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2016 SIAH

Excitations: Energy Studies in the Arts and Humanities

This year’s institute provides students an opportunity to undertake original research on the role of energy in the arts and humanities. Energy touches all aspects of our lives. Because of this, the concept of energy has been important in fields as diverse as science, philosophy, art, music, history, politics, and cultural theory. Students will consider how energy is sensed or visualized. They will investigate how energy helps form natural rhythms and what these rhythms mean. They will explore how the use of technology has changed how researchers think about or manipulate energy. And they will consider how thinking in terms of energy can change how they choose to live in the world.

Students will attend lectures, seminars, small group critique, workshops, and tutorial sessions. Students will read and discuss theoretical readings and engage in digital and physical forms of making, such as 3d printing, photograms, sound editing, video editing, physical computing, and Photoshop. Students will then complete a significant project that reflects their unique insights into the role of energy in the arts and humanities. The forms for these projects may include scholarly research, performances in music / sound / drama, visual artworks / installations, and creative writing. The institute will culminate in a “works in progress exhibition” as well as a daylong seminar where students will present or perform their research.

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Teaching Team

Rebecca Cummins

Professor, Photomedia, School of Art
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Rebecca Cummins explores the sculptural, experiential and sometimes humorous possibilities of light and natural phenomena, often referencing the history of optics. Installations have also included a variety of sculptural and photographic approaches to marking time. Recent investigations explore concepts and instrumentation in contemporary life sciences. Rebecca has exhibited in the U.S., China, Australia, and Europe; exhibitions include The 2006 Shanghai Biennial, The 2008 Biennial of Seville, Spain and in Wireless Experience, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA in Helsinki, Finland, 2004, Public commissions for the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Seattle Public Library; The Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Perception, a Washington State Arts Commission (with the University of Western Washington) and The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and Seattle Public Utilities. She was recently an Artist-in-Residence at SymbioticA, School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, Perth and is working on a commission for the Lewis Integrative Science Building, University of Oregon with the Oregon State Arts Commission.

Tyler Fox

Studio Director and Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell
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Tyler Fox is an artist and theorist whose research and interactive art projects encompass bioart and physical computing. In his work he seeks to enact new threshold experiences between humans and living nonhuman organisms by leveraging novel technical systems to reveal hidden processes and operations in nature. Digital technology, environmental concerns, systems thinking and art-science relations figure broadly into his work. Fox earned his PhD from the School of Interactive Art and Technology at Simon Fraser University. He received his MFA from the University of Auckland and BA degrees from the University of Washington. He has exhibited videos, live performances, and installations internationally. Fox is currently the Interactive Media Design Studio Director, in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington | Bothell.

Phillip Thurtle

Associate Professor, Comparative History of Ideas
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Phillip Thurtle is an associate professor in CHID and History. He received his PhD in history and the philosophy of science from Stanford University. He is the author of The Emergence of Genetic Rationality: Space, Time, and Information in American Biology 1870-1920 (University of Washington Press, 2008), the co-author with Robert Mitchell (English, Duke University) and Helen Burgess (English, University of Maryland) of the interactive DVD-ROM BioFutures: Owning Information and Body Parts (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), and the co-editor with Robert Mitchell of the volumes Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information (Routledge, 2003) and Semiotic Flesh: Information and the Human Body (University of Washington Press, 2002). His research focuses on the material culture of information processing, the affective-phenomenological domains of media, the role of information processing technologies in biomedical research, and theories of novelty in the life sciences. His most recent work is on the cellular spaces of transformation in evolutionary and developmental biology research and the cultural spaces of transformation in superhero comics.

Joel Ong

PhD Student, Digital Arts & Experimental Media
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Joel Ong is a media artist. He make works that typically involves the creation of digital systems that are interactive, immersive and sometimes invisible. He relies on quotidian, pedestrian processes and on the observation of sound to reflect on the composite biological, digital and social environments we live in. Joel is currently a PhD student at DXARTS at the University of Washington. His most recent works seek to explore the roles of data science and social media in redefining concepts of locality, distance and belonging. At the nexus of art and science, he continues to forge collaborations and design experiments in microFluidics, synthetic biology and neuroscience. An alumni of SymbioticA, the Center of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia, his dual collaboration with the Curtin Nanochemistry Lab and the Australian Ear Science Institute resulted in the project Nanovibrancy(2011) where he grew an “htmk” (human tympanic membrane keratinocyte) eardrum in the laboratory and recorded its nano-vibrations in a real time performance installation. Joel is also a visiting artist at the UCLA ArtSci center, where he is part of the ArtSci Collective headed by Victoria Vesna, and is currently working with the Taylor Lab in Evolutionary Biology in UCLA on a long term project listening to and understanding birdsongs. Joel’s works have been shown at galleries and conferences around the world.

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Below are the participants in the 2016 University of Washington Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities:

Maria Cage

cagemaria_3590810_37423849_UW LinkMajor: Early Childhood & Family Studies

Maria is a transfer student from the Seattle Central College, looking forward to her senior year at the University of Washington. After a meaningful career working with young children and families as a nanny, Maria is thrilled to be gaining a foundation of theory and science based practice in the field of early childhood development. Within her research at SIAH this summer, Maria is eager to explore the relationship of energy and excitations as applied to fostering education and curiosity in children across learning environments. Incorporating an interdisciplinary lens to her research remains the most exciting aspect of this experience, as Maria contemplates her future path in academia and in returning to work with children.

Viviana Castillo

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Major: Oceanography

Viviana is a Senior Majoring in Oceanography with a double Minor in Marine Biology and Comparative History of Ideas. She is interested in how different human interactions, such as different cultures, affect and impact the oceans as well as our current societies as a whole. She has taken a brief look at how the Puget Sound has been affected by various local factors and will be traveling to Australia this summer to dive deeper into her research interests. She hopes to study how human interactions with energies affect marine life throughout this summer. Outside of the classroom Viviana loves spending her time in the outdoors hiking, traveling and being close to the water.

Alison Cheung


Major: English

Alison Cheung is a senior pursuing a degree in English with a minor in Comparative Religion. Her interests include phenomenology of the body, postcolonial studies, and literature of the environment, but at heart she is an interdisciplinarian. Alison’s summer research focuses on the use of the body in gentrifying public spaces via the bike paths of Seattle, with special attention paid to the role of movement and mobility in community organizing. In her free time, she can be found knitting, petting other peoples’ dogs, and bike touring.

Audrey Choy


Major: Comparative History of Ideas

Audrey Choy is an upcoming Senior at the University of Washington. She is majoring in Comparative History of Ideas major and plans to go to Law school after graduating. Audrey is fascinated by relationships from person to person and is interested in researching the psychological and biological effects a person can have by verbally exchanging positive energy. Besides being a full time student, Audrey Choy thoroughly enjoys eating ice-cream (with extra sprinkles) and is a professional puppy-lover.

Daniel Glynn

Glynn, Daniel

Major: Photomedia

Daniel Glynn is a Photomedia Major and Art History Minor. Currently, his academic interest surrounds 19th Century photographic processes. He is curious about the ways in which these early process structured attention and vision. Moreover, he seeks to understand how these different modes of representation order, distinguish, and structure meaning.

Casey Grosso


Major: Art History

Casey Grosso is a rising Sophomore at the University of Washington. As an interdisciplinary honors student, she was drawn to SIAH because of the wide range of disciplines brought together to discuss a common theme. This summer, she hopes to make connections between her interests in art history and computer science through the study of energy. Previous research includes her paper “Paul Klee’s Prints of 1919”. In her free time Casey enjoys playing the violin and seeing concerts, exploring fine art mediums such as oil painting and photography, and reading.

Hannah Jolibois


Major: International Studies and Public Health

Hannah is a rising sophomore hoping to double major in international studies and public health. This is her first time undertaking a major research project as well as delving into the arts and humanities. This summer she is hoping to get out of her comfort zone and challenge her way of looking at the world. She is interested in policy and policy writing, specifically health policy and middle eastern policy. Hannah is looking at researching the way energy flows within political movements: how people are motivated, how the energy of the group is maintained, spreads or dies. Other interests include science fiction, learning about extinct giant mammals, and gardening.

Jess Kim

kimjessiejiwon_3140907_37441588_Jess Jiwon Kim

Major: English Literature

Jess is pursuing a degree in English Literature. She is interested in re-defining terror in the virtual realm as it bleeds over and shatters the definition of terror and terrorism, as it exists in physical reality. She hopes to engage in a research that allows her to look at the binaries present in this particular process of re-defining terrorism as it produces a process of slow violence. The process of her development of this idea is shown through the changes of her installation works the past year, through the usage of space, performance, and the nature of spectatorship. In addition, her interest lies in modernist literature such as Joseph Conrad and Virginia Woolf, whom she used in order to re-define and understand terror as means of excitations that exists in the act of seeing the “real” and it inducing madness through its very process of interrupting its stillness.

Nathan Mahr


Major: Comparative History of Ideas

Nathan is a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Comparative History of Ideas. He has a background in audio engineering, audio production and sound design with an Associates degree in Audio Engineering from Shoreline Community College. He is interested in studying the ways in which our aural experiences and creations impact our daily lives, society and planet. Furthermore he is interested in studying how these aural experiences can be manipulated, altered or otherwise disturbed to create a positive impact on the world. Hailing from Olympia Washington he enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, skiing and collecting field recordings.

Kevin Middleton


Major: Comparative History of Ideas

Kevin is a senior undergraduate in the Comparative History of Ideas program and minoring in Digital & Experimental Arts at the University of Washington. His focus is on manipulating contemporary technologies with an aim of assembling fresh narratives out of the grand abundance of information available online. His hope is that contributing to the fracking of traditional boundaries of artistic creation and intellectual ownership will catalyze greater awareness of and cooperation between the full range of inhabitants of the earth. He is employed as a video technician at the UW School of Nursing and works part time as a sound recordist for films.

Alexis Neumann


Major: Comparative History of Ideas and American Music Studies

Alexis Neumann is a double major in Comparative History of Ideas and American Music Studies with a certificate in DXARTS. She is from San Diego, California, where she attended Canyon Crest Academy and where she was encouraged to cultivate her passions of promoting open-mindedness, respect, and artistic expression. These ideals guide her research in utilizing art to foster environments of respect and compassion. She was drawn to SIAH because of the emphasis on creativity and thinking inventively to utilize new technologies in art. She has studied opera at the university level, performed in numerous professional musical theater productions, and enjoys singing and composing jazz and electronic music. She is heavily involved with thenon-profit ImpACT On Stage, helping found and write much of the material for the anti-bullying organization. As somebody who identifies as an artist, embracing her rather ambiguous future with optimism has been able to appease her family and friends for the time being whom Jesus has incredibly blessed her with.

Callie Nissing

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Major: Spanish and Comparative History of Ideas

Callie Nissing is a Senior, double majoring in Spanish and CHID (Comparative History of Ideas). She also has a passion for dance, which she considers to be an influential part of her educational development. Within her majors, Callie intends to use her interdisciplinary interests to focus on innovations within the education system, focusing on arts integration and supplementary education. Aside from her research and classes, she is the event director for UW’s Hip Hop Student Association and spends most of her free time attending dance classes (mostly ballet and hip hop), choreographing or rehearsing for performances. She also enjoys vegan cooking, outdoorsy activities and practicing Spanish. Callie is excited to use this opportunity to blend her love of dance, social sciences and education in this creative endeavor.

Marco Orozco Rosales


Major: Photmedia and Entrepreneurship

Marco is a senior studying Photomedia and Entrepreneurship. Understanding how things work in the world is something that really interests him. He adores the little details in life that he feels not a lot of people really pay attention to. The reason for this is because he feels like everything in life has a purpose, no matter how small its impact is. Every choice we make sends us through a different trajectory in life that sets of a chain reaction of other events that otherwise we wouldn’t have experienced. His research interests are looking into how humans interact with their environments to shape the immediate future we live in. He loves to take an idea from just a concept into a reality. He’s always been interested in visual media and that’s the path he plans to continue after graduation.

Gerlene Ragsac

ragsacgerlene_3421393_37390739_GerleneRagsac_SIAH Bio

Major: Comparative History of Ideas

Gerlene is an upcoming fourth year majoring in Comparative History of Ideas with a minor in Education, Learning, and Society. As a first-generation college student from the state of Hawai’i, she is driven to immerse herself in an array of communities and experiences with the support of her family and friends. She volunteers quarterly as a Conversation Partner as part of the Language Exchange Program under the International and English Language Programs. She also serves as a mentor during autumn quarter with the Mentor Power for Success Program, affiliated with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. Gerlene’s curiosity influences her to often engage in conversations with individuals from different fields of studies. She enjoys listening to new perspectives, connecting them to what she already knows, and then synthesizing them to continue her growth and development. As such, she is excited to be a part of the 2016 SIAH cohort because of the challenges it may present in addition to the group of students the topic of Excitations has drawn.

Leila Reynolds


Major: Anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Leila is a senior majoring in Anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, with minors in Spanish and Human Rights. She recently studied abroad in Brazil where she learned Portuguese, researched the intersections between NGOs, the State, and oil companies, and surfed as much as possible. She is interested in the ways that art can be used as a catalyst for social change and is currently helping to lead a pilot collaborative mural project in the South of Seattle. She spends most of her time biking around and trying to figure out how her love for learning languages, meeting people, making art, reading new things, and climbing trees can be combined in a career. SIAH’s emphasis on intersectionality is an opportunity for her to explore avenues that allow art and research to come together.

Yong Ryou

Ryou, Yong

Major: Photomedia

Yong is a rising senior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Photomedia with a minor in DXARTS. As a young artist, he is interested in relationship and balance. He has been throwing questions about these topics to others through his works, rather than giving his own answers in it. Most recently, he has worked on a self-portrait to find out what relationships he has been through as well as how those relationships affected him. He is looking forward to researching further about these topics along with energies through Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities 2016.

Amanda Saenz

Saenz, Amanda

Major: Philosophy

Amanda Saenz is a fourth year undergraduate at the University of Washington studying Philosophy with a minor in Bioethics. In particular, they are interested in philosophies that center queer and intersex bodies, various feminisms, and phenomenologies. Their incessant need to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ eventually led them to the study of those very questions, and although they are fundamentally unanswerable Amanda has never stopped asking them. Amanda came to SIAH to pursue those questions, and hopes to develop a deeper understanding of how individuals find energy in a world that often erases their lives. By studying the energetic and phenomenal, Amanda hopes to further their understanding of contemporary discourses and to develop a language that will further the struggle against oppressive powers. Their interest in social justice has motivated their desire to work towards a safer and more welcoming world for minority groups. When Amanda isn’t busy studying, they are out working within the community to raise awareness of the various issues faced by the intersex community. They deeply enjoy music, dogs, and a good cup of coffee.

Aurora San Miguel


Major: Photomedia and Cinema Studies

Aurora San Miguel is currently a third year student pursuing a degree in Photomedia and Cinema Studies at The University of Washington. In the past, her work has focused on family and identity, transforming found objects, and finding relationships between unlikely pairs. When she is not creating art, Aurora spends her time working as a photo journalist and editor at The Daily. This summer she hopes to push her creative process and experimentation to aestheticize her research. SIAH and this year’s theme will provide a foundation for her to further explore concepts of the body, its connection to landscape, and transformation.

Tristan Sylvester


Major: Interactive Media Design

Tristan transferred in to the University of Washington as a junior with an AAAS in Visual Communications Technology: Digital Design from Shoreline Community College. He believes that as technology progresses the interactive media industries will consequently grow and prosper. With the release and rise of competing virtual reality ecosystems, mobile platforms and other emerging tech he sees opportunities for design everywhere. Tristan is very excited to engage in both independent research in the arts and humanities this summer, and finishing his undergraduate degree with a group capstone project in spring. He is exploring further academic opportunities such as graduate school, but is also excited to break into the tech industry. In his spare time, he enjoys interactive media experiences, learning other visual mediums like 3D modeling/animation, digital art and photography.

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