Sha Xin Wei

Director, Professor, School of Arts, Media + Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, ASU


Sha Xin Wei, Ph.D., is a Professor and the Director of the School of Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) at the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Dr. Sha also directs the Synthesis Center with colleagues in AME and affiliate research centers around the world.

From 2005-2013, Dr. Sha was the Canada Research Chair in Media Arts and Sciences, and an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. From 2001-2013, he directed the Topological Media Lab (TML), an atelier-laboratory for the study of gesture and materiality from computational and phenomenological perspectives. Dr. Sha's research concerns ethico-aesthetic improvisation and a topological approach to morphogenesis and process philosophy. With the TML, Dr. Sha created responsive environments for ethico-aesthetic improvisation.

Dr. Sha's art research includes the TGarden responsive environments (Ars Electronica, Dutch Electronic Art Festival, MediaTerra Athens, SIGGRAPH); Hubbub speech-sensitive urban surfaces; Membrane calligraphic video; Softwear gestural sound instruments; the WYSIWYG gesture-sensitive sounding weaving; Ouija performance-installations; Cosmicomics Elektra; eSea (Shanghai) and the IL Y A video membrane and Einstein's Dreams time-conditioning instruments. Additionally, Dr. Sha collaborated with choreographer Michael Montanaro and the Blue Riders ensemble to create a stage work inspired by Shelley's Frankenstein, working with experimental musicians, dancers and responsive media.

Dr. Sha co-founded the Sponge art group in San Francisco to build public experiments in phenomenology of performance. With Sponge and other artists, he directed event/installations in prominent experimental art venues, including Ars Electronica (Austria); DEAF / V2 (The Netherlands); MediaTerra (Greece; Banff, Canada); Future Physical (United Kingdom), Elektra (Montreal) and eArts (Shanghai). Dr. Sha has also exhibited media installations at Postmasters Gallery (New York) and Suntrust Gallery (Atlanta). These works have been recognized by awards from major cultural foundations such as the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology; the LEF Foundation; the Canada Fund for Innovation; the Creative Work Fund in New York; Future Physical UK and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Dr. Sha's particular areas of research include the real-time, continuous mapping of features extracted from gestural instruments (such as woven or non-woven fabrics) into parameters modulating the continuous synthesis of video, sound and physical or software control systems. This technical work supports the expressive improvisation of gesture in dense, palpable fields of sound, video and structured light, as well as in the use of animated materials.

Dr. Sha was trained in mathematics at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and he worked for more than 12 years in the fields of scientific computation, mathematical modeling and the visualization of scientific data and geometric structures. In 1995, he extended his work to network media authoring systems and media theory, coordinating a three-year-long workshop on interaction and computational media at Stanford. In 1997, he co-founded Pliant Research with colleagues from Xerox PARC and Apple Research Labs, dedicated to designing technologies that people and organizations can robustly reshape to meet evolving socio-economic needs.

In 2013, The MIT Press published Dr. Sha's book, Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter.