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Faculty of Fine Arts shines spotlight on research

Faculty of Fine Arts shines spotlight on research

From investigating how typography could reduce medication errors to using math as a tool to teach jazz, Faculty of Fine Arts scholars and practitioners have a fascinating array of research projects to share during the Fine Arts Research Celebration Monday, Feb. 6.

Robert Haché, vice-president research & innovation, and Barbara Sellers-Young, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, are co-hosting the event, which takes place from 2 to 4 pm in the McLean Performance Studio, 244 Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Everyone is welcome to attend the free celebration, but an RSVP is requested. You can RSVP online or call Lia Novario at ext. 33782. Light refreshments will be provided.

Right: Nancy Latoszewski performing

The program features a live dance performance, film clips and four presentations that showcase some of the diverse academic and applied creative work being done by Fine Arts faculty and graduate student researchers.

“This research celebration highlights multi-disciplinarity in the Faculty of Fine Arts, from dance to music to digital media and beyond,” said Haché. “We invite the York research community to join us to learn more about the exceptional research activities taking place in this Faculty.”

“The arts are so much more than entertainment,” says Sellers-Young. “Arts and culture are at the heart of our day-to-day lives, and those who are engaged in the arts – as practising artists, theorists, historians, critics and many other ways – play an important role in shaping civic society and addressing the critical issues of our day. The presentations at the Fine Arts Research Celebration illustrate this engagement and the diverse contributions our researchers are making.”

Visitors to the Fine Arts Research Celebration will be greeted by clips of visual arts Professor Katherine Knight’s vivid feature documentary, KOOP: The Art of Wanda Koop. Knight’s film follows the renowned Canadian artist as she prepares massive new works depicting archetypal cities and familiar, yet disquieting, landscapes for two 30-year retrospectives – one at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and another at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa.

Left: Wanda Koop in a still from the film KOOP: The Art of Wanda Koop

Drawing the viewer into the framework in which the artist works, the film explores the science of vision, colour and perception – including Koop’s visit to York’s Centre for Vision Research to have her vision tested in the 3D Vision Research lab. (See YFile story Feb. 22, 2011.)

Design Professor Sandra Gabriele will present a talk, titled “Evaluating Graphic Design for Patient Safety: An investigation of the Use of Typographic Principles to Differentiate Look-Alike Medication Names”.

She was the principal investigator on a recent study conducted at Toronto’s University Health Network, investigating how the principles and practices of graphic design and typography might be used for interventions intended to help health-care professionals make accurate medication selections.

Right: An example of using Tallman lettering with parts of the word enhanced to help distinguish it from similar medication names

“We know that look-alike, or orthographically similar, medication names are one of the causes of medication errors,” says Gabriele. “Tallman lettering (enhancement of words by changing parts of the word to capital letters) is currently recommended to help differentiate similar names.”

In her new study, she tested tallman lettering applied to look-alike medication names alongside other ways of enhancing names using three different scenarios. “Results indicated that tallman lettering might not be as effective as previously reported,” she says. “The research also revealed the importance of designing and testing interventions for specific users in contexts that reflect actual situations and activities in practice.”

In his lecture-demonstration “Music is Math: An effective Approach to Teaching Jazz Improvisation within General Music Education”, Professor Ron Westray (left), York’s Oscar Peterson Chair in Jazz Performance, explores how the mathematical qualities inherent in western music can be used as a tool for ear training through music improv.

“You can view the chord-to-scale relationship in jazz improvisation as virtual data that can be transposed throughout relative and absolute functions, much like basic math,” says Westray. “Translating music into math helps demystify simple improvisation. It levels the playing field and makes it easier for non-specialists to teach jazz improv.”

Westray, an internationally known jazz trombonist, will illustrate the concept by means of a PowerPoint presentation punctuated with live performance examples, including the participation of jazz majors from the Department of Music.

Digital Media Professor Mark-David Hosale will discuss “Nonlinear Narrative as a Conceptual Framework for Media Art”, with an overview of the core technical and esthetic motivations unpinning his work as a media artist.

Right: Digital media art by Mark-David Hosale

“The approach to addressing narrative issues in my work is derived from thinking of narrative as a model of knowledge,” he says. “I see the stories we tell each other and ourselves as an expression of what we know. From this perspective, my works can be understood as knowledge spaces that are a conceptual reflection of a modern understanding of knowledge and nature, which is inherently nonlinear.”

The challenge of capturing the qualities of nonlinear narratives has led Hosale to develop an abstract model useful in the conceptual analysis and practical development of his work. In his presentation, he will explain how the model is based on a composite of operations, structures and characteristics that provide the governing principles behind a software framework and hardware platform.

Canadian dance history is the focus of the presentation by dance Professors Darcey Callison and Carol Anderson, and Professor Emerita Selma Odom. They will read excerpts from their contributions to Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s, an anthology to accompany an exhibition of the same name organized by Dance Collection Danse in partnership with the Theatre Museum of Canada.

During the 1970s dance boom, audiences worldwide flocked to performances. Artists were energized and innovative. In Canada, dance finally found an intellectual home in universities across the country. The decade was also defined in Canada by political, social and cultural debate inspired by second-wave feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism, separatism and nationalism.

How was this turbulent decade reflected in dance? How did the major issues and ideas of the day inspire or influence dancers and choreographers, and how did they respond? Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s explores how the art form contributed to, and was informed by, this vibrant zeitgeist.

Moving from the page to the stage, dance MFA candidate Nancy Latoszewski will perform a five-minute excerpt from her solo dance, Carriage. The work revisits the challenge she faced in transitioning from the life of a prima ballerina to motherhood. While intensely personal, the work also speaks to the wider experience of undergoing a tremendous life change. Through her choreographic and performance research, with works such as Carriage, Latoszewski investigates how danced narratives can communicate personal stories and contribute to current interests in oral history and storytelling.

In addition to the public presentations, there will be a display of books and materials in other publication formats.

Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with other research projects by Fine Arts faculty on Fine Arts Research Day in Vari Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 29, from 10am to 2pm, as part of York University’s Research Month.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.