Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 6 March 2018

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, 6 March 2018, 7pm
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - 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: Robert Buelteman (Camera-less photographer) on "Photography after the Digital Revolution: Now What?" Are today's technical marvels providing humanity any greater access in interpreting the world?... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Qifeng Chen (Intel Labs) on "Photographic Image Synthesis with Cascaded Refinement Networks". An A.I. approach to synthesizing photographic images... 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: Carlo Sequin (UC Berkeley) on "Homage to Eva Hild" The magic of two-manifold sculptures... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Paul Dresher (Composer) on "What Would Happen If..Inventing Musical Instruments - the Experimental Playground at the Intersection of Music, Craft and Physics." Inventing new instruments requires one to experiment like a scientist... Read more
  • Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Robert Buelteman is a fine-art photographer whose works connect audience to subject in an emotionally transcendent manner, in the tradition of eastern wisdom and western revelation. He has published fifteen photographic portfolios over his forty years in photography, and three of these, The Unseen Peninsula (1994), Eighteen Days in June (2000), and Signs of Life (2009) were published as award-winning monographs. In 1999, Buelteman left photographic tradition behind in creating Through the Green Fuse, a portfolio of energetic photograms made without cameras, lenses, or computers. Working directly with large sheets of photographic film, living plants are used as a filter through which high-voltage electricity and fiber-optically-delivered light are passed. Buelteman was invited to be a guest at the world-renowned Santa Fe Institute in 2003. Three years later, he completed work on two new portfolios, Sangre de Cristo, the flora of Santa Fe, and Rancho Corral de Tierra, the flora of his hometown of the North coast of California. From 2010 - 2014 he was a guest at Stanford University’s highly restricted Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Since 2010 his art has been the subject of dozens of essays in 26 languages on six continents around the globe, and can be found in public and private collections worldwide, including the Yale University Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Accel-KKR, Bank of America, Abingworth, Adobe Systems, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Stanford University, Xerox, and Nikon.
  • Qifeng Chen received Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in 2017, and a bachelor's degree in computer science and maths from HKUST in 2012. He does research in computer vision, deep learning, optimization, and computer graphics at Intel Labs. Three of his papers were selected for full oral presentation in ICCV 2015, CVPR 2016 and ICCV 2017. In 2011, he won the 2nd place worldwide at the ACM-ICPC World Finals. He earned a gold medal at IOI 2007.
  • Paul Dresher is one of the foremost composers of the post-minimalist generation. He has composed opera, chamber and orchestral works, live instrumental electroacoustic music and scores for theater, dance, and film. Paul's many honors include a 2006-07 Guggenheim Fellowship and commissions from the Library of Congress, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Symphony, Zeitgeist, San Francisco Ballet, Chamber Music America, among others. Compositions include: the post-minimalist classics Liquid and Stellar Music (1981) and Channels Passing (1982), the trio Double Ikat (1989); the "American Trilogy" (1985-90), three operas in collaboration with writer Rinde Eckert; the evening-length collaboration with choreographer Margaret Jenkins "The Gates" (1994); the Concerto for Violin and Electro-Acoustic Band (1997); the solo percussion work "Schick Machine" (2009), created for percussionist Steven Schick and performed on a set huge invented musical instruments and sound sculptures; the Concerto for Quadrachord & Orchestra (2012), "Sound Maze" (2015), a hands-on sound installation of twelve invented musical instruments that toured the USA in 2017; and the multidisciplinary piece "Molded by the Flow" in collaboration with playwright Rinde Eckert and faculty and students at the University of Southern Maine, where Paul has been appointed USM Libra Professor for the 2016-17 academic year. He has had a long time interest in the music of Asia and Africa, studying Ghanian drumming, Hindustani classical music, Balinese and Javanese music. His music has been performed throughout North America, Asia and Europe. His recordings include: This Same Temple & Liquid and Stellar Music (Lovely Music, 1984), Dark Blue Circumstance (New Albion), Opposites Attract (New World), Slow Fire (Minmax), and Casa Vecchia (Starkland).

    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 "Thinking about Thought" (2014). 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 on A.I. is "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2013, expanded edition in 2018). 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 in 2014. Since 2015 he has been commuting between California and China, where several of his books have been translated.

  • 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, and for mathematicians who want to construct tangible visualization models.

Address and directions:

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

Extended abstracts

Eva Hild is a Swedish artist, who creates a large and highly varied collection of 2-manifold sculptures. Most of them are in ceramic, some of them in metal. Her sculptures are not only a pleasure to look at, but they invite mental exploration of questions such as: How many tunnels are there? How many separate rims are there? Is this a 1-sided or 2-sided surface? These sculptures also inspire me to create similar shapes. I do not possess the skills to create large ceramic pieces myself, so I create CAD models of such surfaces, and the more promising ones I then realize on a 3D printer.

In this talk, I will present an approach to synthesizing photographic images conditioned on semantic layouts. Given a semantic label map, our approach produces an image with photographic appearance that conforms to the input layout. The approach thus functions as a rendering engine that takes a two-dimensional semantic specification of the scene and produces a corresponding photographic image. Unlike recent and contemporaneous work, our approach does not rely on adversarial training. We show that photographic images can be synthesized from semantic layouts by a single feedforward network with appropriate structure, trained end-to-end with a direct regression objective.

Since its inception in the 19th century, photography has developed towards a single goal: greater and greater accuracy of the photographic image. First called "The Pencil of Nature" by Fox Talbot, the English inventor of the positive/negative form of the medium, image fidelity and faithfulness was, and is, the standard by which photographic technology is measured. So now that photographers are regularly producing images that are measured in Gigapixels, now what? Are these technical marvels providing humanity any greater access in interpreting and gaining insight into the world in which we live?

"What Would Happen If.." It's the question I often ask myself when I start to work on a new instrument. While composition and performance is usually the ultimate goal of all my activities, inventing new instruments (whether acoustic or electronic) requires me to experiment like a scientist and play like an artist. In fact, if you possess enough experience with physics of sound and the acoustic characteristics of physical materials, there is little difference between the two. In this presentation, I'll show video of a few finished instruments in performance and then work backwards to how they were imagined and created.

Photos and videos of this evening