New Set: Boundary Objects by Sarah Kuhn

Boundary Objects

“Boundary objects externalize abstract problems, which makes them less threatening. They are enormously useful when crossing boundaries between disciplines. The objects do not themselves have to solve problems, but they can set the ball rolling.”

A set of five items curated by Sarah Kuhn, which features reflections on :

Become a Content Curator

XSEAD’s Showcase section a growing collection of high-impact work that  demonstrate the value and impact of collaborating across disciplinary bounds.  In less than a year, this has grown to include 24 sets containing 94 works, prepared by 22 contributors, and on behalf of 11 partner organizations. Contributions from a further 12 people are also in preparation!

We’re excited to announce that we are now inviting an open call for contributors to the Showcase section.

While, new submissions will be accepted on an ongoing basis, there will be priority calls for focus topics of particular interest. The first deadline for submissions is June 15th 2014 and focuses on the following areas:

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Architecture and Digital Fabrication
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • University Initiatives

By becoming an XSEAD Content Curator, you can help develop an expanding archive that charts the successes and impact of interdisciplinary collaboration across science, engineering, arts, and design. To participate, you simply need to identify and prepare a description for three to five works you would like to see included in the Showcase section and that you feel represent high impact, creative and innovative outcomes from interdisciplinary collaboration. 

More information on becoming an XSEAD Content Curator can be found at:



Take part in finding great art/science content shared on the web

The Resource section of XSEAD already holds over 150 links to creative tools, residency programs, events and programs relevant to Art/Science collaboration. Our aim is to regularly and continuously expand this database into a large contributed commons of collective value. We want to grow this in a variety of ways: through managed curation, community contribution and by mining social media.

Everyday excellent community resources are actively shared on Twitter. We want to capitalize on this as a forum to rapidly identify new and useful community resources as they emerge. To explore this, we’ve built an online tool for resource identification. And this is where you come in!

We would like you to help validate the usefulness of a small number of collected links through a simple task. A few times a week, you’ll receive an email with a two or three links to review. This activity will take about a minute – and you simply decide if the link is a useful community resource or not.

To get involved, visit and register your email address.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have immediate access to all of content we’ve mined from Twitter. This is a great way for you, or your students, to gain exposure to emerging art/science content shared on the web, and in the process you’ll help us develop a leading repository of integrative content.

Help us to spread the word about this evaluation by sharing this post with your network! 

a2ru and XSEAD – Building a Lexicon of Art/Science Terminology

Below is a guest post from a2ru’s Bruce Mackh and Anthony Kolenic describing a new partnership between a2ru and XSEAD to develop a repository of community definitions for shared terms across arts and science.

Conducting successful research most commonly necessitates framing within existing literatures and discourses. For research such as that of a2ru and ArtsEngine’s Mellon grant, however, the discourses and languages employed are more than a little opaque; furthermore, there are dangers to over-defining concepts like “art” or “research” that are so inherently resistant to lingual confinement. Conversely, there is certain value in offering working definitions of art, the Arts, and research—among others—without specifically mandating one over another. We must encourage tentative definitions, which can be modified when needed, in order to engender understanding of such concepts, to demonstrate and disseminate evidence of the value of arts integration to research universities, and to unpack the relationship between research and arts practice.

Taking the above realities into account, a2ru’s Research division has pursued a partnership with XSEAD. This partnership will allow a2ru to collect living definitions of key terms related to our research and to see how colleagues nationwide modify and comment on these definitions and concepts.

interdisciplinaryXSEAD provides a2ru with the ability to track the ways different scholars negotiate similar notions—where clear overlaps and chasms of meaning exist in the discourses of disciplines. This wiki-like collection of definitions will build in response to digitally distributed prompts. It will provide the capacity to track changing definitions entry-by-entry, to organize and query their iterations by a number of variables (e.g., region, kind of university, entry-writers’ disciplines, etc.). The platform can also track relationships between key terms we’ve identified, and will uncover correlations, commonalities, and how colleagues from various disciplines use phrases and terms. Further, it allows the community and managers to “like” particular responses, keying us into which definitions hold the most sway.

Respondents will be limited to a select population for the first months: the several hundred faculty, administrators, and graduate students already conversing through XSEAD and a2ru partners. Respondents can address any and all terms that pertain to their interests. Before long, this database of definitional exchange will strengthen a2ru’s capacity to serve as a repository of research and information and as a powerful ally to those aiming to integrate arts practice into curricula and research.

- Bruce Mackh & Anthony Kolenic, a2ru

For more information about the ASU/XSEAD partnership or view or participate with our terms and definitions project follow:

For more information about a2ru, please visit or contact their team via


Community Challenges – Exploring Collaboration across Arts/Science

Within XSEAD, we feel it is as important to document the outcomes of integrative collaboration as it is to understand how that outcome came to be and how people are working across arts + science towards innovation and impact. We want to understand the context in which our our collaborations are operating.

To do this, we’ve dedicated an entire area of the community section of XSEAD to documenting how the community works across disciplines. This section will issue a challenge on a weekly basis which will ask each member of the community to contribute a response to a broad question. These question may concern the opportunities, challenges and future of collaboration across arts and science or the diverse methods, tools and techniques people employ to negotiate collaboration across arts/science towards the development of integrative works.

Each week, we’ll be issuing a new challenge to the community in the form of a question and once issued there’ll be three days to complete it. Today, we’re opening up our first challenge…

Our First Challenge

“Wicked problems (e.g. environmental impact, poverty, globalization, health, etc.) often transcend disciplinary bounds. How does your current work connect to grand global challenges?”

Over the past few months, we’ve presented and discussed XSEAD with many people involved in art/science collaboration and almost every time the importance of grand challenges and wicked problems has surfaced in some form. Nothing seemed more appropriate for our first challenge than to engage the community in discussing what are the grand challenges and wicked problems they’re grappling with and how they elevate collaborations beyond the typical disciplinary silos.

Why not participate in the challenge now?

Highlighting impact and innovation

Donna Cox, Principal Investigator and Lead Curator for the Showcase area, recently contributed this overview of the intent and vision behind XSEAD’s curation effort:

XSEAD provides a place where the public and uninitiated inquisitors can easily find and see broad impact and entrepreneural innovations that have evolved from synergies across science, engineering, art, and design (SEAD). These curated examples provide historical and current collaborations where their outcomes have traceable value to society.

XSEAD provides a place to point to little-known connections across time and space, where “two cultures” meet and create these broad impacts and entrepreneural innovations.

Examples might include collaborations that generate socially relevant emergent technologies, new knowledge, novel storytelling, medical insights, thought-changing, outward-reaching historical markers, that characterize the emerging interdisciplinary SEAD communities and the challenges that the members embrace.

How do we measure success from collaborations across disciplines? My goal is to find and highlight these examples for public display. I am looking for those examples. Please send suggestions.

Donna J Cox

Donna J Cox

Donna J. Cox, MFA and PhD. She is Director of the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Director of the Illinois eDream Institute, Professor in School of Art and Design, University of Illinois. She hold the Michael Aiken Endowed Chair. She works with scientists to develop visualizations for discovery and outreach. In 1986, Cox developed ‘Renaissance Teams,” interdisciplinary groups of artists and scientists devoted to problem-solving.

View her contributions to the XSEAD Curation effort at: and

Growing XSEAD

Today, we’ve invited over 300 users to become the first users in XSEAD. This represents our first wave of participants. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be inviting more and more people from the community to take part in what we hope will become a home for creative works, innovative processes and explained outcomes that cut across the traditional boundaries of arts, design, science and engineering.

While we’re growing the platform, XSEAD will be invitation only but anyone can still view all of the content housed with it from extensive resources, curated sets and works developed by leading organizations and representatives to community contributed projects.  To help us with that, every invitee can introduce XSEAD to someone new through invitations. We’re giving every member one invite per month to help us grow a diverse and vibrant community.

We want to invite exciting talent from around the world to participate and help us create a platform that works for the community. So in addition to invitations, we’ll also be inviting new community members in waves every few weeks. If you have recommendations or distribution lists you’d like to have included in these invite groups, get in touch!



Showcase – An Overview

One of the three key sections of XSEAD is ‘Showcase’. In this post, we’ll be explaining a little bit more about it, with a view to announcing a lot more over the next few weeks.

The primary goal for the portal is the creation of a curated section on exemplar projects. In the past few months we’ve worked hard to form a board of leading representatives from the community. The board is tasked with selecting and curating a diverse set of exemplars, and with providing representation to the spectrum of communities and stakeholders covered by XSEAD.

To make this happen, we’ve partnered with distinguished organizations and community leaders, who have a rich history of contribution to knowledge surrounding integrative works, where arts and design perspectives advance science and engineering. Each organization has assigned a curator who will develop a subsection within the Showcase for their organization.

Each member of the board will craft at least one set of curated exemplars. These will represent the curator’s (and/or affiliated organization’s) perspective on the history and prospects of the field. Each set will contain approximately five prior works from a particular domain or area, prefaced with a short foreword. In short, this section will deliver sets of high-quality examples of integrative works.

With our curatorial board formed, our curators are working hard to produce rich overviews of SEAD projects. Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll be telling you more who they are and what they’re working on!

Welcome to XSEAD

XSEAD is for anyone working to advance science and engineering through design and the arts. It’s really about three key ideas: create, curate, converse. We want a space for you to  contribute and showcase your created works. We’re working to curate outstanding work which highlights a variety of perspectives on the history and prospects of the field. Last but not least, we want to build conversation around integrative works, their value, impact and potential.

We’re still putting the nuts and bolts together, but over the next few months we’ll be talking more and more about the platform we’re building and our vision for it, through this blog.  We’ll be documenting our route to go-live with news, new features, announcements, introductions to our team and partners, and some early-cuts of the content that’ll be featured in the portal.

Stay tuned!