Sha Xin Wei named director of School of Arts, Media + Engineering

January 3, 2014

The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts welcomes media arts, science and technology scholar Sha Xin Wei as the new director of its School of Arts, Media + Engineering. Sha took the helm Jan. 1, and will be speaking at the Digital Culture Center at ASU from 3-4 p.m., Feb. 6.

“Sha Xin Wei will bring an extraordinary breadth of interest and enthusiasm together with an impressive depth of intellectual rigor to the School of Arts, Media + Engineering,” said Michael Underhill, interim dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Sha’s work has engaged faculty and students at Concordia, and he has shown his ability to inspire creative thinking and lead teams to productive output. He exemplifies the importance of working at the intersection of art and science." Sha Xin Wei, the new director of the ASU School of Arts, Media + Engineering. Download Full Image

With a doctorate in mathematics from Stanford and membership in an artists’ collective that pioneered experimental interactive environments in the late 1990s, Sha has been working at that intersection for decades. He envisions the school as a place that will foster “a radical mode of experimental, transdisciplinary practice.”

“The School of Arts, Media + Engineering is uniquely situated to be a place where we invent and learn new forms of language for the 21st century, thanks to its amalgam of the most adventurous and committed practitioners from different disciplines – computer science, dance, music, sound arts, electrical engineering, interaction design, interactive media and installation art, philosophy, science and technology studies – all housed under one school, and powered by ASU's significant institutional energy," Sha said.

The goal, according to Sha, is “computational media literacy for every single graduate of the New American University.” Sha’s planned affiliation with the Department of English as well as the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering reflect his personal and institutional commitment to forging resilient hybrids from the humanities, as well as the arts and engineering.

In 2001, Sha founded the Topological Media Lab at Georgia Tech's Graphics, Visualization, and Usability Center. The Topological Media Lab approaches media arts and technologies research as a creative endeavor that cuts across disciplines and fields of experience. Sha described it as “a fresh and unique atelier for art-based research about how to make the places in which we live richer but not more complicated,” and said that the lab “combines the best practices of the theatrical production group, creative engineering lab and the pre-industrial atelier.”

In 2005, as Canada Research Chair in New Media, Sha brought the Topological Media Lab (TML) to Montréal, where he also served as associate professor of fine arts and computer science at Concordia University. Since its founding, the TML has hosted more than 120 artists, scholars, inventors and philosophers from all over the world.

“I expect to bring some key elements of the Topological Media Lab's research projects and mentoring practices to the ‘Synthesis Center’ that I'd like to build at ASU with the School of Arts, Media + Engineering,” Sha said. The Synthesis Center will be a home for transdisciplinary creative work drawing together the humanities, as well as arts and sciences to create new kinds of responsive environments and improvisation in all senses.

Sha’s theoretical work explores gesture, distributed agency and materiality in kinetic and body-based media and in responsive environments. His artistic work includes the TGarden responsive environments (Ars Electronica, DEAF, MediaTerra Athens, SIGGRAPH); Hubbub speech-sensitive urban surfaces; Softwear gestural sound instruments; WYSIWYG gesture-sensitive sounding weaving (ICMC, Copenhagen); Ouija movement studies; Cosmicomics video installation (Elektra Montreal); eSea reactive wall (eArts Shanghai); and IL Y A video membrane (Rotterdam, San Francisco, Berkeley, Montreal).

His recent publications include a monograph, “Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter” (MIT Press 2013), and a special edited volume of AI & Society (2011), titled “Poetic and Speculative Architectures in Public Space.” Other creative activity includes six book chapters, 29 refereed publications, 22 peer-reviewed presentations, 17 solo and 19 group exhibitions, 28 workshops and chaired panels, and over 55 invited lectures. Sha sits on the editorial boards of AI & Society, the Experimental Practices book series at Rodopi Press, FibreCulture and International Journal of Creative Interfaces and Computer Graphics, and is the founding editor of Transmutations, a journal for critical studies of performance, media and technology.

Sha graduated from Harvard University, where he earned an artium baccalaureatus in mathematics (cum laude). He then headed west to Stanford University, where he completed both his master's and doctorate in mathematics. Prior to joining the faculty at Concordia, he taught at Georgia Tech as a member of the Center for New Media in the School of Literature, Media and Communication and in the College of Computing. Sha also served as the Mellon Fellow at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, and as a visiting scholar in the Department of French and Italian at Stanford University, the History of Science Department at Harvard University and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, he worked as a researcher for Interval Research Corporation and for Stanford University, and co-founded Pliant Research with colleagues in Xerox PARC and Apple Research. 

The School of Arts, Media + Engineering specializes in transdisciplinary research and development of hybrid physical-digital media systems with applications in health, education, communications and creative practice. It is one of five schools that, together with the ASU Art Museum, comprise the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Cronkite hosts Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute

January 3, 2014

Fifteen journalism professors from around the country will participate in a five-day program on teaching entrepreneurial journalism through the annual Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The Jan. 5-9 event is an immersion program that will equip 15 competitively selected professors with the necessary skills to infuse journalism entrepreneurship into their own academic programs in the following year. The institute is made possible through a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The E.W. Scripps Company. Download Full Image

“Entrepreneurship and creativity have been at the heart of our company since its founding 135 years ago,” said Mike Philipps, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. “This spirit of innovation has made Scripps one of the nation’s leading media companies, so it’s incumbent upon us to encourage the kind of thinking that supports the industry’s evolution.”

The institute is directed by Cronkite professor Dan Gillmor, founder of Cronkite’s Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and an internationally renowned thought leader on journalism entrepreneurship.

The institute will feature a keynote by Richard Gingras, director of news products for Google, as well as sessions with prominent digital entrepreneurs and experienced venture capitalists and funders.

During the institute, attendees will learn the basic principles of entrepreneurship, study pitch development and discover how to turn ideas into digital products. Training, transportation, lodging, materials and meals are provided to participants at no cost.

“By the end of this third-annual program, the Scripps Institute at Cronkite will have afforded 45 journalism educators from schools nationwide with the tools to teach journalism and infuse their classrooms and curriculums with the principles that can help young journalists become even more successful,” said Elizabeth Smith, Cronkite outreach director and coordinator for the program. “Understanding entrepreneurship can enable journalism grads to forge their own destinies by creating scalable ventures in an ever-evolving career field or add value by thinking entrepreneurially within traditional news companies.”

The E.W. Scripps Company is a leading media enterprise with 19 television stations and newspapers in 13 markets that is developing and expanding its digital strategies, including social gaming, for multiple platforms. Since 1941, Scripps has operated the National Spelling Bee, one of America's most-enduring celebrations of academic excellence.

The Cronkite School is a leader among journalism schools, recognized for its “teaching hospital” method of hands-on education for tomorrow’s cross-platform journalists and communications professionals. Its New Media Innovation Lab helps students develop digital media and entrepreneurial skills by giving them the opportunity to create cutting-edge digital media products for media companies and organizations.

2014 Scripps Howard Entrepreneurship Institute Fellows

• Kiesha Easley, mass communications instructor, Benedict College

• Neil Foote, principal lecturer, the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism

• Lori Henson, journalism lecturer, Indiana State University

• Susan Jacobson, assistant professor, Florida International University

• Rachele Kanigel, associate professor of journalism and acting director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, San Francisco State University

• Beth Konrad, journalism program director and senior professional in residence, Loyola University Chicago

• Kurt Lancaster, associate professor of digital media, Northern Arizona University

• Norm Lewis, associate professor of journalism, University of Florida

• Hugh J. Martin, associate professor, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University

• Joy McDonald, assistant professor, Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University

• Colleen McEdwards, lecturer, Georgia State University and anchor, CNN International

• Sean Mussenden, lecturer of digital journalism, University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

• Kevin Rafter, associate professor and associate dean for research, Dublin City University, Ireland

• Michael I. Williams, associate professor and director of special projects and innovation, University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications

• Emily Withrow, assistant professor of journalism, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism

Reporter , ASU News