Friday 1pm, 12 April 2019

Improvising and Prototyping Social Forms in Responsive Environments

Sha Xin Wei (

Professor - Arizona State University


Building on the Topological Media Lab’s work on collective, ad hoc gesture and responsive media in enactive, embodied environments, Synthesis has been the home for a new order of responsive environments.

We leverage the state of the art realtime gestural time-based media: sound, audio, video, theatrical / domestic lighting, air, mist, water, or any computationally modulated hybrid material, together with movement-based arts, theater production, computational physics and signal processing. We describe some research streams and applications such as improvisatory environments, place and atmosphere, rhythmanalysis, and the 'in vivo' prototyping of social forms.


Sha Xin Wei is Professor and Director of the School of Arts, Media + Engineering at Arizona State University, and directs the Synthesis Center for transversal art, philosophy and technology. He is a Fellow of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, and is a professor at the European Graduate School.

Dr. Sha's core research concerns a topological approach to poiesis, play and process. His art and scholarly work range from gestural media, movement arts, and realtime media installation through interaction design to critical studies and philosophy of technology. Trained in mathematics at Harvard and Stanford Universities, Dr. Sha has pursued speculative philosophy, experimental art, and visionary technologies.

In 2001 Sha established the Topological Media Lab as an atelier for the study of gesture and materiality. From 2005-2013 as Canada Research Chair in media arts and sciences and Associate Professor of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montréal, he led the TML creating responsive environments for ethico-aesthetic improvisation.

Sha has published in the areas of philosophy and media arts, science and technology studies, performing arts research, and computer science, including the book Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Media (MIT Press).