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CCI Builds Bridges to Arts and Design Researchers with 5 New Grants

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative has funded five new projects that connect the CCI network with Virginia’s arts and design research community, the initiative announced Dec. 18, 2020.

“These artists bring new perspectives into cybersecurity research, for example how the study of dance movements can help in artificial intelligence-based privacy preservation in surveillance systems,” said Luiz DaSilva, CCI executive director. “They also illuminate issues that we face every day, like how our data isn't truly undeleted from our smartphones. I'm looking forward to watching how these projects evolve and what they teach us.”

Concert, 4 artists playing on stage.

The CCI Building Bridges Arts and Design Collaboration Program engages the community of researchers in arts and design to reimagine and depict the results of cybersecurity research either for scientific or creative arts purposes. CCI has worked in partnership with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology at VT and the Da Vinci Center at VCU to create the program. Ben Knapp, founding director of ICAT, and Allison Schumacher, director of academic alchemy at the da Vinci Center, have been instrumental.  

CCI has a Hub and Node structure––the CCI Hub coordinates the entire network and the four CCI Nodes focus on specific regions in Virginia. The Building Bridges Arts and Design Collaboration grant awardees, including principal investigator (PI) and CCI Node affiliation, are: 

Project Title: A Self-Calibrating, Network-Based, Portable High-Density Loudspeaker Array for Evaluation of Cybersecurity Data and Artistic Expression

Principal Investigator: Tanner Upthegrove, media engineer, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, Virginia Tech

Co-Principal Investigators:  Michael Roan, professor, mechanical engineering, VT; Rafael Patrick, assistant research professor, industrial and systems engineering, VT

CCI Node Affiliation: Southwest Virginia

  • Western music is built on patterns, such as repeating melodies, call and response, and changes in dynamics to mark changes in states of intensity. This musical expression and pattern-seeking has direct connections to cybersecurity research in fields such as anomaly detection, “attack and defend” scenarios, and the dynamics of viral distribution. The researchers will reimagine and depict the results of cybersecurity research through the innate human ability to detect auditory patterns, both temporally and spatially.

Project Title: Develop a Gamified Mobile Application for Cybersecurity Education and Assessment via a User-Centered Design Process

Principal Investigator: Kevin Moberly, associate professor, English, Old Dominion University

Co-Principal Investigators: Ryan M. Patton, associate professor, undergraduate program director, arts education, Virginia Commonwealth University; Darryl Draper-Amason, research assistant professor, human performance technology and distance learning, ODU; , Jeff Pittges, professor, information technology, Radford University; Bobby F. Keener, chief executive, CivilianCyber

CCI Node Affiliation: Coastal Virginia Node

  • The project proposes to use gamification, which is when various aspects of game playing such as rewards, badges, quests, and competitive standing are used to heighten user engagement with a product or service. The proposed project will leverage a user-centered design process to develop a mobile application prototype that will gamify cybersecurity education and assessment. Artists from a variety of fields are involved in developing assets for the game. To further facilitate widespread user engagement with cybersecurity, the project will also use abstraction: the process of simplifying more complex concepts so that they can be consumed by a larger audience.

Project Title: Exploring AI and 5G Capabilities for Enabling Online, Real-time Networked Music Collaboration

Principal Investigator: Tanner Upthegrove, media engineer, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, Virginia Tech

Co-Principal Investigator: Vijay Shah, research assistant professor, electrical and computer engineering, VT

CCI Node Affiliation: Southwest Virginia Node

  • The overarching goal of this project is to capitalize on the expertise in music in the Institute for Creativity, Art, and Technology (ICAT) and 5G communications (Wireless@VT) at Virginia Tech, and explore the potential of utilizing novel 5G wireless, artificial intelligence (AI), and power compute capability in most user devices – in realizing online real-time networked music collaboration, which enables musicians in different locations to perform as if they were in the same room. 

Project Title: Moving Choreography to a New Universe: an AI-Driven Privacy Automation Approach

Principal Investigator: Kate Sicchio, assistant professor, dance and media technologies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Co-Principal Investigators: Yan Lu, research assistant professor, Virginia, Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), Old Dominion University; Sachin Shetty, associate director, VMASC, ODU

CCI Node Affiliation: Central Virginia

  • When developing choreography using technology, a legacy is left beyond the ephemeral material of movement. There are libraries of data such as photos, motion capture data or even biofeedback from sensors. How can this data still be used and not breach privacy concerns of dancers and performers who may not realize the longevity of the data they have provided, or the implications of future uses of this data? This project aims to develop an AI algorithm-driven deep learning framework to detect, identify, extract the dancer bodies in specific dancing scenes, and use the generative adversarial network (GAN) model to cover-up and translate the image to protect the privacy of the dancer.

Project Title: UNDELETED

Principal Investigator: Michael McDermott, assistant professor, art and graphic design, George Mason University

CCI Node Affiliation: Northern Virginia

  • When digital files — audio, video, text, image, and all other types — are deleted from a device there is a common expectation among the general public that those files are gone forever. In practice, the files are recoverable with the right tools. This project proposes a public multimedia gallery exhibition of large photographic prints, showing some identifiable features but otherwise incomplete. The prints will be complemented with both text about the image, such as the date it was taken or the location where it was captured, as well as various snippets of audio, ranging from songs to voicemails. The images, audio, and text are all fragments of files taken from a used smartphone included in the display.