Prototyping Social Forms: Research-Creation Ateliers with Sha Xin Wei, PhD

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ATLAS Institute, University of Colorado Boulder

ATLAS 100, Cofrin Auditorium

Boulder, CO 80309

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Xin Wei will present new approaches to collaboration and innovation across media, art, environment and technology (no need to Register)

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Prototyping Social Forms:

Research-Creation Ateliers with Sha Xin Wei

How can engineers, humanists and artists learn more effectively from each other beyond simply beholding their singular products? Sha Xin Wei proposes a transdisciplinary practice of imagining worlds other than what is at hand, and prototyping those alternatives.

This is the second event in the Ecologies of Practices Symposium, which also includes a workshop, a roundtable conversation and a closing reception.

Sha Xin Wei, PhD, Professor and Director of the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering at Arizona State University; Director of the Synthesis Center; Faculty at the European Graduate School.

Alchemy was the art of transmuting bodies and substances, the quick and the dead, the inert becoming vital, accidentals and essences becoming quintessences. Five centuries ago, alchemy was a practical and magical art, concerned with bodies and materials that are always suffused with ethical, vital and material power. Under the prism of the Enlightenment, such practices split into the practical (e.g. engineering or medicine), the scientific, and the arts of the imaginary.

But Isaac Newton himself was both the first modern scientist and the last alchemist. New insights emerge if we turn to knowledge-making before its fragmentation into physics, biology, psychology and philosophy, and to techne before its fragmentation into arts and engineering. Poiesis, the art of creation, precedes theory-building, and theory-building precedes methodology, because methodology repeats a process that no longer generates knowledge. Therefore the arts and humanities play a central role in creating fresh knowledge. But how can engineers and humanists learn more effectively from artists other than beholding their singular products, and vice-versa?

We propose to navigate the wicked problems of our age by imagining worlds other than what is at hand, and prototyping those alternatives. Such transdisciplinary work requires collective practice and respect: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I grant that you know what you’re talking about. So I’ll come back and work with you again.”

More About This Event

This keynote thematically frames a two-day event, organized by the Department of Critical Media Practices, that will open a space for collaboration and exchange at the intersection of media, art, environment and technology. Drawing upon the model of “ecologies of practices”, Professor Sha Xin Wei will serve as the keynote and central figure in a series of events which will include a public talk, roundtable discussion, group critique and a closing plenary. The event is designed to bring together interdisciplinary practitioners and practices that traverse media arts, film, performing arts, music, computer science, geography, information science, media studies, communication and engineering. The aim is to foster an intensive dialogue around ways of knowing and doing across disciplines associated with making and performing in, with and through media. The event is designed to engage broad participation from across campus, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and the local community.

Funded by CMCI and a Roser Grant from the CU Center for Humanities and Arts. Organized by the Department of Critical Media Practices in the College of Media, Communication and Information (CMCI) with kind support from Nature, Environment, Science and Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts, Center for Media Art and Performance (CMAP), Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance (IAWP), CMCI Studio, EVEN and ATLAS.

Background:

Sha Xin Wei’s overarching research is “a philosophical investigation that is conducted in a poetic mode of installation or event-based art and technology.” His collaborative practice weaves together, traverses through, and resists disciplinary methods that operate as doctrine, arguing that “poesis precedes theory-building, and theory-building precedes methodology, because methodology repeats a process that no longer generates knowledge. Therefore the arts and humanities play a central role in creating fresh knowledge.” In this, he embodies a media practice about practice–in essence, a critical media practice. Through several decades of collaboration he has combined forces with diverse actors to form what he refers to as“ecologies of practices” that simultaneously organize and disassemble conventional research assemblages of the university. As a new department that seeks to build a culture of heterodoxy within media art practice, Xin Wei’s research not only speaks to the pedagogical aims of Critical Media Practices, but to the broader aims of working together with our peer practitioners in media, art, environment and technology across the university to collaborate as a mode of inquiry in itself, as much as one that may yield singular products.

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ATLAS Institute, University of Colorado Boulder

ATLAS 100, Cofrin Auditorium

Boulder, CO 80309

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