Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of March 11, 2013

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, March 11, 2013
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - Maier Room
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi and Tami Spector

The LASERs are a national 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.

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...

  • 6:45pm-7:00pm: Socializing/networking.
  • 7:00-7:25:
  • Terry Berlier (Stanford) on "Where the beginning meets the end" Making visible technology's vulnerabilities and illustrating how easily modern inventions can become footnotes to a bygone era... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50:
    Curt Frank (Stanford Univ) on "Historical Pigments: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" Art, Chemistry and Madness: the Science of Art Materials... 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:
    Deborah Gordon (Stanford) on "Anternet: How ant colonies use interaction networks" The diverse networking algorithms of ants can suggest how to adapt engineered data and communication networks... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00:
    Katharine Hawthorne (Choreographer) on "Choreography as Research" Choreography as embodied and experiential research... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Terry Berlier is an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily with sculpture and expanded media. Her work is often kinetic, interactive and/or sound based and focuses on everyday objects, the environment, ideas of nonplace/place and queer practice. She has exhibited in solo and group shows both nationally and internationally. Her work has been reviewed in the BBC News Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and in the book `Seeing Gertrude Stein' published by University of California Press. Her work is in several collections including the Progressive Corporation in Cleveland Ohio, Kala Art Institute in Berkeley California and Bildwechsel Archive in Berlin Germany. She has received numerous residencies and grants including the Zellerbach Foundation Berkeley, Arts Council Silicon Valley Artist Fellowship, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research Fellow at Stanford University, Recology San Francisco, Hungarian Multicultural Center in Budapest Hungary, Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco, Arts Council Silicon Valley Artist Fellowship, California Council for Humanities California Stories Fund and the Millay Colony for Artists. She currently is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University.
  • Curt 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.
  • Deborah Gordon is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Stanford. She studies collective organization by investigating the ecology and behavior of ant colonies, including a population of harvester ant colonies in Arizona, the invasive Argentine ant in northern California, and ant-plant mutualisms in tropical forests in Central America. She is the author of two books, Ants at Work (2000) and Ant Encounters:Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior (2010). She has been awarded fellowships from Guggenheim and the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. She is interested in analogies between ant colonies and other distributed networks such as brains, the immune system, the internet, and distributed robotic systems.
  • Katharine Hawthorne is a San Francisco based choreographer and dancer working at the intersection of art and science. She has performed with Hope Mohr Dance, Liss Fain Dance, and Ledges and Bones, among others. Her choreography has been presented widely in the San Francisco Bay Area, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Belgium, Greece, and Argentina. Katharine holds a B.S. in Physics and Dance, with honors, from Stanford University.
  • Piero Scaruffi is a cognitive scientist who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, the latest ones being "Thinking about Through" and "Intelligence is not Artificial" and . 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. He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.

Address and directions:

University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
SF, CA 94117
From Hall - Maier Room

See the campus map and directions

Extended abstracts

Where the beginning meets the end. Berlier will discuss recent works made while in two residencies this year. First at Recology San Francisco (aka the dump) making visible technology's vulnerabilities and illustrating how easily modern inventions can become footnotes to a bygone era. Second at LKV in Norway including a solar powered sculpture that plays "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles utilizing the long summer days of twenty-four hour light experienced in Norway. The work explores ongoing concepts with natural time recorders, environmental concerns and kinetics but through new materials like solar technology. Berlier is an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily with sculpture and expanded media. Her work is often kinetic, interactive and/or sound based and focuses on the environment.

Anternet: How ant colonies use interaction networks.
Ant colonies work without any central control. The queen does not direct other ants; she merely lays the eggs. Ants can change tasks, and the colony adjusts the effort allocated to different tasks, such as nest construction, caring for larvae, and foraging, in a coordinated way. Each ant responds only to local information, including its its recent experience of interactions with other ants. The important interactions are brief antennal contacts. Ants smell with their antennae and through brief antennal contact, one ant can assess the task of the other using odor cues. Each ant uses its recent rate of interaction in its decision about what to do next. What matters is the pattern of interactions, not their content. A long-term study of the behavior and ecology of harvester ants in the Arizona shows how colonies regulate foraging to minimize water loss. The system is based on simple positive feedback: ants go out to forage in response to the rate at which returning foragers come back with food. Our work shows how this system, which we call "Anternet", is analogous to the one that regulates the flow of data in the Internet. Ants are an enormously diverse group of about 11,000 species. Each species has evolved different ways of regulating its behavior according to the constraints of a particular environment. For example, our work on the invasive Argentine ant considers how they succeed by finding patchy resources before any competing species arrive. Another method is used by turtle ant colonies, living in the trees of tropical forests, to create flexible circuits that are robust to frequent disruption. The diverse networking algorithms of ants can suggest how to adapt engineered data and communication networks.

Historical Pigments.
In collaboration with Sara Loesch-Frank, artist, calligrapher and teacher, I have taught a Stanford Sophomore Seminar on "Art, Chemistry and Madness: the Science of Art Materials" for the past six years. In this class, the basic concepts of materials science are taught in the context of examining paintings, calligraphic works on paper or vellum, and ceramics. Paintings provide the primary emphasis in the class, where the central thesis is that a painting is a physical object. This laminated structure consists of several layers of varying properties: wood, fabric, or metal substrate; natural or synthetic sealant; natural or synthetic ground; paint layer consisting of pigments bound by egg yolk, oil, or acrylic medium; and possibly a natural or synthetic protective varnish. This composite material is subject to mechanical stresses due to variation in thermal expansion coefficients of the different layers and photo-oxidation followed by embrittlement of the polymeric binders, the combination of which leads to predictable failure patterns (the cracquelure or "crackle"). Through analysis of a painting using the basic approaches of materials science, I hope to develop an appreciation that everything around us is made of materials. If we can view the painting as a physical object, we can understand the reasons why some things break and others do not, why some objects discolor in the sun and others do not, and why some items are toxic and others are not. Thus, the painting is a metaphor for our man-made world: everything is made of something, and the performance of that something will depend on its composition, processing, and morphology. My LASER presentation will attempt to capture the spirit of this Sophomore Seminar through discussion of several historical pigments, including ultramarine, vermillion, orpiment, and azurite.

Choreography as Research.
In my creative practice, I treat choreography as embodied and experiential research. I use movement to filter the foundations of the natural world - particles, sound waves, light, force, mass, direction - through the lens of human experience. This presentation explores some of the topics at play in my current performance project Analog. Topics include group decision making, improvisation as an iterative learning algorithm, and the experience of performance as a complex system.

Photos and videos