Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 10 August 2017

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, 10 August 2017
c/o Stanford University
LiKaShing building - Room LK130
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, LiKaShing building - Room LK130
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 6pm.
Program (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Neeraj Sonalkar (Stanford/ Design) on "What improvised theater, jazz and design thinking have in common" Design thinking has a lot in common with the improvisational mindset practiced through improvisational theater or jazz... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Jan Rindfleisch (Author) on "The Blossoming of Silicon Valley's Arts Community" The story of the development of the arts in Silicon Valley has just begun to be told... 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: Alex Reben (Inventor) on "Digital drugs and humanity in algorithms" The drug-like control that technology has on us... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Luciano Chessa (Composer) on "After the noise intoners" A contemporary take on the futurist manifesto... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

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See also...
  • Other LASER series
  • Archive of past LASERs
  • Leonardo ISAST
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
  • Other recommended events
    • Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, performance artist, pianist, and musical saw/Vietnamese dan bau soloist. Recent compositions include the experimental opera /Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago/ produced for the TRANSART Festivalin Bolzano, Italy: a work lasting 60+ hours (including55 hours of fasting) accessible in its entirety via a 24hrs/day live streaming; they also include /Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze!,/ a large-scale work on Melville's Moby Dick and /A Heavenly Act, /an opera with original video by Kalup Linzy commissioned by SFMOMA. Recent record releases include PETROLIO, a monographic CD issued by Stradivarius, Italy's leading Classical Music Label. Chessa has been commissioned multiple performance projects by both NYC's Performa and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art;he presented at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires a series of events to celebrate the Art of Noises Centennial; has been featured in the PSI International at Stanford University; and performed with Ellen Fullman and Theresa Wong at Houston's CAMH.In 2014 he offered three concerts at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, as part of a retrospective dedicated to Italian Futurism; his voice reading Marinetti's 1909 /Manifesto/ and poetry to accompany Jen Sachs' videos has been experienced by all exhibit visitors. Two additional videos by Chessa/Sachs have been on view at LA's Getty Museum for the exhibit WWI: War of Images-Images of War. His Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (OFNI) was hailed by the New York Times as one of the best events in the arts of 2009 and is touring internationally. Chessa's OFNI appeared in sold-out concerts at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Singapore's ArtScience Museum (2015), RedCat in LA (2013) Berliner Festspiele-Maerzmusik Festival (2011). In 2011 Chessa also conducted the project with the New World Symphony + Lee Ranaldo as part of NYC's Biennial of the Performance Arts Performa's spectacle to celebrate 10 years of Art Basel|Miami Beach. A 2LP dedicated to the OFNI has been released on the label Sub Rosa in 2013 to critical acclaim, and sold out in a matter of months. Chessa's work appeared more than once in /Artforum/, /Flash Art,/ /Art in America/, and /Frieze/; and has been featured in the Italian issue of /Marie Claire/ and in the September Issue of /Vogue Italia/.He has been interviewed twice by the British BBC, and has been the subject of two short documentaries: one produced by RAI World (2014), and the other by Vietnamese State TV VTV1 in the occasion of his first trip in Viet Nam (2015).Chessa is the author of /Luigi Russolo Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult/, the first monograph ever to be dedicated to Russolo and his Art of Noise (University of California Press). Currently he teaches at the SF Conservatory, serves in the Advisory Board of TACET, a research publication dedicated to Experimental Music from the Universite Paris 1 - Panth‚on-Sorbonne; is a member of the Steering Committee of the SF Electronic Music Festival. His music is published by Edizioni Carrara and RAI TRADE.
    • Alex Reben explores humanity through the lens of art and technology. His work deals with human-machine relationships, synthetic psychology, artificial philosophy and robot ethics among other topics. Using "art as experiment" his work allows for the viewer to experience the future within metaphorical contexts. His artwork and research has been shown and published internationally and he consults with major companies guiding innovation for the social machine future. Alexander has exhibited at venues both in the U.S. and internationally including The Vienna Biennale, MAK Contemporary Art Museum, The Vitra Design Museum, Ars Electronica, Volta, The Whitney Biennial, CERN, TFI Interactive, IDFA, ArtBots, The Tribeca Film Festival, The Camden Film Festival, Doc/Fest, and The Boston Cyberarts Gallery. His work has been covered by NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Fast Company, Filmmaker Magazine, New Scientist, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, Cool Hunting and WIRED among others. He has lectured at TED, SXSW, TTI Vanguard, Google, UC Berkeley, SMFA, CCA, MIT and other universities. Reben is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab where he studied human-robot symbiosis and art. He is a 2016-2017 WIRED innovation fellow and a visiting scholar in the UC Berkeley psychology department.
    • Jan Rindfleisch is an artist, educator, curator/museum director and author. From 1978 to 1985, she taught art and art history at De Anza College, and in 1979 began a 32-year journey as executive director/curator of Euphrat Museum of Art. For decades, she has kept art in the forefront of the South Bay community through her visionary interdisciplinary exhibitions and programs at that museum. Rindfleisch has written essays and over a dozen books in conjunction with the California History Center, Euphrat Museum of Art, San Jos‚ Museum of Art, Arts Council Silicon Valley, Southern Exposure (San Francisco), Bronx Museum of the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Artship Foundation (Oakland), and many other public, private, and governmental institutions. These include Coming Across: Art by Recent Immigrants; The Power of Cloth: Political Quilts 1845-1986; Content: Contemporary Issues; and Staying Visible, The Importance of Archives. Rindfleisch helped found the Cupertino Arts Commission, participated in the Getty Museum Management Institute, and served on the Santa Clara County Arts Council, the California Arts Council Visual Arts Panel, the Arts Council Silicon Valley Local Arts Grants Review Panel, and San Jos‚ City Hall Exhibits Committee. Her most recent book, Roots and Offshoots: Silicon Valley's Arts Community, explores the ignored history of the passionate individuals, creative partnerships, and maverick arts institutions that influenced South Bay Area arts and culture.
    • 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. He founded the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) in 2008.
    • Neeraj Sonalkar is Research Associate at Stanford's Center for Design Research. The question that motivates his research is: how do engineering design team co-create new product possibilities? His research is focused on investigating how team behavior influences the generation and propagation of ideas into products. The Human Innovation Engineering group at the Center for Design Research conducts empirical and field research oriented towards acceleration of radical innovation by teams, organizations and regional ecosystems. We study and model how humans innovate both at the interpersonal interaction level and at the broader level of an organization or a regional innovation ecosystem such as the Silicon Valley. This research furthers our understanding of innovation as the outcome of an integrated system spanning individual mindset, interpersonal interaction dynamics, and the underlying physical, institutional, financial and knowledge infrastructure.

    Extended abstracts:

    As technology becomes ever increasingly complex and integrated into our lives, its influence over us increases as well as its tendency to become us. This lecture will describe several experiments investigating the drug-like control that technology has on us, as well as the inherent humanity within all of it.


    Design thinking is commonly perceived as a process and a mindset for creative problem solving. This design thinking mindset has a lot in common with the improvisational mindset practiced through improvisational theater or jazz. Using an improvisational lens enables us to go beyond practicing design thinking as process-following, to practicing design thinking as a fluid, interaction-based activity. This has broader implications for how we practice creative teamwork, and the building of innovation ecosystems such as Silicon Valley. Neeraj Sonalkar has a background in mechanical engineering and design thinking. His interest in team creativity took him to improvisation theater and semiotics. Inspired by improvisational theater and the idea of a musical notation, he invented a notation for visualizing the dynamics of design teams. Neeraj is currently heading Human Innovation Engineering Research at the Center for Design Research at Stanford University, where he uses improvisation and design thinking to build innovation ecosystems in cities globally.

    From the San Francisco Weekly tribute: "Luciano Chessa has had a long, rich career as both musicologist and musician. Now, after releasing six albums and spending thirty-plus years as a composer and performer, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is rewarding him with his own retrospective on April 30,2016. Born on the Italian island of Sardinia in 1971 to scientist parents, Chessa listened to Giuseppe Verdi records as a four-year-old, which inspired him to pursue a life in music. After attending the Conservatory of Bologna, he moved stateside and earned a PhD in Musicology from the University of California at Davis. Along the way, he was exposed to the work of German-American deconstructionist Geoffrey Hartman, whose aim to blur the line between the artistic and academic showed Chessa that there was an alternative to the dry traditionalism of his younger years."

    The story of the development of the arts in Silicon Valley has just begun to be told. Its art history is filled with people who were often marginalized, people who stood up to the status quo, people with the guts and love to persevere and build a community that nourished all, at a time when that was not easy to do. It's time to tell the story. How did we get from the largely monochromatic, exclusive, and repressive landscape of the 1970s to where we are now? Silicon Valley blossomed in the last quarter of the 20th century with the formation of arts offshoots, spin-offs, and startups that tapped into the area's increasing ferment of ideas and involved myriad supporters across all walks of life.

    Photos and videos of this evening


    The Stanford LASERs are sponsored by the Stanford Deans of Research; Engineering; Humanities & Sciences; Medicine; and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Continuing Studies; and the Office of Science Outreach.