Starting afresh

After four years as Head of Department (of Musicology at UiO), I am going back to my regular associate professor position in January. It has been a both challenging and rewarding period as HoD, during which I have learned a lot about managing people, managing budgets, understanding huge organizations, developing strategies, talking to all sorts of people at all levels in the system, and much more.

I am happy to hand over a Department in growth to the new HoD (Peter Edwards). We have implemented a new bachelor’s program, launched UiO’s first MOOC (Music Moves), and hired a number of new people, just to mention a few of the things I have worked on over the last years. I am also proud that we just got our new appointment plan approved before Christmas, aiming at hiring up to seven new professors within the next five years. Humanities departments are under a lot of pressure these days, so I am very grateful that we are in a position to expand in the coming years!

I have only been teaching sporadically while being HoD, so I am excited about getting back to running the course Interactive Music that I started up a while back. This is a so-called “practical-theoretical” course, aiming at giving students a holistic perspective on designing musical instruments and systems. I published a paper on the design of this course a few years ago (An action–sound approach to teaching interactive music), and have since gathered some more ideas that I want to test out when it comes to teaching students a combination of music cognition and technology focused around some concrete designs. I also hope that these ideas will turn into my next book project, if successful.

I am also excited about starting up ny new research project MICRO – Human Bodily Micromotion in Music Perception and Interaction, in which we will focus on how music influences us when at rest. Fortunately, the fourMs lab is really getting up to speed now, so we will really be able to study micromotion in great detail.

In getting ready for my new working life, I decided to wipe my main computer (a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2) yesterday. I have been running various versions of Ubuntu over the last years (Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu GNOME, and Linux Mint), but decided to go for the regular Ubuntu 16.10 this time around. I think Unity has matured quite a bit now, and works very well on the Yoga’s multitouch HiDPI display. This was my first complete reinstall since I got the laptop almost three years, and was definitely needed. I always test a lot of different software and settings, so the system had gotten clogged up by lots of weird stuff on top of each other. The new clean system definitely feels smooth and well-functioning. It feels like a digital and mental “shower”, getting ready for the new year!

My research on national TV

A couple of weeks ago, NRK, the Norwegian broadcasting company screened a documentary about my research together with the physiotherapists at NTNU in the CIMA project. The short story is that we have developed the tools I first made for the Musical Gestures Toolbox during my PhD, into a system with the ambition of detecting signs of cerebral palsy in infants.

The documentary was made for the science program Schrödingers Katt, and I am very happy that they spent so much time on developing the story, filming and editing. The video can be seen (in 3 parts) on NRK Nett-TV (at least within Norway), and below are a few screenshots.

Paper #1 at SMC 2012: Evaluation of motiongrams

Today I presented the paper Evaluating how different video features influence the visual quality of resultant motiongrams at the Sound and Music Computing conference in Copenhagen.

Abstract

Motiongrams are visual representations of human motion, generated from regular video recordings. This paper evaluates how different video features may influence the generated motiongram: inversion, colour, filtering, background, lighting, clothing, video size and compression. It is argued that the proposed motiongram implementation is capable of visualising the main motion features even with quite drastic changes in all of the above mentioned variables.

Downloads

  • Full paper [PDF]
  • Poster [PDF]


Reference

Jensenius, A. R. (2012). Evaluating how different video features influence the visual quality of resultant motiongrams. In Proceedings of the 9th Sound and Music Computing Conference, pages 467–472, Copenhagen.

BibTeX

@inproceedings{Jensenius:2012h,
   Address = {Copenhagen},
   Author = {Jensenius, Alexander Refsum},
   Booktitle = {Proceedings of the 9th Sound and Music Computing Conference},
   Pages = {467--472},
   Title = {Evaluating How Different Video Features Influence the Visual Quality of Resultant Motiongrams},
   Year = {2012}}

Visual overviews in MS Academic Search

I have been using Google Scholar as one of my main sources for finding academic papers and books, and find that is has improved considerably over the last few years.

A while ago they also opened for creating your own academic profile. It is fairly basic, but they have done a great job in managing to find most of my papers, citations, etc.

Now also Microsoft has jumped on academic search, and has launched their own service. When I first visited my personal page, they had only found a handful of my publications. Differently to Google Scholar, though, they allow people to upload their own BibTeX files with publication information. The data from the BibTeX file is not used directly, but somehow merged with everything else. The end result is not so bad, and after my upload the content on my profile has improved considerably.

Perhaps more interestingly than the profile page, though, are some of the new visualisation tools they offer, including a co-author graph that neatly visualises who I have published together with.

The citation graph shows who has been citing my stuff, which can potentially also be interesting to know.

There is also a co-author path, in which it is possible to see the connections between yourself and some other person. This is not directly useful, but can potentially be amusing, I guess.

All in all, the new MS Academic Search seems promising, and with some interesting features that make it stand out from Google Scholar.

Of course, there are also other academic solutions, e.g.
Mendeley, Academia.edu and Citeulike, but they are all more specific (and partly closed) network based things.

Interdisciplinarity

I am happy to see that the first point in the new UiO strategy plan is interdisciplinarity, or more specifically: “Et grensesprengende universitet”. Interdisciplinarity is always easier in theory than in practice, and this is something I am debating in a feature article in the latest volume (pages 32-33) of Forskerforum, the journal of the The Norwegian Association of Researchers (Forskerforbundet).

I have written about interdisciplinarity on this blog several times before (here, here and here). In the new article I use interdisciplinarity to not only refer to adjacent scientific disciplines, but in a more general sense. I use some of my own work as the point of departure: the video analysis work that ended up as the Musical Gestures Toolbox started out as an artistic project, was later developed within my scientific PhD work, and is now being used for both artistic projects (e.g. by Victoria Johnson), research on ADHD (Terje Sagvolden’s group) and clinical use in the analysis of children with cerebral palsy (Lars Adde).

Unfortunately, getting support (economically, administrative, etc.) for such interdisciplinary research (including both scientific and artistic research) is currently not possible in Norway. In fact, the Norwegian Research Council does not fund artistic research at all, and the Research fellowship in the arts program does not fund scientific research.

In the end of my feature article I suggest three points to the Norwegian universities and the Norwegian Research Council for how to improve the conditions for interdisciplinary research in Norway:

  1. Set up truly interdisciplinary committees for all research funding
  2. Open for projects that contain both scientific and artistic research
  3. Set aside 10% of all research funding (in all disciplines) to be used for artistic work