News & Events

Past News


  • MAT PhD students Sabina Hyoju Ahn and Myungin Ben Lee will exhibit an artwork titled Parasitic Signals - Coexistence with SARS-CoV-2 at the Ars Electronica Festival 2022. September 7 - 11 in the Kepler's Gardens at the JKU Campus in Linz, Austria.
  • This project is to transform a nano-scale of a striking biological phenomenon, the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 (Corona) virus and human molecules into an interactive audiovisual simulation. Especially, in this pandemic situation, the SARS-CoV-2 (Corona) virus is a key interest in all fields of science. By collaborating with scientists at Johannes Kepler University (JKU) in Linz, Austria, we are going to simulate the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 virus and human lectin proteins by using Atomic Microscopy (AFM), which can touch a single molecule to measure binding force between SARS-CoV-2 virus and human lectin protein. We are creating an interactive audiovisual installation and performance from an interaction data set of corona virus and human protein. The audience will be invited to an immersive space where they can control the two biomolecule’s behavior so that they can intuitively recognize the biological characteristics of Corona virus and human protein.

    This project is not only a demonstration of scientific data and the development of a sonification tool, but also it tries to look at the interspecies relationship in parasitism, as a mutualistic and long-term relationship. Especially, in this pandemic situation, coronavirus brought huge impacts socially, as well as individually. Through this collaboration, this project is a continuous series of parasitism in humans that in particular deals with our current and future life with coronavirus, with various perspectives of social, political and cultural levels. Especially, as the corona virus is being extensively researched due to the pandemic circumstance all over the world, this project will be meaningful to demonstrate how we can possibly control our coexistence in virtual space.


    Ars Electronica Center, Linz Austria.


    Kepler’s Gardens at JKU Campus, Linz, Austria.


  • An undergraduate creative computing course titled "MAT 80XU - (E)Utopian Design Tools" will be offered in Session B of UCSB's Summer Session, August 2nd - September 11, 2021.
  • The course is part of the MAT THEMAS undergraduate course series that incorporates STEM + Arts & Humanities (Technology Humanities Engineering Mathematics Arts Sciences).

    Course description

    What does it mean to "make the world a better place"? How do we enact eutopias (good, possible places) rather than merely imagine utopias (ideal, impossible places)? (E)Utopian Design Tools is a creative-computing and project-based class that operationalizes positive and innovative change. Working with the 3D graphics program Blender and connected platforms, we leverage digital tools as the arm of our imaginations, addressing contemporary problems as creative opportunities. We engage worldmaking, immersive art, and speculative design through the transdisciplinary pedagogical model of THEMAS (STEM+Arts+creative Humanities) to impart a holistic thinking and making toolbox. Additionally, we train a making reflex to problem-solving through iteration and prototyping. Strategies for designing with impact, ingenuity, and empathy are further refined via concepts from cognitive science, user-centered design, engineering ethics, and information aesthetics, among other areas. A selective survey of the literature of utopias also contextualizes this undertaking. In these ways, we empower students to meet challenges holistically, effectively, imaginatively, and compassionately, with a cutting-edge toolkit supercharged with computation. The "real world" is not fixed but music in motion: we are its composers and performers. In this unique, historical moment, how will you create the future?

  • An art installation titled "Cangjie’s Poetry" by MAT PhD student Weidi Zhang has been selected to be one of the exhibits featured in the SigGraph 2021 art gallery. The virtual event will take place August 9-13 2021.
  • Cangjie is a complex intelligent system that was designed as a conceptual response to the future semantic human-machine reality. There are two visualizations generated by Cangjie through perceiving the real-world via a camera (located in the exhibition space) in real time. Inspired by Cangjie, an ancient Chinese legendary historian (c. 2650 BCE), who invented Chinese characters based on the characteristics of everything on the earth, we trained a neural network "Cangjie" to learn the constructions and principles of all the Chinese characters. It transforms what the neural network perceives into a collage of unique symbols made of Chinese strokes. UCSB Computer Science PhD alumni Donghao Ren also collaborated on the project.

    Due to the pandemic, the exhibit has been modified to use public sources of data that replaces the video camera in the exhibition space.

    Another art project by Weidi Zhang titled "Lavin" has been selected to be a part of the art gallery for the 2021 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. The virtual event will take place June 19-25 2021. MAT PhD alumni Rodger Luo also collaborated on the project.

    A new audio visual artwork by Weidi Zhang titled "Astro" will be shown at Planetarium 1 in St. Petersburg Russia.


    Astro by Weidi Zhang

    Weidi discussed her current art projects in an interview by Neural Magazine.


  • The AlloSphere Research Groups' newest collaborative immersive media composition MYRIOI was premiered at SIGGRAPH 2020 in Washington DC in July 2020.
  • MYRIOI ("myriad particles") is the third immersive media work in a series of quantum media compositions under the direction of Dr. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, the Director of the AlloSphere Research Group. It offers a shared experience that allows interaction with the world of the quantum: waveforms, light - the pure essence of form and shape. MYRIOI will share the experience of being immersed and interacting with myriads of particles that create currents becoming waveforms to understand and to experience viscerally the quantum, while sharing and interacting with the narrative. MYRIOI will also be featured in Leonardo, the leading international journal, published by the MIT Press, covering the application of contemporary science and technology to the arts.

    The SIGGRAPH Conference is the world’s largest and most influential conference on the theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques, inspiring progress through education, excellence, and interaction.


    For more information about the AlloSphere, visit

  • "Cangjie", a VR project by MAT PhD student Weidi Zhang and Donghao Ren (PhD in Computer Science, UCSB), has been awarded a Jury Selection Award at the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival, September 19-27 2020, Tokyo, Japan.
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    Cangjie, 2020

    Humans and machines are in constant conversations. Humans start the dialogue by using programming languages that will be compiled to binary digits that machines can interpret. However, Intelligent machines today are not only observers of the world, but they also make their own decisions. If A.I imitates human beings to create a symbolic system to communicate based on their own understandings of the universe and start to actively interact with us, how will this recontextualize and redefine our coexistence in this intertwined reality?

    This VR project provides an immersive exploration in semantic human-machine reality generated by an intelligent system in real-time through perceiving the real-world via a camera [located in the exhibition space]. Inspired by Cangjie, an ancient Chinese legendary historian (c.2650 BCE), invented Chinese characters based on the characteristics of everything on the earth, we trained a neural network that we call Cangjie, to learn the constructions and principles of all the Chinese characters. It perceives the surroundings and transforms it into a collage of unique symbols made of Chinese strokes. The symbols produced through the lens of Cangjie, tangled with the imagery captured by the camera are visualized algorithmically as abstract pixelated semiotics, continuously evolving and compositing an ever-changing poetic virtual reality. Cangjie is not only a conceptual response to the tension and fragility in the coexistence of humans and machines but also an artistic imagination of our future language in this artificial intelligent era.

  • MAT PhD student Yin Yu will be teaching a course called "Sensing the world–Exploring Wearable Technology through Soft Robotics" for the Summer Research Academies program at UCSB in summer 2020.
  • Disciplines: Biomimicry, Pneumatic Architecture, Media Arts & Technology, Human-Computer Interaction.

    Conventional wearable robots designed with rigid materials, such as metal and hard plastic, are often limited by their lower flexibility, functionality, and biological compatibility. With sensory technology and novel materials, can we rethink the wearable device as a soft and organic interface? Sensing the world is connecting the body (or mechanics), the brain (or controller), and the environment. In this course, we will focus on the emerging field of soft robotics, bringing together research and applications of wearable technology. We will introduce the concept of computational morphology in soft robotics and study the design principles using 3D modeling tools. Specific topics include body architecture, pneumatic architecture, soft mechanism, smart material, biomimicry design, geometrical morphology, sensory technology, embodied intelligence, wearable computing, and human-robot interaction. We will also discuss the soft wearable applications in art, communication, fitness, entertainment, medicine, and sports, and so on. Through a series of hands-on activities, students will explore digital fabrication, soft motion mechanisms, soft actuation, and wearable sensors. By the end of the course, students will design, modeling, and build of a wearable device, and analysis the human-robot interaction.

  • MAT professor Joann Kuchera-Morin receives a "Goleta's Finest" Innovation Award by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce for the AlloSphere Research Facility.
  • Director Dr. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, chief designer of the three-story facility on the UC Santa Barbara campus, says the intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics has facilitated exciting new avenues for scientific discovery.

    "But it is their strong desire to welcome research partners and collaborations of all kinds, that leads the AlloSphere to make a real difference in the local community".

    Goleta’s Finest is a 70-year old tradition honoring remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goleta community.

    The 2019 award recipients will be honored with a formal celebration on Nov. 23 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Bacara.


  • Professor Marko Peljhan will represent Slovenia at the 58th Venice Biennale, May 11 - November 24, 2019. Venice, Italy.
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    "System 319" at the Venice Biennale.

    Marko Peljhan’s work revolves around two fundamental aspects of the world today: the technological developments in communication, transport, and surveillance; and the highly complex systems of political, economic, and military power driving such developments and employing them in administration, control, production or military applications. The potentials of technology are introduced into art as a way of confronting the systems of governance and their strategies. Peljhan’s art has thus evolved into a process involving a cartography of "signal territories," an analysis of the role of technology in society, particularly as it relates to power structures, a reflection on the possibilities of a different, creative and resistant use of technological means, and, ultimately, the creation of socially useful models of resistant behaviors in the contemporary social system. The theatrical dimension of Peljhan’s art plays a crucial role in this; his best-known project Makrolab can in this sense be interpreted as a technological laboratory and a social stage based on the concept of micro-performance.

    At the Venice Biennale, Peljhan will present a work from his Resolution series. This series, which has evolved over some 20 years, proposes some specific material and applicable solutions to certain problems in society. It is the artist’s response to the state in which the world finds itself today, calling for a rediscovery of space and a utopian response to the rapid changes in the environment. In this sense, the autonomous vessel produced as part of the "Here we go again… SYSTEM 317" project is a colonizing, apocalyptic and pirating tool of sorts. In it, Peljhan brings together his vision, the potential for and the impossibility of a final exit from our rapidly deteriorating planetary conditions in a process he calls “reverse conversion.” He first employed this methodology in his "TRUST-SYSTEM" series, which focused on the conversion of cruise missile technology and later, unmanned systems for civil counter-reconnaissance. The artist proposes the construction of a counter-privateering machine intended for the days when the world’s great empires find themselves, once again, in confrontation—and one characterized by a grave lack of responsibility together with great destructive potential.


    The X-43A Hypersonic Experimental (Hyper-X) Vehicle in Benefield Aenechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base radio January 2000. Photo: Tom Tschida. Image courtesy of NASA.

  • "Repository", a virtual reality experience by MAT PhD student Weidi Zhang, is on display at the C X U Gallery, Los Angeles, from November 2 - November 16, 2019.
  • Humanity’s digital footprints in the vast data universe are duplicatable, transferrable and mutable. Deletion has become much harder than throwing a piece of paper into a shredder, which was first invented over a hundred years ago. Photos, videos, geographical tag or just simple texts living on social media platforms as the virtual presence of digitized human memories strengthen the power of machine computation and analysis while underlying the control from us. When we try to preserve or delete our own stories in the digital landscape, do we still have the authorship of them? Are they in a constant shift of meaning and representation?

    "Repository" is a virtual reality experience created around the issue and question of data authorship and data oblivion. It builds a world of data in motion merging the structure of a server farm (A place physically store data) with a paper shredder (A machine deconstruct data). Repository gradually transforms from a surreal bank safely stores memories into a space filled with floating shreds of letters and characters through assembling and fragmenting varies conversations borrowed from social media. Its non-linear narrativity, interactive experimental sound and surreal aesthetic provide a conceptualization of an alternative model of human-machine interaction, and questions whether we have the right to be forgotten, at the same time as the right to be remembered?


    The C X U Gallery is at 4950 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010.

  • MAT PhD candidate Sihwa Park will exhibit his work "Brand Logo Sonification" at IEEE VIS 2019 Arts Program, October 21-25 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He will also give an artist talk.
  • Brand Logo Sonification is an audiovisual installation that exists on the border between old and analog technology and new digital practices. It mainly represents the global top 10 brand ranking data and logos from 2000 to 2018 through an oscilloscope, which is an electronic analog instrument, by the computational digital processes of data visualization and sonification. Based on OpenCV image processing and a vector synthesis technique, it extracts the contours of logos and converts them to audio that can be rendered on a vector display, such as an oscilloscope or laser. While the contours chiefly determine sound textures, the ranking data contributes to the whole composition. Through this process combining analog and digital practices, this work also reveals that our society is getting more affected by digital and IT companies, such as Google, Apple, Amazon, or Facebook, than brands in traditional industries, as their ranking in the data becomes highly positioned over time.


  • "Borrowed Scenery", a VR project by MAT PhD student Weidi Zhang will be exhibited at the IEEE VIS 2019 Arts Program. October 21-25, 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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    Borrowed Scenery is a virtual reality experience that constructs an autobiographical spatial narrative that points to the deconstruction and reconstruction of cultural identity through experimental visualization of image data.

    Being exposed to diverse cultures enables us to continuously portray our own cultural identities through collaging our collective memories cross cultural boundaries. In this project, I utilized autobiographical threads to evoke the universal experience of alienation and displacement. Photographs of eastern and western motifs, symbols and landscapes, which are collected as raw source image data, are captured volumetrically mostly in two places - my hometown Suzhou (China) and my current living place Los Angeles (US). Visualizing those two groups of image data in the VR world change the way we percept the scalability of intersections, as we could navigate the space to play with different points of view. A non-linear narrative is created when the intelligent agents ( generated by image data) crossed over dynamically in the virtual world.

    The visualization methodology includes photogrammetry, shader programming, and intelligent system development. The pixel coordinates from those sets of image data are reconstructed as 3d coordinates of points on structures through automatic calibration. A customized shader is designed for the textures of those data-driven structures, which displaces and animates processed image pixels on vertices with layers of customized algorithms and 3d Voronoi Tessellation, collectively generates fragmental geometrical forms and fluid chaos. Those forms are programmed as intelligent agents to seek and wander in the environment, collide with others, die and get reborn. The system simulates how our cultural identities are evolved and how the ‘border’ is dynamically disturbed and reformed in the aesthetic and subject matter.


  • "Etherial", an artwork by JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, Andres Cabrera, Kon Hyong Kim and Gustavo Rincon, will be premiered at the 2019 International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), June 22-28 in Gwangju, Republic of Korea.
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    "Etherial" will bring the quantum form into the material, through virtual reality, spatial augmented reality and material form. The work will consist of two windows into the virtual that will ultimately control the various visual/sonic quantum forms, a SAR window in a completely immersive VR space that will allow one to sculpt quantum mechanics in real time, and a physically rendered sculpture that will be tracked with gestural sensors so one can perform the work from the sculpture as well. Two controllers into a completely immersive VR space that will allow performers to sculpt quantum mechanics in real time in total synchrony with one another and the virtual environment that they control.

    In keeping with the theme of "LUX", the quantum, revealed, the hydrogen-like atom combinations feature light-emitting wave function combinations that move toward the science of the phenomenon, while the quantum, suggests the ethereal nature of spirit in the form of light, EHERIAL/IMMUTABLE – to touch the untouchable.


  • MAT PhD student Yin Yu has designed a course for the Science & Engineering Research Academy (SERA) at UCSB that she will teach in the summer of 2019.
  • Th​e​ course, titled "In the Digital Age​ - ​Experiencing Architecture and Music Through STEM", ​is an introduction to Media Arts and Technology​ through the lens of architecture and music​, and adds humanities (H) and arts (A) to the STEM model, to produce the THEMAS model.​ The SERA program introduces qualified high school students to the research enterprise through project-based, directed research in STEM related fields, including machine learning, marine biology, evolutionary biology, global conflicts, and media arts & technology​.

    The course challenges what you think architecture and music are by examining how the intersection of these topics evolved over time through the lens of human experience and the digital age. For example, the way in which theme parks are intentionally designed or the role that a musical score plays in movies to enhance or manipulate the audience's experience. You will learn the basic concepts of digital architecture and computer music through exercises using physical and digital modeling, 3D fabrication, haptics (touch sound), and interactive design highlighting how new media technologies and fabrication tools have allowed for the integration of STEM and the fine arts. Students will attend a field recording workshop and develop a hands-on studio project to learn creative techniques in music composition and sound making. In addition, students will develop oral communication and formal presentation skills through a series of workshop project presentations. By the end of the course, you will develop the methodologies for an interdisciplinary research project. This is an excellent opportunity for participants interested in both science and art, to increase their skills and knowledge towards their college education.

  • MAT PhD candidates Sahar Sajadieh and Hannen (Hannah) Wolfe are presenting an interactive performance piece titled "Come Hither to Me!", at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2019, Glasgow, UK, May 4-9.
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    "Come Hither to Me!" is an interactive robotic performance piece, which examines the emotive social interaction between an audience and a robot. Our interactive robot attempts to communicate and flirt with audience members in the gallery. The robot uses feedback from sensors, auditory data, and computer vision techniques to learn about the participants and inform its conversation. The female robot approaches the audience, picks her favorites, and starts charming them with seductive comments, funny remarks, backhanded compliments, and personal questions. We are interested in evoking emotions in the participating audience through their interactions with the robot. This artwork strives to invert gender roles and stereotypical expectations in flirtatious interactions. The performative piece explores the dynamics of social communication, objectification of women, and the gamification of seduction. The robot reduces flirtation to an algorithm, codifying pick-up lines and sexting paradigms.