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  • Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

    Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

    This item was originally published by ASU News. Three Arizona State University researchers have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a workshop…

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    Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

    This item was originally published by ASU News.

    Three Arizona State University researchers have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a workshop to build a global, multi-institutional network of collaborators to celebrate the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.”

    The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will span from 2016 through 2018, marking the anniversary of the legendary “dare” among Shelley, her husband Percy, Lord Byron and John William Polidori on the shores of Lake Geneva that ignited Shelley’s imagination, as well as the novel’s eventual publication in 1818.

    To learn more about the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project and sign up for updates, visit http://frankenstein.asu.edu.

    The project, officially titled “Informal Learning And Scholarship In Science And Society: A Multi-Disciplinary Workshop On Scientific Creativity And Societal Responsibility,” will bring together dozens of scholars, researchers, science educators, museum curators, ethicists, archivists, authors, performers, artists and technologists at Arizona State University this April to lay the groundwork for the global celebration of the bicentennial, with ASU acting as a network hub and project headquarters.

    “No work of literature has done more to shape the way humans imagine science and its moral consequences than ‘Frankenstein,’” says Ed Finn. “In this single act of imagination, Mary Shelley produced both the creature and its creator tropes that continue to resonate in our contemporary moment and actually influence the way we confront emerging technologies, understand the motivations and ethical struggles of scientists, and weigh the benefits of research with its unforeseen pitfalls.”

    The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will encompass a vast array of activities at institutions across the United States and around the world, including universities, libraries, laboratories, museums, science centers, theaters and K-12 schools.

    Projects in the planning stages include writing and artistic competitions to commemorate the fateful dare; a global film festival offering the best – and the worst – of the 250-plus films based on the novel; a Halloween costume gala; museum exhibits blending the scientific, artistic and historical; public scientific demonstrations; intellectual salons; theatrical performances; online and in-person courses; synthetic biology projects; new books and special issues of magazines and journals.

    The workshop will be split into eight working groups, representing the breadth and massive public reach of the celebration:

    • Exhibits and Installations: Frankenstein and the Creation of Life

    • Frankenstein: A Critical Edition for Scientists and Engineers

    • “It’s Alive!”: Frankenstein on Film

    • Monsters on Stage: Frankenstein in Theater and Performance

    • “MOOCenstein”: Frankenstein Goes Global

    • Engineering Life: Distributed Demonstrations

    • Reinventing the Dare: Frankenstein, Science Fiction and the Culture of Science

    • Bringing Nonfiction to Life: Frankenstein and Science Writing

    “The project seeks to take advantage of the incredible cultural resonance of Frankenstein to facilitate conversations among scholars of vastly different disciplinary stripes, as well as among all those scholars, artists, performers, and the broader public,” says David Guston, co-principal investigator. “Such conversations are critical for the broad, democratic governance of today’s science and technology.”

    Many other groups at Arizona State University will join in celebrating the bicentennial, including the ASU Art Museum; ASU Libraries; Institute for Humanities Research; Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture; Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics; Center for Biology and Society; Program on Jewish Studies; all research units in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, among others. External partners include the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Bakken Museum.

    Ed Finn, principal investigator, is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English.

    Guston, co-principal investigator, is the co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, the director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, and a professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.

    Stephen Helms Tillery, co-principal investigator, is an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and a Fellow of Ethics and Bioengineering at the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics.

    For more information on ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration, visit http://frankenstein.asu.edu.

  • ASU collaborates on “American POP!” comic book, sci-fi exhibit

    ASU collaborates on “American POP!” comic book, sci-fi exhibit

    From Jan. 17 through June 8, the Tempe Center for the Arts presents “American POP! Comic Books to Science Fiction…and Beyond,” an exhibition that explores the transformative effects that science fiction and popular culture have on our everyday lives and the technology that surrounds us.

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    ASU collaborates on “American POP!” comic book, sci-fi exhibit

    This item was originally printed by ASU News, and was written by Nikki Cassis of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

    The popular culture we love – movies, TV, literature, video games – can have an enormous impact on the way we see the world, and it feeds our passion to learn about new ideas and imagine the world differently. This is especially true for science fiction: many scientists and engineers can trace their interest in science back to a moment in their past when a fictional universe like “Star Trek” or “2001: A Space Odyssey” inspired them to learn more about the world around them.

    From Jan. 17 through June 8, the Tempe Center for the Arts presents “American POP! Comic Books to Science Fiction…and Beyond,” an exhibition that explores the transformative effects that science fiction and popular culture have on our everyday lives and the technology that surrounds us. Displays include materials from local and national collectors, original art and limited edition pieces from some of America’s favorite pop culture icons, as well as science exhibits.

    The Tempe Center for the Arts and Arizona State University have worked together to create an exhibit that will investigate the relationship between popular culture, scientific inquiry, technological innovation and cultural change. Several ASU units, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Center for Science and the Imagination, contributed to the design of the exhibit.

    In an effort to bring some reality to all the pop culture and science fiction, the School of Earth and Space Exploration will be providing nonfiction scientific displays and all-too-real, stunning images of actual science, including exhibits specific to the moon, Mars and meteorites.

    The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team, located on ASU’s Tempe campus, will be providing 24 framed lunar images and a few larger panels. The Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies will provide images from various early NASA missions, including Viking and Voyager. The Mars Space Flight Facility will provide images from various missions, past and ongoing, including a panoramic landscape that will be used as a backdrop for “Marvin the Martian,” a 4-foot-high 3-D model that belonged to the iconic character’s creator, Chuck Jones. A replica of the ray guns that Marvin used will also be available for a photo op. The Center for Meteorite Studies will provide samples of lunar, Martian and other meteorites to be displayed in each of these exhibits. As a part of the meteorite display, artistic and informative digital images of meteorite sections will be displayed as large banners.

    As a part of this innovative exhibition, Tempe Center for the Arts also partnered with ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. The ASU center filmed a series of video interviews with scientists, engineers and other creative people from ASU and beyond, tracing the influence of science fiction and popular culture on their education, their careers and their scientific and creative work. The video exhibit is online now at csi.asu.edu/tca-pop, and will air in the exhibit, starting Jan. 17.

    “Our mission is to bring scientists, engineers and technologists together with writers, artists and other creative thinkers to imagine our future differently,” says Ed Finn, Center for Science and the Imagination director. “Building these collaborations has helped us realize that there is a vibrant flow of ideas between the scientific community and the science fiction community. This exhibit is a great example of how understanding pop culture helps you better understand the culture of science and engineering, and vice versa.”

    Two School of Earth and Space Exploration scientists are featured in the video collection. Earth and space associate research professor David Williams discussed how his work on planetary geology was inspired by his childhood fascination with the “Star Trek” universe, complete with a question about “cold fusion,” a science fictional process that “Star Trek’s” Dr. Spock (Williams’ favorite fictional character) uses to stop a volcanic eruption in the 2013 film “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

    Melissa Morris, assistant director of the Center for Meteorite Studies, was also interviewed, with her interview focusing on science fiction’s ability to present optimistic and inspiring visions of the future, as well as the planet-generating spaceship featured in the film “Titan A.E.” Other ASU scholars featured in the collection include David Guston, co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Jeff Yarger, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Ron Broglio, associate professor in the Department of English.

    A collection of Williams’ and Morris’ science fiction-related personal items will also be on display at the exhibit. Be sure to check out Williams’ “Star Trek” uniform from his graduate student days, and a retro “Star Trek” transport toy – with all the characters.

    Each Friday evening from Jan. 17 through June 8, Tempe Center for the Arts will host Sci-Fi Friday, featuring presentations on subjects ranging from robotics to game design to planetary imaging. Several SESE community members, including a student, will be presenting.

    • Feb. 7: David Williams, “Asteroids, Ion Propulsion and NASA’s Dawn Mission to Vesta and Ceres”
    • Feb. 14: Graduate student Teresa Ashcraft will present hands-on demonstrations, Internet resources and lesson plan information for teachers
    • March 14: Professor Mark Robinson will discuss what scientists have learned about the moon from recent missions and the future of lunar exploration
    • April 4: Melissa Morris, “Rocks from Space”
    • April 11: Meg Hufford and Amy Zink from the Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies

    Further details can be found at: http://www.tempe.gov/index.aspx?page=661.

  • Digital Culture Showcase, December 2013.  Photos by Sean Deckert.

    Review: Digital Culture Showcase

    On Friday, December 6 2013, ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering hosted the Digital Culture Showcase. The event featured unique and interactive projects created by…

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    Review: Digital Culture Showcase

    On Friday, December 6 2013, ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering hosted the Digital Culture Showcase. The event featured unique and interactive projects created by students in the Digital Culture program.

    Students were encouraged to design projects and installations ranging from immersive environments and functioning prototypes to animated short films. For example, Digital Culture students Alexa Boccieri and Morgan Waters collaborated to create Digital Symphonic Conducting. Their system used motion capture devices and Processing programming language to create stunning visual elements and a beautiful musical composition at the wave of the user’s hands. The event also featured laser harps, custom website designs, student-made Xbox 360 games and 3D printed models.

    If you happened to miss this semester’s showcase and are still on the lookout for creative innovation, do not fret. More exciting projects and workshops will be unveiled at the Spring 2014 Digital Culture Showcase, and you can visit the Digital Culture Gallery to see the latest exciting work from Digital Culture students and faculty. Also, don’t forget to stay tuned for the highly anticipated Emerge 2014!

     

    Photo provided courtesy of Sean Deckert.

  • Don’t Miss ASU’s Digital Culture Showcase!

    Don’t Miss ASU’s Digital Culture Showcase!

    ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering will be hosting its Digital Culture Showcase on December 6, 2013 in Stauffer Hall, B-Wing on the ASU Tempe…

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    Don’t Miss ASU’s Digital Culture Showcase!

    ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering will be hosting its Digital Culture Showcase on December 6, 2013 in Stauffer Hall, B-Wing on the ASU Tempe campus. During this event, students from the Digital Culture program will demonstrate their prototypes and inventions for a broad public audience. Projects include animated short films, interactive performances, sound installations and more. The showcase promises to be a day full of exciting digital innovation!

    The event is free, and all are welcome to come see what Digital Culture students have been building and designing during the Fall 2013 semester.

    Stauffer Hall B, Room B125 (map)
    December 6, 2013, 12:00PM-5:00PM
    Learn more at ASU Events

  • ASU scholars use science fiction to explore the future of biotechnology

    Original science fiction stories from two Arizona State University scholars are being featured in To Recreate Life from Life: Biotechnology and Science Fiction (2014, Pan Stanford…

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    ASU scholars use science fiction to explore the future of biotechnology

    Rosalyn Berne

    Author Rosalyn Berne

    Original science fiction stories from two Arizona State University scholars are being featured in To Recreate Life from Life: Biotechnology and Science Fiction (2014, Pan Stanford Press), a forthcoming book by Rosalyn Berne, professor of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Virginia. Berne’s book opens up ethical and cultural dialogues about the promises and perils of biotechnology by pairing each nonfiction chapter with a science fiction story that delves deeper into the human implications of scientific and technological change.

    In the introduction to To Recreate Life from Life, Berne characterizes biotechnology as a complex cultural and social process, rather than a matter of unfettered and decontextualized scientific innovation:

    The biotechnology “revolution” was launched on a global scale many decades ago, and through the manipulation and control of biological processes, has taken a direct course towards re-creating life. Yet there are still many choices to be made in shaping the futures that may be made possible through biotechnology. Where this research is leading, and what this revolution will mean to human society, to the Earth’s ecosystems, and to other living species has not yet been determined. Market demands, regulatory processes, ethical queries, narratives and storytelling will all play a role in how we construe what it means to be autonomous agents in interaction with one another, as biotechnology makes its way deep into the fabric of our lives.

    The story “Madness Enough to Break the World,” by Sean Hays, a former post-doctoral fellow at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, accompanies an essay by biologist Reginald Garrett that ends with the unsettling question:

    Now that information can be readily encoded within DNA, spy stories about purloined state secrets encoded on microfilm or in microchips seem old-fashioned and trite.  How will governments and industries ever discover a stolen secret encoded as DNA?”

    “Madness Enough to Break the World” imagines a macabre future of international espionage and information warfare when human bodies, rather than bytes and flash drives, are the containers for highly classified information.

    Also featured in To Recreate Life from Life is “Ronin,” a story by Lena Nguyen, a senior in ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College majoring in Creative Writing and Political Science and a student researcher at the Center for Science and the Imagination. “Ronin” explores a future in which androids work and live alongside humans, and considers the ethics of laws that restrict their full participation in society. If androids are sentient and exhibit high levels of intelligence, should they be restricted to unskilled jobs in the service sector and manual labor, and excluded from important political and juridical decisions? Or should be they be granted all of the rights and privileges that accrue to citizens in our society?

    “Ronin” will be paired with an essay by Catherine Rhodes, an expert in the global politics of biotechnology, about the potential social, economic and ethical consequences of the biotechnology revolution.