Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of December 10, 2014

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
UC Berkeley, December 10, 2014
UC Berkeley Extension Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave, Berkeley - Room 208
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,
UC Berkeley Extension Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave, Berkeley - Room 208
Campus map
  • 7:00-7:25: Piero Scaruffi (Cultural historian) on "Silicon Valley's Best Kept Secret" It is often the most unlikely place that becomes the site of the next scientific/technological and cultural boom, and the reasons for its success are not the obvious ones, otherwise previous generations would have guessed it... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50:
  • Carlo Sequin (UC Berkeley) on "Hyperbolic Hexagon to Evolving Trefoil" How a 20-year collaboration between a physicist and sculptor Brent Collins resulted in large-scale commissioned sculptures... 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: Paula Birnbaum (USF Art History) on "Feminist Street Art in the Middle East since the Arab Spring" Female artists around the globe are making a significant impact as activists... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Laetitia Sonami (Kinetic and Sound Artist) on "Your presence is Required" An overview of a career in live interactive electronic music... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
  • Previous Art/Science Evenings
    • Paula Birnbaum (USF) is Associate Professor and Program Director of Art History/Arts Management in the Department of Art + Architecture of the University of San Francisco. She will serve as Academic Director of the new Master of Arts Program in Museum Studies beginning in August of 2013. Paula is a specialist in modern and contemporary art and holds a doctorate in Art History from Bryn Mawr College. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and fellow at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. In 2008 Paula received the University of San Francisco, Faculty Union (USFFA) Distinguished Teaching Award (university wide award) and enjoys teaching a variety of classes including Museum Studies - History and Theory, Modern and Contemporary Art, European Art 1900-1945 and Women and Art, as well as curating exhibitions in USF's Thacher Gallery. She also runs the Arts Management Internship Program, and has enjoyed working closely since 2003 with educators from Bay Area Museums including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, among many others. Her research focuses on the impact of gender and ethnicity on modern and contemporary women artists and their self-representation, as well as the role of gender and sexuality in museum exhibitions. She has recently completed two books: Women Artists in Interwar France: Framing Femininities (Ashgate), and a co-edited anthology with Anna Novakov, Essays on Women's Artistic and Cultural Contributions 1919-1939 (Edwin Mellen). Paula's articles appear in a variety of journals including the Art Journal, Aurora, Woman's Art Journal, and The Royal Academy of Art Magazine.
    • 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.
    • Carlo Sequin has been a professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley since 1977. His research interests lie in the fields of Computer Graphics, Virtual Environments, and Computer Aided Design Tools. He has built CAD tools for the layout of integrated circuits, for the conceptual phase in architectural design, for the design of mechanical systems, and -- most recently -- for artists who create abstract geometrical sculptures.
    • Laetitia Sonami is a French-born sound artist and performer. Her sound performances, live-film collaborations and sound installations explore ideas of presence and participation. Her signature instrument, the lady's glove, allows her to control sounds, mechanical devices, and lights in real-time. Sonami also creates sound installation work incorporating household objects embedded with mechanical and electronic components. Although some recordings of her works exist, Sonami generally eschews releasing recorded work. Sonami has given performances and shown installation work in concert venues, museums, and art galleries internationally, including appearances at Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), the Other Minds Festival (San Francisco), the Interlink Festival (Japan), Lincoln Center Out of Doors (New York), and Internationales Musikerinnen-Festival (Berlin). In 2013, a film about Sonami, ``the ear goes to the sound: The Work of Laetitia Sonami'', was made by artist Renetta Sitoy. Sonami teaches sound art at the San Francisco Art Institute.

    Extended abstracts:

    It is often the most unlikely place that becomes the site of the next scientific/technological and cultural boom, and the reasons for its success are not the obvious ones, otherwise previous generations would have guessed it. Technology does not exist in a vacuum. The cultural environment is important in shaping the mindset that later will be reflected in the industry. Silicon Valley did not happen in a vacuum: it happened in a rich cultural environment whose values contrasted sharply with the values of the leading financial, technological and scientific centers of the time, all of which ended up "losing" out to Silicon Valley. Over the last two months i have given lectures on this topic in both Europe and China to explain why their approaches to creating their own Silicon Valley are unlikely to work.
    Composer, performer and sound artist Laetitia Sonami will present an overview of work carried out over three decades, including her legendary lady's glove, and current development of new interfaces using magnetical signals and neural nets. The trajectory of Sonami's research is guided by careful attention to the notion of presence in both the staged performative works and its concomitant gesture of embodiment in installations. Exploring invisible media on the electromagnetic plane, Sonami's unique approach questions the validity of "efficiency" long associated with the medium. Rather, she poses a series of questions which invite viewers to discover new behaviors through erratic performance, and to project imagined connections onto networks of silent copper.
    A special issue of Leonardo, "Visual Mathematics", Vol 25, No. 3&4 (1992), made me aware of the work by sculptor Brent Collins. At a later time I came across his sculpture "Hyperbolic Hexagon" and this prompted me to make contact with him by phone. After a few inspiring weekly phone discussion, I started the development of "Sculpture Generator 1" to capture some of Collins' intriguing geometrical shapes, and we have collaborated now for two decades. This has resulted in a few large-scale commissioned sculptures. The talk will describe the evolution of this collaboration and the design and fabrication of some of these large-scale sculptures.
    Since the 1970s, critics have associated both graffiti and street art as a masculine practice tied to its origins in tagging and the widely held notion of the male conquest of territory. Women were deemed as less capable in this field by many due to assumptions about their lack of physical strength and ability to access challenging locations. Although this heroic notion of street art, created on ladders in the middle of the night, is largely associated with a handful of international male art "stars" of the likes of Banksy and Blu, whose work clearly bridges the divide between social activism and art as commodity, female artists around the globe are making a significant impact in this field as activists. This lecture will look at the feminist intervention in the street art movement and focus on a selection of contemporary artists based in the Middle East whose work engages provocatively with feminist activism and human rights issues.
    Photos and videos of this evening