Scholar Trying to Stimulate Interest In ‘New Science’ of Anticipation

Wanted: College professors, business executives and other professionals interested in exploring joint research opportunities with a pioneer in a new and fascinating field of science:  anticipation.  Reply to Dr. Mihai Nadin, Ashbel Smith Professor and director of antÉ, the Institute for Research in Anticipatory Systems, at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).

You won’t see that advertisement anytime soon in the local newspaper.  However, Nadin will be making just such a pitch to potential partners at a series of presentations on the UTD campus over the course of eight days in October.

Dr. Mihai Nadin

Titled “Anticipatory Systems:  Opportunities for Texas,” the event will be “a feast for the mind and the eyes, and no one will go away hungry,” said Nadin, one of the founders and acknowledged leaders of a nascent, somewhat arcane discipline that seeks to bring anticipatory characteristics of living organisms to mechanisms, as well as to a broad array of pursuits.  In conjunction with the presentations, Nadin has arranged for a highly acclaimed exhibit – a rare collaboration between an award-winning printer and a noted photographer – to be presented on the UTD campus.

“antÉ wants to attract qualified members interested in the institute’s research agenda, and we believe the upcoming event will be a productive way to do so,” said Nadin.

At eight separate sessions, scheduled for Oct. 19-26, Nadin will present an introduction to the subject of anticipation and its practical applications – including new forms of computing, as well as anticipation related to education, politics, the arts and even “extreme events” such as terrorist attacks, hurricanes and others.  Other speakers, who are institute members, will discuss concrete research opportunities.

Each of the presentations will target a different audience – those involved in cognitive science and related medical fields one evening; followed on subsequent evenings by separate sessions for educators; professionals in the humanities; economics, social and political sciences; engineering and computer science; and the arts.

The exhibit, Jack W. Stauffacher & Dennis Letbetter: The Vico Collaboration, will run concurrently with the information sessions.  It will feature the works of master book printer, typographer and designer Stauffacher and renowned photographer Letbetter in an unusual show inspired by the work of the 18th Century Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico, The New Science.

Both the presentations and the exhibit – all of which will be held in the Cecil and Ida Green Center Commons – are free and open to the public.

Nadin is an internationally known scholar recognized for his groundbreaking interdisciplinary work that ranges across the arts, computer science and cognitive science.  Born and educated in Romania, Nadin was among the very early scholars to address the relationship between computers and human creativity.  He is credited with founding the discipline of computational design – the design of products and processes through the use of digital means.

Nadin began his own research into anticipatory systems in the late 1980’s.  Upon his arrival at UTD in 2004, he established antÉ to study the premise of embedding the characteristics of anticipation — vital to efficient human functioning – in software for computers and other devices.  Examples of future applications of such research might be anticipatory control mechanisms that endow vehicles with the capability to “learn” the driving habits of the owner and make adjustments accordingly, or machines that organize and repair themselves.

“As scientists discover the anticipatory processes characteristic of the living – from one-celled organisms to groups of animals and plants – interest in applying anticipation has increased, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, medicine and health,” Nadin said.

Nadin believes the event will be particularly appealing to promising young professionals “still in the process of defining the direction of their careers – which might well be spent in the evolving field of anticipation.”

For additional information on the presentations, including a copy of the program, please contact Nadin at 972-883-2832 or nadin@utdallas.edu.  The institute’s web site at www.anteinstitute.org provides additional information on current research.

UTD Arts and Technology Program Hits the Road

The Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) later this month will take its highly acclaimed program on the road — to the Mexican Research Center for Mathematics (known as CIMAT) in Guanajuato, Mexico — with a course in computer animation and Internet graphics.

The class, which begins on June 27 and is scheduled to last six weeks, will focus on advanced animation techniques and Internet graphic methods. Students will be required to complete an interactive technology project and will have an opportunity to use UTD’s state-of-the-art animation software.

Dr. Thomas Linehan, who is a director of the UTD institute, along with Pablo Trinidad, a Ph.D. student in arts and technology, will lead the undergraduate-level program.

According to Linehan, the class is believed to be one of the first of its kind to be offered in Mexico, and perhaps in all of Latin America.

“Mexico is a budding area for animation and art technology, and CIMAT has many talented students who are interested in pursuing careers in the field,” Linehan said. “By offering this course, we hope to provide a curricula model so that CIMAT could potentially create its own offerings and eventually establish an undergraduate program in arts and technology to complement UTD’s.”

UTD’s interactive arts and engineering tract, created in 2002 with the arrival of Linehan from The Ohio State University, has been at the forefront of adopting innovative new offerings in the areas of animation, game design and virtual-reality technology.

In January, for example, UTD announced the creation of an interdisciplinary Motion Capture and Virtual Reality Laboratory for the digital recording of motion in 3-D spaces and creating virtual-reality environments. It is one of only a handful of facilities in the country to employ cutting-edge technologies to facilitate the study of human movement, which could spur advances in many disparate fields, including entertainment, education, military, medicine and numerous other research areas.

Motion-capture technology typically is carried out by multiple cameras positioned throughout a lab that track so-called “markers” or reflectors placed on the bodies of live subjects. Data derived from tracking the movement of the markers are used to help create more realistic computer images of humans and even animals. Animators, and particularly video game developers, rely on motion-capture research because it can produce highly accurate and realistic movement results in a short amount of time.

UTD, through its Center for U.S.–Mexico Studies, established a formal collaborative relationship with CIMAT last February, but the two institutions have enjoyed scholarly and professorial exchanges for several years.

UTD Establishes One of the Few Motion Capture And Virtual Reality Laboratories in the Country

An interdisciplinary Motion Capture and Virtual Reality Laboratory for the digital recording of motion in 3-D spaces and creating virtual-reality environments has been established at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Expected to open late next month, it will be one of only a handful of facilities in the country to employ cutting-edge technologies to facilitate the study of human movement, which could spur advances in many disparate fields, including entertainment, education, military, medicine and numerous other research areas.

A collaboration of UTD’s School of Arts and Humanities and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the state-of-the-art lab was funded by monies made available to UTD through a much-publicized economic-development agreement involving Texas Instruments, the State of Texas and the University of Texas System. Under the agreement, code-named “Project Emmitt,” the university is scheduled to receive an infusion of as much as $300 million in public and private funds to beef up its engineering and computer science programs.

The lab will be housed in UTD’s Institute for Interactive Arts and Technology and will be co-directed by Dr. Thomas Linehan, head of the institute and a professor of aesthetic studies, and Dr. Balakrishnan Prabhakaran, an associate professor of computer science in the Jonsson School. The lab will be devoted to research in such areas as:

  • Animated gaming
  • Military — including technical training scenarios and homeland defense
  • Motion pictures — special effects and animation
  • Medical — including biomedical research, prostheses, spinal cord injuries, bio mechanisms , mathematical models of human movement and perception and mathematical models of four-legged animal and human gaits
  • Education — human facial recognition technologies

Motion capture technology typically is carried out by multiple cameras positioned throughout a lab that track so-called “markers” or reflectors placed on the bodies of live subjects. Data derived from tracking the movement of the markers are used to help create more realistic computer images of humans and even animals. Animators, and particularly video game developers, rely on motion capture research because it can produce highly accurate and realistic movement results in a short amount of time.

UTD’s facility will feature 16 cameras, including the VICON MX40, and its system will capture the movement of up to five actors interacting in a blue-walled performance area. The multiple cameras allow for simultaneous recording and video, which will match data frame-by-frame. The cameras will be able:

  • To capture a subject from three sides (and full rotations in most cases)
  • To capture facial and hand markers for front or side view animations
  • To provide complete angular coverage of a subject
  • To handle multiple actors and track props

According to Linehan, the system will use the fastest active-optical, real-time 3-D technology currently available and will offer a high accuracy, wide-angle operation, scalability and ease-of-use. The system’s software package has a friendly graphic user interface, the operation of which should be understandable to anyone familiar with Windows.

“The technology and equipment that make up this new facility are some of the best available in the world,” Linehan said. “I look forward to the opportunities the lab will bring to UTD, particularly for the students who will learn here and who will move on to become the great filmmakers, researchers, educators and military leaders of their generations. The possibility of creating a world-class arts and technology program from the ground up has been an exciting endeavor for me, and it is amazing to see it finally come to fruition.”

“This facility provides a unique opportunity for collaboration — the perfect marriage of engineering and computer science with the arts,” said Dr. Robert Helms, dean of the Jonsson School. “The applications of the lab are endless, and its very creation is another giant leap for UTD toward its goal of becoming a top-tier research university.”

Linehan, who joined UTD in 2002, has a background in corporate management and educational administration and has extensive experience in computer game design and animation. He served as creator and director of the Research Partners program at The Ohio State University and established and directed graduate programs in computer animation at Ohio State’s Advanced Computing Center for Arts and Design. He was president of The Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., where he helped create an undergraduate curriculum in computer animation, and he also worked with Texas A&M University to establish the College of Architecture’s Visualization Laboratory. He served as a consultant in the development of similar programs in The Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand and Canada.

Prabhakaran, who earned his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India, and joined UTD in 2000, said the new lab would “give UTD the facility for designing, implementing and testing algorithms needed for multi-attribute motion sequences.”

“The systems in this lab track motions in three dimensions, thereby generating multiple–attribute values for a given motion type. Students as well as faculty will be able to use the lab to develop algorithms that segment, recognize and index these motion sequences, and these algorithms could have important applications in security and in medical research.”

Much of Prabhakaran’s research in the new lab will be carried out as part of a National Science Foundation Career grant he received on animation databases.

Renowned Scholar Mihai Nadin Joins Faculty

Computer Graphics Pioneer to Head New Institute;

Arrival Strengthens UTD’s Arts and Technology Programs

Dr. Mihai Nadin, a pioneer in the field of computer graphics and an internationally known scholar in computer applications for art and design and in human-computer interactions, has joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as Ashbel Smith Professor.

Dr. Mihai Nadin

Nadin will be affiliated with both the School of Arts and Humanities and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. His leadership is expected to strengthen the university’s degree programs in arts and technology and the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering, both joint projects of the two schools.

Nadin will also serve as director of a newly established Institute for Research in Anticipatory Systems that focuses on “anticipatory computing,” or embedding the characteristic of anticipation in software for computers and other devices. The new institute, known as ANTE, was represented recently in Germany at ORGATEC, the largest world fair dedicated to the office as both workplace and environment for creative interaction.

“UTD is indeed fortunate to have a great scholar with a truly international reputation join our faculty,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, the university’s executive vice president and provost. “Professor Nadin is known throughout the world for his groundbreaking interdisciplinary work that ranges across the arts, computer science and cognitive science.

“Professor Nadin brings a wealth of academic experience to UTD – including appointments at such prestigious institutions as the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, the Rhode Island School of Design and Ohio State University – that will serve the university and its students extremely well,” Wildenthal said. “This is a key hire for UTD at an important juncture in our drive to become a top-tier university.”

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, called Nadin “a 21 st century Renaissance man, at home in the humanities and in science. We expect he will make a significant contribution to UTD’s innovative interdisciplinary effort to explore and exploit the synergies between art and technology.”

Born and educated in Romania, Nadin was among the very early scholars to address the relationship between computers and human creativity. His interests tracked his education – he has advanced degrees in computer science and philosophy.

Computational design, or the design of products and processes through the use of digital means, is a discipline founded by Nadin. He established and directed the world’s first Computational Design Program at the University of Wuppertal in Germany.

Nadin was recruited to UTD in large measure through the efforts of Dr. Thomas Linehan, who established the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering when he arrived at the university in 2002. Linehan worked with Nadin at Ohio State in the mid- to late-1980’s and believed his former colleague would be a perfect match for the institute’s charter.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone, anywhere with the breadth and depth of knowledge of Mihai Nadin when it comes to the marriage of art and technology, which is the focus of the institute,” Linehan said. “Not only is Mihai a prolific thinker, lecturer, writer and consultant, but he is also an outstanding teacher – and that will be part of his role at UTD.”

According to Linehan, Nadin will teach arts and technology, humanities and computer science courses.

The author of 23 books and countless articles, Nadin has lectured and written extensively on the mind, anticipation and dynamic systems, visualization, ubiquitous computing and various aspects of human-computer and human-technology interaction. He is credited with introducing various terms and phrases that have found wide usage throughout society, including “semiotic machine,” “post-industrial society,” “the civilization of illiteracy” and “anticipatory computing.”

Since his first involvement with the computer in the 1960’s, Nadin has espoused ways to involve computing in education and creativity, and later, with the advent of desktop computers, in art and design education. He taught some of the first known classes in many areas related to computer science.

Nadin holds a Ph.D. degree in aesthetics from the University of Bucharest and a post-doctoral degree in philosophy, logic and theory of science from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, West Germany. He earned an M.S. degree in electronics and computer science from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest and an M.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Bucharest.

New UTD Exhibition, Second Look, Explores References To Time In Photography, Digital Media

UT Dallas will host Second Look, an exhibition curated by acclaimed artist and UTD Associate Professor Marilyn Waligore, in the Main Gallery of the Visual Arts Building from March 19 to April 15. This new exhibition explores references to time — such as duration, series, sequence and narrative — in photography and digital media.

Texas artists participating in the exhibition include Kathy Lovas and Martin Menocal of Dallas, Terri Cummings of Fort Worth and Huntsville area artists James Paster, Michael Henderson and Tony Shipp.

At 7:30 p.m. on March 31, artist Eve Sonneman will present a lecture, “Reflections On The Diptych,” in the Jonsson Performance Hall (JO 2.604) in conjunction with the exhibition. She will talk about her own work as well as discuss the importance of serial photography within a larger historical context. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A reception will be held in connection with the opening of the exhibition in UTD’s Visual Arts Building ‘s Main Gallery on Friday, March 19, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

“Media processes influence our perception of time as in the instantaneous snapshot, or conversely, the long exposure,” explained curator Waligore. “In new media, setting the frame rate may stretch or compress the experience of continuous time. The film loop presents an image cycle that repeats endlessly, with a duration that is boundless. Camera-based imagery calls us to take a second look at a moment.”

Alcatel Picks UTD To Help With Second Design Project, This One for Mobile, Wireless Devices

In another example of the benefits of The University of Texas at Dallas’ participation in Alcatel’s Research Partner Program, the global communications network provider has selected UTD to collaborate with it on the design and demonstration of a next-generation, wireless Graphical User Interface (GUI) prototype for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), pocket PCs and other mobile devices.

It is the second project for which Alcatel has selected UTD – specifically, the university’s new Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering – as its collaborative design partner. The first involved a number of wire-based telecommunication products.

The 11-month collaborative effort is expected to run at least through December. Thomas E. Linehan, head of the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering, and Dean Terry, assistant professor in UTD’s School of Arts and Humanities, will direct the project; and Chip Wood, an adjunct professor at UTD and principal of Plano-based Ignition, Inc., will serve as the lead designer.

“We are delighted that Alcatel has selected UTD to work on a second project, one that is important to the company,” said Linehan, who joined UTD from The Ohio State University 15 months ago. “We intend to make sure that their confidence in us is deserved by coming up with a design that is technologically innovative, aesthetically pleasing and, most important, provides a competitive advantage to both Alcatel and to the end-user.”

UTD, which has had a long relationship with Alcatel, is one of only three U.S. research organizations selected by Alcatel for its global Research Partner Program, which was established in the fall of 2001 to foster technological innovation through relationships with key universities and research institutes. The program has three components – research collaboration; mobility, training and education; and incubation and start-up initiatives. The research partners are part of a select group likely to be consulted first regarding new Alcatel collaborative research topics.

“The Alcatel collaboration with Tom Linehan of the UTD Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering during 2002 was very useful and provided several innovative ideas for the design of graphical interfaces for use in the next generation communications services,” said Rajiv Shah, who is the vice president of Reseach and Network Strategy at Alcatel. “The perspective, talents, skills and experience provided by the UTD Institute are very complementary to the engineering design and development expertise available at the Alcatel Research and Innovation group in Plano. This year we hope to get similar innovative contributions in the design of multimodal user interfaces for new telecommunications applications and services.”

UTD’s Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering was established to provide students with an opportunity to learn about interactive advancements in the fields of communication, entertainment, education and training, as well as in scientific and medical applications. As part of their studies, students, along with faculty, are charged with inventing new pathways for the converging disciplines and fields.

The Institute is a collaborative, inter-disciplinary effort by two of UTD’s seven schools: the School of Arts and Humanities and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Computer Animation Visionary Dr. Tom Linehan Joins UTD as Professor, Director of New Institute for Interactive Arts and Technology

Dr. Thomas E. Linehan, a visionary in the field of computer animation, has joined The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as a professor of aesthetic studies and director of UTD’s newly formed Institute for Interactive Arts and Technology.

UTD’s School of Arts and Humanities and its Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science collaborated to create the institute, which will provide students an opportunity to learn about interactive advancements in the fields of communication, entertainment, education and training, as well as in scientific and medical applications.

The institute is meant to attract the best and brightest students to study the effects technology can have on such fields as the arts, computer science, physics, filmmaking, literature and communications. As part of their studies, students, along with faculty, will be charged with inventing new pathways for the converging disciplines and fields.

Linehan’s arrival and the creation of the institute will afford the university the opportunity to become known as an innovator in providing degree programs in advanced interactive arts and technology, said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of UTD’s School of Arts and Humanities.

“The creation of the Institute for Interactive Arts and Technology is a pivotal step toward UTD becoming a school dedicated to the study of the mutual impact of art and technology,” Kratz said. “Tom has provided instruction to artists, designers, filmmakers and art educators, and we are excited to have someone with his experience and expertise join UTD at this critical moment in the school’s history.”

Linehan, who also has a background in corporate management and educational administration, has extensive experience in computer game design and animation.

Most recently, he served as creator and director of the Research Partners program at The Ohio State University, where he was responsible for pairing university faculty and graduate students with corporations for research partnerships to study digital communication technologies.

Prior to that, Linehan was president of The Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., where he helped create an undergraduate curriculum in computer animation.

Before that, Linehan established and directed graduate programs in computer animation at Ohio State’s Advanced Computing Center for Arts and Design. During his tenure, he was responsible for merging a graduate program of 50 master and doctoral students from computer science, physics, electrical engineering, art, film, architecture and education backgrounds.

Linehan also has worked with Texas A&M University to establish the College of Architecture’s Visualization Laboratory. Under his direction, A&M created a program of study leading to master’s and doctoral programs in visualization sciences. He served as a consultant in the development of similar programs in The Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand and Canada.

“I look forward to helping UTD create an interactive arts and technology program from the ground up,” Linehan said. “With the help of the Erik Jonsson School and the talented faculty and staff in the School of Arts and Humanities, I am confident UTD will become one of the top educational programs in interactive technologies in the world.”

A native of Wisconsin, Linehan received both his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in art education from The Ohio State University and his bachelor’s degree in fine art from Webster University in St. Louis.

For additional information about the institute, its degree programs or Tom Linehan, please call (972) 883-4379 or e-mail thomas.linehan@utdallas.edu.