ATEC Professors to Present During Perot Social Sciences Series

Explore sound design behind musicscapes of the Perot Museum and the technical and creative process sonification of scientific data with Dr. Frank Dufour, Associate Director for Doctoral Program and Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Sound Design from ATEC at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Auditory Representations of Scientific Thinking with Dr. Frank Dufour and Scot Gresham-Lancaster
October 4, 9:30pm │ Level 1 The Hoglund Foundation Theater

Perot Social Science: Sound

Curious about the effect of sound on your brain? Find out at our next Social Science, a night for adults 21+ to play in the museum with signature cocktails, friends, or even bring a date. There is something for everyone on October 4, including experimental music, a live band, a silent disco, and even improv dance performances. Try mixing your own music, create an instrument, and meet our guest neuroscientist and musicians.

Read more on the Perot Museum Website.


Exhibit to Examine Sound as Art and Image

The School of Arts and Humanities opens its spring season by examining the relationship between sound and art with the mixed-media exhibit Sonic Architectonic.

Parts by exhibit artist Derrick Buisch is made in oil paint, enamel, spray paint on canvas, wood panel and multi-density fiberboard.

Curated by visual arts faculty member Lorraine Tady, the exhibit features both local and national artists who work directly with noise or frequency, examining what is heard or felt through sound waves, and some who work with images that suggest sound. Other artists in the exhibit anticipate our relationship to sound by addressing our expectations and cognitive reflexes.

“In contemporary art, sound is a medium used as a separate tool, or is intertwined with other mediums,” said Tady. “Some artists infuse their own open, hybrid visual forms and multimedia explorations with sound. This exhibit considers these approaches and more.”

Artists utilizing real sound with their visual works or as their artwork include Jill Auckenthaler, who, in collaboration with Sarah Phillips, will display What My Schedule Sounds Like. The work is both an instrumental score for an atonal sound piece and a watercolor and graphite work on paper.

Brad Tucker is creating Bagdad Bass Club, an interactive sound and object installation that combines videotaped music performance, customized audio equipment, handmade plastic records, ambient music and thumping intermittent bass sounds.

96-Tears no. 3 by John Pomara, professor of visual arts in the School of Arts and Humanities

Dr. Frank Dufour, assistant professor of sound design at UT Dallas, and adjunct art professor Stephen Lapthisophon, will, in separate works of art, direct sound into the gallery to inhabit and transform the architectural space of the gallery. Lapthisophon interprets Karl Marx through a disembodied voice reminiscent of German lieder. Dufour collaborates with David Searcy and Nancy Rebal to create an interactive soundscape alluding to world peace.

Paul Slocum offers his iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app Magic Carpet. Visitors are invited to install the free app “carpet lite” to experience the hypnotic and meditative graphics in synchronization with the app’s generative music synthesizer.

Artists who will study sound in various visual ways using painting, drawing, and sculpture include John Pomara, professor of visual arts in the School of Arts and Humanities. Included are computer ink jet drawings by Robert Ortega, who is interested in patterns and “how to graphically relate light wavelength to audio frequency,” and Diane Fitch’s realist paintings of casual living room musicians.

what my schedule sounds like is both an instrumental score for an atonal sound piece and a watercolor and graphite work on paper. The work was created by Jill Auckenthaler in collaboration with Sarah Phillips.

The show opens with a reception on Friday, Jan. 27 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Visual Arts Building. Visiting artist Brad Tucker will share a lecture of his work Friday Jan. 27at 10 a.m. in AS 1.116. The group exhibit will on display until Feb. 18, 2012.

Prof’s Exhibit Combines Art, Science and Technology

Using the ancient myth of Orpheus, video projection and three-dimensional sound, a UT Dallas professor is examining the relationship of sound to perception of movement in Acoustic Shadows, an Exploration of the Sense of Space.

The Acoustic Shadows exhibit was a collaboration between Dr. Frank Dufour and his wife, Kristin Lee Dufour.

Acoustic Shadows is an audio-visual immersive and interactive installation that depicts Orpheus surrounded by shadows of the underworld consumed by the shadow of his wife, Eurydice.

In the myth, the gifted and musical Orpheus travels to the underworld after his wife dies to beg Hades to allow his wife to return to earth. After violating a condition made by Hades, Orpheus loses his wife forever.

Dr. Frank Dufour worked on the project with his wife, Kristin Lee Dufour, a creative art director and international consultant for visual communications.

“The viewer is enveloped in a multisensory, reactive system that actually ‘listens’ for changes in the environment generated by your presence and movement,” said Dufour, assistant professor of sound design in UT Dallas’ Arts and Technology program.

The audio-visual installation depicts Orpheus of ancient legend surrounded by shadows of the underworld and consumed by the shadow of his wife, Eurydice.

“This results in noticeable changes to the sound and projected images. Your body reflects and absorbs sound waves to create the auditory manifestation or form of silent movement, which, in this context, is termed ‘Acoustic Shadows.’”

The exhibit is currently on display in The Center for the Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art until April 2012. Acoustic Shadows made its debut at The Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en-Provence, France, earlier this year.

More about Dr. Dufour’s research is available in SoundEffects, a journal on sound and sound experience.

ATEC Prof Stages Audiovisual Exhibit in France

‘Acoustic Shadows’ Installation Explores Movement of Silent Objects

With a new exhibition in France, Dr. Frank Dufour, assistant professor of sound design in UT Dallas’ Arts and Technology (ATEC) program, has officially gone global.

Acoustic Shadows: An Exploration of Sense of Space” is an experimental interactive sound installation Dufour created alongside wife Kristin Lee through the entity Agency 5970. The piece is currently on display at The Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en-Provence, France. Dufour worked on the sound and music aspects, while his wife tackled the visual side.

Dr. Frank Dufour

Two ATEC graduate students have been working with the Dufours: PhD student Sherri Segovia as choreographer and graduate student Djakhangir Zakhidov as videographer.

Of the installation, Dufour said, “It is an immersive audiovisual environment that senses and responds to the presence and movements of the spectators on the basis of the concept of ‘Acoustic Shadows.’ ”

Dufour describes the latter as “the auditory perception of the movements of silent objects and bodies by means of the changes they cast on a background sound.”

Agence 5970

The installation was designed to exemplify the phenomenon and make it known to a wider audience.

“Exhibiting in France is great, but our ultimate goal is to present this work here in the U.S.,” Dufour acknowledged.

Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, said, “Professor Dufour’s ingenious and vital contribution to the marriage of technology and art is its focus on the artistic possibilities of sound in not only its most sophisticated, but also its most basic aspects.”

Stiegler Schools UTD

On April 15, 2011, French new media philosopher Bernard Stiegler stepped into the Arts and Technology building to a room jam-packed with professionals, educators and students awaiting his arrival.

Thanks to Stiegler’s long time friendship with sound design pro Professor Frank Dufour, he happened to be passing through Dallas and agreed to give a talk entitled Forming and Deforming Attention.

The talk centered on the discussion of the importance of education in early development of attentional forms.

Dr. Stiegler is currently the Director of the Georges Pompidou Institute of Research and Innovation in Paris, which aims to anticipate changes in human behavior brought about by the evolution of technology.

He also holds an assistant professorship at the Goldsmith College in London and at the University of Compiegne.

Game Trains Soldiers in a Virtual Iraq or Afghanistan

A training tool being developed by a research team from the Arts and Technology (ATEC) program may soon make it easier for military service men and women to perform their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The project offers virtual villages for soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan to practice their training skills.

Dr. Marjorie Zielke, the principal investigator on the project, holds the award plaque with her co-investigators, Dr. Thomas Linehan (left), director of Arts and Technology at UT Dallas; and Dr. Frank DuFour, assistant professor of sound design.

“The work we’re doing has to do with the facilitation of cultural training,” said Dr. Marjorie Zielke, an assistant professor in the ATEC program and the principal investigator on the project.  “The way some of that training has been done in the past and may still be done in certain areas is to build actual villages and hire actors to replicate a particular culture,”  Zielke said. “That kind of approach has some limitations in the sense that it’s expensive, not everyone can attend, it’s not easily changed because it’s a physical structure, you have to work with actual actors, and so forth.”

The ATEC team set out to re-create  a realistic virtual environment instead.  The result is First Person Cultural Trainer (FPCT), a 3D interactive game that  teaches soldiers the values and norms of Iraqi and Afghan cultures.  FPCT is a serious game, which means that it is designed for purposes other than pure entertainment, in this case, cultural training.

Players enter the community from the first-person point of view and collect information based on verbal and non-verbal cues observed in characters encountered along the way.

FPCT recently won the Cross-Function Team Award at the 2010 Modeling & Simulation Leadership Summit, held in Virginia Beach. Presented annually by the National Training & Simulation Association (NTSA), the Modeling & Simulation (M&S) Awards recognize achievement in the M&S functional areas of training, analysis and acquisition, and in support of the overall M&S effort.

First Person Cultural Trainer was also a finalist at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Florida in early December.  I/ITSEC promotes cooperation among the armed services, industry, academia and various government agencies in pursuit of improved training and education programs.

Zielke says ATEC has been working in the cultural training and simulation area for about three years, with about 15 students – at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels – working on this project.  Her co-investigators are Dr. Thomas Linehan, Endowed Chair and director of Arts and Technology at UT Dallas; and Dr. Frank DuFour, assistant professor of sound design.

The project team conducted extensive research to get the characters to look, sound and act like the culture they’re representing.

“Much of the cultural data is being developed in real time by the military,” Zielke said.  “By having it in a systems-based approach that is composable — in other words, we can generate culture in certain aspects of the game on the fly — we can respond to the data as soon as it becomes available.  We could change it overnight if we needed to.”

The project is supported and sponsored by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) G-2 Intelligence Support Activity (TRISA).

“This prototype, now on its way to a full-fledged model, is a highly flexible tool for training battle staffs and individual soldiers at the tactical level,” said Mel Cape, senior knowledge engineer for TRADOC G2. “The recognition [the UT Dallas team] has received within the modeling and simulation community is well deserved, and we at TRISA are proud of their superlative efforts in the development of a culturally-based training device.”

Part of this cultural training is to familiarize soldiers with what they will face when arriving in their theaters of operation. Researchers worked to make the game’s characters look, sound and act as much as possible like people from the culture they represent.

The project offers virtual villages for soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan to practice their training skills.

In the game, the player enters a community from the first-person point of view.  He doesn’t know much about the community, how the people feel about him, or who the key figures are in the village. The goal is to move through the community and try to understand the social structures and issues, then address those issues and work with the community to affect missions.

The people in the community form opinions about the player based on how the player treats them.  If the player doesn’t interact properly with them, the villagers discuss his behavior among themselves.  Some individuals in the village have more clout than others.

The player collects information based on verbal and non-verbal cues he observes in the characters he encounters and then rates those characters based on a scale of four emotions: anger, fear, gladness and neutrality.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this program for Zielke is the opportunity to help her students make connections within the industry. “Between this project and other similar projects in the ATEC program, we have at least 30 students employed at any given time,” she said. “The students develop great portfolios, gain work experience, go to conferences, write research papers based on an incredibly rich data set and then hopefully leverage all of those things to get industry jobs.”

ATEC Prof to Take Clinical Concepts to Virtual World

Assistant Professor Marjorie Zielke has been awarded a three-year, $350,000 grant to create online training in neonatal nursing through an ongoing collaboration with the UT Arlington School of Nursing (UTASON).

“Student learning will be enriched by faculty perspectives from across the country,” Marjorie Zielke said of her project.

Zielke, with Arts and Technology (ATEC) faculty members Monica Evans, Frank Dufour and Todd Fechter, will build a Web site that allows student nurses to be taught concurrently by faculty from Dartmouth University, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the University of Texas at Arlington and Stony Brook University School of Nursing in New York.  The new research enhances subject matter review and creates a more portable learning experience.

“Student learning will be enriched by faculty perspectives from across the country,” said Zielke. “Students also will benefit from the social community of other graduate-level nursing students through this virtual learning environment.”

The course subject matter covers conditions in fetuses and babies under 2 years old.  Students can download a lecture as a podcast or video, and then follow up with a virtual examination of an infant in a no-risk environment. The virtual environment allows for endless practice and limitless scenarios in a risk-free environment. For instance, the instructor can program symptoms such as respiratory distress into a 3D model, rather than teach based on the conditions of patients visiting a clinic or hospital on a given day.

ATEC students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels also will participate in this project, performing research, modeling, animation, story development and computer programming.

Research project sponsors are the UTASON, with principal investigator Dr. Judy Leflore, and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Professor Zielke is thinking beyond the virtual classroom. In addition to her work on grants from The University of Texas System and other healthcare organizations, she plans to create a virtual baby, which is difficult because of the current technology used to capture motion. A researcher cannot, for instance, direct an infant to raise its right arm so that the cameras and computers can capture every nuance of the movement as a basis for animation.

“We like to take on complex projects that no one really knows how to do,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in being able to represent humans virtually, both physically and cognitively. Representing non-verbal communication is especially challenging.  This line of research has the potential to make a major difference in the way online medical education and medical simulations are done today.”

Researchers Ponder New Field of Anticipation

Albert Einstein discovered that time is relative, moving either fast or slow relative to the speed of something else. In doing so he revealed a new understanding of reality.

But what is time in virtual reality?

On Feb. 6, a mixed group of researchers from the arts to science to emerging media met to investigate this idea as part of the symposium, “Anticipation, Time and the Virtual Experience.”

Sponsored by the anté, the Institute for Research in Anticipatory Systems at UT Dallas, the symposium attracted 31 participants from across the Metroplex to the Rachofsky House, a contemporary landmark residence in Dallas with a museum quality collection of modern art.  Six other scholars from France, Holland and Canada added their voices remotely by pre-taped discussions streamed over the web.

Many of the speakers viewed the virtual world as a way to understand a new field of science known as anticipation, which tries to apply the natural, evolutionary state of anticipation – in which living organisms feel or know beforehand a particular action – to the actions of computers, robotics and artificial intelligence. For example, an anticipatory mechanism in a car endows it with the ability to “know” the driving habits of the driver.

“A virtual experience can be defined as uchronic – out of time or an alternative to time,” said Dr. Mihai Nadin, Ashbel Smith Professor and director of anté. “It cannot be precisely inserted in the traditional flow of time embedded in the deterministic sequence from past to future.”

Among the discussions were concepts of time as defined by photography and video games, creativity and imagination as models for anticipation and the social and aesthetic aspects of virtual time.

UT Dallas Professor Frank Dufour also helped to organize the symposium and spoke on the topic of the anticipatory quality of film, video and games. From this symposium, the organizers hope to grow a network of scholars interested in the field of anticipation and its practical applications.

The “Anticipation, Time and the Virtual Experience” symposium will be webcast in the near future. For more information about the symposium, go to