Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 9 July 2019

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
9 July 2019, 7pm
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - Berman Room
2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi and Tami Spector

The LASERs are an international 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 and the dates for the Bay Area.

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...

Program (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Vanessa Chang (Stanford/ Modern Thought and Literature) on "A Poetics of Mediated Movement" The choreographic coupling of human embodiment and digital media in new media art of the 21st century... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Lea Witkowsky (Innovative Genomics Institute/ Policy Analyst) on " CRISPR and Society" Abstract forthcoming... 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: Caroline Cocciardi (Art Writer) on "Leonardo's Knots" Overlooked for centuries, Leonardo's passion for intertwining knots is visible in several of his masterpieces... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Vivek Bagaria (Stanford/ Electrical Engineering) on "Prism - Deconstructing the Blockchain to Approach Physical Limits" Prism is a new proof-of-work blockchain protocol which improves security and optimal throughput... Read more
  • Vivek Bagaria is a doctoral student in the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford. His research interests are broadly in algorithms, machine learning and blockchain.
  • Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Vivek Bagaria is a doctoral student in the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford. His research interests are broadly in algorithms, machine learning and blockchain.
  • Vanessa Chang is a writer, scholar, curator and educator who builds communities and conversations about our virtual and physical encounters with new media and technology. She works with artists, dancers, scholars, technologists, coders and musicians to understand how we might live and move in a technologically mediated world with humor, grace, deliberation, responsibility, and a sense of play. Her first book project, Tracing Electronic Gesture: A Poetics of Mediated Movement, focuses on the choreographic coupling of human bodies and new media art of the 21st century. Examining hybrid human-machine gestures in such digital art objects and practices as virtual dance, electronic poetry and musical controllerism, she maps the potential of these kinetic engagements to generate new forms of sensory experience and creative agency. Her current research explores the emerging field of art and artificial intelligence. Bridging cultural representations of early automata and artificial intelligence in film, literature, and performance with the recent deployment of machine learning algorithms in art-making, this project considers how the erotic dimensions of this cultural past have shaped how we build our digital automata. She also writes about circuses, street art, hip-hop, disability, and digital motion capture, and has published essays in Popular Music, Animation: an interdisciplinary journal, American Music and in media res. Vanessa holds a Ph.D. in Modern Thought & Literature from Stanford University, and is a Lecturer in Visual & Critical Studies at California College of the Arts. She is a Curator with CODAME ART + TECH. She was a Geballe fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, as well as the coordinator of the Graphic Narrative Project, a Stanford Humanities Center research workshop dedicated to comics, cartoons and other forms of graphic storytelling.
  • Caroline Cocciardi is a writer, filmmaker, and interior designer. Cocciardi produced a documentary, “Mona Lisa Revealed,” in 2009, and in 2018 she published “Leonardo’s Knots”, the outcome of 20 years of research on Leonardo DaVinci's paintings.
  • 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. Since 2015 he has been commuting between California and China, where several of his books have been translated.
  • Lea Witkowsky is Policy Analyst at the Innovative Genomics Institute. Lea holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Willamette University and received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley working in Robert Tjian’s lab. Her doctoral work focused on mechanisms of human transcription and the influence of chromatin on CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Lea joined the IGI in September 2017 as a science policy analyst, looking at the regulatory landscape as it relates to new genetic engineering technologies and the role of public perception in biotechnology development and adoption.

Extended abstracts:



In this talk, I trace a poetics of what I call electronic gesture. Briefly tracing the arc of the project as a whole, I will discuss the choreographic coupling of human embodiment and digital media in new media art of the 21st century. Encompassing different mediations of gesture, from practices of inscription, gesture as signmaking and markmaking, to movement in recorded and live performance, this project moves across the whole art system. It traces how digital media quicken, remediate, morph or otherwise alter these existing mediations. Examining experimental new media such as electronic poetry, virtual dances created with digital motion capture and musical “controllerism,” I discuss the dynamics of distributed creative agency across electronic gesture. Looking more closely at one of these examples, I will discuss how, across media, both human and digital actors collaborate in these creative gestures. Ultimately, I show how our gestures invent our machines as well as ourselves.

This talk will introduce you to a facet of Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci overlooked for centuries yet present in his artworks: his passion for intertwining knots. While living in Italy in 1999, Cocciardi witnessed the reopening of Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco "The Last Supper" after a lengthy restoration. The visit started a 20-year journey trying to make sense of the profound experience it had on her. In 2007 Cocciardi saw an exhibition of revelatory photographs of Mona Lisa by French engineer Pascal Cotte, in Paris, France. He had devised a multi-spectral camera and uncovered five centuries of secrets within Leonardo’s iconic painting. The experience leads her to a da Vinci discovery. Overlooked for centuries yet visual to the naked eye Cocciardi detected the minute, interlocking knot pattern on Mona Lisa’s dress deviated from the decorative embroidery of the day to a mathematical pattern based on its angular crossing patterns. She realized it was invented by the painter and served as Leonardo’s ‘logo’ or trademark. Leonardo's combined expertise in art and mathematics gave him the unique ability to translate these miniscule, interlaced wonderments into the glorious visual beauty found in his masterpieces.

The concept of a blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto to maintain a distributed ledger. In addition to its security important performance measures of a blockchain protocol are its transaction throughput and confirmation latency. In a decentralized setting these measures are limited by two underlying physical network attributes: communication capacity and speed-of-light propaga- tion delay. In this work we introduce Prism a new proof-of-work blockchain protocol which can achieve 1) security against up to 50% adversarial hashing power 2) optimal throughput up to the capacity C of the network 3) confirmation latency for honest trans- actions proportional to the propagation delay D with confirmation error probability exponentially small in the bandwidth-delay prod- uct CD 4) eventual total ordering of all transactions. Our approach to the design of this protocol is based on deconstructing Nakamoto's blockchain into its basic functionalities and systematically scaling up these functionalities to approach their physical limits.

Photos and videos of this evening