Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of July 11, 2016

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, July 11, 2016
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - FR 115 - Berman Room
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi and Tami Spector

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.

Leonardo ISAST and USF invite you to a meeting of the Leonardo Art/Science community. The event is free and open to everybody. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking.
See below for location and agenda.
Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs.
See also...

Program (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Cere Davis (Media Artist) on "Kinetic Design Patterns Produced Through Motion" Methods to visualize, model and ultimately create life-like kinetic forms of motion... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Beibei Song (Essinova) on "Exodus, influx and residencies" What exactly is going on between art and technology in the Bay Area?... 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: Lark Buckingham (Berkeley/ Center for New Media) on "Tech startups as 21st century imagination" The concept of Silicon Valley startups as a cultural location where imagined realities are made real through financial backing... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Meredith Tromble (San Francisco Art Institute), Karen Gaskill (Curator, Media Art Innovation), Mark Carranza (Self Quantifier and Pansophist) and Piero Scaruffi (Cultural Historian, Author of "Intelligence is not Artificial") will lead a discussion on "When A.I. makes art, is it still Art?" Everybody in the audience is welcome to participate. Over the last year Artificial Intelligence has produced paintings, music and poetry. When these are so convincing that most humans think they are made by fellow humans, should they be considered art and exhibited in museums? Or do we need a new definition of what art is? (Download the slides) ... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Lark Buckingham is a filmmaker, performance artist, and critical designer. Using humor within a critical queer framework, Lark tackles implications of developing technology, compulsory engagement with social media, and the personal, political and social implications of the dissolving boundary between body and machine.
  • Mark Carranza works as a former poet to research the aesthetics of epistemology: that people believe what they want to believe. In 1984 he founded the Institute for the Prevention of Design to research non-intentional generative systems and the aesthetics of prevention: the beauty of what doesn't happen. With Dr. Terrence Deacon's (UC Berkeley) informal group, Terry and the Pirates, he works on the physical naturalization of semiotics: mind as neither ghost nor machine. A long term project, MX, is an interactive database or commonplace book application storing utterances encountered in everyday life, lectures, reading, and reflection. In daily use since 1984, its network currently holds 1.8 million unique thoughts among 11.5 million connections. A shared, external, extended mind project, Pansophia, based on MX, is under development.
  • Cere Davis is a acousto-kinetic sculptor, engineer, musician and dancer with a background in computer systems architecture, physics and vocal improvisation. Her work crosses the boundaries between engineering, soulful expression, and laboratory experimentation, inviting the audience to vicariously re-experience and re-explore our everyday experience of science and technology through a new lens. http://ceredavis.com .
  • Karen Gaskill is a contemporary art and media art curator, researcher, and consultant based in San Francisco. She has 15 years experience of working in the UK and internationally with independent creative venues and initiatives, commercial gallery spaces, arts organisations and academic institutions, festivals and commissioning bodies, across the mediums of visual art, media art, science and innovation. Until recently, she was Head of Innovation at the Crafts Council in London, running a programme she established for the organisation to profile and support cross-platform innovation across the areas of visual arts, science, medicine, technology and design. She directed and programmed the inaugural Make:Shift conference, and curated and produced other events such as seminars, workshops, salons, exhibitions and residencies. Prior to this she was Head of Exhibitions for the Crafts Council. She is currently an external examiner at the University of Plymouth, UK in 3D Design, and was previously external examiner for Liverpool John Moores University, UK, Digital Media International Programme, Malaysia, 2012-2015. Previously she has held academic posts at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, as a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Photography and Curatorial Studies, and at the University of Huddersfield, UK, as a Lecturer in Fine Art Media. She was the founder, co-director and curator of Interval from 2005-2009, an arts organisation based in Manchester, UK, which provided a critical forum and exhibition platform for emergent to mid career artists working with technology. She holds a PhD in Curation, and she writes and presents on curatorial culture, contemporary art, and technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art (FRSA).
  • 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.
  • Beibei Song has been an associate arbitrator for international business disputes, a corporate banker, a high-tech marketer, a cross-border business development consultant, a media producer, a show host, and an executive educator. She has run a web publication focusing on health and environmental innovation, spearheaded media campaigns for a premier international sailing race, and managed clinical trial contracts. She now surrounds herself with polymaths who similarly defy classification, curating and representing their work through her art and media agency, Essinova (www.artsofsciences.com). Her fascination with science and technology both led to, and grew as a result of, corporate and entrepreneurial experiences in related industries; and the artist in her has been seeking outlets since teenage years in China, ever more assertive as life went on.
  • Meredith Tromble is an artist and writer who has worked in "in-between" spaces throughout her career: mixing drawing, performance, and installation; writing about her own creative process and the work of others; and engaging crossover points between art and science. She has been artist-in-residence at the Complexity Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis (UCD), since 2011. Her ongoing collaboration with UCD geobiologist Dawn Sumner, the interactive 3-D art installation "Dream Vortex," has been presented internationally, at ISEA2015, Vancouver and Creativity & Cognition, Glasgow School of Art, 2015, and nationally at more than a dozen public lectures at American universities ranging from Stanford University in Palo Alto to Brown University in Providence. A related dance performance "Outside the Vortex," a collaboration with choreographer Donna Sternberg, was presented at Diavolo in Los Angeles June, 2016 and will travel to Northern California in early 2017. Tromble and Sumner met Sternberg when they were chosen as participants in the first art and science residency at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. Tromble is also the co-editor, with Charissa Terranova, of "The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art & Architecture," forthcoming from Routledge in August 2016, and contributor to "Technoetic Arts Journal: Complexism," a new special issue available from Intellect Books.

Address and directions:

University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
SF, CA 94117
Fromm Hall - FR 115 - Berman Room
2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
Fromm Hall is behind the church, best accessed from Parker Ave.

Extended abstracts

This talk explores the concept of Silicon Valley startups as a cultural location where imagined realities (startup pitches) are made real through financial backing. I point to parallels in science/speculative fiction and critical design, and share excerpts from my recent film Tattle-Tale Heart. The short film features two critical design projects framed as startups, and one product that is a true startup endeavor. By producing work that showcases technology and its marketing trappings, and taking it just a little bit too far, I show how Silicon Valley start-up culture might be leading a sometimes eager public into a dystopic future.
When computers make art, is art still art?
Over the last year Artificial Intelligence has produced paintings, music and poetry. When these are so convincing that most humans think they are made by fellow humans, should they considered art and exhibited in museums? Or do we need a new definition of what art is? In May 2015 a Russian engineer at Google's Swiss labs, Alexander Mordvintsev, found a way to make a neural network paint psychedelic images. One month later he posted a paper titled "Inceptionism" (jointly with Christopher Olah, an intern at Jeff Dean's Google Brain team in Silicon Valley, and Mike Tyka, an artist working for Google in Seattle) that instantly coined a new art movement. Neural nets trained to recognize images can be run in reverse so that they instead generate images. In August 2015 two students (Leon Gatys and Alexander Ecker) of Matthias Bethge's lab at the University of Tubingen in Germany submitted a paper titled "A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style" in which they showed that neural networks can be used to imitate the style of any art master. (A neural network trained to recognize an object tends to separate content and style, and the "style" side of it can be applied to other objects). In September 2015, at the International Computer Music Conference, Donya Quick, a composer working at Paul Hudak's lab at Yale University, presented a computer program called Kulitta for automated music composition. In February 2016 she published on Soundcloud a playlist of Kulitta-made pieces. In February 2016 Google staged an auction of 29 paintings made by its artificial intelligence at the Grand Theater in San Francisco in collaboration with the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts ("DeepDream: The Art of Neural Networks"). In April 2016 a new Rembrandt portrait was unveiled in Amsterdam, 347 years after the painter's death. Joris Dik at Delft University of Technology created this 3D-printed fake Rembrandt consisting of more than 148 million pixels based on 168,263 fragments from 346 of Rembrandt's paintings. In May 2016 Daniel Rockmore at Dartmouth College organized the first Neukom Institute Prizes in Computational Arts (soon nicknames the "Turing Tests in the Creative Arts"), that included three contests to build computer programs that can create respectively a short story, a sonnet, and a DJ set. Jaume Parera and Pritish Chandna from Universitat Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona won the prize for the DJ set, while three students of Kevin Knight's lab from the University of Southern California (Marjan Ghazvini Nejad, Xing shi, Yejin Choi) won the prize for the sonnet. In May 2016, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, principal scientist at Google, delivered a TED Talk titled "We're on the edge of a new frontier in art and creativity - and it's not human". "And from the other side of my apartment/ An empty room behind the inner wall/ A thousand pictures on the kitchen floor/ Talked about a hundred years or more." (Sonnet by USC's A.I.)
Beibei Song
The Bay Area in the 2010's has been marred by intense tension between the art community and the tech industry, as a result of the tech-driven housing crisis that edged out many artists and art businesses. As it enters the first half of 2016, the Bay Area is also seeing an influx of art - entries of mega-galleries and ambitious expansion projects of the Area's top museums, indicating an art world resurgence. Local galleries are migrating to different parts of the City, or outside of the City; residencies are gaining popularity, both with art institutions as well as tech companies. This talk surveys these conflicting and confusing trends taking place in the Bay Area art ecosystem, especially as they relate to technology, and offers some observations from an outsider's perspective.
Cere Davis
In designing systems and objects of motion, the relationship between a material's physical properties, morphology, size, texture and external physical forces results in unpredictable and complex motion. This talk will explore a variety of methods being used to today to visualize, model and ultimately create life-like kinetic forms of motion.
Photos and videos of this evening