Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of October 8, 2014

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
UC Berkeley, October 8, 2014
UC Berkeley Extension Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave, Berkeley - Room 213
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi

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. The event is free and open to everybody. Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking. This event is kindly sponsored by the Minerva Foundation.
Where: UC Berkeley Extensions,
UC Berkeley Extension Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave, Berkeley - Room 213
Campus map
  • 7:00-7:25: Alison Gopnik (UC Berkeley/ Psychology) on "Theory formation and the evolution of learning" When children are better (or, at least, more open-minded) theorists than adults... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Edward Frenkel (UC Berkeley/ Mathematics) on "Love and Math" We are putting so much emphasis on science and technology, we are starting to forget that a human is not a sequence of 0's and 1's... 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: Stephen Palmer (UC Berkeley/ Psychology) on "Colour, Music, and Emotion in Synesthetes and Non-Synesthetes" Cross-modal associations from music to colors were investigated for several kinds of music... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Drue Kataoka (Visual artist) on "Mining Memory: Membranes & Magic Boxes " How can art mine memory, that is to say extract intangible yet invaluable materials and continually build anew out of them? ... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • The LAST festival
  • Previous Art/Science Evenings
    • Edward Frenkel is a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley, author, and filmmaker. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and the winner of the Hermann Weyl Prize in mathematical physics (2002). Frenkel's new book "Love and Math" was a New York Times bestseller, has been named one of the Best Books of the year by both Amazon and iBooks, and is currently being translated into 14 languages. Frenkel has also co-produced, co-directed and played the lead in the film "Rites of Love and Math," which French newspaper Le Monde called "a stunning short film... offering an unusual romantic vision of mathematicians."
    • Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children's learning and is the author of over 100 articles and several books including the bestsellers "The Scientist in the Crib" and "The Philosophical Baby; What children's minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life". She has also written for Science, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, New Scientist and Slate. She has three sons and lives in Berkeley, California.
    • Drue Kataoka is a visual artist based in Silicon Valley. Artworks integrate Asian brush painting techniques with mirrors, time dilation and brainwave (EEG) data. New art forms developed by Drue are Magic Boxes and Membranes. Has done numerous corporate and private commissions, and collaborated with over 20 organizations. Featured at the first art exhibit in zero gravity at the International Space Station. Has presented at the Annual Meetings in Davos (thrice) and in Dalian & Yangon. Solo Art exhibition in the Congress Center in Davos in 2012. Recent work also featured on CNN, CBS, ABC, Barrons, Wired Magazine and others. Since 2001, has endowed the Drue Kataoka Art Scholarship for Youth. Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum. Recipient of numerous awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr Research & Education Institute Award for extensive community service. Co-founder of Aboomba.com, the destination for Intelligent Style, integrating art, science and social responsibility with fashion.
    • Stephen Palmer received his B.A. in Psychology at Princeton University in 1970 and his PhD in Psychology at UCSD in 1975. He has taught in Psychology at UC Berkeley ever since, where he also served as Director of the Institute of Cognitive Studies. He is best known for his research on perceptual organization and his interdisciplinary book, Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology. He now studies visual aesthetics of color and spatial composition. He has published "Vision science: Photons to phenomenology" (MIT Press, 1999) and "Aesthetic science: Connecting mind, brain, and experience" (Oxford University Press, 2012) as well as dozens of journal articles and book chapters.
    • 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.

    Extended abstracts:

    In today's society, we are putting so much emphasis on science and technology, we are starting to forget that a human is not a sequence of 0's and 1's. I will talk abut Love and Math, the two pillars of Humanity. Neither can replace the other. Rather, they can -- and should -- go hand in hand. Ironically, mathematics, which most people today consider as a boring and stale subject, can open a door into a world much bigger than that of our day-to-day experiences. Though the subject itself manifests the ultimate rigor and logic, it resides in what one could refer to as a "Platonic reality," that is a realm beyond space, time, and logic. This realization can help someone like myself, who is by nature very cerebral, to infer that logic alone is not enough to describe the world, and that love and life cannot possibly be expressed by mathematical formulas.

    Cross-modal associations from music to colors were investigated in US participants for several kinds of music, including classical orchestral pieces (by Bach, Mozart, and Brahms), single-line piano melodies (by Mozart), and 34 different genres of popular music (from jazz to heavy metal to salsa to country western). When non-synesthetes chose the 3 colors (from 37) that "went best" with each selection, their choices were highly systematic: e.g., fastermusic in the major mode was strongly associated with more saturated, lighter, yellower colors. Further results strongly suggest that these music-to-colorassociations are mediated by emotion: e.g., the happy/sad ratings of the music were highly correlated with the happy/sad ratings of the colors they chose as going best with the music (r = .97 for the classical orchestral music). Cross-cultural data from Mexican participants for the same classical music were virtually identical to those from US participants (Palmer, Schloss, Xu, & Prado-León, PNAS, 2013). Equally strong emotional effects were present for two-note musical intervals, and weaker emotional effects for the timbre (or tone color) of individual instruments. Similar experiments were conducted with 12music-to-color sysnesthetes, except that they chose the 3 colors (from the same 37) that were most similar to the colors they actually experienced while listening to the same musical selections. Synesthetes showed clear evidence of emotional effects for some musical variables (e.g., major versus minor) but not for others (e.g., slow versus fast tempi). The nature of similarities and differences between synesthetes' color experiences and non-synesthetes' colorassociations will be discussed.

    Mining is defined as the extraction of valuable minerals from the earth and it has been occurring since prehistoric times. As an artist, I often mine memory, both my own (individual), and that of my extended communities (collective). How can art mine memory, that is to say extract intangible yet invaluable materials and continually build anew out of them? Interestingly, traditional mining has exploitative overtones and sources inevitably get depleted. However, in an artistic metaphorical context "mining" is subverted and becomes restorative, replenishing, and not finite. I will share recent artworks including Magic Boxes, Membranes and brainwave artworks. "Magic Boxes" are a new art form I've developed to mimic natural cognitive processes. The viewer can never see the art in its entirety at once, but must rely on their memory to piece together what they just saw with what they are now seeing---uniting more, or less, faded memories with vibrant recent experiences to patch together the canvas of knowledge. With "Membranes" I wanted to create artworks that are not static objet, but instead are viewing tools-ones that shape and transform our view of our environment, the world and ourselves. The inspiration behind these works is the cellular membrane-- which serves as a wall, a conduit and a tool for creation and destruction. Selectively only certain visuals are allowed to permeate through. Finally, I will talk about memory and the cognitive process in connection with some of my recent brainwave artworks. "The Tree of Pascal" is a collaboration among 100+ brains from all over the world to keep a small tree alive. It is an artwork, but also a digitally-enabled ecosystem. It leverages modern technologies, such as recorded and "live" EEG data, electrochromic glass, and digital signal processing, but is rooted in the haunting words of a 17th century French mathematician & philosopher.

    In the past 15 years we've discovered that even young children are adept at inferring everyday theories from statistical patterns. But are there differences in the ways that younger children, older children and adults learn? I will present studies showing that younger learners are actually sometimes better at inferring unusual or unlikely principles than older learners. I'll relate this to computational ideas about search and sampling and to evolutionary ideas about human life history. Our distinctively long human childhood allows a period for exploring a wide range of possibilities without having to exploit information for purposes of survival.

    Photos and videos of this evening