Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of June 2020

Temporary Online Edition


Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Hosted from Stanford during June 2020
by Piero Scaruffi

A Stanford L.A.S.E.R. was planned for June 2020. Since we cannot hold the physical event, we invited the speakers to switch to an online presentation, and, since we don't need to book a room in a building, we let the speakers pick the best date for their talk. In most cases it will be a "fireside chat" rather than the traditional lecture. The Life Art Science Tech (L.A.S.T.) dialogues. We started with Life and will end the month with Online Art (scroll down).

(Note: All times are California time)


  • June 8 @ 7pm: Catherine Blish (Stanford/ Infectious Diseases) on "Covid-19: What we know and don't know"
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    Catherine Blish is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and an Assistant Director of the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program. Her clinical focus is on infectious diseases. She received her PhD in Immunology from the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she then pursued a fellowship in Infectious Disease, with a research focus on immune correlates of HIV-1 infection. Her current research aims to understand the successes and failures of the immune system in order to better harness it to prevent infections. Her lab is perhaps best known for redefining our understanding of the diversity of human natural killer cells, a critical first line of defense against viruses and tumors. She has received numerous awards for research and mentoring, including the Stanford Immunology Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, the ICAAC Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Microbiology, the Beckman Young Investigator Award, the McCormick Faculty Award, the Baxter Faculty Scholar, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award, the Tashia and John Morgridge Faculty Scholar in Pediatric Translational Medicine, and a NIH Director's New Innovator Award.
  • June 10 @ 7pm: Mark Jacobson (Stanford) on "Impact of 100% clean, renewable Green New Deal roadmaps on costs, jobs, health, and climate in 143 countries"
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    Mark Z. Jacobson is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director of the Atmosphere Energy Program at Stanford University. His career has focused on better understanding air pollution and global warming problems and developing large-scale clean, renewable energy solutions to them. Toward that end, he has developed and applied three-dimensional atmosphere-biosphere-ocean computer models and solvers to simulate air pollution, weather, climate, and renewable energy. He has also developed roadmaps to transition states and countries to 100% clean, renewable energy for all purposes and computer models to examine grid stability in the presence of high penetrations of renewable energy.

    Global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today. This talk discusses the development of technical and economic roadmaps to convert the energy infrastructures of homes, cities, countries, and the world to those powered by 100% wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) for all purposes after energy efficiency measures have been accounted for. All purposes includes electricity, transportation, building heating/cooling, and industry. The talk further discusses the electricity and heat generation technologies and the electricity, heat, cold, and hydrogen storage technologies needed. It also discusses methods of keeping the electric power grid stable. Roadmaps have been developed for 143 countries, including the United States. Results indicate the grid can remain stable at low cost in each of 20 world regions encompassing these 143 countries. Aside from mitigating global warming, these roadmaps have the potential to eliminate 7 million air pollution deaths annually, stabilize energy prices, reduce catastrophic risk, and reduce international conflict over energy.


  • June 15 @ 6pm: Andra Keay on "Robots & Pandemics".
    What can robots do to prevent a pandemic and to help during a pandemic? Robots are taking over during the pandemic, from Rwanda to Romania, and they may be here to stay.
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    Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra is also founder of Robot Launch, global robotics startup competition, cofounder of Robot Garden hackerspace, mentor at hardware accelerators and startup advisor. As well as being an active angel investor in robotics startups, Andra is a Director at Robohub.org, the global site for news and views on robotics, as well as Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley's CITRIS People and Robots initiative, Andra graduated as an ABC film, television and radio technician in 1986 and obtained a BA in Communication from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Australia, in 1998, where she taught interaction design from 2009 to 2010. She obtained her MA in Human-Robot Culture at the University of Sydney, Australia in 2011, building on a background as a robot geek, STEM educator and film-maker and was selected as an HRI Pioneer in 2010. Andra has keynoted at major conferences in USA, China, Australia, Canada, etc. She is also a Visiting Scholar with the UC's CITRIS People and Robots Research Group.

    Note: there will be a continuation of this topic on June 18 @ 6pm with the participation (live from China) of Zhang Xuequn, vicechair of the International Association of Robotics Associations. See this page to register for that follow-up.


  • June 23 @ 3pm:
    Panel on "Rethinking Art for the Online World: Online Art, Online Exhibitions, Online Audience " (Part 1 of a discussion about Online Art)
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    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    (chat file )

    The pandemic forced many activities to move online, and the art world was not spared; but what does it mean to move art online? The pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink art on and for the medium of the Internet. Which art is "exhibited" online (as opposed to just "documented")? What is an online exhibition of art? The World-wide web "is" an exhibition of offline art, and any artist's website is an exhibition of the artist's physical art: but is that really an "exhibition"? or is it just the equivalent of a book describing the art? What do artists do online that they don't do in a physical space? What is the role of the curator in an online exhibition? What is the role of the gallery and of the museum for online art? One line of action that opens up online is collaboration, but collaboration has never been widespread in the visual arts. Why is it natural for sound artists to collaborate and perform as a unit while visual artists rarely do? Why is it normal for the Rolling Stones to be a band whereas a visual artist is expected to work individually, and often in solitude? Historically the moments of great crises have often resulted in an explosion of creativity: the "Spanish flu" and World War I witnessed the birth of revolutionary movements like Dadaism, De Stijl, Constructivism besides the first jazz record and the boom of cinema; the polio pandemic and World War II witnessed the birth of bebop jazz, abstract expressionism, existentialist philosophy and Italian neorealist cinema. Could the Covid pandemic, coupled with international tensions, be the trigger for another quantum jump in cultural creativity?

    • Chris Chafe is a composer, improvisor, and cellist, developing much of his music alongside computer-based research. He is Director of Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). In 2019, he was International Visiting Research Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies The University of British Columbia, Visiting Professor at the Politecnico di Torino, and Edgard-Varse Guest Professor at the Technical University of Berlin. At IRCAM (Paris) and The Banff Centre (Alberta), he has pursued methods for digital synthesis, music performance and real-time internet collaboration. CCRMA's jacktrip project involves live concertizing with musicians the world over. Online collaboration software and research into latency factors continue to evolve. An active performer either on the net or physically present, his music reaches audiences in sometimes novel venues. An early network project was a simultaneous five-country concert was hosted at the United Nations in 2009. Chafe's works include gallery and museum music installations which are now into their second decade with "musifications" resulting from collaborations with artists, scientists and MD's. Recent work includes the Earth Symphony, the Brain Stethoscope project (Gnosisong), PolarTide for the 2013 Venice Biennale, Tomato Quintet for the transLife:media Festival at the National Art Museum of China and Sun Shot played by the horns of large ships in the port of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
    • Caroline Jones is Professor of art history, Director of the Transmedia Storytelling Initiative, and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives in the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT. She studies modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on its technological modes of production, distribution, and reception, as well as its interface with science. Dr. Jones has curated exhibitions such as Sensorium (2006), Video Trajectories (2007), and Hans Haacke 1967 (2011) at the MIT Visual Arts Center; her solo-authored publications include Machine in the Studio (1996/98), Eyesight Alone (2005/08), and The Global Work of Art (2016). She has edited Picturing Science, Producing Art (1998), Sensorium (2006), and Experience (2016). Her current research into bio-art and planetary symbiosis will result in an exhibition and publication Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere, slated for October 2022. Jones received her MA/PhD from Stanford University. She has been a fellow at the Institut national d'histoire de l'art in Paris, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College, and the Wissenschaftskolleg and Max-Planck-Institut fr Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin. Jones has received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities awards, and her films and exhibitions have appeared at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Arts in Tokyo, the List Visual Arts Center at MIT, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
    • Joel Slayton is a pioneering artist, researcher, and curator. He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art and Art History at San Jose State University, and has been the founding director of the CADRE laboratory for New Media (Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education), Executive Director of Zero1 that organized four international biennials in San Jose and exhibited the work of dozens of emerging art/tech artists, a member of the Board of Directors of LEONARDO/ISAST (International Society for Art, Science and Technology), Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum in Silicon Valley, and Editor in Chief of the Leonardo MIT Press Book Series. He has been Visiting Artist in Russia, Ireland, and New Zealand, besides the Art Institute of Chicago, UC Santa Cruz's Art-Science Institute, Mills College, the San Francisco Exploratorium, and Xerox PARC among others. He has exhibited his art installations at dozens of venues nation-wide, as well as in Canada, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Mexico. He was executive director of CADRE's Switch Journal (1998-2014), one of the earliest online journals focusing on art and technology, editor in chief of the Leonardo Book series, has published dozens of essays and has curated several exhibitions including the two most recent LAST Festivals.

  • June 24 @ 6pm:
    Panel on "Opportunities for Online Art/Science Interaction" (Part 2)
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    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    We continue the discussion about Online Art by broadening it to scholars who spent their life bridging the world of art and science. Which opportunities arise online for interaction between art and science? Much collaboration is created when people are in physical proximity, in the same campus or in the same building. Does the online world foster or deter interdisciplinary collaboration? The online world tends to create echo chambers, where one looks for what one is already familiar with, not with the unfamiliar. How can we foster collaboration across disciplines in the online world?

    • Bettina Forget is the director of SETI Institute's Artist-in-Residence program, where she was an artist in residence for three years. She is a visual artist, gallery owner, art educator, and researcher. Born in Germany, Bettina has studied at Central St-Martins School of Art in London, England and at Curtin University in Perth, Australia and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. She lived and worked for many years in Montreal, Canada, while pursuing a PhD in Art Education at Concordia University. Bettina's creative work a focuses on space sciences, inspired by her avid engagement with amateur astronomy. She has exhibited her artwork in the USA, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Singapore, and Nicaragua. In 2018 she joined the Convergence - Perceptions in Neuroscience Initiative as Vice President and Director of Fine Art.
    • Curtis Frank is a Professor in Chemical Engineering at Stanford and the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the School of Engineering. He was the founding Director of the Center on Polymer Interfaces and Macromolecular Assemblies, a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center sponsored by the National Science Foundation, from 1994 to 2010. He was also the Chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 2001 to 2006. His research interests are in polymer materials science, and he has current collaborations with the School of Medicine directed at development of an artificial cornea and toward hydrogel-based arrays for study of primary hepatocytes, with Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source on the development of proton and anion exchange membranes for fuel cells, and with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering on developing bio-based composites and foams for applications in the construction industry. In collaboration with his wife Sara Loesch-Frank, a calligrapher, artist, and art teacher, Curt has taught an Introductory Sophomore Seminar on "Art, Chemistry, and Madness: the Science of Art Materials" for the past six years. Curt lectures on a series of historical palettes: Paleolithic, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Industrial, and Contemporary.
    • Jennifer Parker is the founding Director of OpenLab, a collaborative research center at UC Santa Cruz. Parker served as Art Department Chair from 2012-17, helped spearhead the UCSC IDEA Hub for Social and Creative Entrepreneurship program from 2016-19, and is currently serving as campus lead PI for PlaceMakers: UC Place-based Art + Design a 2019 Multi-campus Research Initiative with UCSC, UCB, UCD, and UCSB. Parker also served as principal faculty for the Digital Arts & New Media (DANM) MFA program where she directed the Mechatronics collaborative research cohort from 2009-2015 developing research projects that combine art, design, science, and technology. She serves on the faculty advisory board for UCSC CITRIS and the Banatao Institute and is an active board member for SOUNDWAVE , a a Bay area non-profit promoting innovative voices in sound with captivating sound art and performance experiences. Parker maintains a multifaceted art practice at the intersection of art and science. From 2008-2012 she collaborated with artist Barney Haynes on SonicSENSE, an expandable and evolving site for art, culture, new technologies, collaboration, and participation. More recently Parker has been working with the Genomics Institute to develop an Art + Media Lab and is a founding member of The Algae Society: Bio Art and Design Collective.
    • Piero Scaruffi is a cultural historian who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science such as "Intelligence is not Artificial". He pioneered A.I. and Internet applications in the early 1980s and the use of the World-Wide Web for cultural purposes in the mid 1990s. He has published several books on music and his website, one of the oldest in the world, has been devoted to music, cinema and art since the beginning. He has also published "A History of Silicon Valley" that emphasizes the role that the arts had in shaping the biggest center of innovation of our age. He founded the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (L.A.S.E.R.) series in 2008, that now takes place in more than 30 cities of the world, and the Life Art Science Tech (L.A.S.T.) festival in 2014. Since 2015 he has been commuting between California and China, where several of his books have been translated.

  • June 25 @ 6pm:
    "Online Art for the Age of Plague" (Part 3).
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    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:
    • Alex Reben is an inventor and artist. Using "art as experiment" his work allows for the viewer to experience the future within metaphorical contexts. His artwork and research has been shown and published internationally and he consults with major companies guiding innovation for the social machine future. He has exhibited widely at venues both in the U.S. and internationally. His work has been covered by countless printed, TV and Internet media (NPR, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, New Scientist, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, Wired, etc). He has lectured at TED, SXSW, TTI Vanguard, Google, UC Berkeley, SMFA, CCA, MIT and other universities. Reben is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab where he studied human-robot symbiosis and art. The gallery and the social media links of his current projects are: https://www.qr2a.xyz/gallery/ , https://www.instagram.com/artboffin/ , https://twitter.com/artBoffin .
    • Jiabao Li is a media artist who graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Design with a Master of Design in Technology with Distinction and best thesis award, and from National University of Singapore with a Master of Electrical Engineering. She is currently a prototyping designer at Apple, inventing and exploring new products, interfaces, and technologies. Li creates new ways for humans to perceive the world. Her research-based projects range from wearables, projections, drones and installations to scientific experiments, and they explore how technology is transforming our perception, identity, emotion, and sensation. Jiabao's work has been featured in Domus, TechCrunch, Yahoo, CCTV, Yanko Design. Her work has been shown in Milan Design Week, Dubai Design Week, ISEA, CHI, Leonardo, SIGGRAPH, AR in Action, Codame, and PRIMER. She is the winner of Core77, FastCoDesign, iF Design Award, Future Cities Contest, and ISWC Design Award.
    • Craig Hobbs is currently Associate Professor of Digital Media Art at San Jos State University in San Jos, California. His video projection mapping projects involve collaboration with artists, students, and communities working across cultures and borders. Using workshops and peer-to-peer learning to develop community-based public artworks, his projects address issues of globalization, migration and technology. Hobbs' recent collaborations include Robin Lasser, Migratory Cultures, 2014-2019, 3rd Space Labs, Social Weavers, 2016-18, and Hidden Lily, 2018-19, and Yannick Jacquet of AntiVJ, VPM3D, 2015-2017. Since 2014, he has worked with artists, students, and cultural institutions to create video mapping projects in the cities of Bangalore, Panjim, Vadodara and Chennai, India, and across the wider Bay Area. Hobbs produces large-scale public art, projection mapping projects and films. His past collaborators include Natalie Jeremijenko, Usman Haque, Blast Theory, Andrea Polli, Yung-Ta Chang, AntiVJ, Robin Lasser, Thomas Dolby and fabric | ch, among others. His films include Solatrium and We Won't Bow Down. Hobbs received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts and his MFA from the Digital Arts and New Media program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has served as a visiting professor at Conservatoire National des Arts et Mtiers in Paris, France and as researcher and lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz and California College of the Arts in San Francisco.


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