Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of April 2021

Online Edition: the L.A.S.T. Dialogues


Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
Hosted from Stanford during April 2021
by Piero Scaruffi

During the covid pandemic, this online program replaces both the 12 physical L.A.S.E.R.s that were planned at Stanford University and University of San Francisco for 2020 and the L.A.S.T. Festival that was planned for Spring 2020. Since some of them are simply "fireside chats", we tentatively called them the The Life Art Science Tech (L.A.S.T.) dialogues. See previous and future speakers and their videos.
(Note: All times are California time)

  • April 8 @ 6pm
    Janine Randerson (Auckland University of Technology, live from New Zealand) on "Weather as Medium"
    Jennie Lavine (Emory Univ) on "What is the endgame of the covid pandemic? Will covid become endemic?"
    Cindy Cohn Register here or here


    Janine Randerson (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand) on "Weather as Medium"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Janine Randerson is an Aotearoa New Zealand-based artist and writer on art, performance and technological mediation in ecological systems. Her moving image and digital artworks are exhibited in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Janine's recent book "Weather as Medium: Toward a Meteorological Art" (MIT Press, 2018) examines artworks that offer sensorial engagement with our future weathers, while creating openings for action in the present. She is an Associate Professor in Art and Design at AUT University.


    Jennie Lavine (Emory Univ) on "What is the endgame of the covid pandemic? Will covid become endemic?"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Jennie Lavine (Emory Univ) received her PhD in biology from Penn State University with thesis advisor Ottar Bjornstad. Her research interests lie at the intersection of immunology, pathogen evolution, population dynamics and disease. Current work focuses on COVID-19, influenza and herpesviruses, with a keen interest toward how the robustness and complexity of the immune system shapes and constrains pathogen evolution.


    Cindy Cohn (Executive Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation)
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From 2000-2015 she served as EFF's Legal Director as well as its General Counsel. In 1993, EFF she served lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. Among other honors, Ms. Cohn was named to TheNonProfitTimes 2020 Power & Influence TOP 50 list, and in 2018, Forbes included Ms. Cohn as one of America's Top 50 Women in Tech. In 2013, The National Law Journal named Ms. Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers in America, noting: "If Big Brother is watching, he better look out for Cindy Cohn."
  • April 15 @ 6pm
    A panel on "Pulled Apart: Re-engineering and Re-purposing Human Civilization" with:
    Cynthia Hooper (Media Artist)
    Adam Chin (Photographer)
    Terry Berlier (Stanford/ Art)
    Glori Simmons (Director, USF Thacher Gallery)
    John Campbell (UC Berkeley/ Philosophy)
    Piero Scaruffi (cultural historian)

    Register here or here
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    The Thacher Gallery at University of San Francisco is having an art exhibition titled "Pulled Apart" (March 1 - April 25, 2021), for which the exhibiting artists (Terry Berlier, Adam Chin, Gail Wight, Carrie Hott, Cynthia Hooper) were invited to explore the intersection of art and engineering. These artists examine through their artworks the mechanisms of gadgets, scientific instruments, and computer technologies to reveal the internal and external systems that help shape society. What can we learn about ourselves through the act of disassembling and re-engineering these human-made tools?

    This panel with media artist Cynthia Hooper, fine-arts photographer Adam Chin, kinetic sculptor Terry Berlier (of the Stanford Art Department), philosopher John Campbell (of UC Berkeley) and cultural historian Piero Scaruffi will explore the exhibition and start a philosophical conversation about: what do we learn from dismantling and rebuilding the objects that humans build? what do we learn about ourselves?

    Cynthia Hooper's videos, essays, paintings, and research-based projects examine infrastructural landscapes in the United States and Mexico. Her detailed investigations patiently capture the incidental and emblematic activities that define these complicated places, and also advocate for the efforts of regional laborers, activists, and researchers who tactically refashion their complex geography. Exhibitions and screenings include the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, Centro Cultural Tijuana, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, and MASS MoCA. Published work includes Places Journal and Arid: A Journal of Desert Art, Design and Ecology. Residencies and grants include the Headlands Center for the Arts, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Graham Foundation and the Gunk Foundation. Cynthia currently lives in northern California.

    Adam Chin, who graduated in computer science from Stanford, is a fine art photographer who spent a career as a computer graphics artist for TV and film. He was one of the orginal employees of Pacific Data Images, a pionering computer graphics studio which later became part of Dreamworks Animation, working on such films as Shrek 2, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon. While his first love is traditional b&w photography, Adam also practices using Machine Learning neural networks trained on databases of real photography to render images. By augmenting traditional photography with neural networks, he is exploring how much information is contained in a given photograph, and the implications to accuracy, privacy, and racial bias.

    Terry Berlier, an Associate Professor and Director of the Sculpture Lab and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University, is an interdisciplinary artist who investigates the evolution of human interaction with the natural world, queerness, and ecologies. This results in sculptures that are kinetic and sound based, and multi-media installations. She emphasizes the essential roles played by history, cultural memories, and environmental conditions in the creation of our identities. Using humor, she provides tools for recovering and reanimating our faltering connections with self, queerness, nature, and society. Interweaving movement, sound, and interaction as a metaphor for both harmonious and dissonant interactions, Berlier acts as an archaeologist excavating material objects to challenge our understanding of progress and reveal how history is constructed within a cultural landscape. Berlier has exhibited in solo and group shows both nationally and internationally. She has received numerous residencies and grants. Her work is in several collections.

    Glori Simmons, Director of the USF Thacher Gallery, is a poet and fiction writer, the author of the story collections "Carry You" and "Suffering Fools", and of the book of poems "Graft". A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she has received numerous awards for her poetry and fiction and has taught throughout the Bay Area.

    John Campbell is Professor of Philosophy at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Past, Space and Self (1994) and Reference and Consciousness (2002).

    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.

    Other events related to the "Pulled Apart" exhibition:
    Monday, Mar. 1, 5-6:30 p.m. Apart opening celebration with the artists followed by a conversation with engineer Lou Sassoubre and artist Cynthia Hooper
    Monday, Mar. 22, 5-6 p.m. Engineer Genna Smith in conversation with artists Terry Berlier and Gail Wight
    Monday, Apr. 5, 5-6 p.m. Engineer Chris Brooks in conversation with artists Adam Chin and Carrie Hott
    Thursday, April 8, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Online exhibition tour led by gallery director Glori Simmons




The Stanford LASERs are sponsored by the Deans of: Engineering; Humanities & Sciences; and Medicine.