Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of November 10, 2014

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, November 10, 2014
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...

  • 6:45pm-7:00pm: Socializing/networking.
  • 7:00-7:25: Brenda Hutchinson (Composer) on "Sound, Listening and Public Engagement" "Experiential practice" as it relates to the medium of sound... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Amy Ho (Projection Artist) on "The Space We Inhabit" A brief history of the topic of space from an artist's perspective... 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: Danielle Tullman-Ercek (UC Berkeley/ Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) on "Synthetic Biology: The Challenges and Potential of Engineering Living Systems" The past few decades has seen an explosion in our ability to understand and even manipulate cells... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: John Granzow (Stanford CCRMA) on "Drawing Things into Sound" The use of 3d printing to repurpose found objects for musical outcomes ... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • John Granzow (Stanford CCRMA) is a sound artist, instrument designer and music researcher presently pursuing his PhD in Computer Based Music Theory and Acoustics at Stanford. In recent research he investigates applications of computer aided design and digital fabrication for experimental instruments. Outcomes from this research have been presented at concerts and sound installations in Canada, France, China, Mexico and the United States. Instruments include a long-wire installation for Pauline Oliveros' Tower Ring, sonified easels for a large scale show at La Condition Des Soies in Lyon, France, and hybrid gramophone for Composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski's 'Pointing Twice' commissioned by Steve Schick and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
  • Amy Ho builds video and spatial installations that bring attention to our existence as both physical and psychological beings. She received her undergraduate degree in Art Practice from UC Berkeley and her MFA from Mills College. Amy was selected for the ProArts Gallery 2x2 Solos series in 2012, and is a recipient of a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artists Grant for 2013. Amy will be doing residencies at Kala Art Institute and Studio Kura in 2014. She currently works and lives in the Bay Area and is represented by Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.
  • Brenda Hutchinson is a composer and sound artist whose work is based on the cultivation and encouragement of openness in her own life and in those she works with. Through her work with large-scale experiments in socially based improvisations and interactions, Brenda has developed a body of work based on a perspective about interacting with the public and non-artists through personal, reciprocal engagement with listening and sounding. She continues to explore and share with others the conceptual, aesthetic and relational possibilities that arise from this type of activity. Brenda is the recipient of the Gracie Allen Award from American Women in Radio and Television and has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lila Wallace, McKnight Foundation, NY State Council on the Arts and Meet the Composer among others. Recordings of her work are available through TELLUS, Deep Listening, O.O. DISCS, Frog Peak Music and Leonardo Music Magazine. She has been an artist in residence at San Quentin Prison, Headlands Center for the Arts, Harvestworks, Exploratorium, Ucross and Djerassi. Ongoing projects and invitational work can be accessed through the dailybell2008 blog and various Facebook pages (dailybell sunwatch and whatcanyoudo2012).
  • 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.
  • Danielle Tullman-Ercek is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California Berkeley. Danielle received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She carried out her postdoctoral research at UCSF and the Joint Bioenergy Institute prior to joining Cal in 2009. Her research focuses on building protein-based devices for applications in bioenergy, biomaterials, and drug delivery. She is particularly interested in engineering the cellular machinery that transport materials across membranes. She is a member of the Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, and was recently awarded an NSF CAREER award for her work on the construction of bacterial organelles using protein membranes.

Address and directions:

University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
SF, CA 94117
Fromm Hall - FR 115 - Berman Room

See the campus map and directions

Extended abstracts


While the term "Social Practice" seems to have gained the most currency lately when referring to this type of work, it primarily addresses the concerns of visual art i.e. object, seeing, artist and public. The dichotomy of artist and observer or even invited participant is preserved. The medium itself reinforces the separateness of object and observer thus automatically generating the notion of one who originates or creates. In order to speak about working with sound and "social practice" it would be necessary to analyze, critique and deconstruct what is already a thriving and vital form of artistic practice. Therefore I am proposing to introduce the idea of "experiential practice" and to define and discuss it as it relates to the medium of sound and to the development of the work through listening. I would like to present a perspective about interacting with the public and non-artists through personal, reciprocal engagement with listening and sounding and to the conceptual, aesthetic and relational possibilities that arise from this type of activity. The underlying spirit of this work is invitational and inclusive. The focus of this type of work is largely on the relationships and connections that are formed when engaged with sound. The medium of sound by its very nature dissolves the actual boundaries between sounding and receiving object. The movement of air and the transmission of vibrations over time are invisible, yet directly experienced and unite the vibrating object and vibrating ear, skin, etc. This interdependence dissolves many conceptual boundaries as well. What is meaningful- the connections and relationships, the improvisation and play-are largely abstract. The forms created by these interactions are time based, ephemeral and exist only in memory. Experiential practice with the general public through this kind direct mutual engagement with sound and listening emphasizes and naturally creates the conditions for parity among participants as well. This parity of relationship along with the insights gained through this experience are potentially empowering to all participants. The inclusion of non-artists in the creation and production of the work is indispensable. It expands the scope and quality of this type of engagement and critical discussion. It is especially so with respect to idea growth and social change through the promotion of intimacy, personal connection and awareness of our relationship to each other and to the environment.


We now have the terms additive and (its retronym) subtractive fabrication. The earliest surviving musical instruments (paleolithic bone flutes) were produced through a combination of such layering and removal of materials: first growing through cellular differentiation and ossification (additive) then carved by the earliest instrument makers (subtractive). Fast-forward to our industrial boneyards that have never been so replete with objects of expired functionality. This talk explores the use of 3d printing to repurpose found objects for musical outcomes.

Organisms are inspirational in their vast diversity of functions and products, all created using the blueprint of information encoded in their DNA. The past few decades has seen an explosion in our ability to understand and even manipulate the cells that makes up these powerful, microscopic living machines. For example, we now can use microbes to produce fuels, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals in renewable, environmentally friendly ways. Nonetheless, much of the potential of this technology - known to some as synthetic biology - remains untapped. Prof. Tullman-Ercek will describe what has been accomplished already, the barriers that must be overcome next, and the future inventions that may result.
Amy Ho

The Space We Inhabit will delve into the history of the topic of space from an artist's perspective. Space represents the most immediate way in which we interact with our environment and has been a subject of interest in many fields of research. We will take a look at how various thinkers and areas of study have dealt with space and how this has influenced my own practice as an artist working with space as my subject.

Photos and videos of this evening