An Introduction to the

Life/Art/Science/Technology (LAST) Festival

The L.A.S.T. festival is a nonprofit, weekend-long, interdisciplinary public event that combines art, tech, science and philosophy. The festival seeks to engage, educate, mobilize and catalyze: engage the community by connecting the public to leading scientific and artistic innovators; educate the audience through a multisensory experience; mobilize society to become active participants in the deployment of new technologies; catalyze experimental projects of individual and communal empowerment via an open dialog between engineers and artists.

The L.A.S.T. festival presents interactive multimedia art installations (the "Playground"), inspirational talks by luminaries on cutting-edge technology and science (the "IMHO" conference, where IMHO may stand for "Inspirational Minds and High-tech Oracles"), live performances (the "Demos"), workshops (the "Garage") and interdisciplinary panels on how technology and science impact society (the "Homo Digitalis" symposium).

The LAST festival is a nomadic festival that doesn't have a venue and happens only when it finds a partner with: 1. a venue, 2. tech staff and 3. a budget for honoraria/stipends. The LAST festival aims to be at least these things:

  • an overdose of education to bridge the gap between science/tech and the public: talks by top scientists, interdisciplinary panels, workshops, interactive high-tech art installations
  • an incubator of a new form of art that straddles the border between interactive/ participatory art and high-tech demo
  • a curatorial school for a new kind of interdisciplinary curator who understands the social and cultural innovation behind tech and science innovation and weds them to civic engagement and innovation
  • a catalyst for art residencies at tech/science centers where the artist is not mere decoration but a participant in processes of creative brainstorming, interface design, and public outreach
  • a launching pad for localized continuing programs of art/tech/science events
  • a platform for "social sensing" in the realm of the third industrial revolution

There have been five editions (scroll down for links): San Jose (at Zero1), San Francisco (at The Lab), Stanford, San Jose (at the Hammer Theater in collaboration with SJSU) and at Stanford again (SLAC national laboratory). The audience has always been above 1,000 people.

The ideal venue has an auditorium that fits at least 300 people and several rooms to display ~20 interactive high-tech art installations, a $5,000 budget for a professional art curator, a similar budget for honoraria to artists and speakers, and a similar budget for the organization.

The lineups of the previous editions, plus photos and videos, can be found at

Talking points:

  • The LAST festival is a venue-less festival.
  • The festival ideally should happen in many locations with the purpose of promoting the local scene, fostering a community within that territory, and linking it to the broader community
  • Each LAST festival exhibits local and nonlocal artists, presents local and nonlocal speakers
  • Each LAST festival is an opportunity for local students to get training in curatorial practice
  • East LAST festival has an educational program (hands-on workshops besides the lectures and panels) for creative use of technology
  • Each LAST festival includes a conference about the tech/science that are shaping the 21st century, as well as a symposium of interdisciplinary panels to discuss the impact on society
  • Each LAST festival promotes civic engagement and innovation through the collaboration of multiple actors (scientists, artists, engineers, philosophers, sociologists, etc)
  • Each LAST festival contributes to create a vibrant cultural life that can attract talents
  • Each LAST festival can create the foundations for a continuing program of art/tech/science events

The LAST festival welcomes affiliations with organizations staging similar events. However, we don't want to be just a mailing list of interesting events. We have nothing against such a mailing list, but we just don't have the resources to compile all the events that deserve to be publicized. If we publicize one, we are asked to publicize many others. Deciding which ones to publicize becomes a full-time job.

We'd like the relationship to be reciprocal and not limited to one event. We need to focus our limited resources and this is one way to prioritize relationships.

Ideally, we'd like to co-curate the projects that we promote to our mailing list, if nothing else to make sure that is aligned with our mission.

Given our limited resources, we prefer to publicize projects than events. If you have an exhibition coming up, we wish you all the best but it's unlikely that we have the resources to publicize all exhibitions that are coming up. If, on the other hand, you have an art/science project that is somewhat unique, we'd love to hear about it and we'll find the time.

The LAST festival relies on funding and donations from academic and business entities.

We'd love to add

  • A Continuing program of events to follow up on the topics discussed at the festival
  • A magazine to publish essays and discussions about interdisciplinary projects
  • A multisensory educational program for kids

L.A.S.T. Editions so far


Photos and Videos

Click here for

A Visual Biography of the LAST Festival

Mission Statement

Creativity does not happen in a vacuum, whether it's art, tech or science. They all coexist, influence each other and interact. Silicon Valley did not happen in a vacuum, it happened within the intense cultural ecosystem of the Bay Area. The L.A.S.T. festival aims at presenting art, tech and science within the same venue. The art expo features a dozen interactive high-tech installations that break the "Do not touch!" taboo of the traditional museum and that are meant to let you experience something you never experienced before. The symposium features talks on Artificial Intelligence, Graphics/Animation, Nanotech, Space Exploration, Computer Graphics, etc by leaders of today's science and technology.

The Life Art Science and Technology (L.A.S.T.) expo celebrates the confluence of art with the multiplicity of new media technologies and nascent sciences that are transforming sociality and experience in the 21st century.

The Playground: Interactive Digital Experimental Art

The "playground" features a dozen interactive digital installations that break the "Do not touch!" taboo of the traditional museum and are inspired by the high-tech world of the 21st century.

Art installations for the LAST expo have included: David Glowacki's Danceroom Spectroscopy (already exhibited at various locations in Europe), visual tracking system "Corelated Space" for musical soundscape and laser light (a collaboration among artist Wes Modes, musician Lanier Sammons and engineer Brent Townshend), Erich Richter's "Chant" (for reflecting pool, partially submerged speakers and spoken-word), Ian Winters' LED sculpture "Horizon Line", Peter Foucault's drawing robot "Attraction/Repulsion", Kinetech's interactive video installation "Time Bubble", Emily Martinez's "AntiApocalypse" for brainwave rhythms, Yuan-Yi Fan's "Qi-Visualizer" for mobile biometrics, Robert Edgar's "Emerge/Reemerge", Adam Carlin's participatory installation "Some Thing Grounded" for computer printers and Craigslist listings, Jennifer Parker's and Barney Haynes' symphonic installation "SoundPool" for nature sounds, Kristen Gillette's topography-generator "Sound Relief", Amy Ho's light projection "Passing", Leona Hu's orchestra conducting system "Reverie" for motion sensor, UCSC OpenLab's sculptural date visualization "BioSensing Garden", Al Linke's C.A.T., Alex Reben's Robotic Headgasm, Kinetech Arts's Fractal Motion, Cere Mona Davis's God's Eye, Michal Gavish's Portraying DNA, Carl Pisaturo's Spiroglyph, Danielle Siembieda's Burg, Robin Lasser's Boxer Bob's Mansion West Side , Evan Clayburg's Abstract Architecture, DC Spensley's PixelBoard, Yoon Han's Digiti Sonus, Ed Kirshner's Danger, Dancing Mushrooms and Bowl of Chaos, Yuan-Yi Fan 's Symbols and Boundaries, UC Santa Cruz's OpenLab Research Center 's Water Tank, Robert Edgar's Mergeemerge, Andy Lee's Tube Frames, Jeffrey Bryant's Generis, Colin Bowring's Harmonograph, Ytai Ben-Tsvi's IOIO Plotter, Cere Davis's Water Organ, Eric Parren's Breeder, Garret Beleu's VidAudio, Gary Boodhoo's Deep Dream Vision Quest, Jeffrey Yip's Lucy, Jennifer Berry's B Code, Kim Anno, Ricardo Rivera, Kristina Dutton & Nathan Clevenger's In the Hour of Butterflies, Kostas Daflos's Cipo_program, Liat Berdugo's Fish Tanks's Mala Onda Dolphin + Accelerator, Pantea Karimi's Shelf Garden, Purin Phanichpat's Connect Our Efforts, Scott Tooby's Sonic Mirror, Steve Durie's Socio-Graph, Tim Thompson's Space Palette, Vanessa Peneyra's Out of the Box, Wes Modes's Fomophobia, Sara Dean, Glenda Drew, Beth Ferguson, Jiayi Young's Shoptalk - Field Tools for Peace , Jonathon Keats: Free Will (Placebo), Kal Spelletich's Hand Shaker, Scott Kildall: Cybernetic Spirits , Carlos Castellanos: Microbial Sonorities, Purin Phanichph: A Machine That Listens , Amy Karle: Feast of Eternity , Gary Boodhoo: Deep Dream Vision Quest, Raul Altosaar: Liquefied Realities, Melanie Piech: No, Means No, Raphael Arar: Nostalgia, The Mobile Arts Platform (MAP): NorCal - Artists SeekingAmerica (NASA), Cesar & Lois: The [ECO]NomicRevolution - When Microbiological Logic Determines Everything , Pantea Karimi: Trilogy, Tony Assi: Gaze Relations, Brian Reinbolt: iAltar , Daniel Stefanescu: Progress Accelerated , Anja Ulfeldt: Lightning Detector, Kathleen Deck: Re-thinking Extinction , Jiaqi Zhang & Anton van Beek : Challenge, Alex Reben, Steve Durie: Off in the Distance, Act 1 - Growing the Collection , etc.

"IMHO" Conference and "Homo Digitalis" Symposium

We pick disciplines that will change the world in the near future and invite visionary thinkers for each one.

Past speakers have included

  • Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google
  • Daniel Kaufman, Director of the Information Innovation Office at DARPA
  • Jennifer Dionne, Founding Director of the Stanford Nanotech Lab
  • Chris McKay, Chief Planetary Scientist at NASA Ames
  • Alvy Ray Smith, Co-founder of Pixar
  • Bruno Olshausen, Director of UC Berkeley's Center for Neuroscience
  • Christine Peterson, Cofounder of the Foresight Institute
  • Charles Chiu, UCSF/ Infectious Diseases
  • Drew Endy, Director of a Synthetic Biology lab at Stanford
  • Bruno Olshausen, Director of a Center for Neuroscience at UC Berkeley
  • Andy Cunningham, Macintosh designer
  • John Craig Freeman, public artist
  • Genevieve Erin O'Brien, queer artist and community organizer
  • Xiaowei Wang, designer
  • Nathaniel Ober, video artist
  • Maya Ackerman, Computational Creativity and Machine Learning at San Jose State University
  • Piero Scaruffi, cultural historian
  • Meredith Tromble, San Francisco Art Institute
  • Lisa Winter, robot designer
  • Melissa Day, San Jose State University
  • Rosanna Guadagno, Stanford Peace Innovation Lab
  • Fabiola Hanna, UC Santa Cruz
  • Susana Ruiz, UC Santa Cruz
  • Rieko Yajima, Stanford Center for Design Research
  • Tenaya Hurst, Arduino
  • Carrie Galbraith, Cacophony Society
  • Daniel Kottke, one of the first Apple employees
  • Steve Omohundro, Blockchain and Machine Learning inventor
  • Andrew Blanton, San Jose State University
  • Meredith Drum, video artist
  • David McConville, co-chairman of the Buckminster Fuller Institute
  • Mark Stephen Meadows, Virtual Reality entrepreneur
  • Mikey Siegel, robotics engineer
  • John Law, co-founder of the Burning Man Festival
  • Dave Deamer, Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz
  • Michael Snyder, Director of the Stanford Center of Genomics and Personalized Medicine
  • Melissa Merencillo, virtual and augmented reality evangelist
  • Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley
  • Ken Goldberg, co-founder of the Berkeley Center for New Media
  • Vivienne Ming, neuroscientist and entrepreneur

Live performances:

Adventurous and creative performances by sound and dance artists.

Past performers have included

  • Laetitia Sonami
  • Kinetech Arts
  • Andrew Blanton
  • Rob Hamilton and Chris Platz

Also check out the L.A.S.E.R.s...

Piero Scaruffi launched the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous in 2008 on behalf of Leonardo ISAST. As of 2018, LASER series were happening in more than 30 cities worldwide. Follow the L.A.S.E.R.s throughout the year at a location near you while you wait for the next LAST festival!

Venues: Email the founding director if you are interested in holding a L.A.S.T. festival at your location (it does require a large space for art pieces plus a 100-seat theater for the science talks).

Artists: email us if you want to be on our mailing list for future Open Calls: click here

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