After the fact: the video of the 3-hour extravaganza

Data Centennial Pseudo-Symposium

(The Fourth L.A.S.T. Festival)

Subtheme: "Data Dada" (linking today's age to Dada's age)

Sponsored by Stanford Arts Institute, Dean of Research, Dean of Humanities & Sciences, Dean of Engineering

Program: PDF version

Date: 13 April 2016 (Why April and not February? The Cabaret Voltaire was founded in February 1916, but the name "Dada" was actually coined in April 1916)

Time: 6:30pm-9:30pm (NOTE: 6:30pm, not the usual 7pm!)

Location: Stanford University, Li Ka Shing LK130

Sponsored by the Arts Institute, Dean of Research, Dean of Humanities & Sciences, Dean of Engineering, and Continuing Studies.

Watch it live on your mobile device by using periscope @lasertalks or twitter @lasertalks. Watch it live on your personal computer by using or

This will be a special LASER and L.A.S.T. Festival: a centennial celebration of the Dada movement, a 3-hour event featuring an extravagant cast of scholars, artists and musicians: futurist composer Luciano Chessa, accidental philosopher Jonathon Keats, cellist and composer Theresa Wong, Burning Man festival's cofounder John Law, kinetic sculptor Kal Spelletich, Pavle Levi (Director of Stanford's CREEES), stealth art/science collective "The L.A.S.T. Ensemble", avantgarde historian Cosana Eram, Maria Makela and Thomas Haakenson of the California College of the Arts, technofinancial analyst Jinxia Niu (Zheshang magazine, China), cultural revolutionaries Howard Rheingold & Fabrice Florin, Stanford's CCRMA, plus Dada videos, poems and documents, and even a live interference from Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire by Swiss art historian Boris Magrini. Where's the science? A LASER is supposed to mix art and science! Well, if you arrive on time and listen to my introduction, you'll find out how the science (and World War I and much else) are involved.

Scripted by Piero Scaruffi

Schedule (wildly tentative):
  • PART 1
  • Overture: Luciano Chessa's solo on saw or wind machine, ideally titled "Data Dada" or something like that (5')
  • Piero Scaruffi's welcome speech: "From Dada to Data" (10') - The text will be published here
  • Thomas Haakenson reading Dada poetry, excerpts from various Dada manifestoes (Huelsenbeck and Haussmann's, in particular), and other Dada-related writings, including some of the Dadaists' less frequently evoked but fundamental political statements. Co-programmed by Pavle Levi (15')
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 2) (3')
  • Theresa Wong, performing "Xenoglossia" for multitracked and live voice, soundtrack to Jonathon Keats' "Strange Skies", a travel documentary for plants (6'15")
  • Cosana Eram on how the avant-garde used scandal as a tool to shred the bourgeois social fabric & their self-promotion skills (10')
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 4) (3')
  • Jonathon Keats reading his "Copernican Art Manifesto" (3')
  • Luciano Chessa performing Jonathon Keats' "Retempered Clavier", a Copernican "decomposition" of Bach (5'), a work of Copernican music that has the entropy of the universe, a spin-off of Keats' composition "Copernican Revolution in the Arts" (5?) - See this article and see this article
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 15) (3')
  • Maria Makela on "Assemblage and Photomontage: The Politics of Alternative Media in Dada - Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, etc" (10')
  • The Robert Edgar Band performing live, adapting "I Zimbra" (1980), recorded by Talking Heads, written by David Byrne, adapting Hugo Ball's poem "Gadji beri bimba" (5').
  • Howard Rheingold's & Fabrice Florin's "Pataphysical Slot Machine", a community-created poetic oracle (10')
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 3/A) (3')
  • Kal Spelletich's video of machine art (10')
  • BREAK. Bring your own food.
    Play with Kal Spelletich's kinetic sculptures.
  • Throughout the evening: A special commentary by Jinxia Niu, technofinancial analyst and Buddhist meditator, visiting Stanford from Hangzhou, China
  • PART 2
  • Stanford CCRMA bacchanal "Tada! Dat" (12')
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 3/B) (3')
  • Jonathon Keats' preamble to his porn movies for plants
  • Theresa Wong, performing the soundtrack for Jonathon Keats' "Botanica", a porn film for plants (6'15")
  • John Law on "From Dada to Caca - A Brief History of Bay Area Counterculture" (15')
  • Excerpts from Jaap Blonk's virtuoso performance of Kurt Schwitter's "Ursonate" (5')
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 7) (3')
  • Premiere of philosopher Jonathon Keats' and composer Luciano Chessa's "CM", a Copernican dubstep mix of Keats' "Retempered Clavier" (5')
  • Man Ray's short film "Return to Reason" (2.5'), a quintessential Dada film
  • The L.A.S.T. Ensemble's "Data-Dada" performance (part 5712561) (3')
  • Piero Scaruffi (Author, "A History of Rock Music, vol.1 $ 2) playing and commenting a playlist titled "Dada and the Unpopular Music of the 20th Century - Rock, Jazz, Dance and Noise" (10')
  • Boris Magrini (Swiss art historian and curator) via Skype: live interference from Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire (10')
  • Play with Kal Spelletich's kinetic sculptures.

  • The Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) is a multi-disciplinary facility where composers and researchers work together using computer-based technology both as an artistic medium and as a research tool. Areas of ongoing interest: Composition, Applications Hardware, Applications Software, Synthesis Techniques and Algorithms, Physical Modeling, Music and Mobile Devices, Sensors, Real-Time Controllers, Signal Processing, Digital Recording and Editing, Psychoacoustics and Musical Acoustics, Perceptual Audio Coding, Music Information Retrieval, Audio Networking, Auditory Display of Multidimensional Data (Data Sonification), and Real-Time Applications.
  • Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, pianist, and musical saw/Vietnamese dan bau soloist who has been active in Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Recent premieres include a large orchestral work commissioned by the Orchestra Filarmonica of Torino "Ragazzi Incoscienti Scarabocchiano Sulla Porta Di Un Negozio Fallito" "TomBoy" for piano and a video by Terry Berlier, and "Movements", a multimedia work for 16mm film, dan bau and amplified film projectors produced in collaboration with filmmaker Rick Bahto. Chessa has just composed "Come un'Infanzia", a guitar + string quartet piece for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and is collaborating with performance artist Kalup Linzy and the Ensemble Parallele on an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to be premiered at YBCA in August 2011. As a music historian Chessa has written "Luigi Russolo, Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult" (UC Press, 2012). In 2009 Chessa supervised the first reconstruction of Russolo's "intonarumori" orchestra. His recordings include: Humus Destination X (1997), Entu (2000), Tryptique pour Gerard (2008), Peyrano (2008) Money is Money and Time is Time (2008) the dvd Tom's Heart (2008) The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners Vol. 1 (Sub Rosa, 2012). Watch a performance at the Chapel of the Chimes
  • Cosana Eram is an assistant professor of French Studies at the University of the Pacific. Her academic background includes a Ph.D. in French and Humanities at Stanford (2010), a Fulbright at New York University, as well as undergraduate and graduate studies in Romania, where she holds a Doctorate Magna Cum Laude in Philology (2003). As a literary scholar and translator, she has publications on modern and postmodern fiction, cultural studies, and global social issues. Her current research interests encompass transatlantic avant-garde, modern and contemporary French literature, ethics of technology and the human, and digital humanities. She is currently working on a book with the title "ScanDADAL" about the French avant-garde logic of dispute and conflict.
  • Thomas Haakenson is Associate Provost at California College of the Arts, as well as Vice President of the Northern California Chapter of the Fulbright Alumni Association. Haakenson is coeditor of the series German Visual Culture, co-coordinator of the Visual Culture Network of the German Studies Association, and vice president of the Northern California Chapter of the Fulbright Association. He has been published widely, including in New German Critique, Cabinet, Rutgers Art Review, German Studies Review, and the anthologies Legacies of Modernism and Memorialization in Germany Since 1945. He has received awards and fellowships from the United States Fulbright Program, the Social Science Research Council, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, among others.
  • Acclaimed as a "poet of ideas" by The New Yorker and a "multimedia philosopher-prophet" by The Atlantic, Jonathon Keats is an experimental philosopher, artist, and writer based in the United States and Italy. Recently he opened the first restaurant for plants, serving gourmet sunlight to rose bushes at the Crocker Art Museum. He has also exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, and attempted to genetically engineer God in collaboration with scientists at the University of California. Exhibited internationally, his projects have been documented by PBS, Reuters, and the BBC World Service, garnering favorable attention in periodicals ranging from Science to Flash Art to The Economist. He is the author of "You Belong to the Universe - Buckminster Fuller and the Future" (Oxford Univ Press, 2016), "Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age" (Oxford Univ Press, 2013), "Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology" (Oxford, 2011). His fiction includes "The Book of the Unknown" (Random House, 2010). He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco.
  • The L.A.S.T. Festival is a "Life Art Science Tech" festival that was founded in 2014 by Piero Scaruffi. It is a weekend-long interdisciplinary event structured around four programs: 1. Interactive multimedia art installations (the Art Expo); 2. Inspirational talks by luminaries on cutting-edge technology and science (the "Engineering the Future" Symposium); 3. A mini-symposium on how technology and science impact life, mind, society ("Homo Digitalis"); 4. Live performances and tech demos. The LAST Ensemble is formed by some of the volunteers who made the LAST festival happen. You can download their script from here.
  • John Law (Cacophony Society, Burning Man) was a member of the Suicide Club, a co-founder of the Cacophony Society, and a co-founder of the Burning Man festival. He co-authored "Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society" (2013) and has spoken internationally about the San Francisco counterculture.
  • Boris Magrini, Swiss art historian and curator, focuses on contemporary artistic practices in the intersection of arts, technology, science and society. He was curator at Duplex in Geneva, I Sotterranei dell'Arte in Monte Carasso and assistant curator at Kunsthalle Fribourg and Kunsthalle Zurich. Curated shows include Mutamenti (Bellinzona, 2007), Anathema (Fri-Art, Fribourg, 2007-8), Modifier (Dienstgeb„ude, Zurich, 2010) and Leise Rehe-Wilde Beeren (Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 2011-12). He organises talk series: Reality Check at Kunsthalle Zrich (2014) and Hackteria Swiss Curriculum, Corner College with Hackteria (2014-15). He regularly publishes on contemporary and media art in magazines, books and exhibition catalogues, such as "Alternative Visions: Human Futures" in "Transdiscourse 2 - Turbulence and Reconstruction" (De Gruyter, 2016).
  • Maria Makela is Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts. She has published and lectured widely on aspects of German nineteenth and twentieth century visual culture, and was the co-curator of the 1996/97 retrospective exhibition of the photomontages of Hannah Hoech ((Walker Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and co-author of the accompanying catalogue. The recipient of numerous awards, including among others an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship, an American Philosophical Society Grant, a Fulbright Fellowship, a DAAD Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, her work has focused in recent years on gender and sexuality in modern German culture and, as well, on the materiality of German avant-garde art and fashion.
  • Piero Scaruffi is a cultural historian 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 "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.
  • Kal Spelletich is the founder of Seemen, an interactive machine art performance collective, has collaborated with Survival Research Labs and countless others from rock bands to scientists, politicians, NASA, Hollywood television and filmmakers. For 28 years he has been experimenting with interfacing humans and technology to put people in touch with intense real life experiences and to empower them. Kal's work is always interactive, requiring a participant to enter or operate the piece, often against their instincts of self-preservation. He works on the waterfront of San Francisco scouring junkyards and dumpsters for industrial items whose technology can be reapplied. He curates art exhibits and is involved in political activism. See a video of his machines.
  • Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection where music meets with the creative spirit of experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Her works include The Unlearning, 21 songs inspired by Goya's Disasters of War etchings (Tzadik 2011), O Sleep, an opera inspired by the conundrum of sleep and dream life and Venice Is A Fish (Sensitive Skin Music 2014), an album of solo songs. Bridging areas of music, dance, theater and visual art, Wong is interested in performance as a vehicle for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike. She has presented her work internationally at venues including Fondation Cartier in Paris, Cafe Oto in London, Area Sismica in Forl, Italy, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and Roulette in New York City. She is currently based in Berkeley, California. For more information please visit

See also... LASER series | LAST Festival