Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of August 7, 2014

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, August 7, 2014
c/o Stanford University
Li Ka Shing Center, Room LK120
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.
Where: Stanford University, Li Ka Shing Center, Room LK120
Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge at Stanford University School of Medicine: room LK120. Good map and driving directions here. There should be ample parking in the structure on corner of Campus Drive West and Roth Way. (Stanford map)
Parking is mostly free at Stanford after 4pm.
  • 7:00-7:25: Lynn Rothschild (NASA Astrobiologist) on "Synthetic Astrobiology" Using synthetic biology to determine whether we are alone in the universe... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Jonathon Keats (Philosopher) on "A Dilettante's Guide to the Universe" How do you develop real estate using string theory? How can you improve a marriage with quantum mechanics?... 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: Stuart Kendall (California College of the Arts) on "Domestic Arts: A Fable" What would it mean to shift our aesthetic inquiry away from the galleries and museums toward the domestic sphere?... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Indrani Baruah (Architect and Visual Artist) on "Cultural Re-Imaginations : Experiments in Creative Placemaking" Cultural Re-imaginations challenges the traditional boundaries between art/architecture, artist/artisan, crafts/arts, public/private and inside/outside... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • Stanford events calendar
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • Other LASER series
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
  • Previous Art/Science Evenings
    • Indrani Baruah is an artist, architect and cultural researcher, who works at the intersection of visual arts, architecture and cultural studies. She splits her time between India and the Bay Area. She completed her formal training in architecture from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and later from School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon. She further went on to doing the U.C. Berkeley Programs in Art, ASUC Art Studios, and Painting and Art History from Merritt College, Oakland, California. Her recent participation in exhibitions include the Berkeley Arts Center, California (2010), Gensler, San Francisco, California (2010), Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2012: 13th Annual International Architectural Exhibition: Common Ground and INSERT 2014, IGNCA, New Delhi, exhibition curated by Raqs Media Collective titled 'New Models on Common Ground: Re-imagining the Question of Cultural Infrastructure'. She has been a recent speaker at the TEDx India series. Indrani received the Extending Arts Practice Grant from India Foundation for the Arts in 2012 and the Public Art Grant from Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art in 2013. She has received fellowships from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon. Her work has been published in IASTE, University of California, Berkeley, Society of Architectural Historians and Art and Deal.
    • 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 most recently the author of "Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age", published by Oxford University Press in 2013 and "Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology", published by Oxford in 2011. His fiction includes "The Book of the Unknown", published by Random House, awarded the American Library Association's Sophie Brody Medal in 2010. He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco.
    • Stuart Kendall, who currently teaches in the graduate design program at the California College of the Arts, is a writer, editor, and translator working at the intersections of modern and contemporary poetics, visual culture, ecology, and design. His books include The Ends of Art and Design, Georges Bataille, and eleven volumes of translations of poetry, philosophy, and visual and cultural criticism. His edited or co-edited works include Clayton Eshleman: The Whole Art, Terrence Malick: Film and Philosophy, and a special issue of Boom: A Journal of California devoted to contemporary California design. Jerome Rothenberg praised his version of the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh poems as the "exemplary version for our time." Stuart has degrees in philosophy, comparative religious studies, and comparative literature. He has taught at SUNY Stony Brook, Boston University, Stanford University, and the California College of the Arts and given lectures at colleges, universities, conferences, and colloquia around the United States. Stuart is currently the President of the Design Studies Forum, a College Art Association Affiliated Society that promotes the study of design history, theory and practice.
    • Lynn Rothschild is an evolutionary biologist/ astrobiologist at NASA Ames, where she has been instrumental in establishing NASA's program in synthetic biology. She is a Professor (Adjunct) at Brown, the University of California Santa Cruz, and Stanford, where she has taught Astrobiology and Space Exploration. She has broad training in biology, with degrees from Yale, Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from Brown University in Molecular and Cell Biology, and a love for protistan evolution. Since arriving at NASA Ames in 1987, her research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere, and how we might tap into "Nature's toolbox" to advance the field of synthetic biology. Field sites range from Australia to Africa to the Andes, from the ocean to 100,000 feet on a balloon. In the last few years Rothschild has brought her expertise in extremeophiles and evolutionary biology to the field of synthetic biology, addressing on how synthetic biology can enhance NASA's missions. Since 2011 she has been the faculty advisor of the Stanford-Brown award-winning iGEM team, which has pioneered the use of synthetic biology to accomplish NASA's missions, particularly focusing on the human settlement of Mars and astrobiology. Her lab is working on expanding the use of synthetic biology for NASA with projects as diverse as recreating the first proteins de novo to biomining to using synthetic biology to precipitate calcite and produce glues in order to make bricks on Mars or the Moon.
    • 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.

    Extended abstracts:

    How do you develop real estate using string theory? How can you improve a marriage with quantum mechanics? What might you learn about life by genetically engineering God? Jonathon Keats isn't really qualified to answer any of these questions, but he's done all of the above (or at least tried). In this talk, he'll discuss what a dilettante can achieve in an age of expertise, and what the combination of unrelated interests can reveal about ourselves and our world.
    "Are we alone?" is one of the primary questions of astrobiology, and whose answer defines our significance in the universe. Unfortunately, this quest is hindered by the fact that we have only one confirmed example of life, that of earth. While this is enormously helpful in helping to define the minimum envelope for life, it strains credulity to imagine that life, if it arose multiple times, has not taken other routes. To help fill this gap, our lab has begun using synthetic biology - the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes - as an enabling technology. One theme, the "Hell Cell" project, focuses on creating artificial extremophiles in order to push the limits for Earth life, and to understand how difficult it is for life to evolve into extreme niches. In another project, we are re-evolving biotic functions using only the most thermodynamically stable amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids.
    What would it mean to shift our aesthetic inquiry away from the white box of galleries and museums toward the domestic sphere, the sphere whose objects are created by design? The Fine Art object has been a commodity fetish in the Global West for four hundred years, shaping cultural aspirations, expenditures, and institutions - schools and museums most obviously. In this talk, I imagine an alternative world - and world history - wherein the objects and encounters of everyday life are esteemed as vehicles of aesthetic experience. What if our daily habits of dress, cuisine, domestic design and arrangement, daily circulation and pastime were conceived as opportunities for expression, experience, and contemplation, indeed as among the most-esteemed means of personal, social and ecological enrichment available to us? In this fable, the domestic arts are re-imagined on the model of the aesthetics of everyday life, wherein objects of design, arranged by design, enable us to cultivate our care for the self.
    Incorporating concepts from visual arts, architecture, vernacular crafts and cultural studies, Cultural Re-imaginations has attempted to challenge the traditional boundaries between art/architecture, artist/artisan, crafts/arts, public/private and inside/outside. The project has attempted to `create circumstances for unanticipated convergence of disciplines, ideas and people' by becoming a platform for collaborative work between bamboo artisans, boat-builders and diverse art and cultural practitioners. Indrani Baruah will share her ongoing cultural experiments in the public realm and the intuitive practice that has evolved over the years out of her interdisciplinary background. She will speak about the constantly evolving process, methodology and forms as manifested in her current experiments on the River Brahmaputra in Assam, India. Engaging with the ideas of `genius loci' and placemaking in the context of the city, the river and the `collective cultural journey', Cultural Re-imaginations has opened up different ways of encountering and experiencing the 'environment'. Indrani will discuss the evolving ideas, the thought-provoking initiatives launched and the challenges encountered in creating circumstances for participatory public art practice in the dynamic space of the river and the riverfront.
    Photos and videos of this evening