Transforming Audacious Speculations into Reality

Engineers who think like artists, physicists who thinks like dancers, scientists who think like poets, and designers who think like Mother Nature: These are some of the researchers from the University of California, San Diego on display at a public event on Friday, April 12 that will extol and explore the virtues of interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity.

   

The director of the UCSD Brain Observatory, Jacopo Annese, will talk about his Brain Library Project: an ambitious effort to preserve a vast archive of human brains together with their medical and life histories and the results of a variety of tests, ranging from IQ, to cognitive functioning, and personality.

UC San Diego’s Sixth College is staging the event, AUDACIOUS SPECULATIONS, between 6pm and 9pm on April 12, 2013. The presentations will take place on the UCSD campus in Atkinson Hall, the headquarters of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

The series of short, performative presentations will showcase how researchers, artists, activists and entrepreneurs can make “something from nothing” – transforming the titular “audacious speculations” into reality. For program details, visit the event website at http://audacious.calit2.net.

“This event is part of a broader program in which we are exploring the connections and productive tensions between realms of activity that are usually considered totally distinct,” said Eliza Slavet, co-curator of the event and Director of Art & Technology for Sixth College’s Academic Programs. “What we are really interested in is how not only artists, but rather all creative researchers (whether scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs or activists) engage in similar processes of moving from the realm of the speculative, fantastic and imaginary to the realm of material reality. By bringing together researchers who are pushing the envelope in these areas, we are seeking to understand the creative audacity that can lead to great leaps forward.”

“Audacious Speculations highlights the excitement of radical innovation at UCSD,” said Liz Losh, Director of Academic Programs at Sixth College. “This event demonstrates how the Culture, Art & Technology Program is fostering creativity and interdisciplinarity: Audacious Speculations brings together people working on cutting-edge research, audacious creativity, and curriculum design, producing an amazing experience which will inspire our students and the larger community.”

   

In a talk on "Smart Underwear and Biotattoos," NanoEngineering postdoc Joshua Windmiller discusses the development of textile-based printed bioelectronics (pictured) for situational awareness, as well as temporary transfer tattoo printed biosensors and biofuel cells for epidermal integration.

The evening event will consist of 11 presentations on research that is so ambitious that people often roll their eyes in disbelief. Topics range from activist projects that transform the socio-political landscape, to scientific research and experiments that are both poetic and speculative. Documenting both existing and speculative work, the speakers will explore: movies for monkeys; a gestural language of physics; tracking trash in Tijuana; butterflies without borders; beautiful brains; biomimicry; hypnotic embodiment of wild foxes; smart underwear and biotattoos; silhouettes for the 21st century; a fashionable approach to science education; and a high-tech approach to finding your bliss.

“This promises to be one of the most eclectic and insightful meetings we have hosted here at UC San Diego,” said Calit2 UCSD division director Ramesh Rao, who will present his own work on the use of wearable electronic sensors to monitor heart-rate variability – and train the body to reduce stress and even reach a state of bliss. “We have experimented with experts in yoga, and it’s clear that the technology we are developing could become a powerful new tool for stress management.” Rao is also a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department of the UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering.

   

Physics professor Adam Burgasser is investigating methods of embodying physics through motion, gesture and interaction, with the goal of merging conceptual and quantitative learning. His goal is to produce a functional physical language, in which equations can be expressed through dance, manipulated through the interaction of multiple actors, be utilized for physical calculation, and form the basis for aesthetic work.

"As the Provost of Sixth College, I am delighted to see events like ‘Audacious Speculations’ that stimulate a continuing dialogue that brings together scientists, engineers, social scientists and humanists from all disciplines,” said Daniel J. Donoghue, Provost of Sixth College. “We know this event will engage our Sixth College students, faculty and staff, and resonates deeply with our themes of Culture, Art and Technology. Sixth has always striven to bring these themes to students in a setting outside of the classroom.”

AUDACIOUS SPECULATIONS grew out of a new curriculum for Sixth College’s Culture, Art & Technology program. The curriculum includes four interdisciplinary courses to be taught for the first time in Spring 2013. They include:

“Music & Utopia,” taught by music professor Anthony Burr, who will look at the history of utopian projects, and how music has been often either excluded completely or placed at the center of the project. Students will work together to develop blueprints for their own utopian societies, including plans for citizenship, language, culture, and music.;

“Don’t Look Now,” with professor Joe Hankins, a sociocultural anthropologist, examining the intricate patterns through which humans interact with each other, and with animals, plants, and objects; as the students observe these patterns, they will also disturb these patterns;

·“The New (Old) Connectivity,” in which political science professor James Fowler will explore why, in order to understand the future of social networks (online and beyond), it’s critical first to understand face-to-face networks as they have existed since our ancestors huddled around fires; and

“Disturbances: Art and Technology,” with visual arts professor Ricardo Dominguez, an early pioneer in electronic civil disobedience, who will explore the creation of art works that have “created large-scale social and political responses that allow us to imagine what the future may look like.”

   

Qualcomm Institute director Ramesh Rao will talk about heart-rate variability and how understanding it can help reduce stress, as evidenced in experiments with Kundalini yoga practitioners meditating together and achieving moments of bliss.

Prof. Dominguez will co-emcee the evening program with history professor Cathy Gere. In addition to Calit2’s Rao, the presenters include Jacopo Annese, a professor of radiology and director of The Brain Observatory at UC San Diego; Physics professor and observational astrophysicist Adam Burgasser; environmental advocate Oscar Romo; Harvey Mudd professor of media studies Rachel Mayeri; Visual Arts MFA candidates Hermione Spriggs and Heidi Kayser; Saura Naderi, who leads Calit2’s MyLab outreach program; Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. student Michael Porter, who develops materials inspired by those found in nature; and NanoEngineering postdoctoral researcher Joshua Windmiller from the Laboratory for NanoBioElectronics, where he develops printed biosensors, bioelectronics and biofuel cells.

Support for AUDACIOUS SPECULATIONS came from the UC San Diego Center for the Humanities, UC Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the Sixth College Parents’ Fund, Calit2 and the .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Images and ephemera from the program will be exhibited in the Sixth College’s ARTifact Gallery. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition from 3pm to 5pm on April 12, prior to the event in Atkinson Hall. The gallery is located on the second floor of Pepper Canyon Hall. It is part of the Culture, Art & Technology Program of Sixth College.

The event and companion exhibit were curated by Emily Sevier and Eliza Slavet. AUDACIOUS SPECULATIONS was originally conceived by Slavet and co-emcee Cathy Gere. Twitter users are invited to follow tweets related to the event under the hashtag #AudSpec.

Media Contact

Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825, dramsey@ucsd.edu


Eliza Slavet, 858-534-1207, eslavet@ucsd.edu