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Xin Wei Sha

Xin Wei Sha

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

School of Arts, Media and Engineering
Arizona State University
PO Box 875802
Tempe, AZ 85287-5802


  • Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Director and Professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
  • Director, Synthesis Center, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Sha Xin Wei PhD is a professor in the School of Arts, Media + Engineering (AME) at Arizona State University. He directs the Synthesis Center for responsive environments and improvisation with colleagues in AME and affiliate research centers.

From 2001 to 2013, he directed the Topological Media Lab (TML), an atelier-laboratory for the study of gesture and materiality from computational and phenomenological perspectives. He established the TML at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2001, and moved the lab to Montréal in 2005 with the support of the Canada Fund for Innovation and the CRC. From 2005-2013, Sha was the Canada Research chair in media arts and sciences, and associate professor of fine arts at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. From 2014 to 2019, Sha directed AME as ASU's transdisciplinary department fusing sciences and humanities with experimental media arts practices.

Sha's research concerns ethico-aesthetic improvisation, and a topological approach to morphogenesis and process philosophy. His particular areas of study include the realtime, 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, and animated materials.

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 Einsteins Dreams time-conditioning instruments. Sha collaborated with choreographer Michael Montanaro and the Blue Riders ensemble to create a stage work inspired by Shelley's Frankenstein, with experimental musicians, dancers and responsive media.

Sha co-founded the Sponge art group in San Francisco to build public experiments in phenomenology of performance. With Sponge and other artists, Sha has 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 Montréal, and eArts Shanghai. He 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.

Sha was trained in mathematics at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and worked 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.

MIT Press has published Sha's book, "Poiesis, Enchantment, and Topological Matter."


  • PhD, Mathematics, Stanford University, 2001
  • MA, Mathematics, Stanford University, 1981
  • AB, Mathematics (cum laude), Harvard University, 1979


Journal Articles


Sha, X. 2013. Concerted knowledges and practices: An experiment in autonomous cultural production. AI & Society 28(7):133-145. DOI: 10.1007/s00146-012-0416-0. (link )


Sha, X. 2012. Topology and morphogenesis. Theory, Culture & Society 29(4/5):220-246. DOI: 10.1177/0263276412443570. (link )


Sha, X. 2011. Minor architecture: Poetic and speculative architectures in public space. AI & Society 26(2):113-122. DOI: 10.1007/s00146-010-0290-6. (link )

Sha, X. 2011. The atlier-lab as a transversal marchine. Revue Francaise d'Etudes Americaines 128:62-78. DOI: 10.3917/rfea.128.0062. (link )


Sha, X. 2010. Calligraphic video: Using the body’s intuition of matter. International Journal of Creative Interfaces and Computer Graphics 1(1):67-83. DOI: 10.4018/jcicg.2010010106. (link )



Sha, X. 2013. Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter. MIT Press. ISBN: 9780262019514. (link )

Book Chapters


Sha, X. 2016. In conversation: Catherine Wood and Sha Xin Wei. In: Martin, D. ed., Mirror-Touch: Thresholds of Empathy with Art. Oxford University Press.


Sha, X. 2014. X is for signature. Pp. 109-110 In: Fornabai, M. ed., Ink, or "V is for Vermilion as Described by Vitruvius: An A to Z of Ink in Architecture. Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. ISBN: 978-1883584900.


Sha, X. 2009. Prospective architectures of enchantment. 70 Jähren Festschrift Dedicated to Professor Helgi-Jon Schweizer.


Sha, X. 2008. Poetics of performance space. Pp. 549-566 In: Gill, S. P. ed., Cognition, Communication and Interaction. Springer-Verglag. London. DOI: 10.1007/s00146-007-0097-2. ISBN: 978-1-84628-926-2.


Sha, X. 2005. Whitehead and poetical mathematics. Pp. 107-116 In: Cloots, A. and K. A. Robinson eds., Deleuze, Whitehead and the Transformations of Metaphysics. Belgium KVAV.


Sha, X. 2004. Cathedral, tool or framework? MediaWeaver as a distributed scholarly workspace. Pp. 101-112 In: Short, H., D. Buzzetti and G. Pancaldi eds., Augmenting Comprehension: Digital Tools and the History of Ideas. Office for Humanities Communication, Kings College London.


Lenoir, T. and X. Sha. 2002. Authorship and surgery: The shifting ontology of the virtual surgeon. Pp. 283-308, 415-419 In: Clarke, B. and L. Dalrymple Henderson eds., From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature. Stanford University Press.



Navab, N., D. van Nort and X. Sha. 2014. A material computation perspective on audio mosaicing and gestural conditioning. Poster presented at the NIME14: 14th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, 30 June-4 July 2014, Goldsmiths, University of London. (link )



Al Faleh, O., J. Stein and X. Sha. 2013. Amorphous lighting network in controlled physical environments. Presentation at the CHI 2013: ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 27 April-2 May, 2013, Paris, France.

Chandolias, N. and X. Sha. 2013. Speech platform for a story telling room. Presentation at the ACM Multimedia, 21-25 October 2013, Barcelona, Spain.

Sha, X., A. Freed and N. Navab. 2013. Sound design as human matter interaction. Presentation at the CHI 2013: ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 27 April-2 May, 2013, Paris, France. (link )

Conference Papers


Krzyzaniak, M., R. Anirudh, V. Venkataraman, P. Turaga and X. Sha. 2015. Towards realtime measurement of connectedness in human movement. Pp. 120-123 Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Movement and Computing. MOCO '15 . Vancouver, Canada. (link )

Montpellier, E., G. L. Johnson, O. Al Faleh, J. Gigantino, A. Kidane, N. Chandolias, C. Rawls, T. Ingalls and X. Sha. 2015. Suturing space: Tabletop portals for collaboration. Pp. 472-484 In: Kurosu, M. ed., Human Computer Interaction, Part II. HCII International 2015.


Sha, X., M. Fortin, N. Navab and T. Sutton. 2010. Ozone: Continuous state-based media choreography system for live performance. Pp. 1383-1392 Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Multimedea 2010. 8th International Conference on Multimedea 2010, Firenze, Italy, October 25-29, 2010. (link )


Sha, X., M. Fortin and J. Rousseau. 2009. Calligraphic video: A phenomenological approach to dense visual interaction. Pp. 1091-1100 Proceedings of the 17th ACM International Conference on Multimedia. MM '09 17th ACM International Conference on Multimedia, October 19-24, 2009. (link )


van Nort, D., D. Gauthier, X. Sha and M. M. Wanderley. 2007. Extraction of gestural meaning from a fabric-based instrument. Pp. 441-444 Proceedings of the 2007 International Computer Music Association Conference. 2007 International Computer Music Association Conference. (link )