and organizations. Development of
qualified scientists, engineers and leaders for future space
activities. Educational trends and expected new space fields.
Innovations in STEAM education for Space. Interactions of Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with the creative Arts.
Challenges in improving STEAM education.

Co-Chairs: Liya Regel (IAA), Wesley Harris (NAE, IAA)

IAA Study Group members: Oleg M. Alifanov, Guy Andre Boy, Guobiao Cai,
Duarte Carlos, Yulin Deng, Amalia Ercoli Finzi, Norbert Frischauf,
Alon Gany, Jordi Gutierrez, Michèle Lavagna, Qiusheng Liu, Inessa B.
Kozlovskaya, Roger F. Malina, Giovanni Maizza, Jancy C. McPhee,
Valanathan Munsami, Carol Oliver, Oleg Orlov, Amelia Ortiz-Gil,
Radhika Ramachandran, Giuseppe G. Reibaldi, Alejandro J. Roman M.,
Irina B. Vavilova, Oleg Ventskovsky, Fengyuan Zhuang

For more detailed information, please contact

the IAA Office: http://iaaweb.org/content/view/171/287/

28-29 October 2019, MIT Cambridge, USA

INVITATION:Tale of Thirty Thinking Systems: Art Science Education at US National Academy of Science

Colleagues

If you are attending the US National Academy of Science Convening on April 12

http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/bhew/branches/

on the Integration of Arts, Humanities, and STEMM in Higher Education

We invite you to discuss, critique and collaborate with us on our TOTTS initiative

The initiative for teaching and learning art and science in the way that brains work

we look forward to meeting you there

details below of TOTTS

 

Website: https://cdash.atec.io/
ToTTS Team:

Tale of Two (or maybe Thirty ?) Thinking Systems (ToTTS):

The initiative for teaching and learning art and science in the way that brains work

Lauren Bernal, Eun Ah Lee, Kathryn Evans, Linda Anderson, Alex Topete, and Roger Malina
The University of Texas at Dallas

Our brains do not always think in a single, straightforward way. Previous studies suggest different ways of “thinking,” for example, one is fast, intuitive and implicit thinking and another is slow, reasonable and explicit thinking. Traditionally, teaching science mainly focuses on slow, reason-based, and explicit thinking, while teaching art usually encourage fast, intuitive, and implicit thinking. This traditional pedagogical approach, however, might not optimize the utility of how our brains work. Art-based teaching of science or science-based teaching of art can encourage multi-layered thinking systems by activating multi-modal sensory system, by engaging attention using novel and incongruent concepts or by
facilitating to take divergent paths of cognitive processing. This transdisciplinary teaching will bring more fruitful learning outcomes because it helps the way that our brains work. We have been developing and implementing programs, courses, and studies to pursue this transdisciplinary teaching and  initiatives to the campus and toward extended communities:
CDASH (Curriculum Development in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities), a compendium of art-science courses that allow
for the study of the international impact of art-science teaching and provide a platform for instructors of art-science curricula.
TASTA (TAlk Science Through the Arts), a STEM Education Approach based on cross-disciplinary collaboration between high school students and undergraduate mentors. Study the Students, Teach the Teachers, using arts-based workshops as intervention to enhance thinking skills in both high school and college student populations, and informing teaching practices. Teaching Creativity and Innovation Through the Arts, using arts-based learning to develop different methods to teach arts appreciation to STEM and business majors that enhance creative thinking.
HERMES (Highly Effective Research Merging Epistemic Research), researching how researchers and expert practitioners work together in inter- and trans-disciplinary contexts to tackle complex problems with creative solutions, ranging from the
environment, to new ways of learning to technology and societies.

Incentivising Transdisciplinary Individuals and Teams: Donate to the Marjorie Duckworth Fund as a nudge

Colleagues

Our community of practice, or networks of villages face a number of obstacles to crossing the arts, sciences and technologies. Among these are the ways that most institutions are organised around “Disciplines” or narrow “Professions”. Ranging from physics to marketing to everything in between.

I hate to tell you but the earth’s ecology does not care what discipline you are from, or who funded you, as we all work to address climate change and the unsustaibable societies we have all built together.

Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Leonardo networks of villages ( www.leonardo.info ). One of the realisations that hit home was how many members of these villages are risk takers bridging disciplines, and how their institutions do everything they can to discourage them. Yes we need disciplinary experts, amazing physicist and marketing specialists. But for many of the problems we work on we need mechanisms to bridge them. We need hybrid individuals team, all the way from amphibians, to axelotls.

We are beginning a new series of crowdfunding campaigns to raise some mulla to help provide incentives to change the way our institutions think. Mulla can be either in kind, ideas and work, or cash mulla.

Four years ago we did a kickstarter campaign and raised mulla to help transdisciplinary individuals make their work visible. We did this through the Creative Disturbance ‘intellectual dating’ service, or podcast platform. We have now awarded numerous small scholarships to students across the planet who have now published their work on https://creativedisturbance.org/ . As part of this Dr Yvan Tina relaunched the Leonardo Virtual Africa Project: https://creativedisturbance.org/channel/virtual-africa/ . 

Yes the problem is not only institutional but deeply cultural. Our ecology doesnt care if you are from Angola or Brazil or India when the rain forests are decimated. We need to work cross culturally.

As a first step in trying to design a transition in our Leonardo work ( using Terry Irwin’s Transition Design methods), we are starting small a call for donations to the new Marjorie Duckworth Fund at the University of Texas at Dallas: .

This runs today April 2 and we hope you will make a symbolic donation as the donations will be matched.

https://givingday.utdallas.edu/giving-day/11841/department/16935?utm_source=scalefunder&utm_campaign=amb_share&utm_name=dnrtsqkcg4aiucmuxj4skwq&utm_medium=plain

Make the donation to the Marjorie Duckworth fund. Marjorie Malina nee Duckworth among other things married Frank Malina: https: //www.leonardo.info/about-marjorie-malina .  

She was a university graduate in London in the 30s economics, served in the British Army, was part of the founding team of UNESCO and throughout her life contributed to finding ways of preventing WWIII.

The fund initially will be used to reward students who insist on carrying out work that crosses departmental silos ( cognitive science to art to marketing ? yes opera singers can contribute to solving problems as well as nurses).

But also our systems emphasise the recognition of individuals when most transdisciplinary problems require teams. Awards will go to teams of students who work on a common problem crossing disciplines, which often encounters hostility from university departments.

Alex Topete runs the UTD ARTSCILAB Hermes Project ( http://malina.diatrope.com/2019/02/09/are-barabasis-lawsformulas-for-success-applicable-to-transdisciplinary-artscience-practice/ ) and he will be overseeing the use of the funds.

One of Marjorie Duckworth’s grand-daughters, Giselle Malina is leading the coordination of the crowdfunding: http://cultureofempathy.com/References/Experts/Giselle-Malina.htm

Alex Topete in the ArtSciLab is now leading our HERMES project to collect data on the structures and methods of inter and transdisciplinary research labs, and translate this into ‘apprenticeship’ training on EdX -watch this space. We hope the HERMES approach will help us develop similar ‘common sense’ on how to help our colleagues both perform well and also succeed in their chosen hybrid professions that are often excluded from the silo structures of our institutions.

Beyond this first step we will create funds for students across institutional boundaries ( eg universities in the same city) and also for students across the planet using the Creative Disturbance and Virtual Africa methodology: https://creativedisturbance.org/channel/virtual-africa/

We will provide more details over the coming weeks and years, but more importantly we would like to connect with related initiatives and ideas that you may be leading. If you want to go  quickly alone, if you want to go far go together, as they say in Africa, to cross the sahara desert that the earth is becoming as global warming surges.

Please make a contribution  April 2 to:

https://givingday.utdallas.edu/giving-day/11841/department/16935?utm_source=scalefunder&utm_campaign=amb_share&utm_name=dnrtsqkcg4aiucmuxj4skwq&utm_medium=plain

ROGER MALINA

 

About Marjorie Malina

Marjorie Duckworth Malina was born 28 April 1918 in Elslack, Yorkshire, England. The daughter of John James Duckworth and Mary Anne Bolton, she was the youngest of four; her sisters were Thyra, Annie and Mary Duckworth. She attended the University of London, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1939. She trained in accountancy while working in her father’s textile company, JJ Duckworth Ltd. During World War II she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, reaching the rank of captain, and with the antiaircraft batteries operated by women that helped defend Britain during the war.

Shortly after the war she applied to work at UNESCO, a newly founded organization, after hearing a radio broadcast by Julian Huxley, and was hired in the personnel department in 1947. There she me Frank Malina, then Deputy Director for Science of UNESCO, and they married in 1949. Frank and Marjorie bought a house in Boulogne Billancourt, and raised two sons, Roger and Alan. The Malina home was the birthplace of the journal Leonardo and the Leonardo Network and a center of art-science debate in Paris in the 1950s and 1960s. It was also the studio where Frank Malina worked as a pioneer in the kinetic art movement. The steady flow of guests and visitors included astronautical pioneers, artists and scholars including Jacob Bronowski, Frank Popper, Academician Sedov, Roy Ascott and Leonardo editorial board members. Numerous friends and colleagues enjoyed the hospitality of Marjorie Duckworth Malina. She worked tirelessly for the success of the Leonardo project and was an ardent defender of the ideals of international collaboration. Marjorie passed away in March 2006.

In honor of Marjorie Duckworth Malina, Leonardo has begun the Marjorie Duckworth Malina Fund in support of the Leonardo special project on Smart Textiles and New Textiles Technology.

Publish-ing when the intended audience are artificial beings such as primitive A.I. life forms

Colleagues

The recent months ave been hectic and productive in our UTD ArtSciLab ( https://artscilab.atec.io/  ) . This semester our seminar is around the topic of expertimental publishing and experimental curating (EXPUCU in our local artscilab dialect).

This is a continuation of the Leonardo experimental publishing initiatives over the last 50 years; we have been seeking to document the work of the art/sci/tech networks of villages so that the work can be shared by others. This is our working definition of publishing: documenting your work and sharing it with others.

Our largest recent projects are the ARTECA.MIT.EDU art/sci/tech aggregator with the CreativeDisturbance podcast platform. We are trying to figure out how to document work in our community using multimodal ( various media, but also rhetorical and performative modes), and multiligually. We now have started pulishing via ARTECA in 12 languages, and soon in a number of indigenous languages. One of the premises is that you should be able to document your work in the languages you ‘think with’ , based on recent cognitive science. This can be your ‘mother tongues” ( learned while your brain was still forming its internal language network tools) to your performative languages ( singing opera, writing academic articles). 100 years from now we will all publish in our mother tongues ( from emoji to arabic to spanish to ?) and translation engines will translate- human translates will provide the metaphorical pattern recognition.

And a key new audience that is emerging for publishing is artificial beings. Dr Yvan Tina in the artscilab has been documenting ( see https://artscilab.atec.io/projects/meta-life ) how artists are now working with artificial life forms ( from AI to CRISPR creations). More recently Thouseef Syed has birthed our first artscilab ‘virtual assistant” whose name is Besso. We are now trying to publish in ways that the intended audience is the AI software being inside Besso, so that we can share our knowledge using publishing forms that Besso can understand.

This monday evening Ahmer, Syed Adnan in the lab led a discussion on how to publish when the intended audience are AI beings, primitive live forms not unlike our own several million years ago. We coined the term: Public-A.I.tion for this form of experimental publishing. Some of us who are concerned about the unpremeditated explosion of these new primitive AI based life forms joked maybe that Public-Machination was a better term ! A yes survival of the fittest- a Artificial Life is now mutating faster than organic life forms.

So this week our local artscilab dialect includes:

Public-Ation: the task of documenting ones work and sharing it with others in a fixed form (eg an academic journal or a blog post like this one)

Public-Action: A public intervention to share ones work ( a public lecture..)

Public-Interaction: A public activity where both implicit and explicit knowledge can be shared ( eg a workshop, but also interactive digital screens as in done in the PIRL Lab in ATEC at UT Dallas under Anne Balsamo and Dale McDonald). Living ebooks can be a form of evolving Public-Interaction, or the evolving annotated public-ations being pioneered through PubPub ( https://www.pubpub.org/)

Public-A.I.tion: Documenting ones work for artificial life forms (AI, CRISPR creatures)

We look forward to our networks of villages translating some of these ideas into their own metaphors and terminologies. I wonder to express these ideas in emoji ?

The work here is very much transdisciplinary ( yes narrow disciplines like astronomy are do much easier to carry out research in- which explains why universities are so often discipinarily myopic).If transdisciplinary research was easy universities would already be doing it.

And collaborative by nature, using current transition co-design methologies. Our transition design approach is led by Prof Cassini Nazir who leads the UTD ATEC Usability research lab. We can list all the 40 or so collaborators involved but they include in addition to the people named above, Scot Gresham Lancaster, Eun-Ah Lee, Kathryn Evans,Linda Anderson, Chandra Ram, Emma Newkirk, Kathrin Ploehn, Aaron Tate, Lauren LaRocca, Shahbazi, Kourosh, …. (this is a ‘3-living’ proto AI publication, and will be updated over the coming years. If your name isnt mentioned yet and you contributed to these ideas, e-yell- this is a Public-Interaction Public-Ation !

Roger Malina

 

 

 

 

After the Internet : Leonardo call for ideas on what will replace the internet

Leonardo Colleagues

OK how can Leonardo launch a publication for space tourists ? check out

http://www.olats.org/space/sasc21/2019/sasc21_2019.php

As you will remember Leonardo was an early adopter of on-line publishing, Our fineart forum started in 1988 with ray lauzana’s brilliant initiative and the Leonardo web site was one of the first 400 web sites on the web in 1994.

Here follows , below, a brief history of some of Leonardo’s initiatives in digital culture enabled by the internet and pre internet thanks to a number of adventurous pioneers including Ray Lauzzana, Craig Harris, Judy Malloy, Paul Brown and Nisar Keshvani , the late Carl Loeffler and Roy Ascott ( if i forgot someone -eyell !) (history is cruel)

But what comes next in 50 years the internet will no longer exist what comes next ? we welcome ideas for how Leonardo could be an early adopter in the systems that will replace the internet

Joe Davis is working on art archiving using CRISPR technologies with George Church at Harvard….???? Should Leonardo start CRISPR publishing ?

The late Jean Marc Philippe unfortunately never got to launch KEO, a publishing project intended to return to earth in 50.000 years- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KEO– otherwise we would have the first Leonardo publication in geostationary orbit !

Vint Cerf in the 1990s with JPL tried to set up an interplanetary internet as he discussed at the Leonardo Space Arts Workshops in Paris in 1999- http://www.olats.org/spaceavantRefonte/13avril-III/programme_participants-old.shtml  

Sorry  Vint it never happened 20 years later – you are indeed a visionary

So what new initiatives should Leonardo start to pioneer in the post-internet era ? Leonardo started on-line publishing in 1988- almost 30 years ago-now is the time to pioneer again

 

Leonardo/OLATS is relaunching its space arts workshops 

http://www.olats.org/space/sasc21/2019/sasc21_2019.php http://www.olats.org/space/sasc21/2019/sasc21_2019.php under the leadership of Annick Bureaud, Jean Luc Soret and Ewen Chardronnet- what will space tourists read ? Leonardo get ready !! We welcome proposals for the first publications for space tourists. Ellon Musk will finance ?

Roger Malina

https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2019/03/12/when-were-we-first-on-the-world-wide-web

When Were We First on the World Wide Web?

By Danielle Siembieda

Today (12 March 2019) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web. Needless to say to say this historical moment was critical for Computer Art as it opened the door to a whole new movement of Net Art. Leonardo reserve a few bragging rights for being one of the first websites online. But the mystery of exactly when we launched on the internet, and what the first URL was, is still open for debate.

First, let us give our thanks to Craig Harris, Judy Malloy, Paul Brown and Nisar Keshvani for their pioneering work getting Leo online! Here is a break down of our digital timeline.

1988

Leonardo’s first forays into digital publishing were two bulletin boards: FineArt Forum and F.A.S.T. These bulletin boards predate internet browsers and were accessed over various networks such as the Well, Compuserve and MCI. FineArt Forum, founded by Ray Lauzzana, had been distributed over academic networks since May 1987 through Bitnet, CSNET, ARPA, Internet and Janet, but was supported by Leonardo/ISAST beginning in 1998, when it was added to the WELL system under the Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN), operated by Carl Loeffler. At this time, ISAST begin publishing the subscription publication F.A.S.T, the Fine Art, Science and Technology Bulletin Board, also through the Well and MCI networks under ACEN, and was also available as a diskette!

The announcement below appears in the first issue of Leonardo in 1989 (Volume 22).

Leonardo on the Web 1989

1991

In 1991 Leonardo published a special Art and Interactive Telecommunications issue with guest editors Roy Ascott and Carl Loeffler. An article by Leonardo Executive Editor Roger Malina, “Fineart Forum and F.A.S.T.: Experiments in Electronic Publishing in the Arts,” presents an account of Leonardo/ISAST’s early digital presence.

1993

Leonardo Electronic Almanac issue 1

1993 launched the Leonardo Electronic Almanac under founder and editor-in-chief Craig Harris. Early LEA was distributed by electronic mail. An essay by Craig Harris, “Historical Perspective: Leonardo Electronic Almanac,” that recounts the beginnings of LEA was published in LEA in 2010.

1994

The Leonardo On-Line website was founded in 1994 and was, according to ISAST lore, one of the first 400 websites on the internet! The URL first appeared in Leonardo journal issue 1 of 1995: http:/www-mitpress.mit.edu/Leonardo/home.html [we think the missing slash is sic but the dash is correct]. Was this the first URL? What did the site look like? The ISAST office doesn’t have records!

1994 also brought the first hyperlinked issue of FineArt Forum. You can read an archived version of that issue HERE. In the editorial, fAf editor Paul Brown wrote: “This issue will be the first to appear with full hyperlinking…. Who needs to read when you can point and click?”

1995

Leonardo in the McKinley Yellow Pages 1995
McKinley Group Internet Yellow Pages 1995

Leonardo On-Line and the Leonardo Electronic Almanac were listed in this 1995 version of the McKinley Internet Yellow Pages paper directory. This was before Google Search! This listing also notes that LEA had moved to the World Wide Web at http://www-mitpress.mit.edu/LEA/home.html.

1999

The first screenshot we could find of the actual Leonardo On-Line landing page was in 1999, also hosted on MIT Press website.

Leonardo On-Line MIT Press 1999

2000

At the beginning of the 21st century, we moved our URL to ram.leonardo.org.

Ram.leonardo.org

 

ArtSciLab Grey Paper: Data Listening, Listening to Data, Data Sonification podcast channel update

colleagues

Scot Gresham-Lancaster of the UTD ATEC ArtSciLab is the producer of a podcast channel Data and Sound on Creative Disturbance ( https://creativedisturbance.org/ ). He has been interviewing key researchers in the emerging field called variously Data Listening, Listening to Data and Data Sonification. If you are interested in being interviewed for this channel please contact me at rmalina@alum.mit.edu

here is a ArtSciLab Grey Paper with a summary of the publications to date:

Roger Malina

 

UTD ATEC ArtSci Lab Grey Paper #3.0:

“Sound and Data” Podcast Channel of Pioneers and Practioners in the emerging field of data sonification.  https://creativedisturbance.org/channel/sound-data/ 

 

FEB. 15, 2019

Scot Gresham-Lancaster ORCID#0000-0002-8400-6041

Roger Malina, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3399-3865

Sharath Chandra Ram

 

Abstract:

This artscilab grey paper summarises the scope and content of the Sound and Data Channel on Creative Disturbance produced by Scot Gresham Lancaster. The channel publishes podcasts with pioneers and current practitioners in the area of data sonification, also known as listening to data or data listening.

 

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Podcasts with Pioneers
  3. Podcasts with current Practioners
  4. Conclusion
  5. Acknowledgements

 

 

  • Introduction

 

Working with the Art Science Lab that is part of ATEC at the University of Texas at Dallas, Scot Gresham-Lancaster got a chance to do a series of podcasts via the podcast aggregate Creative Disturbance. Over the last four years Research Artist Gresham-Lancaster has been talking to some of the foremost experts doing research, theorizing and performing using the various techniques and concepts that the idea of LISTENING TO DATA can lead to. This has been an opportunity to have frank and open discussions with many of the pioneers and current experts in the field.

 

This has been a rare opportunity to speak in detail about the “lessons learned” and workflows that addressing the conversion of data into audio and present in a wide variety of unique auditory solutions that have been very informative and helped guide our work to new horizons.

 

Here is the header on the “Sound and Data” website:

Auditory perception has advantages in temporal, amplitude, and frequency resolution that open possibilities as an alternative or complement to visualization techniques. The implications and techniques of this approach to extending the perception of data to the sense of hearing will be the focus of this channel.

 

The following is a hypertext link to each of the podcasts in the series up until the Fall of 2018. We start with the discussions that were with the actual pioneers of the field and then move onto the many current researchers and practitioners in the field. The reader is encouraged to follows these links and listen to the podcasts that catch their interest. This podcast has enable a discussion this topic with the top practitioners in the world. Their biographies are associated with each hyperlink.

2. The Pioneers of the field:

Pauline Oliveros – Some Thoughts on Sonification

 

The Field of Sonification – Greg Kramer

 

Carla Scaletti-Early Pioneer of Sonification Research

 

What follows is a listing of the current practitioners that we have had the opportunity to have in-depth conversations. They are listed in alphabetical order.

 

3. Current Practitioners

 

Mark Ballora – Sonification Research

 

Talking Trees – Bert Barten

 

Andrew Blanton The Conductor

 

Chris Chafe Brain Stethoscope and other projects

 

Roger Dean [ENG]Intonation and Cognition

 

  1. Alexis Emelianoff [ENG] Listening to Electromagnetic Fields

 

Florian Grond and Listening Mode Centered Sonification

 

Martin Keary Making the YouTube critique of Sonification

 

Marco Buongiorno Nardelli Material Sound Music

 

Sophia Roosth – All the Senses

 

Margaret Schedel and the Sounds of Science

 

Dr. Paul Vickers – Sonification, Ethical Computing and Standup Comedy [ENG]

 

Mike Winters – Sonification of Emotion

 

David Worral [ENG] An overview of decades work in Sonification

 

4. Conclusion

The hope is that this introduction to this resource will lead to some readers listening to the hours of interviews associated with the Sound and Data channel. It has been a great thrill to get the perspectives of these dedicated artists and scientists as they are all working at the frontier of these new Audio Art practices. If you are an artist or researcher involved in data sonification work and would be interested in publishing a podcast- please contact the producer Scot Gresham Lancaster.

 

5. Acknowledgements

We thank all the members of the Data Stethoscope team for their participation on the development of these ideas: Gagan Wig,  Tim Perkis, Andrew Blanton, Adnan Syed, Judd Bradbury, Michela Chan, Neil Savalia, Cassini Nazir, Kristen Duepree and Make or Break gaming company

 

What would YOU tell the US National Endowment of Arts ! Now is the time to mobilise !

colleagues

As i mentionned in my previous blog the US community of practice in our art/science/technology fields are getting attention from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine with the upcoming April 12 in Washington DC  : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-national-convening-on-the-integration-the-arts-humanities-and-stemm-in-higher-ed-tickets-53159362083 

Now the US National Endowment of the Arts has launched an important process of consultation with the community- https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=22e0f9e9e0e c9003a98e3434b0d4beff&tab=core&_cview=0 

please share this with your colleagues and encourage participation and interezt

  1. What is the range of examples of such work across artistic disciplines and technology platforms? Are there categories or classifications for identifying this work, by genre or sub-discipline or by type of technology used?
  2. What is the range of career paths or trajectories taken by artists working with technology? Across artistic disciplines, how are these pathways similar or different?
  3. How do artists working with technology participate in cross-sectoral and/or cross-disciplinary partnerships, and/or in their local creative economies? How are these relationships formed and to what purpose? What
  4. are the associated risks, challenges, and opportunities for artists?
  5. What are current and prospective sources of support for artistic practices using technology, and how might they be improved and/or sustained?
  6. What types of technical training and resources are used and needed to support artistic practices using technology? What gaps in training and resources currently exist for these artists, across
  7. how might they be improved and/or sustained?
  8. What types of technical training and resources are used and needed to support artistic practices using technology? What gaps in training and resources currently exist for these artists, across artistic disciplines and technology platforms?
  9. What are current and emergent models for supporting artistic practices (financially and non-financially) using technology? Across artistic disciplines, how are these models similar or different?
  10. What are organizational risks, challenges, and opportunities in supporting artists working with technology? How do these differ among for-profit and non-profit organizations? By sector, artistic discipline, and/or technology platform?The NEA will convene a Technical Working Group of stakeholders in the arts and technology fields, including, but not limited to, artists, arts presenters and curators, arts researchers, tech industry representatives and other funders working at this intersection. The Technical Working Group will provide feedback on the research plan, selected deliverables, and the dissemination of study findings, and will recommend participants in the roundtables, interviews, and case studies.

 

ROGER MALINA

DRAFT Statement of Work US National Endowment for the Arts

Arts & Technology Field Scan

 

SECTION C

DESCRIPTION/SPECIFICATIONS/STATEMENT OF WORK

C.1 GENERAL BACKGROUND

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The agency extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, regional arts organizations, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

America has increasingly become a digital society. A significant proportion of people’s lives are now spent online. As of 2016, 88% of Americans use the Internet, and roughly three-quarters of American adults have broadband internet service at home.[1] The vast majority of Americans – 95% – now own a cellphone of some kind, and the share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%.[2] About 70% of Americans use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information, and entertain themselves.[3]

Artists and other content creators, too, are increasingly using digital and emerging media as a medium for artistic expression. For the grant-making purposes of the NEA, Media Arts is defined by all genres and forms that use electronic media, film and technology (analog & digital; old and new) as an artistic medium or a medium to broaden arts appreciation and awareness of any discipline. This grant support extends to projects presented via film, television, radio, audio, video, the Internet, interactive and mobile technologies, video games, immersive and multi-platform storytelling, and satellite streaming. Yet it is difficult to define a field that is in a constant state of refinement and innovation, with constantly emerging forms, including data storytelling, docu-gaming, interactive films, gestural interfaces, and generative art.[4] It is also unclear whether creators in media arts identify as artists and whether they develop their artistic practices in traditional arts programs or through other means.

These forms of emerging artistic practice don’t exist in isolation — artists require networks to circulate, evolve, and gain audiences.[5] Arts organizations have striven to keep pace with technological innovations, incorporating social media, mobile apps, games, internet resources, and online events into their offerings.[6] The 2014 report, Like, link, share: How cultural institutions are embracing digital technology, commissioned by the Wyncote Foundation, described the benefits of these innovative practices, including “larger and often younger audiences, deeper audience engagement, new community relationships, new revenue, and renewed program vitality.”[7] However, the intersection of arts and technology is not limited to engaging with audiences through arts organizations. Content creators work with emerging formats online, in public spaces, and with non-arts organizations, generating funders’ interest in learning how this dynamic ecosystem is functioning, how these artists support their creative endeavors, and how better to support these networks in sustainable ways.

This study responds in part to the NEA’s FY 2017-2021 Research Agenda, which calls for new investments in exploratory studies that describe factors that enhance or inhibit arts participation and/or arts/cultural assets, including the arts-and-cultural workforce. By fully understanding how artists are incorporating technology into their creative work, and by learning more about the current and prospective sources of support for these artistic practices, the NEA can make informed decisions on how to leverage greater support for this field. This qualitative study will respond to the following research questions:

  1. How do artists incorporate technology in their artistic practices?
  2. What is the range of examples of such work across artistic disciplines and technology platforms? Are there categories or classifications for identifying this work, by genre or sub-discipline or by type of technology used?
  3. What is the range of career paths or trajectories taken by artists working with technology? Across artistic disciplines, how are these pathways similar or different?
  4. How do artists working with technology participate in cross-sectoral and/or cross-disciplinary partnerships, and/or in their local creative economies? How are these relationships formed and to what purpose? What
  5. are the associated risks, challenges, and opportunities for artists?
  6. What are current and prospective sources of support for artistic practices using technology, and how might they be improved and/or sustained?
  7. What types of technical training and resources are used and needed to support artistic practices using technology? What gaps in training and resources currently exist for these artists, across artistic disciplines and technology platforms?
  8. What are current and emergent models for supporting artistic practices (financially and non-financially) using technology? Across artistic disciplines, how are these models similar or different?
  9. What are organizational risks, challenges, and opportunities in supporting artists working with technology? How do these differ among for-profit and non-profit organizations? By sector, artistic discipline, and/or technology platform?The NEA will convene a Technical Working Group of stakeholders in the arts and technology fields, including, but not limited to, artists, arts presenters and curators, arts researchers, tech industry representatives and other funders working at this intersection. The Technical Working Group will provide feedback on the research plan, selected deliverables, and the dissemination of study findings, and will recommend participants in the roundtables, interviews, and case studies.

It is strongly advised that proposals include as appropriate subcontractors with substantial subject matter expertise and past research experience in the field of contemporary arts and technology, the cultural creative economy, and the ecosystem of artists, institutions, funding entities, and other organizations working at the intersection of contemporary arts and technology.

C.2 PROJECT SCOPE

The project scope is described below. Note that the Contractor’s research plan, which should reflect input from the NEA Project Director and the Technical Working Group, will finalize specific project activities, including deliverables. The project will be implemented in two distinct phases; Phase 1 focuses on research, and Phase 2 focuses on dissemination of study findings.

Phase 1

Attend a project kick-off meeting with the NEA Project Director

Prepare a detailed timeline and work plan, including regular communications with NEA Project Director

  • Prepare a research plan and execute the first phase of the study. At a minimum, the research study shall include:
    • Literature scan of research papers, conference proceedings, reports, and other relevant publications and analysis of selected NEA grant project descriptions
    • Data collection through:
      • Group discussions taking place at 4 regional roundtables and one virtual roundtable;
      • Individual interviews with up to 20 field experts, including, but not limited to, artists, heads of leading art and technology schools, cultural institution leaders, artist service organization staff, public and private sector funders, and others
      • Case studies with 10 artists engaging with technology
    • Prepare interim and final reports presenting study findings

Phase 2

  • Support the dissemination of report findings through:
    • Presentations and discussion taking place at 7 in-person roundtables;
    • Series of 10 briefs or articles commissioned from media arts stakeholders, including, but not limited to, artists, artist service organization staff, and cultural institution leaders.

C.3 DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS

The Contractor shall perform the following tasks:

Phase I

  1. Project Kick-off Meeting

The Contractor shall meet with the NEA Project Director, Contracting Officer and selected agency staff to review the project purposes and tasks. Meeting time will not exceed two (2) hours. This meeting may take place on-site or via videoconference or teleconference. Within a week, the Contractor shall prepare a memorandum (Deliverable #1) summarizing the discussion and making note of decisions made.

  1. Timeline/Work Plan/Communications

The Contractor shall prepare a timeline and brief work plan (Deliverable #2) for accomplishing the remaining tasks of the contract, incorporating input from the kick-off meeting. The Contractor shall first submit a draft timeline and work plan for review by the Project Director following the kick-off meeting. Following the receipt of feedback from the Project Director, the Contractor shall prepare and submit a final timeline and work plan, which will include a meeting schedule and schedule for all deliverables inclusive of multiple drafts and deliverable review periods. The work plan shall include participation in regular teleconferences with the Project Director (not to exceed once a week) and preparation of brief minutes documenting decisions made at these meetings.

  1. Research Plan Development

The Contractor shall prepare a detailed research plan (Deliverable #3). In addition to the required elements as prescribed in the statement of work, other components may be added to the research plan at the Government’s discretion. Primary methods for the research study shall include the literature scan, including an analysis of selected NEA grant project descriptions; group discussions taking place at up to 7 NEA-organized regional roundtables and a national convening; up to 20 field expert interviews; and case studies with 10 artists.  The research plan also shall describe how the Contractor intends to comply with relevant Federal laws and regulations, including the Paperwork Reduction Act.

The Contractor shall submit a draft research plan for review by the Project Director and NEA team. Following receipt of feedback from the NEA, the Contractor shall prepare and submit a final research plan to include all protocols for interviews, group discussions, etc., and templates of communications that will be sent to study participants. Because of the iterative nature of this study, a detailed case-study plan may be omitted from the research plan at this stage, provided it is added to the research plan after the national convening. Once the NEA has approved the research plan, the Contractor may proceed with conducting the study.

The research plan shall not exceed 40 pages in length (inclusive of appendices; all proposed data collection instruments should be included in an appendix). The plan shall include:

  1. Updated research questions;
  2. A description of the research design;
  3. Identification of data collection methods and protocols;
  4. An analytical plan, including a description of qualitative analysis procedures;
  5. Sampling strategies for each research task;
  6. An overall study timeline;
  7. An approach to the protection of human subjects/consent strategy (as appropriate), including copies of consent forms/protocols;
  8. A communications plan, including copies of correspondence with study participants; and
  9. A reporting/dissemination plan, including a proposed table of contents for the final report
  10. Conduct Literature Scan & Grant Analysis

During the first phase of research, the Contractor shall plan and conduct a brief literature scan of research papers, conference proceedings, reports, and other relevant publications on how artists are incorporating technology into their work and the infrastructure and ecosystem supporting these artists. The NEA Project Director shall provide some literature resources; however, the Contractor is expected to identify other pertinent resources. The Contractor shall budget sufficient funds to include up to 20 resources in the literature scan. The literature scan deliverable shall consist of a table that presents for each resource the citation, relevant research question(s), and summary of relevant content responding to the research question(s), accompanied by a summary report (not exceeding 15 pages) that presents findings organized by research question (Deliverable #4). The literature scan findings shall be incorporated into the draft report as part of task 5.

The Contractor also shall conduct an analysis of project descriptions of selected grants awards for the last five years; NEA staff will select for analysis no more than 150 grant projects. For most recent awards (2016-2017), the available narrative is mostly limited to project descriptions found in grant applications typically not exceeding one page in length. For older awards (2013-2015), written responses to final report questions will be made available to the Contractor; the Contractor should anticipate up to four pages of text per final report. Quantitative project data are also available for analysis. In analyzing data, the Contractor is expected to use both qualitative and quantitative methods. The grant project analysis shall be incorporated into the Deliverable #4 summary report.

  1. Facilitate Group Discussions at Regional Roundtables

In close coordination with the Project Director, the Contractor shall facilitate large group discussions at 4 Regional Roundtables (Detroit, MI: New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; San Jose, CA) and one virtual roundtable. Up to 15 artists, heads of leading art and technology schools, cultural institution leaders, artist service organization staff, public and private sector funders, and others shall be invited to participate in these roundtables. The Contractor shall be responsible for the following tasks for each roundtable (as appropriate):

  • Invite field experts to the event (NEA will propose a list of invitees);
  • Book the meeting space and arrange for all conference incidentals such as, but not limited to, A/V rentals (regional roundtables only) or schedule the webinar (virtual roundtable only)
  • Arrange and pay for travel, lodging, and meals for attendees in accordance with Federal Travel Regulations and published GSA per diem rates (regional roundtables only);
  • Handle on-site attendee registration (regional roundtables only);
  • Facilitate the large group discussion;
  • Draft all meeting materials, including pre-meeting mailings/background material and materials for the event; and
  • Prepare a brief report summarizing the discussion (Deliverable #5).

The Contractor shall be responsible for arranging and paying for travel, meals, and lodging for attendees; and arranging and paying for all meeting-related costs, including, but not limited to, venue rental, audio-visual equipment rental, and other expenses. These costs should be reflected in the Contractor’s proposal in response to this statement of work. The NEA anticipates that all venues will be donated and that 25% of roundtable participants will be local and therefore will not require travel arrangements.

The key deliverable associated with this task is a draft report not to exceed 20 pages that identifies key findings from this stage of research, organized by research question (Deliverable #6); this report shall form the basis for the final project report (7).

  1. Conduct Interviews with Field Experts

The Contractor shall conduct in-depth interviews with up to 20 artists and other field experts identified through the Regional Roundtables. The Contractor shall prepare for NEA review and approval a recommended list of interviewees prior to initiating contact with experts. The Contractor shall conduct interviews without NEA logistical support, although the Project Director retains the right to audit selected interviews with advance notice provided to the Contractor.

Following the interviews, the Contractor shall update the report drafted for task 5 with key findings from the interviews, organized by research question (Deliverable #8). The report should not exceed 40 pages at this stage. The Contractor shall also provide transcripts of all interviews as a separate deliverable (Deliverable #7).

  1. Conduct Case Studies and Complete Final Report

The Contractor shall conduct case studies with 10 artists. It is anticipated that the case studies will incorporate observations (online; up to 6 case studies may be conducted in-person), repeated interviews with the artist, interviews with other individuals that are part of the artist’s ecosystem (including, but not limited to, heads of leading art and technology schools, cultural institution leaders, artist service organization staff, audience members and/or patrons, and public and private sector funders), and other documentation or data available from interviewees or in the public domain. The Contractor shall prepare for NEA review and approval a recommended list of interviewees prior to initiating contact with experts. The Contractor shall conduct case studies mostly without the agency’s logistical support, although the Project Director retains the right to audit selected interviews with advance notice provided to the Contractor.  In analyzing data, the Contractor is expected to use both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Following the field work, the Contractor shall update and finalize the report drafted for task 5 with key findings and case studies, organized by research question and also presented as vignettes within the report (Deliverable #9). The final report shall also highlight areas for further investigation and propose specific policy recommendations for the NEA and other stakeholders. The final report should align with the reporting/dissemination plan presented in the approved Research Plan. The report should not exceed 100 pages at this stage. The Contractor shall expect up to three rounds of feedback from the project director and other NEA staff on this report. At least one of these rounds of feedback will reflect input from the Technical Working Group. The Contractor may opt for a work session with agency staff instead of one round of feedback.

Phase 2

  1. Commission and Produce Briefs or Articles

In close coordination with the NEA Media Arts Director and Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, the Contractor shall commission and produce a series of 10 briefs or articles from media arts stakeholders, including, but not limited to, artists, artist service organization staff, and cultural institution leaders. Each brief or article should not exceed 1,500 words. The NEA will provide a list of proposed writers and topics to the Contractor. It is the Contractor’s responsibility to contract with individual writers and manage the brief/article production process, including editing and finalizing the text documents. The deliverable for this task is a set of 10 briefs/articles in Microsoft Word format (Deliverable # 10). The final briefs/articles will be posted by the NEA Public Affairs team. The recommended stipend for each writer is $1,500.

  1. Facilitate Regional Roundtables

In close coordination with the NEA Media Arts Director and Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, the Contractor shall plan and implement Regional Roundtable discussions in 7 locations across the country (Charlotte, NC; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; St. Paul, MN; San Jose, CA). Up to 15 media arts stakeholders, including artists, heads of leading art and technology schools, cultural institution leaders, artist service organization staff, public and private sector funders, and others, shall be invited to participate in these roundtables. The Contractor shall be responsible for the following tasks for each roundtable (as appropriate):

  • Invite field stakeholders to the event (NEA will propose a list of invitees);
  • Book the meeting space and arrange A/V rentals and other conference items (as appropriate);
  • Arrange and pay for travel, lodging, and meals in accordance with…(See above language in section 5) for attendees;
  • Handle on-site attendee registration;
  • Facilitate the roundtable;
  • Draft all roundtable materials, including pre-meeting mailings/background material and materials for the event; and
  • Prepare notes summarizing the discussion.

The Contractor shall be responsible for arranging and paying for travel, meals, and lodging for attendees; and arranging and paying for all meeting-related costs, including, but not limited to, venue rental, audio-visual equipment rental, , and other expenses. These costs should be reflected in the Contractor’s proposal in response to this statement of work. The NEA anticipates that all venues will be donated and that 25% of roundtable participants will be local and therefore will not require travel arrangements.

The key deliverable associated with this task is a draft report not to exceed 10 pages that summarizes the discussion at each event (Deliverable #11).

  1. 4 Requirements for All Report Deliverables

Each report deliverable resulting from this contract will include a Microsoft Word version. Consistent with other NEA publications, this report should follow The Chicago Manual of Style and the NEA style guide, which will be provided to the Contractor at the time of award. Electronic versions of all tables, charts, graphs, and data visualizations should be submitted in the program that was used to create them (e.g., Excel, Photoshop, Tableau), and the Contractor shall work with NEA staff to determine an appropriate and compatible file format to use. The Contractor shall be responsible for ensuring compatibility of submissions.

This is a tentatively proposed timeline. The timeline is subject to change at the NEA’s discretion up to contract award.

Project Phase/Task Key Deliverables (see numbered deliverables in Detailed Specifications section)* Due Date
(Weeks after Kick-off Mtg)
1. Project Kick-off Meeting 1. Memorandum 2 weeks
2. Timeline/Work Plan/Communications 2. Timeline / work plan 3 weeks
3. Research Plan Development 3. Research plan 10 weeks
4. Conduct Literature Scan & Grant Analysis 4. Summary report with table 16 weeks
5. Facilitate Group Discussions at Regional Roundtables 5. Individual regional roundtable reports 20-32 weeks (variable)
6. Draft study report 34 weeks
6. Conduct Interviews with Field Experts 7. Interview transcripts 39 weeks
8. Updated draft study report 40 weeks
7. Conduct Case Studies and Complete Final Report 9. Final study report 54 weeks
8 Commission and Produce Briefs or Articles 10. Series of 10 commissioned briefs/articles 66 weeks
9. Facilitate Regional Roundtables 11. Roundtable report 75 weeks

 

* The Contractor shall provide for up to three (3) rounds of feedback from the Project Director on all draft deliverables unless otherwise indicated in Section C.3. This process is accounted for in the proposed timeline.

**This schedule assumes that Paperwork Reduction Act clearance will not be required.

C.5 KEY PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS:

Project Director

Education: Master’s degree

Years of Experience:  At least 5 years technical experience conducting projects similar in scope to the present study; 4 years supervisory experience

Experience & Other Requirements: Experience leading research studies that involve literature reviews; collecting information through interviews, large group discussions, and case studies; conducting landscape analyses of infrastructure needs; producing briefs; and planning and facilitating large group meetings that have involved professional presentations and extensive travel arrangements. Experience supervising projects similar in scope. Demonstrated ability to effectively and professionally interact with government program managers, the COR, and public stakeholders.

 

Subject Matter Expert

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Years of Experience:  At least 5 years technical experience in the field of media arts research

Experience & Other Requirements: Experience in research on digital and emerging media, artists, and arts organizations. The individual must have conducted prior research in the field of contemporary arts and technology, the cultural creative economy, and/or the ecosystem of artists, institutions, funding entities, and other organizations working at the intersection of contemporary arts and technology.

 

[1]http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/

 

[2] http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

 

[3] http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/

 

[4] https://makinganewreality.org/categories-of-emerging-media-ab120b65ee5c#4e52

 

[5] https://makinganewreality.org/defining-emerging-media-b48794e15138

 

[6] http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/04/arts-organizations-and-digital-technologies/

 

[7]  http://likelinkshare.org/about/