Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 12 November 2019

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
12 November 2019, 7pm
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - Berman Room
2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi and Tami Spector

The LASERs are an international 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 and the dates for the Bay Area.

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: Andrey Kurenkov (Stanford/ Computational Vision Lab) on "What do AI Researchers Actually Do?" An overview of the basic goal and lifecycle of AI research, from the perspective of an AI researcher... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Danielle Wright (North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council) on "Natural Refrigerants: The #1 Climate Solution Hiding in Your Supermarket" Most of us have little idea of the environmental impact of keeping our food cold... 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: Charles Lindsay (SETI AIR) on "Inter-species Communication" or "Art for a Post-Earth Humanity" Art that targets species-level considerations for a post Earth humanity... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Christopher Tyler (City University of London) on "New and Unsuspected Aspects of the Leonardo's Legend on his Quincentennial Year" Leonardo may have suffered from intermittent exotropia... Leonardo's world map may have been the first to use the name America... etc Read more
  • Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Andrey Kurenkov is a graduate student in Stanford's Computational Vision and Learning Lab. He conducts research at the intersection of robotics and computer vision, and is co-advised by Silvio Savarese and Ken Goldberg. Besides robotics (particularly, intelligent robotics that can interact with humans), his interests include: programming (especially embedded programming), energy/climate change (the reason behind his EE degree), photography, video games (mostly narrative-driven, indie, Mass Effect-type games), cinema (Tarkovsky, Aronofsky, Kaufman, Kurosawa, Bergman, Carruth, Kon, Miyazaki, Zvyagintsev, etc), and hard science fiction.
  • Charles Lindsay is is a conceptual artist-adventurer whose work synthesizes ideas about technology, time, eco-systems and semiotics. He creates immersive environments, sound installations, sculptures built from salvaged aerospace and bio-tech equipment. He is an explorer, balancing studio time with extended periods in remote natural environments where he captures audio / visual field recordings. Most recently these juxtapositions landed Lindsay in China, where he is showing, curating, lecturing, and merging the frontier of new media art with archeological and historical explorations. Educated as a geologist, Lindsay worked in the Canadian Northwest Territories before becoming a photojournalist in southeast Asia. From 1986 to 1995 he focused on environmental issues. During this period he was based in Tokyo. Charles' first book Mentawai Shaman (Aperture 1992) chronicles his years living with a stone age shaman in Indonesia. His full time art practice dates to approximately 2005. Lindsay was the SETI Institute's first artist in residence. "Code Humpback" resulted from his collaboration with SETI scientist Dr. Laurance Doyle, whose algorithms determined that humpback whale communications exhibit syntax, very strongly suggesting the whales have language. The Sound of a Quantum Computer Thinking resulted from Lindsay's audio recordings of the D-Wave Two quantum computer, one of three projects he carried out in laboratories at NASA Ames. Lindsay now directs SETI AIR, pairing mid-career artists with leading astro-scientists. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, formerly artist in residence at Imagine Science Films and the innovator behind OSA EARS: a project designed to deliver real time sound from one of the world's most bio-diverse eco-systems to anyone anywhere. Lindsay's eighth book of photographs, Recipes for the Mind, was recently released by Terranova / MIT Press. His work has been profiled by WIRED, Motherboard, ARTonAIR.org, Viralnet, NPR and CNN International. He has lectured and shown widely, most recently at MIT Media Lab's Beyond the Cradle: envisioning a new space age conference and at Kansas State University's Beach Art Museum, where FIELD STATION 4 runs live through October, 2020.
  • Christopher Tyler is the Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute with scientific interests in the brain mechanisms of visual perception and the diagnosis of retinal and binocular eye diseases. He also holds a Professorship at City University of London. He has a longstanding interest in the interface between art the science of vision, including portraiture, the general principles of composition, and the historical development of space representation. He was the inventor of 3D ('Magic Eye') autostereograms that you may have dazzled your eyes with back in the 1990s and has lectured around the world on both science and art topics. He has created a website on Leonardo.
  • Danielle Wright is the Executive Director of the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of commercial refrigeration. For the past decade, she has worked in energy efficiency and sustainability of the built environment with a special focus on refrigeration. Her goal is to create solutions that produce positive business outcomes and environmental benefits.
  • 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. Since 2015 he has been commuting between California and China, where several of his books have been translated.

Extended abstracts:

Shopping at a grocery store is part of our daily life but most of us have little idea of the environmental impact of keeping our food cold. Refrigerants are not only the fastest growing greenhouse gas worldwide but also the most urgent "super-pollutant" that needs to be addressed in the near term. This talk will shed light on the worst greenhouse gas you've never heard of and why refrigerant management has been named the number one global climate change solution.

The breadth of Leonardo da Vinci's interests and discoveries are well known, but this quincentennial year of his death merits an exploration of some more obscure aspects of his oeuvre. The first is his role as the epitome of the Renaissance man-about-town, recognized as the most handsome young man of the Florentine social scene, an extempore musician who could drum up a song for any occasion, and who built his own musical instruments for accompaniment. The natural corollary is the idea that he would have acted as an artist's model for the studio of his master Verrocchio, which was the principal bottega for the ruling Medicis of the era. As such, likely portraits of Leonardo can be identified in crowd scenes of the paintings of the period (the 1470s), giving insight into the otherwise unknown appearance of this universal genius in his youth. Not only painted portraits, but a number of sculptures from the Verrocchio studio are identifiable as being based on the figure of Leonardo. Remarkably, several of these have divergent eyes, although it is extremely rare to find this misalignment in other Renaissance portraiture, and notwithstanding that these are depictions of major religious figures. This observation leads to the interpretation that Leonardo himself may have had the ocular condition of intermittent exotropia, a divergence of the eyes during rest or boredom, which would have become manifest while posing as the studio model for these works. Moreover, such a condition may have played a role in the acute awareness of the binocular projection geometry found in his scientific diagrams, and of the array of monocular depth cues that he used to such effect in his paintings. During his career, Leonardo painted at least six Madonnas in various poses. One unremarked aspect of these depictions that they all have in common is a loose yellow sash around the waist. This is a surprising innovation because up to Leonardo's time there was an absolutely uniform convention the Virgin Mary to have a red dress and a blue cloak, with an occasional thin braid around the waist, and no yellow in her garments. An interesting interpretation arises in the fact that yellow is also associated with Persephone, the Greek Queen of the Underworld. Though abducted by Hades for his dark kingdom, Persephone was partially saved from this fate by Hermes, and was allowed to spend the summer months among the humans. Her emergence in the springtime was symbolized in Greek myth by the flowering of yellow daffodils, and indeed daffodils can be identified as the most prominent plant in Leonardo's compelling `Virgin of the Rocks', whose sepulchral setting is itself reminiscent of the Underworld. Though speculative, this interpretation ties together many otherwise unexplained aspects of Leonardo's iconography. Another of the lesser-known, though well-established, aspects of Leonardo's activities was as a cartographer for the rulers he served, including those of Florence, Milan, Arezzo and Rome (mainly in relation to mapping the geography of the respective rivers in those regions). However, those maps were all in his native Italy, and books about Leonardo never mention that he devised a complete map of the known world, including the vestigial America and Antarctica, within about a decade of Columbus returning from his voyages. Not only this, but he shows a clear understanding of all known geometric projections of the spherical globe, but develops his own form of projection to provide a map with less distortion of the continents than any other format. Consideration of the vestigial layout of the Americas in relation to the voyages following Columbus discovery suggests that Leonardo's World Map was the first in history to use the name AMERICA.

Lindsay's traveling "laboratory,"Field Station 4", re-purposes scientific equipment salvaged from the aerospace, biotech, and military sectors to probe biologic specimens, ancient artifacts, and the rough edges of human perception. FIELD STATION is a mobile research environment - an architectural hybrid based on mineral exploration camps where I worked in the arctic, on laboratories at NASA Ames, and on make shift studios constructed in remote environments. These fragile equipment 'isopod' cases survived Gulf War adventures to be re-purposed for art made in response to the dawning anthropocene and climate change, to mass extinctions and mass migrations, to the idea of humans evolving in conjunction with increasingly intelligent technology, and to leaving Earth. Conceptually, what stays and what goes? Art? The FIELD STATION morphs as it travels, merging inquiries into inter-species communication, music, memory and Ai. I'm targeting species level considerations for a post Earth humanity, with a conscious nod to the absurdity of humans acting as recklessly as we do on this pale blue dot in the middle of cosmic nowhere. Machines appear sentient, Horseshoe Crabs gossip, Humpback Whales sing and somewhere a Jester wears snake boots. MASS MoCA hosted the first iteration of the Field Station as part of "Explode Every Day: an Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder." Curated by Denise Markonish. The 2nd iteration of the FIELD STATION, containing all new work and curated by Laura Burkhalter, showed at The Des Moines Center for the Arts in the show "ALCHEMY: Transformations in Gold." The 3rd iteration, curated by Theresa Bembnister, was shown at the Akron Museum of Art. The next scheduled iteration of the FIELD STATION will be at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University in 2019.

AI has been making the news more and more over the past decade, but few ever get to glimpse how it actually gets made. So, this talk is an overview of the basic goal and lifecycle of AI research, from the perspective of an AI researcher.

Photos and videos of this evening