Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of August 11, 2016

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
UC Berkeley, August 11, 2016
Soda Hall (corner of Hearst and LeRoy), Room 306 (HP Auditorium)
NOTE: Use the WEST-entrance of SODA Hall entering from Etcheverry Plaza.
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
Soda Hall, Room 306 (HP Auditorium)
NOTE: Use the WEST-entrance of SODA Hall entering from Etcheverry Plaza.
Campus map
What (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Loren Frank (UCSF/ Neuroscience) on "What is a memory?" Recent discoveries have given us new insights into how memories are stored and retrieved... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Vanessa Sigurdson (Autodesk Artist in Residence) on "Autodesk Artist in Residence" The Pier 9 AIR program at Autodesk... 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: Laura Maguire (Stanford & Philosophy Talk) on "Does Neuroscience Threaten Free Will?" News of the death of free will have been vastly exaggerated... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Theresa Wong (Composer and Performer) on "Multiplicity of Roots - Expanded Techniques and Harmonies of the Cello and Voice" How to free the cello from the cultural and historical connotations connected to it... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • Other LASER series
  • Leonardo ISAST
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • Other LASER series
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
    • Loren Frank is Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a Professor in the Department of Physiology and co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He received his B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive studies from Carleton College, his Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience and Computation from M.I.T. and did post-doctoral research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University. His laboratory uses a combination of techniques to study the neural bases of learning, memory and decision-making. In particular, his work focuses on the hippocampus and related structures, brain areas critical for forming and retrieving memories for the events of daily life. He is also currently working to develop new technologies to understand how the brain works and how to fix it when it is not working properly. Dr. Frank has received numerous awards for his scientific discoveries and his mentoring, including fellowships from the Sloan, McKnight and Merck Foundations as well as the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, the University of Indiana Gill Young Investigator Award, the UCSF Faculty Mentoring Award, and the College Mentors for Kids Inspire Award.
    • Laura Maguire is Director of Research for the nationally syndicated public radio show Philosophy Talk. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Laura has called San Francisco home for many years. After graduating with distinction from Trinity College Dublin, she moved to the Bay Area to pursue her doctoral studies at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Philosophy in 2005, and since then has been teaching at Stanford in the Department of Philosophy, and in the Introduction to the Humanities and Structured Liberal Education programs. Her philosophical interests are situated at the intersection of philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and psychology.
    • 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.
    • Vanessa Sigurdson (Autodesk) is the Artist in Residence (AIR) Program Manager at Autodesk's Pier 9 Workshop. With over a decade of experience in design and digital fabrication, Vanessa has worked with artists and fabrication companies worldwide to combine modern technologies with traditional art making practices. Vanessa joined Autodesk in 2013, and has facilitated over 100 artist in exploring new methods of creating their work. Since then, her clan of wacky and diverse AiRs have been re-inventing the word `craft' and changing how we look at art today.
    • 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 www.theresawong.org

    Extended abstracts:

    (These are excerpts from an article that Wong published in Arcana VII, edited by John Zorn). How can I see the cello and free it from the cultural and historical connotations connected to it? How can I rediscover the core of this instrument, as wood and string and hair-or even simply as a tree?... Although I enjoy working with people of all ages and experience, I am particularly fond of those who come without the belief that they can sing or have a good voice. I don't like to emphasize "having a good voice" or even defining what that is for others, because the voice is such an incredibly versatile and powerful instrument that the quality can only really be determined in the experience and meaning that it creates for the singer or for a listener. Sure, there are formal attributes to singing such as "being in tune" or "holding down a harmony" in a musical context, but what interests me is the joining of this more traditional idea of a "musical" realm (harmonies, rhythms, melodies, etc.) with the primal, "wild" or noise-based soundworld that the voice can produce. Thanks to spending time in Anna Halprin's dance classes (at the encouragement of filmmaker Daria Martin), where Anna asked me to vocalize as a part of the movement exercises, I have come to experience singing largely as a physical act of "sculpting air." Moving my body and quite literally shaping the air around me, I perceive vocalizing as an act of creating forms in the air, the vibrations making invisible sculptures all around me. Playing with others is a collective act of making these invisible sculptures in a real-time setting.
    Do we have free will? Or is the subjective experience of freely choosing just a trick of the mind? Some neuroscientists claim that by measuring activity in the brain before we make a choice, they can prove that our decisions are already made before we're aware of them, and thus free will is an illusion. I will argue that these astonishing claims are a result of sloppy science and spurious reasoning. Neuroscience not only does not threaten free will-it cannot tell us anything about our freedom one way or another.

    The ability to store memories for experiences and then use them to inform decisions is one of the most remarkable abilities of the brain. These memories are central to our identities; in a very real sense our personality and the sum total of our experiences define who we are and how we interact with our world. In this talk he will introduce the brain areas that are critical for making and retrieving memories. He will also discuss recent results that has given us new insights into how memories are stored, how these memories are then retrieved and how they can be used to guide decisions.

    The Pier 9 Artists in Residence (AIR) program gives artists, makers, and fabricators a chance to work with us in our digital fabrication workshops at Autodesk. Our artists explore, create, and document cutting-edge projects, and share them with the DIY community.
    Photos and videos of this evening