Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of May 11, 2015

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, May 11, 2015
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...

  • 7:00-7:25: Marjorie Schwarzer (USF/ Museum Studies) on "The Museum Boom in the United Arab Emirates" Teaching contemporary museum practices in the United Arab Emirates... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Laura Maguire (Stanford & Philosophy Talk) on "A New Theory of Bullshit" A philosophical theory of bullshit about the possibility that bullshitters care deeply about the truth... 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: Tami Spector (USF) on "The Molecular Elusive" The ways in which chemists represent the elusive and transient... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Michal Gavish (Visual Artist) on "Visualizing DNA" "Visualizing DNA" is a collaboration between a Stanford geneticist and a visual artist... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Michal Gavish is a Bay Area Multimedia artist and art writer. With an MFA from SFAI and a PhD in Physical Chemistry she bases her current work on scientific collaborations with Prof. Brandman from Stanford University. She exhibited her work recently at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the last Zero1 Biennale and an extensive solo museum show in Budapest, Hungary. Gavish also lectures extensively in the Bay Area on contemporary art issues and writes art reviews on the blogs Square Cylinder and SF Artnews.
  • Laura Maguire is Director of Research for the nationally syndicated public radio show Philosophy Talk. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Laura has called San Francisco home for many years. After graduating with distinction from Trinity College Dublin, she moved to the Bay Area to pursue her doctoral studies at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Philosophy in 2005, and since then has been teaching at Stanford in the Department of Philosophy, and in the Introduction to the Humanities and Structured Liberal Education programs. Her philosophical interests are situated at the intersection of philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and psychology.
  • Marjorie Schwarzer co-directs the Museum Studies Graduate program at University of San Francisco. An award-winning museum scholar and educator, her book, Riches, Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America is in its second printing and she has authored over 50 articles on a range of contemporary museum issues. Check out our blog: http://usfmuse.wordpress.com
  • 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 "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.
  • Tami Spector is a Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of San Francisco. Trained as a physical organic chemist, her scientific work has focused on fluorocarbons, strained ring organics, and the molecular dynamics and free energy calculations of biomolecules. She also has a strong interest in aesthetics and chemistry and has published and presented work on molecular and nano- aesthetics, the visual image of chemistry, and the relationship between chemistry and contemporary visual art. She is on the governing and editorial boards of Leonardo/ISAST, co-hosts the San Francisco based Leonardo Arts Sciences Evening Rendezvous' (LASERs), and serves as the co-editor of an on-going special section "Art and Atoms" for Leonardo Journal.

Address and directions:

University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
SF, CA 94117
Room: TBA

See the campus map and directions

Extended abstracts


Visualizing DNA is a collaborative project on the perceptional border between art and science. Using data on protein synthesis investigations from Prof. Onn Brandman's lab at Stanford University, Bay Area artist Michal Gavish, creates installations and animations for which Brandman composes an original music score. Brandman's work, which was recently published in collaboration with a team of scientists in Science Magazine*, investigated the ways which proteins are synthesized. Their new results challenged the textbook assumption that the major protein synthesis machinery requires a genetic blueprint to create a protein. While these findings originated from basic science research, they could have future applications in areas connected to health and to the body repairing its own damaged systems. Gavish, with a background of a PhD Physical Chemistry, explores the notion that due to its small, single molecule-scaled size, almost our entire perception of molecular biology is based indirectly on experimental observations that illuminate a gestalt of disparate features. Beginning with imagery from scientific data, the installation pursues the path of indirect perception to its imaginary interpolation into an artistic space.


In his landmark 1986 essay, "On Bullshit," Harry Frankfurt offers the first philosophical analysis of bullshit. Unlike lying, where the speaker intends to say something she believes to be false, according to Frankfurt, the bullshitter is simply indifferent to the truth of what she says. I propose an alternative theory of bullshit, one which allows for the distinct possibility that those who dispense bullshit care deeply about the truth of what they claim. Indifference to the truth, I will argue, cannot be the hallmark of bullshit.

Marjorie Schwarzer will discuss her experience teaching contemporary museum practices in the United Arab Emirates over the past six years and the ways in which museums can further cultural exchange and understanding.

This talk focuses on the ways in which chemists represent the elusive and transient, and the aesthetics of these representations. Chemistry by its very nature is a science of transformation; reactions begin with knowable starting materials and end with tangible products; yet, for chemists it is often the non-isolable molecular species that exist en route from these stable endpoints that are particularly fascinating. These immaterial unstable states can only be imagined through drawn or computationally rendered molecular depictions. How chemists map chemical instability into the legible domain of molecular representations and the associative aesthetics of such representations are my focus.

Photos and videos of this evening