Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 14 March 2017

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, 14 March 2017, 7pm
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: 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
  • 7:25-7:50: Piero Scaruffi (Author) on "Artificial Intelligence in the age of Deep Learning and Machine Art" Are machines becoming creative? Will they out-think us after having out-performed us?... 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: Maria Makela (California College of the Arts) on "Regen(d)eration: The Discovery of Sex Glands and Modern German Culture" How a blockbuster documentary about the sex glands and hormones impacted art... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Luciano Chessa (Composer) on "After the noise intoners" A contemporary take on the futurist manifesto... Read more
  • Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Luciano Chessa is a composer, performance artist, conductor, pianist, and musical saw/Vietnamese dan bau soloist who has been active in Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Recent compositions include the experimental opera Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago produced for the TRANSART Festival in Bolzano, Italy: a work lasting 60+ hours (including 55 hours of fasting) and accessible in its entirety via a 24hrs/day live streaming; they also include Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze!, a large-scale work on Melville╬Ú╬¸s Moby Dick; and A Heavenly Act, an opera with original video by Kalup Linzy commissioned by SFMOMA. Former compositions include a large orchestral work commissioned by the Orchestra Filarmonica of Torino "Ragazzi Incoscienti Scarabocchiano Sulla Porta Di Un Negozio Fallito" "TomBoy" for piano and a video by Terry Berlier, and "Movements", a multimedia work for 16mm film, dan bau and amplified film projectors produced in collaboration with filmmaker Rick Bahto. Chessa has just composed "Come un'Infanzia", a guitar + string quartet piece for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and is collaborating with performance artist Kalup Linzy and the Ensemble Parallele on an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art premiered in 2011. As a music historian Chessa has written "Luigi Russolo, Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult" (UC Press, 2012). In 2009 Chessa supervised the first reconstruction of Russolo's "intonarumori" orchestra. His recordings include: Humus Destination X (1997), Entu (2000), Tryptique pour Gerard (2008), Peyrano (2008) Money is Money and Time is Time (2008) the dvd Tom's Heart (2008) The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners Vol. 1 (Sub Rosa, 2012), Petrolio (2015).
  • Maria Makela is Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts. She has published and lectured widely on aspects of German nineteenth and twentieth century visual culture, and was the co-curator of the 1996/97 retrospective exhibition of the photomontages of Hannah Hoech ((Walker Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and co-author of the accompanying catalogue. The recipient of numerous awards, including among others an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship, an American Philosophical Society Grant, a Fulbright Fellowship, a DAAD Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, her work has focused in recent years on gender and sexuality in modern German culture and, as well, on the materiality of German avant-garde art and fashion.
  • Piero Scaruffi is a cultural historian who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, the latest ones being "Thinking about Thought" and "Intelligence is not Artificial". 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. He has also written extensively about cinema and literature. He founded the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) in 2008 and the Life Art Science Tech (LAST) Festival www.lastfestival.org in 2014. Three of his books have been translated in China where he spent most of 2016.
  • 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 ForlŹ, 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

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

In 1923 Austrian endocrinologist Eugen Steinach made a blockbuster feature-length documentary about the importance of the sex glands and hormones as regards aging, gender and sexual preference. Running for months in packed movie theaters in Germany and Austria, this sensational hit and the science behind it had a pronounced impact on art, film, and literature of the era. This talk will consider the film and its cultural traces in modern German culture.

There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence has staged a major comeback after languishing for more than 20 years. A.I. is now everywhere, and in 2016 A.I.-made art had its first exhibition and auction. Why did it take so long? What changed recently? Where is it going next? Are machines becoming creative? Are your job and your safety at risk? Why are we doing it at all if so many thinkers are scared of it? Who owns it and who should own it? Will machines out-think us after having out-performed us? If time permits, i will also compare the status in the four countries that i am familiar with: if A.I. is truly strategic, who is likely to be the leader, the USA, Europe, Japan or China?
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."

(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.

Photos and videos of this evening