Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of January 14, 2013

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, January 14, 2013
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - Maier 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:
  • Piero Scaruffi (author) on "Roger Sperry and the Age of the Brain" As tradition, the first LASER of the year is a centennial tribute: Roger Sperry and his "split-brain" theory launched brain studies that revolutionized our idea of the self Read more
  • 7:25-7:50:
  • Meredith Tromble (San Francisco Art Institute) on "The Dream Vortex And Collaborative Process" "Take Me To Your Dream" is a virtual installation and an artistic experiment... 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:
  • Alison Gopnik (Berkeley) (Berkeley) on "The Philosophical Baby" What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00:
  • Alvy Ray Smith (Pixar and Lucasfilm veteran) on "A Biography of the Pixel" A funny thing happened on the way to the millenium: The world went digital... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • 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.
  • 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. He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.
  • Alvy Ray Smith is is the cofounder of Pixar and a pioneer of computer graphics. He was present at Xerox PARC for the invention of the personal computer, then at the New York Institute of Technology where the vision of the first digital movie was conceived, then Lucasfilm, where he was its first director of computer graphics. HIs second startup company was sold to Microsoft, where he was the first Graphics Fellow. He has received two technical Academy Awards, and holds four patents. He created and directed the Genesis Demo in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The made a short piece with artist Ed Emshwiller, Sunstone, part of MOMA's collection. He hired Pixar's star animator, John Lasseter, and directed him at Lucasfilm in The Adventures of Andre & Wally B. He was responsible at Lucasfilm/Pixar for the Academy-Award winning Disney animation production system CAPS. As a regent of the National Library of Medicine, he helped initiate the Visible Human Project. He helped argue the progressive scan format into the national HDTV standard. He has a PhD from Stanford in computer science and an honorary doctorate from New Mexico State University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has published widely in theoretical computer science and computer graphics, and is currently writing a book about the pixel and modern media.
  • Meredith Tromble is an artist and writer whose areas of interest include creative process and interdisciplinary research. She is the author of Art & Shadows, a series of essays on contemporary in light of contemporary research, funded by the Art Writers Grant Program of the Andy Warhol Foundation. In addition to her work as an Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, she is currently collaborating with Dawn Sumner of the University of California, Davis on a virtual installation, Take Me Me To Your Dream (Dream Vortex).

Address and directions:

University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
SF, CA 94117
Fromm Hall - Maier Room

See the campus map and directions

Extended abstracts

It has become a tradition that Piero Scaruffi opens the LASER year with a centennial tribute to a distinguished scientist whose work has been influential in shaping the cultural environment of our century and who was born 100 years ago (See last year's tribute to Alan Turing).
Roger Sperry, who had studied zoology at the University of Chicago in the late 1930s, conducted "split-brain" studies on the connection between the brain's left and right hemispheres, discovering that the two sides of the brain can operate almost independently, at the California Institute of Technology during the 1960s. At the time there was no other cure for people who suffered from a special kind of epilepsy than by cutting off the connection between the two hemispheres, the corpus callosum. After the operation the patients live a normal life, but each hemisphere behaves like a different self, unaware of what the other hemisphere is doing. Sperry demonstrated that the left and right hemispheres are specialized in different tasks. Influential papers include: "Neurology and the mind-brain problem" (1952), "Interhamispheric communication through the corpus callosum" (1958), "Cerebral organization and behavior" (1961), "Language in human patients after brain bisection" (1965), "Brain bisection and mechanisms of consciousness" (1966), "The two brain of man" (1972). Later, however, a new Sperry emerged, much more interested in consciousness and in the ethics of science. His many students include Michael Gazzaniga. "The great pleasure and feeling in my right brain is more than my left brain can find the words to tell you." (Roger Sperry)
(Download the Powerpoint slies: Roger Sperry and the Age of the Brain)

Take Me To Your Dream (Dream Vortex) is a work-in-progress, a virtual installation for the KeckCAVES 3-D imaging facility at the University of California, Davis, and an artistic experiment with many layers of collaboration. In addition to the primary relationship with my scientific collaborator, geobiologist Dawn Sumner, there is a network of potential contributors including every researcher who works in the facility. This talk uses the experiences and challenges of the project as a way of thinking about collaborative processes in general,and as a way of finding creative gates in the fences between public/private, objective/subjective, traditional media/new media, and scientific/artistic forms of investigation.

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life.
In the last thirty years there's been a revolution in our scientific understanding of babies and young children, a revolution that's also transformed our understanding of human nature itself. In this talk, I'll outline some of the new discoveries and their implications for the way we think about young children and ourselves. Human beings have a longer childhood than any other animal - our children are more helpless and dependent than any others. Why make babies so helpless for so long? I'll show that childhood - our long period of helplessness - is responsible for our uniquely human consciousness and our ability to learn, imagine and love. Their long protected childhood gives human babies an opportunity to learn and play, and that let's them plan and work as adults. Our research shows that even the youngest babies have learning abilities that are more powerful than those of the smartest scientists and most advanced computers. Toddlers already analyze statistics and do experiments. In their unstoppable pretend play, preschoolers also use their discoveries to imagine new ways that the world might be. Children not only learn about the world around them, they also learn about other people and themselves. By the time they are three or four they understand love and morality. These remarkable learning abilities reflect special features of babies' and children's brains, features that may actually make them more conscious than adults.

A Biography of the Pixel.
A funny thing happened on the way to the millenium: The world went digital. Prophets had predicted for years that a single new digital medium would replace all the old analog media. What had been ink and paper, photographs, movies, and TV, would become just bits. Well, the Great Digital Convergence happened. It crept upon us unannounced, but it's here. This talk heralds that signal moment, a massive change in our culture. The elementary particle of the revolution is the much misunderstood pixel. The talk tackles head-on the fundamental mystery of digital-that spiky represents smooth, that the discrete stands for the continuous. How can that be? The full message is an explanation of how the whole digital world works and why it deserves our trust. The beginnings go back two centuries to a man who was almost beheaded and knew Napoleon too well. And to early last century when a Russian scientist, unknown to most Americans, defined the pixel while managing to stay out of the Gulag under the protection of a brilliant woman married to one of Stalin's bloodiest henchmen.

Photos and videos