A Groundworks Edition

a2ru 2019


Welcome to this special edition of Ground Works, created for the a2ru 2019 conference. It serves important functions for both the Ground Works platform and for the 2019 conference.

For Ground Works, it is a prototype—our first opportunity to run through the editorial, pre-flight, and online publication processes. Edgar Cardenas and Joey Orr served as Editors, working closely with Technical Director Daragh Byrne, Managing Editor Veronica Stanich, and peer reviewers. This conference edition also enabled us to begin to refine our understanding of what our publication criteria actually mean in practice, and what constitutes a good fit for Ground Works.

For this conference, the resulting publication is a representation and artifact, but not in the way that a conference proceedings is. It is partial rather than comprehensive. Not everyone in the conference submitted to Ground Works, and furthermore, Ground Works criteria differ from conference criteria (although we did modify the standard Ground Works criteria somewhat for the conference edition). However, the two projects that are featured in the 2019 conference edition of Ground Works are excellent examples of the conference theme of knowledges. In fact, we included Green Light SONATA in the edition even though its creators are presenting different work at the conference, precisely because it embodies the knowledges theme so well. In that way, the Ground Works conference is not just a record of the conference; it adds its own dimension to the conference.

All 37 people whose proposals were accepted to the conference were invited to submit to the special edition of Ground Works…

  • 10 people or teams submitted projects to the Ground Works special edition.
  • Five submissions advanced through Stage 1 of the review process.
  • Three teams submitted projects to Stage 2.
  • Two teams were able to complete suggested revisions in our very limited time-frame; their projects are featured here.

Exploring Research as Craft: A Workshop Series to Promote Cross-Discipline Communication by Examining Processes of Creating

Cydney Seigerman, , and Alden DiCamillo

Exploring Research as Craft (ERAC) collaboratively engages seemingly disparate disciplines through craft, material meaning-making, and critical response. Across the sciences and arts, people engage with their material and social environments to craft meaning about the world. However, academic siloing and the prioritization of jargon over communication endorse narrow understandings of science, art, research, and craft. Developed by an anthropology PhD student and an MFA at the University of Georgia (UGA), ERAC is a three-part workshop series to promote cross-disciplinary communication by conceptualizing research and practice as craft. This series culminated in a public exhibition at ATHICA, a non-profit gallery in Athens, Georgia. ERAC uncovers commonalities in how students, researchers, and faculty from diverse disciplines engage with questions about the world. In this way, traditional disciplines are deconstructed and research itself is promoted as an expression of cultural values and individual experience.

November 2019

Green Light SONATA: Improvisation at the Intersection of Art and Science

Anne Elise Thomas, Montasir Abbas, Charles Nichols, and Qichao Wang

The Green Light SONATA project originated in a hunch, shared between researchers working across disciplines, that translating simulated traffic information into music could lead to musical resolution of persistent traffic congestion. Our team - consisting of civil engineers, a composer/performer/computer music researcher, and an ethnomusicologist - proceeded to construct a model of an intersection in which each direction of traffic flow was assigned a musical pitch. Hearing these pitches as cues, musicians could interact with the sonified traffic to allow vehicles to proceed through the intersection. The result was a musical “gamification” of traffic flow in which the goal was to minimize the vehicles’ idle time. In preliminary trials, two of the three musicians outperformed the industry-standard simulation software. The next stage of this project will include public demonstration and testing sessions, involving students and additional musicians, to assess the concept’s viability, refine our methods, and gather further data. The team’s multidisciplinary dialogue takes us on productive tangents translating between different domains of musical and technical expertise. Moving forward, we plan to test additional methods of data sonification, manipulating additional musical variables (including pulse and rhythm, sequence, scales, ornaments, and other musical elements) and scaling up to model multiple consecutive intersections. Our vision is to create a model that joins the goal of optimizing traffic flow with a satisfying musical process, results from which will provide the basis for AI-enhanced algorithms that can contribute to more efficient transportation systems and more sustainable societies.

November 2019