Of More Than Two Minds, 1994



<Projects and Exhibitions>

<Studio Research Goals>




My work bridges traditional studio concerns and digital media. I am interested in the gap between the virtual space of the computer and the tangibile, body-felt reality of sculptural objects. The trajectory of my work is encompassed by what I call "mediated sculpture." At this intersection, the material concerns of the sculptor are in dialogue with the underlying codes and machinic processes of digital media. I see this relationship as dialectical--that is, as a critical synthesis that emerges from two very different ways of seeing and making.

The lessons of applying the tools of digital media to sculptural materials and processes are not limited to the realm of expressive form. There is productive work to be found in interdisciplinary research of all kinds. Much of my focus of the past several years has engaged discipline-based research outside of fine art--e.g., bioengineering, geographic information systems and mapping, and interactive educational media. These pursuits inevitably open up new territory and allow me to see the possibilities of sculptural form with new eyes. They offer different methodologies, different working intentions, different bibliographies and histories. These pursuits outside the realm of "fine art" test the viability and resilience of my own "cultural practices."

I am a Professor of Intermedia within the School of Art at Arizona State University and Co-Director of the PRISM lab--an interdisciplinary 3D modeling and rapid prototyping facility. I also coordinate the foundation program in basic art instruction (artCORE) and Co-Direct an alternative art program called Deep Creek Arts in Telluride, Colorado. A link to my resume is here.


Selected Projects and Exhibitions

SCAPE is an environmental education project that combines online learning and field observations linked to living classrooms across the Colorado River Basin. Students and community members learn about human health threats that arise from pollution to the Colorado River System, STEM-aligned methods for measuring in-stream flow, and techniques for sampling water quality parameters and gathering indicator species to investigate potential sources of pollution. In addition, students explore the cultural practices and "stories of place" of their reach of the river to provide context and meaning to the evidence they gather in the field.

Relational Sculptures (2012 - present) is a body of work that makes an oblique reference to "relational aesthetics" (Bourriaud) which is defined as "a set of artistic practices that take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context…” The work employs full scale body scanning (IR, photogrammetry, laser) and 3D printers.

Twister. This 3D digital self-portrait was begun in 1995 using a whole body laser scanner at Cyberware in Monterey, CA. The image has undergone a series of transformations and been translated into a variety of materials using both traditional and digital fabrication methods.

The Digital Sculpture Archive is a collection of sculptural objects created from 1992 to the present using an array of 3D data capture, modeling, and digital fabrication tools such as rapid prototyping, CNC milling, and laser cutting.

Interactive Atlas of the San Miguel is a network of mediated sculptural displays that allow users to interact with informational layers (pictures, texts, maps, stream data, etc.) focused on the San Miguel River Watershed in Southwestern Colorado.

The Interactive Watershed includes a series of physical and computer-based works flowing from a "participatory mapping project" conducted by the artist in the San Miguel River basin in Southwestern Colorado. A suite of interactive mapping tools (GIS based), graphic elements, and sculptural objects invite local participation related to "placemaking" and watershed education.

Exploring Grand Canyon, a collaboration with artist and visualization specialist Gene Cooper, is an interactive exhibit that combines a tangible interface with screen-based experiences. It is permanently installed at the Arizona Science Center.

Mirage, an interactive video installation, was one of eight projects for the inaugural exhibition of the Tempe Art Center entitled But It's a Dry Heat. The project encourages visitors to the Tempe Art Center to reflect on their relationship to water in the desert.  An 9 x 12 foot computer generated image of water is projected onto the floor of the gallery. When a viewer steps into this virtual pool of water, their presence is registered by a computer-controlled sensing system. The show, curated by Michelle Dock, ran from Sept. 9, 2007 - Jan. 11, 2008.

Flooding Phoenix, a digital video sculpture, was featured at the ASU Art Museum from Sept. 9, 2006 - Jan. 27, 2007. For more information about the overall exhibition, see the New American City website.

I Cannot Tell a Lie. This anamorphic video sculpture was part of the Democracy in America exhibit at the ASU Art Museum, August 31 - November 19, 2004.

Return to the Garden, a 20 year retrospective, ran from December 12, 2003 - February 29, 2004 at the Tucson Museum of Art. The exhibition included a new project involving " networked surveillance ," several anamorphic installations, graphic works, and a range of digital sculptures. A review of the exhibition appeared in the October 2004 issue of Art in America.

TeleSculpture (1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007) were exhibitions and colloquia linking tele-communication with computerized rapid prototyping. 3D models transmitted in digital form via the Internet were translated into physical,"real-world" sculptures.

Forgetting Ourselves and other sculptures were shown at the Boston Cyberarts Festival, Boston Computer Museum, May 1 - 15, 1999

Re-Call of the Wild (1998) was an installation that combined found objects and closed circuit video to probe our conflicted relationship to Nature.

(Re)Inventing the Wheel (1997) was an installation that explored the history of technology through a number of different technological systems: rapid prototyping, video surveillance, and the Internet.

Early Work (1975 - 1991).

Studio Research Goals

My research of the past few years has been focused upon recent technical advances in 3D digital imaging technologies. My research has included to date: a) working with "input" devices such as 3D laser scanners (at Cyberware in Monterey, CA) and various medical diagnostic tools (CT, MRI), b) becoming more adept at various 3D software modeling programs such as Form Z, Maya, Rhino, etc, c) learning more about methods of "output" such as CNC milling, stereolithography, laser sintering, and fused deposition modeling.

I am currently in the midst of working with researchers from across the university on an interdisciplinary 3D visualization project called PRISM (Partnership for Research in Spatial Modeling). PRISM links research in disciplines as diverse as Industrial Technology, Archaeology, Anthropology, Biomechanical Engineering, Bioscience, Computer Science, Architecture, Industrial Design, and Sculpture. It is a strategic research focus project funded initially by the Office of the Vice President for Research at ASU.

For several years I have been involved with SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group Graphics), an arm of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). Since the late 90s, I have helped to organize The STUDIO, a "hands-on" creative environment that introduces SIGGRAPH attendees to the latest technologies for 2D and 3D production, animation, and interactive techniques. Collaborative research in digital media has yielded some unexpected results, such as a 30 foot digital sand painting machine called "Spade."


I teach in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. I head up the Studio Foundations (artCORE) program, work with students in the Intermedia program, and serve as affiliate faculty with the Arts, Media, and Engineering (AME) and Digital Culture programs.

I am interested in the role the computer can play with respect to beginning design instruction. Though many of the problems I have used in beginning studio art courses have utilized digital media, by and large we have resisted any moves towards a total "digitization" of our art courses and instead favor a kind of hybrid stance between traditional hand skills and the use of new technologies. We have developed a web-based resource for our Foundation program called artCore. I recently launched a new 200 level course for the Digital Culture program called "3D tools."

I teach both studio and theory courses within the Intermedia area. Among the courses I have developed are "Issues in Intermedia," a theory-based seminar on contemporary practice and "3D Visualization and Rapid Prototyping," also called Visual Prototyping. I also advise a number of the graduate students in our MFA program in Intermedia as well as sit on graduate thesis committees.


I continue to involve myself in the research and publication of theoretical texts that reflect the larger concerns of my studio practice and my teaching. Click the link on bibliography to access the complete texts of several of my published papers in art, technology, and education. All rights reserved.

In 2009, I completed a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities through ASU's Mary Lou Fulton College of Education. My Dissertation title was "The Interactive Watershed: Participatory GIS in the San Miguel River Basin."

Dan Collins
School of Art

Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-1505, USA

e-mail: dan.collins@asu.edu
Telephone: 480.965.8311
FAX: 480.965.8338
Collins "official" School of Art Page

last updated: 090416