Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of April 2, 2014

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
UC Berkeley, April 2, 2014
Classroom 208 at UC Berkeley Extension Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi

The LASERs are a national program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. See the program for the whole series. The event is free and open to everybody. Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking. This event is kindly sponsored by the Minerva Foundation.
Where: UC Berkeley Extensions,
Classroom 208 at UC Berkeley Extension Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704 (See the Extensions catalog) - NOT Mulford Hall classroom 240 as printed in the catalog (See the Extensions catalog)
Campus map
  • 7:00-7:25: Jim Crutchfield (UC Davis/ Chaos Scientist) on "Hidden Fragility" The hidden fragility of our society's exuberant plunge into increasing complexity... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Lucia Jacobs (UC Berkeley Psychology) on "How the Brain Evolved from a Nose" The first fundemental revolution in the evolution of the mind was the ability to map space... Read more
  • 7:50-8:10: BREAK. Before or after the break, anyone in the audience currently working within the intersections of art and science will have 30 seconds to share their work. Please present your work as a teaser so that those who are interested can seek you out during social time following the event.
  • 8:10-8:35: Shan Shan Sheng (Visual Artist) on "From Great Wall to Open Wall - Reinterpreting the Great Wall of China for the age of globalization" An artist's view of the critical intersection of Chinese and Western culture... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Renetta Sitoy on "The Ear Goes To The Sound: Laetitia Sonami's sound art" A new documentary profiling the extraordinary life and works of Oakland-based electronic sound artist Laetitia Sonami... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • Thinking about Thought
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • Previous Art/Science Evenings
    • Jim Crutchfield is Professor of Physics at the University of California, Davis, where he is helping to start up its new Center for Computational Science and Engineering. Until recently he was Research Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, where he ran the Dynamics of Learning Group, and Adjunct Professor of Physics in the Physics Department, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Before coming to SFI in 1997, he was a Research Physicist in the Physics Department at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1985. He also has been a Visiting Research Professor at the Sloan Center for Theoretical Neurobiology, University of California, San Francisco; a Post-doctoral Fellow of the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at UCB; a UCB Physics Department IBM Post-Doctoral Fellow in Condensed Matter Physics; a Distinguished Visiting Research Professor of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and a Bernard Osher Fellow at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
    • Lucia Jacobs is a cognitive neuroscientist whose research addresses fundamental questions about the evolution of the brain and cognition. The goal of her research is to understand how a mind is created from the building blocks of learning, memory and the causal links among events and how cognitive primitives expand, duplicate, exapt and specialize over developmental and evolutionary time. Jacobs trained in animal behavior (1978 B.S., Cornell), behavioral ecology (1987 Ph.D., Princeton) and neuroscience (postdoctoral positions: Universities of Toronto, Pittsburgh and Utah). She joined the University of California, Berkeley faculty in 1993 and is currently Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. Academic awards and honors include the 1995 Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford, 1999 Prytanean Prize, 2004 Santa Fe Public Lecture and the 2013 Michigan State Distinguished Lecturer in Cognitive Science. Her work focuses on the evolution of spatial navigation and the hippocampus, with studies exploring species, sex and developmental differences in the expression of this trait, culminating in the publication of the 2003 parallel map theory of hippocampal function (Psychological Review). She has published over 40 scientific articles in the field of animal behavior, cognitive psychology and neuroscience and is currently writing a book on olfaction and the evolution of navigation for Princeton University Press.
    • Shan Shan Sheng has artworks installed in four of the world's tallest buildings, as well as other major works of architecture. Born in Shanghai, Sheng came to United States in 1982 to pursue her academic and artistic interests by attending Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and continued to Harvard University as an artist-in-residence for two years. Now she lives and works in San Francisco. In 1989, she was an official artist for the Asian Art Festival in Chicago. She has spent the last 18 years working in the public art field. She has now completed over 25 large-scale projects in the states of California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida, New Mexico, Utah, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma and the cities of Chicago,Miami, Denver, Nashville, Cleveland and Charlotte as well as the international cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong, London and Venice. Her public art project "Ocean Wave" at port of Miami was awarded the best public art project by Americans for the Arts in 2007. In 2009, Sheng's artwork "Bamboo Forest" at a high speed train station in Taiwan was awarded the best public art project. Sheng has held over thirty one-woman shows in Europe, Asia and America. Most recently, her "Open Wall" project was included in the 53rd Venice Biennale. In 2010 this project was exhibited at the Shanghai World Expo. Her works appear in selected public collections around the world including Harvard University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, China National Art Museum, Beijing, Shanghai International Convention Center, Amoco Building in Chicago, Art Museum of South Texas, Berengo Collection, Venice, Italy and Shanghai Art Museum.
    • Piero Scaruffi is a cognitive scientist who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, the latest one being "The Nature of Consciousness" (2006). He pioneered Internet applications in the early 1980s and the use of the World-Wide Web for cultural purposes in the mid 1990s. His poetry has been awarded several national prizes in Italy and the USA. His latest book of poems and meditations is "Synthesis" (2009). As a music historian, he has published ten books, the latest ones being "A History of Rock and Dance Music" (2009) and "A History of Jazz Music" (2007). His latest book of history is "A History of Silicon Valley" (2011). The first volume of his free ebook "A Visual History of the Visual Arts" appeared in 2012. His latest book is "Demystifying Machine Intelligence" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.
    • Renetta Sitoy was born in New York, NY and graduated in 2007 with an MFA in Design + Technology from the San Francisco Art Institute, where she was the recipient of the San Francisco Art Institute MFA Fellowship from 2005 to 2007. Using media that include video and animation to examine the human condition, her work has explored topics such as the alteration of time and space, perception, memory, dreams, and the effects of technology on human behavior. Her work has been shown in Atlanta, Baltimore, New York City, Los Angeles, Athens, Greece, Varna, Bulgaria, Budapest, Hungary, and throughout the Bay Area. She has completed a documentary about the French born, Oakland based electronic music artist Laetitia Sonami. She lives and works in the Bay Area.

    Extended abstracts:

    Short-term survival and an exuberant plunge into building our future are generating a new kind of unintended consequence: hidden fragility. This is a direct effect of the sophistication and structural complexity of the socio-technical systems humans create. It is inevitable. And so the challenge is, How much can we understand and predict about these systems and about the social dynamics that lead to their construction?

    Renetta Sitoy talks about her new documentary profiling the extraordinary life and works of Oakland-based electronic sound artist Laetitia Sonami. During the lecture, installation and performance footage that did not make it into the film will be shown. In addition, she'll be talking about the artistic process of creating a full-length feature on a small budget, and the experience of learning how to make a film on the fly.

    Why did brains evolve? Here I suggest that the first fundemental revolution in the evolution of the mind was the ability to map space. And because even bacteria use odors to orient, I propose that the first brain evolved using odors to map the environment and all the resources in it. The implications of this olfactory spatial hypothesis are with us today, where olfactory systems vary widely among different kinds of animals according to their use of odors to navigate. Yet even honeybees and humans perceive odors in the same strange ways. I'll propose that these perceptual peculiarities exist because "birds, bees and even educated fleas" are mapping the diffuse distribution of odors across a landscape in a particular way, in a parallel map structure. This gives animals (including humans) the ability to create a `cognitive map', a unique, flexible representation of space first proposed by Edward C. Tolman, the famous rat psychologist who founded Berkeley's Department of Psychology.

    Reinterpreting the Great Wall of China for the age of globalization. Open Wall is a large-scale glass installation re-interpreting a section of the Great Wall for the 2009 Venice Biennale. Sheng's Open Wall installation captures an interval of China's heritage, translating this historic structure as a temporary zone of glass architecture. This installation represents the newfound openness of contemporary China and engages the contemporary moment as a pivotal moment of global exchange. The sculpture, which is meant to be a reconstruct of the great wall of china, indicates moments of transparency and opacity, marking this critical intersection of Chinese and Western culture. Located along venice's historic grand canal, the temporary pavilion was made up of 2,200 stacked glass bricks, each brick representing the number of years which it took to build the great wall. The glass blocks become a kind of cultural currency which can be moved, redistributed, subtracted and added duration of the installation, expressing the transitory process of globalization. Each brick was engraved with a date and its corresponding chinese lunar year. the dates meant to signify historical moments which have been witnessed by the Great Wall. 564 BC was the year the Great Wall's construction began and 1254 AD was the birth year of Marco Polo, China's link to Venice. The Open Wall project employed glass bricks which are the same size as those that were used to build the Great Wall. The bricks of the Great Wall, when laid out lengthwise edge to edge, could span the entire globe.

    Photos and videos of this evening