Experience the artistic side of cybersecurity at a first-ever Commonwealth Cyber Initiative art exhibit Nov. 4-5 at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.

“We want to show how cybersecurity is woven into our daily lives in surprising ways, and what better way to show that than through the arts?” said Luiz DaSilva, Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) executive director. “These five projects have exceeded our expectations. It will be exciting to see them exhibited together for the first time.” 

CCI’s Building Bridges Arts and Design Collaboration Program brought together artists and cybersecurity researchers from George Mason UniversityOld Dominion UniversityRadford UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech. CCI is an unprecedented consortium of 41 Virginia universities and colleges with more than 320 researchers focused at the intersection of cybersecurity, autonomous systems, and intelligence. 

CCI worked in partnership with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech and the da Vinci Center for Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University to create the Building Bridges program. Ben Knapp, founding director of ICAT, and Allison Schumacher, director of academic alchemy at the da Vinci Center, were instrumental.

“The importance of arts-integrated research appears in the devices we use every day — devices whose aesthetic and human-centered design are as important as their technological underpinnings,” Knapp said. “The creative process perfectly complements and enhances the scientific methods used in their innovation.

“The arts are also a means for communicating the invisible and sometimes dangerous world that lies behind their operation. This CCI art exhibition is the perfect event for the public to see all these incredible ways in which the arts help create the cyberinfrastructure as well as reveal its opportunities and challenges.”

The free exhibit is open Friday, Nov. 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 5., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

  • Listen to musicians collaborate in real-time without being in the same room, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and a 5G network. (Tanner Upthegrove, an immersive audio specialist, ICAT and the Center for Human-Computer Interaction, Virginia Tech.)
  • Test your cybersecurity detection skills by playing a fun game. (Kevin Moberly, program director, Game Design, Development, and Criticism, Old Dominion University)
  • Lost or tossed your smartphone without erasing your information? The Undeleted project, which features 80 smartphones, shows you’re not alone. (Michael McDermott, assistant professor, art, George Mason University)
  • Hear what a cyberattack sounds like in a room filled with loudspeakers. (Upthegrove)
  • Watch dancers moving through a choreographed performance that’s part of an AI project designed to protect against using how we move to determine our identities. (Kate Sicchio, assistant professor, dance and media technologies, Virginia Commonwealth University)

For Upthegrove, not being a cybersecurity expert means he can ask the “dumb” questions and look for ways to give more people access to the cybersecurity field. He created a giant cube called a tesseract and filled it with 32 loudspeakers to create the sound of a cyberattack. The project will be on display at the Taubman. 

“Perhaps the growing interest in auditory displays to represent data can bring more experts to cybersecurity who have a visual impairment, or simply prefer auditory information to visual,” Upthegrove said. “Using immersive audio to represent cybersecurity data is also immediately interesting to anyone who hears it, whether they know the source of the audio or not. I find this approach effective as a way to instantly communicate information. I hope this work can inspire others, artists or not, to feel they can participate in addressing complex, grand challenges.”