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William Seaman, Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies and Faculty Network Member of Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and Director of Graduate Studies of the PhD in Computational Media, Arts & Cultures and Core Graduate Faculty in Computational Media, Arts & Cultures of Computational Media Arts & Culture

William SeamanSpecialization:

    Digital Media, Multimedia Digital Art and Theory;
    Installation Art
    Expanded Media-Oriented Poetics; Virtual Reality
    Contemporary Art (1945 - Present)
    Visual Studies/Visual Culture
    Media Studies
    Computer Arts

Research Interests:
    Generative Poetic Systems, Interactive Art, Experimental Art, Music, Installation Art, Generative Computational Tools, New Forms of Computation, Recombinant Informatics, Recombinant Poetics

Current projects:

    "Luminous Hands" with Sonke Johnsen, s_traits with John Supko, f (noir) Eilean [rec.33] (new music release)

Area of Interest: New forms/uses of computation in the arts and sciences.
Computational Creativity
Generative Aesthetic Systems

Seaman's work often explores an expanded media-oriented poetics through various technological means— Recombinant Poetics. Such works often explore the combination and recombination of media elements and processes in interactive and generative works of art. Seaman enfolds image/music/text relations in these works, often creating all of the media elements and articulating the operative media-processes involved. He is self-taught as a musician/composer. Early on he discussed his notion of Structured Improvisation, employing specific fragments of his own improvisations as a compositional method. Initially explored via tape loops and layering processes in the 80's, he now facilitates this compositional methodology using the computer, in particular using the program Ableton Live. He has been interested in meaning production and has explored ideas around computational meta-meaning systems— systems that enable a user to become mindfully aware of how meaning is arising and changing through their interaction. He is deeply interested in new forms of computation, learning systems, the concept of creating an electrochemical computer, as well as the concept of Computational Creativity – both using the computer as a creative tool, as well as articulating the future of creative potentials as explored via computational devices – The Creativity of Creativity. He has won a number of awards including two awards from Ars Electronica in Interactive Art; Intel Research Gift (3 years); Awards in the Visual Arts – Rockefeller Foundation; Fulbright Distinguished American Scholar (Senior Technological Specialist); International German Video Art Prize; NEA Fellowship; Semens’ Stipendium; and Leonardo Award for Excellence, among others. He has been commissioned on a number of occasions including William Forsythe and Ballett Frankfurt (Sleepers Guts) for video/set design; the Museum of Image and Sound - MIS Museum, Sao Paulo, Brazil – Architecture of Association (with Daniel Howe); Tanz_Performance Köln – Inversion (with Regina van Berkel); Vision Ruhr — Exchange Fields (with Regina van Berkel); National Gallery of Canada — Red Dice | Des Chiffré; Greatwoods & Leonard Slatkin, Guest Conductor Pittsburgh Symphony — Pictures at an Exhibition (video for live performance); and the Contemporary Art Television Fund (CAT) – The Water Catalogue. More recently he has been exploring notions surrounding Recombinant Informatics — a multi-perspective approach to inventive knowledge production. The work The Insight Engine explores interactive Koestler-like bisociation processes for the exploration of crossing disciplinary boundaries and stimulating unconventional thought in research. This generative experimental search-engine work was funded by the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and Bass Connections – The Brain and Society. Seaman is currently working on a series of art/science collaborations — poetic installations and scientific research papers. The book Neosentience | The Benevolence Engine with Otto Rössler has come out through Intellect Press. Ongoing discussions with Rössler and a new book are in the works. He is also collaborating with artist/computer scientist Daniel Howe on multiple works exploring AI and creative writing/multi-media and has completed an album of experimental music with Howe entitled Minor Distance. He has developed a new generative work and is undertaking interface research with Todd Berreth. He has also collaborated with Craig Tattersall from The Boats / The Humble Bee, The Remote Viewer et. al. They have finished a large audio work (over 7 hours) entitled Light Folds and are working on a new album. He is also collaborating with vocalist Marissa Bergmann on a new series of sonic works. Seaman is a member of the Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics at Duke and is working on a collaboration with Tuan Vo-Dinh, the Director of the institute, on a project called the Light Data Domain exploring multi-modal sensor transductions and speed of light data transfer. He is a member of the Duke Institute For Brain Sciences. He co-runs The Emergence Lab with John Supko, Media Arts + Sciences at Duke University. Seaman studied at Rhode Island School of Design (Foundations, Video and Sculpture), The San Francisco Art Institute (Scuplture, Performance, Installation), MIT (Master of Science in Visual Studies), and the University of Wales (at the Center for Advanced Inquiry in Interactive Art) for his PhD. He is currently working on a new book – From the Architecture of Ideas: The Life and Work of Ranulph Glanville, Cybernetician.


  • Ph.D. University of Wales 1999
  • M.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1985
  • B.A. San Francisco Art Institute 1979

Contact Info:

Office Location:  114 S. Buchanan Blvd, Room A260, Bay 10, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:   (919) 684-2499
Email Address:   bill.seaman@duke.edu
Web Page:   http://www.billseaman.com

Office Hours:

By email appointmentTeaching (Fall 2019):

  • Artsvis 130.01, Experimental drawing Synopsis
    Smith wrhs a268, Th 10:05 AM-12:35 PM
  • Vms 198.01, Experimental interface design Synopsis
    Smith wrhs a228, Tu 01:25 PM-03:55 PM

Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Seaman, W. "Continuum Computing." 50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years. Edited by Talwar, R.  (2018).
  2. Seaman, W. "Roy Ascott – Early Interactive Work and Some Cybernetic Relationalities (forthcoming)." Cybernetics and Human Knowing: a Journal of Second Order Cybernetics, Autopoiesis and Cyber Semiotics  (2018).
  3. Seaman, W. "Towards A Dynamic Heterarchical Ecology Of Conversations (forthcoming)." Cybernetics and Human Knowing: a Journal of Second Order Cybernetics, Autopoiesis and Cyber Semiotics  (2018).
  4. Seaman, W. "Emergent Relationality System / The Insight Engine." Digital Methods and Remote Sensing in Archaeology: Archaeology in the Age of Sensing. Edited by Forte, M; Campana, S.  (2016).
  5. Seaman, W. "Neosentient Architecture Generator – n_Arch.gen."   (October, 2015).
http://www.billseaman.com http://www.dibs.duke.edu/research/profiles/98-william-seaman http://www.fitzpatrick.duke.edu/faculty/william-seaman