An Interdisciplinary Tour of the Human Condition in Three Stages: Time, Life, and Mind

Stanford University 2011-12
(aka Stanford Multidisciplinary Multimedia Meeting of Arts, Science and Humanities... SMMMASH!)
Note of 2012: click here for the program of the 2012-13 season.
Executive summary: "A multidimensional exploration of universal themes about the human condition by artists, scientists, thinkers and innovators of the Bay Area."
First series 2011-12: Time, Life, Mind (three evenings, one per quarter)

Moderated by Piero Scaruffi (e-mail)


Click here for the second season (for the 2012-13 academic year).
Format of each of the three evenings:
  • Panel with four presenters from four different disciplines.
  • Audio interviews in lieu of introduction to the panelists.
  • Reading material as homework for the audience.
  • Art exhibit before and after the panel.
  • Interaction with the audience.
  • Free and open to the public.
Your part:
  • Listen to the audio interviews below to meet the panelists
  • Consult the "reading material" below to be prepared for the panel
  • Email me questions: we start with the Q/A!
  • Come a bit earlier (6:30pm) to enjoy the art show
  • Enjoy the panel
  • After the panel enjoy the art show and mingle with the artists
  • The day after please send us feedback to improve these events
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1. Time
(Stanford Events Calendar | Continuing Studies Program)

    When: 20 October 2011

    Location: Stanford Cubberley Auditorium (map)

    Panelists (7pm - 8:30pm):

  • Visual artist Gail Wight (Stanford Professor of Art and Art History),
  • Multimedia composer Pamela Z (creator of "Baggage Allowance" and other multimedia works),
  • Theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind (Stanford Professor of Theoretical Physics and author of "The Black Hole War: My battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics"),
  • Anthropologist Jan English-Lueck (Associate Dean of the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University, Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future and author of several books on the anthropology of Silicon Valley)
  • Moderator: Author, culural historian and blogger Piero Scaruffi

    Audio interviews in lieu of introductions:

    Reading material:

    Questions?: Email them to me: scaruffi at stanford.edu but please first read and listen to the previous sections. See the questions so far

    Soundtrack: Wayne Vitale's "Splitting Time" (specifically composed for this event)

    Art exhibit (6:30PM-9:30PM):

Photos

Many thanks to Azin Massoudi and Sofia Lozano for helping make this happen.


2. Life
(Stanford Events Calendar | Continuing Studies Program)

    When: 19 January 2012 @ 6:30pm

    Location: Cubberley Auditorium, School of Education, Stanford Univ

    Panelists (7pm - 8:30pm):

  • Filmmaker and multimedia artist Lynn Hershman (member of the The Presence Project at Stanford),
  • Technologist Christine Peterson (Director of the Foresight Institute and Chairman of the Personalized Life Extension Conference series)
  • Anthropologist Paul Rabinow (Director of Anthropology of the Contemporary Research at UC Berkeley, and author of "Marking Time", "The Foucault Reader", etc)
  • Cognitive psychologist Jeremy Bailenson (Director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab and co-author of "Infinite Reality")
  • Moderator: Author, culural historian and blogger Piero Scaruffi

    Audio interviews in lieu of introductions:

    Reading material:

    Questions?: Email them to me: scaruffi at stanford.edu but please first read and listen to the previous sections. See the questions so far

    Soundtrack: Miu-Ling Lam's "Streaming Nature"

    Art exhibit (6:30PM-9:30PM):

Audio recording of the opening statements (in this order: Peterson, Bailelson, Hershman-Leeson, Rabinow), of the discussion and of the Q/A: 1.5 hours.

Photos

Many thanks to Azin Massoudi, Sofia Lozano and Anand Ganesh for helping make this happen.


3. Mind
(Stanford Events Calendar | Continuing Studies Program)

    When: 19 April 2012 @ 6:30pm

    Location: Cubberley Auditorium, School of Education, Stanford Univ

    Panelists (7pm - 8:30pm):

  • Multimedia artist Deborah Aschheim ,
  • Composer Chris Chafe (Director of Stanford CCRMA),
  • Technologist and composer Jaron Lanier (pioneer of virtual reality, composer, and author of "You Are Not A Gadget"),
  • Neuroscientist James McClelland (Director of Stanford's Center for Mind, Brain and Computation)
  • Moderator: Author, culural historian and blogger Piero Scaruffi

    Audio interviews in lieu of introductions:

    Reading material:

    Questions?: Email them to me: scaruffi at stanford.edu but please first read and listen to the previous sections. See the questions so far

    Soundtrack:

The sound of neurons (what Mozart's brain sounded like inside)
and Mozart's piano concerto 21 (what Mozart's brain sounded like outside)

    Art exhibit (6:30PM-9:30PM):

Photos and videos

Many thanks to Azin Massoudi and Sofia Lozano for helping make this happen.


Back to the top of the page: Time/Life/Mind

Over the years, artists, scientists, engineers, and humanities scholars have explored the grand themes that define the human condition from radically different perspectives. Too infrequently, they are given the opportunity to listen to each other and engage in conversations that cross boundaries and mix up categories.

In each of the three quarters of this academic year, we will host an evening program featuring some of the most exciting thinkers in the Bay Area, inviting them to talk together about one or another modest slice of the human experience. We will start in the Fall with "Time," go on to "Life" in the Winter, and wrap up with "Mind" in the Spring. We have no idea in what directions these conversations will go, but we can guarantee that they will be mind-expanding and memorable. We hope you will join us for all three.

Each presenter will provide reading, viewing, or listening material that will be posted online before the event and that will constitute "homework" for the audience. A brief audio interview with each of the presenters will also be posted on the web as an introduction to the presenter.

Each of the panels will be complemented by an art exhibit by distinguished artists who use different media to "talk" about the topic of the panel. The art exhibit will start 30 minutes before the panel and will continue after the panel. The audience can download a "catalog" of the art exhibit from this website.


Panelists for "Time" will be:
  • Leonard Susskind, Stanford Professor of Theoretical Physics, pioneered the idea that elementary particles might be represented by a relativistic string, the so-called "string theory." His research interests have stretched from quantum field theory to quantum cosmology. He is the author of "The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design" (2006) and "The Black Hole War-My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics" (2008).
  • Gail Wight, Associate Professor of Art at Stanford University, uses visual art to explore topics in biology and the history of science and technology. Her work engages the cultural impact of scientific practice, and plays with our constant redefinition of self through our epistemologies. Recent projects have explored deep time, and her works of art often involve other living organisms, inviting them to become co-authors in the finished work of art. She has exhibited her work at galleries, museums, and festivals throughout the US and internationally.
  • Pamela Z, composer, performer, and media artist, makes solo works combining a wide range of vocal techniques with electronic processing, samples, gesture-activated MIDI controllers, and video. She has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. Her multimedia work "Baggage Allowance" (that premiered in 2011) involves vocal performance with electronic processing, found text, recorded interviews, multi-channel sound, interactive video, and sculptural objects.
  • Jan English-Lueck, Professor of Anthropology at San Jose State University, and a Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future, has written "Chinese Intellectuals on the World Frontier" and "Cultures@SiliconValley" and received the American Anthropological Association's 2006 Diana Forsythe Prize. Her latest book, "Being and Well-being: Health and the Working Bodies of Silicon Valley", was published in 2010.
  • Piero Scaruffi, author, blogger and cultural historian, has wandered from Theoretical Physics to Cognitive Science and the Internet, while writing on music, cinema, and the arts as well as publishing his own poetry. He has published several books and articles including "The Nature of Consciousness" (2006), "A History of Rock and Dance Music" (2009), "Synthesis: Essays, Photographs, Poems" (2009) and "A History of Silicon Valley" (2011).

The "Life" program on January 19 features:
  • Paul Rabinow, Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, Director of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC), and former Director of Human Practices for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), is the author of "Designing Human Practices: An Experiment with Synthetic Biology " (2012); "The Accompaniment: Assembling the Contemporary" (2011); "Marking Time: On the Anthropology of the Contemporary" (2007); "Anthropos Today: Reflections on Modern Equipment" (2003); "Essays on the Anthropology of Reason" (1996); "Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology" (1993); "French Modern: Norms and Forms of the Social Environment" (1989); and "The Foucault Reader" (1984). A former lecturer at the École Normale Superieure (1997) in Paris, he was named Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 1998 and was awarded the visiting Chaire Internationale de Recherche Blaise Pascal at the École Normale Superieure for 2001-2.
  • Christine Peterson is the co- founder and President of Foresight Institute, a public interest group that educates the community and policymakers on coming powerful technologies such as nanotechnology. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the International Council on Nanotechnology and the Editorial Advisory Board of NASA's Nanotech Briefs. Her work is motivated by a desire to help Earth's environment and traditional human communities benefit from advances in technology. She coauthored Unbounding the Future: the Nanotechnology Revolution (1991) and Leaping the Abyss: Putting Group Genius to Work (1997).
  • Lynn Hershman Leeson, Chair of the Film Department at the San Francisco Art Institute and Emeritus at the University of California at Davis, is a multimedia artist whose works include the first interactive laser artdisk, three award-winning feature films, photographs, sculptures, and interactive installations that use the Internet and artificial intelligence software. "The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson" was published by the University of California Press in 2005. "Women Art Revolution" (2010), based on her own archives recently acquired by Stanford Univ, is a documentary history of the feminist art movement that took 42 years to complete. She was honored by the Digital Art Museum in Berlin with the most distinguished honor for lifetime achievement in the field of new media.
  • Jeremy Bailenson, the founder and Director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) as well as Associate Professor of Communication, is a cognitive psychologist who focuses on digital human representation, especially in the context of immersive Virtual Reality. He is the co-author of "Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution" (2011).

"Mind" on April 19 will feature:
  • Deborah Aschheim, specializes in installations based on invisible networks of perception and thought. Her work exploring the subject of memory has led her to collaborate with musicians and neuroscientists. She has exhibited installations at venues across the country including a personal retrospective, "Deborah Aschheim: feeling-of-knowing" at San Diego State University Art Gallery (2011).
  • Chris Chafe, director of Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), is a composer, improvisor, cellist, and music researcher with an interest in computers and interactive performance. He is an active performer, particularly in the SoundWIRE project of real-time Internet concertizing with collaborators distributed over the world. He has released the CD "Arco Logic" (2001).
  • James McClelland, Chair of Stanford's Department of Psychology and founding Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Computation, has applied connectionist models to problems in Cognitive Neuroscience and was a co-founder with David E. Rumelhart of the influential Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) research group. They wrote together "Parallel Distributed Processing" (1986).
  • Jaron Lanier pioneered Virtual Reality in the early 1980s and was the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative (1997-2001). Lanier's compositions, that include the symphony "Mirror/Storm" (1998), the triple concerto "The Navigator Tree" (2000) and the ballet "Earthquake" (2006) have been performed worldwide. His book "You Are Not A Gadget" (2010) was named one of the 10 best books of the year in the NY Times. Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.


See also the Leonardo Art Science Evenings (LASERs) and the Audio interviews.
Piero Scaruffi's website | Twitter | Tumblr