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: http://xsead.ame.asu.edu/syntaxes

For more information about a2ru, please visit http://a2ru.org or contact their team via http://a2ru.org/contact-us/


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: http://xsead.ame.asu.edu/organizations/7 and http://xsead.ame.asu.edu/organizations/1

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!