Future-Energy: Research and Design Storm

The Future Energy Research and Design Storm is a 2-day workshop.

When: 10AM-6PM, March 25 and 26

Where:  The Grant Street Studios 605 E. Grant St., Phoenix, AZ   

What: To investigate pressing energy issues facing the Phoenix area and the US Southwest, and to use research and design thinking to generate ideas for potential sustainable solutions. This workshop is designed for interested conference participants and an interdisciplinary group of college students from ASU and the University of New Mexico.

Who: The workshop will be facilitated by Megan Halpern (ASU), Dan Collins (ASU) and Andrea Polli (The University of New Mexico) with students from ASU and The University of New Mexico

RegistrationRegister Here

Day 1: Research: Participants take on the role of “energy investigators” with the goal of building a visual “energy ethnography” for Phoenix and the Valley. In the morning session, interdisciplinary teams are formed (participants remain in these teams for the rest of the workshop), and sent on a visual and other data-gathering scavenger hunt. Using smartphones, teams walk through parts of downtown Phoenix, taking photographs, gathering data and making brief observations, which they share over twitter and other databases. Tweets relating to the workshop will include #BunB2015, and participants will be given a list of predetermined hashtags such as #waste, #surplus, or #scarcity, and “collect” images and observations with these tags. This exercise is designed to help participants build their observational skills related to ethnography and visual ethnography, and to help the larger group to build a catalog that can be used as inspiration during the rest of the workshop. During the scavenger hunt process, groups will also be able to observe and work with student technicians and organizers to use a Leica LIDAR system to rapidly capture sections of the downtown area as 3D point clouds. These images will be among the images tweeted with the hashtag #BunB2015, and may also include thematic hashtags from the hunt. At the end of the day, teams share their results with the larger group of participants.

Day 2: In the morning, participants choose a topic area or problem with which to engage, and begin their design projects. Design Storm: Teams will undergo a series of three structured creative design-storming exercises (or design ‘sprints’) that incorporate the catalog of materials gathered during the scavenger hunt. After each of the three activities, participants will briefly share their progress. During the afternoon session, groups will work independently to complete a proposal or prototype for a solution to their energy-related issue. Finally, the workshop will reconvene for reporting from each group on their project results.

After the workshop, the results of the Future Energy Research and Design Storm are presented by participants in a poster-style session at the Balance/Unbalance conference.


Andrea Polli <www.andreapolli.com> is an artist and scholar working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes media performance and installation, public interventions, curating and editorial, directing and writing. She currently is an Associate Professor in Art and Ecology with a joint appointment between Fine Arts and Engineering, the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media, and the Director of the Social Media Workgroup at the Center for Advanced Research Computing at The University of New Mexico. She holds a doctorate in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth in the UK and a MFA in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Polli has been creating media and technology artworks related to environmental science issues since 1999, when she first began collaborating with atmospheric scientists on sound and data sonification projects. Among other organizations, she has worked with the NASA/Goddard Institute Climate Research Group and the National Center for Atmospheric Research and her artwork and research has been funded by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Fulbright including two over $1.5 million projects: the NEA-supported ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness throughout New Mexico and the Southwest and the 5-year NSF-funded SEPTET project.

Dan Collins is a Professor in the School of Art at Arizona State University where he teaches courses in Intermedia and the Digital Culture program. He is founding Co-Director of the PRISM lab (a 3D modeling and prototyping facility). Collins studied studio art and art history at the University of California, Davis receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Art Education from Stanford University (1975), a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in “New Forms” and Sculpture from UCLA (1984), and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from ASU (2009). His work draws upon a range of interdisciplinary approaches to art theory and production, including site specific sculpture, performance, 3D data capture, interactive computer graphics, and visualization. Recent work focuses on digital sculpture, participatory mapping, and a video story telling project involving high schools along the length of the Colorado River-from Pinedale, Wyoming to Yuma, Arizona.

Megan Halpern is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, where she works with the Center for Science and the Imagination on “Emerge: Artists + Scientists Redesign the Future.” She earned her PhD in Science Communication at Cornell University. Her doctoral work focused on artist/scientist collaboration and the relationships between experts and publics, and on interaction design for audience participation. While at Cornell, she worked with the Interaction Design Lab, where she created SunDial, a geocaching adventure around Ithaca’s Sciencenter; MoBoogie, a mobile app that fosters creative expression through movement; and Frontstage, an audience participation system using mobile phones and tablets. She also developed collaborative performances in conjunction with local artists and the Cornell Department for Performing and Media Arts. Megan has a background in theatrical design, and prior to her work at Cornell, co­founded Redshift Productions, a company that facilitated artist/scientist collaboration and produced science-themed performances.

Participating Courses:

ASU Visualization and Prototyping 

UNM Computational Sustainability

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