Feb 272015

Roger F. Malina, Carol Strohecker, and Carol LaFayette, on behalf of SEAD network contributors

NSF SEAD Cover titleIn 2012, The Network for Sciences, Engineering, Arts, and Design (SEAD) launched a White Papers initiative that UCSC OpenLab participated in to build community awareness of perceived challenges and opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration across the breadth of science, engineering, art, design and the humanities. The resulting study takes note of the growing international interest and development of initiatives in universities, corporations and civil society.This synthesis report offers a set of “action clusters” common to texts from the international response by SEAD members. Suggested Actions are structured according to similarities of motivation and purpose, and addressed to specific stakeholders.

The SEAD White Papers initiative was chaired by Roger Malina and co-chaired by Carol Strohecker, with the assistance of an international Steering Group and coordination by Carol LaFayette and Amy Ione, Managing Editor. The report contains images from SEAD collaborators and links to all White Papers contributions.

SEAD was funded under the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. 1142510. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Download the report for free below. 

PDF (2 MB) | ePub (19 MB)


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Feb 162015

Using art to examine topics from Environmental Studies is a powerful way to connect with people at the emotional and belief-system levels to challenge preconceptions and motivate action.

Seeking Symbiosis - Linking Art and Science Exhibition, Environmental Studies Department EVNS (ISB 4th floor in the halls)

Camilly Pereira, UCSC student artwork for Seeking Symbiosis – Linking Art and Science Exhibition, Environmental Studies Department EVNS (ISB 4th floor in the halls)

Seeking Symbiosis - Linking Art and Science Exhibition at UCSC

Han Fangzheng, Seeking Symbiosis – Linking Art and Science Exhibition, Environmental Studies Department EVNS (ISB 4th floor in the halls)

Kevin Chapman, UCSC Student

Kevin Chapman, UCSC Student artwork for Seeking Symbiosis – Linking Art and Science Exhibition, Environmental Studies Department EVNS (ISB 4th floor in the halls)

 These interdisciplinary collaborations can provide strategies towards developing innovative approaches to live sustainably and safe guard biodiversity. Seeking Symbiosis is a collaboration between Juniper Harrower, a PhD student in the Environmental Studies Department, and Dr. Geoffrey Thomas, a Research Associate in the Art Department and OpenLab, to educate students on the impacts of human driven global change on ecosystem processes and biodiversity. Juniper’s work examines the impacts of climate change on Joshua trees and their symbiotic fungi. With studies suggesting that Joshua trees could be mostly extinct from Joshua Tree National Park within 60-90 years, she hopes to inspire students to think critically about our responsibility to address global biodiversity loss. Using imagery from Juniper’s research, and working with Joshua trees at the UCSC greenhouse, students created triptychs about Joshua tree loss to engage with the scientific and cultural discourses surrounding climate change and environmentalism.

 Dr. Thomas’s class will be offered again in Spring 2015: Special Topics in Drawing – Digital Storytelling, Art 119-2. Additionally, students interested in future art/science collaborations can get involved with a soon to be announced art/science competition on campus organized through WISE (Women in Science and Engineering).


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Jan 302015

YBCA presents


with Gene A. Felice II, Kate Spacek, Nathaniel Ober, and Eve Warnock


Eve Warnock pounding metal

Eve Warnock pounding metal dish for water hole

Transflux, an interactive exhibition where the artists transform the Front Door Gallery into a living, breathing organism and symbiotic ecosystem.

Gene Felice II, Co-Active Systems

Gene Felice II, Co-Active Systems

Nathan Ober, Astro Wall Zither & Cymatics Chambers

Nathan Ober, Astro Wall Zither & Cymatics Chambers

Through the exploration of the interconnectedness of our inner and outer world, the artists demonstrate the patterns and forms within life that shape who we are and where we come from. The use of natural and electro-mechanical systems, formed from ancient and contemporary modes of art and technology, creates an imitation of life (biomimicry) within a contained space, where the visitor can realize the impact of their individual actions upon the whole environment. This deep awareness of one’s influence upon their surroundings empowers the individual to make conscious decisions in everyday life that contribute to a more positive universal well-being.

As soon as the visitor enters the space, they become an invaluable part of the environment, producing reactive environmental responses and adaptations based on their own personal choices. The integrated systems constantly evolve due to hyper-sensitive sensors and data systems that react to influences both inside and outside the space, creating an individualized experience for every visitor.



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Jan 152015

Steve Trimmer_OpenLab_MAH

OpenLab will present Merlin’s Cave at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz. Merlin’s Cave is an immersive, multi-sensory installation showcasing works with the Digital Arts and New Media Mechatronics project group: Steve Trimmer, Sean Pace, David Harris, and Zach Corse.

The installation will activate aspects in the legend of Merlin’s Cave through light, fog, and projections. 

When: January 16, 2015, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Cost: $5 General, $3 Students, Seniors and Kids, FREE for MAH Members and Children under 3

Where: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, 705 Front Street, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060, United States Phone: 831.429.1964


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Dec 242014

Santa Cruz Sentinel

By Kara Guzman, Santa Cruz Sentinel – POSTED:  |

Geoff Thomas, Art Department PostDoc working with Professor Jennifer Parker and Openlab collaborates with Jennifer Harrower, PhD in Environmental Studies, by working with students in a drawing and digital story telling course to investigate art and science research to save Joshua Trees.

Geoffrey Thomas imagines a future with seed-spreading tarantula robots and genetically-engineered giant sloths.

These whimsical ideas, the subject of three digital art images, have a ring of truth, said Thomas, who collaborated with Juniper Harrower, a UCSC environmental studies graduate student studying the tree. The duo is planning to create an educational mobile app and short animations from the sketches within the next year. Once found throughout the American Southwest, the tree is now only found in California’s Joshua Tree National Park and small areas of Utah, Nevada and Arizona. As deserts become hotter and drier, the tree’s range marches north toward higher and cooler elevations, as animals carry the seeds in their digestive tracts.

Seeds were once spread by car-sized sloths, now extinct. Now the tree depends mostly on rats, which can’t spread it fast enough to keep up with climate change, said Harrower.

Within 60 to 90 years, climate models predict that most of the Joshua trees within the national park will disappear, she said.

Thomas said humans have transformed the planet and must be intimately involved in saving it, an idea that shapes his art.

“We are nature now. It’s not a separate thing from us,” Thomas said.

Thomas and Harrower also co-led a digital art class this fall in which students created their own Joshua tree projects. Harrower, a guest lecturer, spoke about the tree’s fragile future and took students to a campus greenhouse showcasing 20-year-old Joshua tree seedlings, which grow to around 40 feet as adults over hundreds of years.

Harrower said a partnership between artists and scientists is critical, not only to help science reach a wide audience, but also to push thought beyond the obvious.

“I think you can get this really interesting, beautiful science from these massive paradigm shifts, which comes from being open to creative thought,” said Harrower, also UCSC’s Women in Sciences and Engineering art and science outreach officer.

Using Adobe Illustrator or digital photography, students created short comic strips inspired by the tree’s plight.

Camilly Pereira, a senior art and economics double major, said she was struck by the crucial relationship between the tree and the yucca moth, the only animal which pollinates it. Joshua tree flowers, in turn, are the only place where yucca moths lay eggs.

Pereira spent more than 40 hours creating three simple, clear images: a cocoon, a seed and a flowering tree covered in moths, she said.

“I just thought it was a really good visual representation of how much the Joshua tree not only depends on the yucca moth, but also how much we depend on plants and animals to keep things thriving for us too,” Pereira said.


Reach the author at kguzman@santacruzsentinel.comor follow Kara on Twitter: @karambutan.

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Nov 212014

OpenLab: Blue Trail was recently awarded $10,000 from Alliance Data and its Epsilon business to help further the innovation and construction of 10 interactive art-design-tech installations that have been designed for San Francisco’s waterfront. Ideally it will consist of an interactive art and technology “trail” that engages people in art and ocean sustainability. Each installation has been designed to introduce the mystery, beauty and fragility of the world’s oceans and to inform the community on ocean conservation.



Jennifer Parker Associate Art Professor and Founding Director of the OpenLab Research Center

The grant is especially significant since it was made through Alliance Data’s Internal Grant Rewards Program that encourages employees to request financial support for their favorite nonprofit organization. “Our employees have a unique opportunity to blend our distinctive skill set and our commitment to the community by bringing awareness and enhancing the experience of Blue Trail’s project,” said Dana Beckman, senior manager of external communications for Alliance Data. “Through this partnership with Blue Trail, Epsilon employees are able to share their expertise with the organization.”

“I’m thrilled about the award and especially excited to have created a new partnership between Epsilon and UCSC OpenLab,” said Associate Professor of Art and OpenLab’s founding director, Jennifer Parker. “Together we intend to develop a mobile app that will enhance public education of ocean health and sustainability. The app will be based on OpenLab’s Blue Trail: Oceanic Scales project that has involved over 35 UCSC students working across the disciplines of art, computer science, ocean science, gaming, and engineering. This is a wonderful opportunity for UCSC students to gain industry experience and real-world knowledge. I’m hopeful that our partnership between the public and private sector will be an example of new collaborative visions for environmental initiatives that could one day become the norm.”

An all-encompassing global marketing company, Epsilon is a leader in creating connections between people and brands by fusing data, insights, technology and creative to connect with clients’ customers in the moments that matter to get results for clients’ brands.

Installation view of Blue Trail: Oceanic Scales developed by Gene A. Felice II with OpenLab and UCSC students

The first of its kind in the world, Blue Trail, which began in 2012, is a collaboration between Jennifer Parker and Lisa Zimmerman, founder of the San Francisco-based public art consulting firm, 7Story. OpenLab is a Research Center UCSC founded by Professors Jennifer Parker and Enrico Rameriz-Ruiz, and part of UCSC’s Arts Division. The Center targets complex education issues of national significance regarding the ability of art and science researchers to collaborate on research endeavors. The goal of the OpenLab is to help change the current status by providing shared research facilities and create a network for collaborative discourse fueled by academic communities, arts and science communities, and industry.



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Oct 282014


Project Description

Art + Biosensors + Audiences

This project aims to provide an assessment of wearable biosensors through:

• interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange

• artistic interpretation

• public engagement and deliberation.

Commissioning an art project that engages biosensors brings these approaches into play. The term biosensor has a wide discursive range including the sensing of bodily information from location and movement to chemical detection of blood sugar and heart rate. The term intersects with that of biometrics (measurements of the body), which could also include facial recognition, body temperature and perspiration levels. Biometrics have been cast as impersonal surveillance technologies with the potential to exploit in terms of public understanding (Technolife report), and as securities research in terms of innovation. They have also come under criticism for the way in which they objectify bodies and reduce understandings of the body to a limited set of biometric indexes (Magnet, 2011). Levels of belief in biometrics as a security ritual are high and the market in biometrics has become economically successful on this basis (Magnet, 2011). If biometrics measure bodily signals, biosensors sense them. This sensory connotation helps us to understand biosensing as a more intimate project. Although there is an intersection between the two terms, biosensors have a different trajectory. Biosensors are imagined not as impersonal and institutional but as personal and are part of the personal turn in biomedicine and other areas. Biosensors are imagined as a potentially personal communication system where signals about the body are relayed to the source. They may link individuals to databases and aggregate or big data, and a health care provider or remote clinician can also be part of the imagined circuit but they are not integral to it. Biosensors are part of a high tech imaginary that combines complex systems with personal data generation and self-monitoring. They have also been actualized as leisure devices (blurring the boundaries between leisure and health) care in some cases (e.g. FitBit).

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Oct 202014



The second LAST: 


The LAST festival is a symposium and expo that celebrates the confluence of art with the multiplicity of new media technologies and nascent sciences emerging from the intense cultural ecosystem of the Bay Area.

This October LAST will feature talks by some of the worlds leading innovators, and host fascinating interactive art installations that break the “Do not touch!” taboo of traditional museums. Saturday’s speakers will include world experts on NeuroscienceNanotechInfectious Diseases/EbolaSpace ExplorationArtificial Intelligence.


2948 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

The LAST festival will be in San Francisco at The Lab on October 23-26, 2014. This event coincides with the Bay Area Science Festival and includes Saturday’s symposium on the science that is shaping the 21st century. This free symposium will be a full event so register to be sure you get a seat.

This event it free and open to the public.

Featured Artists: Emily Martinez, Adam Carlin, Erich Richter, Peter Foucault, SonicSENSE: Jennifer Parker & Barney Haynes, UCSC OpenLab: Sean McGowen, Ian Ayyad, Richard Vallejos, Joel Horne, Gene A. Felice II, & David Kant, Carlos Castellanos


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Oct 202014

UCSC_OpenLab-EastBay_Mini Maker Faire

OpenLab_East Bay Mini Maker_ Sudhu Terwari

Artist Sudhu Tewari demos his animated bicycle Zoetropes first developed at UCSC in OpenLab when animating the Moon Splat theory by OpenLab affiliated Scientist, Erik Asphaug

Sudhu Tewari, Sound Artists and UCSC OpenLab Maker at The 5th Annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire in Oakland, CA. 

What happened at the Faire this year?  More than ever!  If you missed your chance to try Cratestacking last year, it was back.  You won’t believe Saurabh Narain’s Rubik’s cube solving robot, or the fun of caged drone combat at Game of DronesFive Ton Crane’s jaw-dropping art carThe Nautilus. Tons of hands-on making, as is our standard: screen printing at the Swap-O-Rama-RamaJapanese paper marbling, seed bombs, the Nerdy Derby, tape art with perennial favorite Tapigami, and lots more.

The latest in digital fabrication, with TechShopOtherMillTypeA machines, BAAM, and the FLEET digital design & fabrication lab—a repurposed MUNI bus!

Culinary and domestic arts workshops, like minestrone with renowned East Bay chef Kelsie Kerr, and pizza with Pizzaiolo’s David Surcamp.  Plus pedal-powered carnival rides, bands, food trucks, bioscience, electronics, art, craft and more more more!

There were over 170 Makers/Presenters/Performers, so check them out here, and then check out the schedule of presentations throughout the day.


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Jul 092014

OpenLab_Art+Astrophysicsc_2014_2Nathan_Ober_OpenLab_UCSC-2Nathan Ober is a DANM graduate student developing creative research projects for the Art + Astrophysics Lab in the Digital Arts Research Center this summer at UCSC. 

The lab will work closely with OpenLab founding Professors Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz and Jennifer Parker with support from the UCSC NSF REU- Lamat Summer Research Program, OpenLab, and the SLUG: Supercomputer lab for Undergraduates. Nathaniel Ober is a new media artist whose work crosses disciplines from installation and performance to video and sound. His interdisciplinary works examine concepts of human perception and natural phenomena, sound as vibration, time and space, and the finite versus the infinite. Working with multiple facets of technology, he creates immersive installations that intend to pervade the viewers senses. His


current research is focused on astronomy and astrophysics, which deal with techniques of sonification and processes that attempt to expose our innate connection to the universe.

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