Data Dramatisation and Cognitive Innovation ?

The UTD ATEC ArtSciLab ( ) is part of the new European COGNOVO consortium on Cognitive Innovation 

CogNovo is an Innovative Doctoral Programme, funded by the EU Marie Curie initiative and Plymouth University, to foster research training in the emerging field of Cognitive Innovation. CogNovo offers transdisciplinary training that combines scientific studies of the neural correlates and mechanisms of creativity, with investigations into the role of creativity in human cognition, and their application in sustainable technological and social innovation. The Principal Investigator is Prefessor Sue Denham ( ) Professor in Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience.

I will be presenting our work on data dramatisation of connectome data on the internal connectivity of the human brain at the first meeting of the  consortium in Plymouth England at the end of April 2014.

Enabling Art-Science Collaboration: A Case Study in Brain Data Dramatisation

Roger F Malina
Collaborators: Gagan Wig, Andrew Blanton, Scot Gresham Lancaster, Max Schich

(All at the University of Texas at Dallas)


The ArtSciLab in the ATEC program at University of Texas Dallas was founded in November 2013 and seeks to enable collaboration between artists and scientists on problems of societal urgency and cultural timeliness where such collaboration is essential. ( I will present early results from the collective work of an astrophysicist, two artists and music designers, an art historian and a cognitive neuroscientist. The neuroscientist, Gagan Wig, is involved in a research program uses a combination of structural and functional imaging tools (including fMRI, DTI, and TMS) to understand the organization of large-scale human brain networks and how these networks change over the adult-lifespan. The collaboration seeks to develop techniques of ‘radical re-appropriation’ to represent the data, develop software tools for data exploration but also show the work in art settings; we are exploring multi-modal data translation using visualization, sonification but also data remix and data dramatization techniques.

The methodology is informed by the results of the US National Science Foundation Report, chaired by Roger Malina, on enabling collaboration between the sciences and engineering and the arts, design and humanities ( ). The report identified 11 key processes for enabling such collaborations: i)Translating ii) Convening iii) Enabling iv ) Including v): Embedding vi) Situating vii) Sense Making viii) Documenting ix) Learning x) Collaborating xi)Thriving. We also refer to the work of James Leach and his proposal for a template for cross cultural partnership agreements applicable to art-science collaboration ( ). I will also present early results for a ‘fuzzy taxonomy’ of data sonification being developed by three of the collaborators in this project ( RFM,AB,SGL) together with sound designer Frank Dufour. The work presented also draws on the collaboration on the Data Remix project with Ruth West, Alejandro Borsani, Lifan Wang and Brian Merlo that is developing data remix methodologies using artistic works as scientific data exploration tools. ( ).

In this workshop presentation I will take the risk of presenting early results of work in progress, informed by the discussion of goals and methodologies that are going on inside the collaboration. I will also embed the presentation in the context of my work as Executive Editor of the Leonardo Publications at MIT Press, where we have advocated the work of 10,000 researchers over forty years: artists deeply involved in science and technology, scientists and engineers deeply involved in the arts and collaborators between these communities of practice.