Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 12 March 2019

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, 12 March 2019, 7pm
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - Berman 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...

Program (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Juniper Harrower (UC Santa Cruz) on "Merging art and science to save Joshua trees" An eco-art and social-science approach to understand the ways that climate change impacts key symbiotic interactions... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Fabio Barry (Stanford/ Art History) on "Where Do White Temples Come From?" The Acropolis was an anomaly... the Greeks strove to build in light... 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: Andrew Blanton (San Jose State Univ) on "Networks as Art and Extended Interface" A philosophical look at the relationship between alchemy and cyberpunk aesthetics of the 1980's... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Stephen Auger (Media Artist & Light Theorist) and Benjamin Smarr on "Interstellar Hallucination" Visualization of patterns that inform nearly all shamanic and archaic traditions... Read more
  • Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Stephen Auger has worked as a Cross-disciplinary artist and light theorist for over four decades. He trained in physics and neuroscience at Hampshire College and The Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT. Auger's paintings explore the boundaries of visual perception encouraging viewers to experience "sensing" as a conscious mode of perception. His pursuit of the enigmatic sensory qualities experienced in the light of dawn and dusk led him into collaborations with Dr. Margaret Livigstone and Dr. Benjamin Smarr. Auger's exploration time-base perception and self-organizing pattern and form emanate from his work with the dynamic interaction of matter with vibration and elemental forces of nature. Auger's mentors include Edwin Land, Joseph Albers protege Arthur Hoener. His paintings and sculptures are in private, corporate and museum collections internationally, including Yale University, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Malcolm Forbes Jr., The Carnegie Institute of Science. Stephen is currently involved in several collaborative curatorial, teaching, and research projects. Auger lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Benjamin Smarr studies the temporal structures that biological systems make as they move through time. He is a NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow with a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Washington, Seattle. He joined the UC Berkeley Kriegsfeld Lab in 2013, where he works to understand how physiological dynamics like sleep, circadian rhythms, and ovulatory cycles are shaped by the brain, and how disturbances to those cycles give rise to disease. He uses comparative physiology and neuroendocrinology approaches coupled with data analytics and sensor design to build predictive models for use in personalized medicine and education optimization efforts. Dr. Smarr is also an advocate for scientific outreach, and routinely gives public lectures and visits K-12 classrooms to help promote the idea that by understanding the biology that guides us, we can live more empowered lives. Dr. Smarr's collaboration with Cross-disciplinary artist Stephen Auger address the fundamental relationships between aesthetic perception, sensory well-being and the dynamic movement of light over time, which are central to Auger's artistic vision.
  • Fabio Barry is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and, by courtesy, Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at Stanford University. Originally trained as an architect, his research and teaching still gravitates to this art form, although he is deeply interested in painting and sculpture of all periods as well as archaeology. Much of his published research has concentrated on artistic production in Rome, particularly Baroque architecture, treating themes from liturgy to light metaphysics. His most recent work, published or in press, has been on medieval and antique subjects, particularly sculpture. An ongoing interest, the subject of his PhD, is the imagery of marble in the visual arts and literature from antiquity until the age of enlightenment, in which he attempts to identify the evocative qualities of materials (the "Material Imagination") before the era of mass production and standardization distanced materials from the realm of nature and myth.
  • Andrew Blanton is a media artist and percussionist. He received his BM in Music Performance from The University of Denver (2008) and a Masters of Fine Arts in New Media Art at the University of North Texas (2013). He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Media Art at San Jose State University in San Jose California teaching data visualization and a Research Fellow in the UT Dallas ArtSciLab in Dallas Texas. His current work focuses on the emergent potential between cross-disciplinary arts and technology, building sound and visual environments through software development, and and building scientifically accurate representations complex data sets as visual and sound compositions. Andrew has advanced expertise in percussion, creative software development, and developing projects in the confluence of art and science.
  • Juniper Harrower studies the complexities of species interactions under climate change as both an ecologist and an artist. As a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, her research focuses on the symbiotic interactions between Joshua trees, their soil fungi, and moth pollinators in Joshua Tree National Park. She uses current science methods and a multi-media place based art practice to investigate the outcomes of human influence on ecological systems. By approaching her study system through art and science, she hopes to better understand the form and function of the organisms she studies as well as share the hidden beauty of these threatened species interactions with others. Harrower's research is published in both science and art scholarly journals, and has contributed to shaping environmental policy and advising the Department of Fish and Wildlife's review of Joshua trees for endangered species status. Her work is exhibited locally and internationally in galleries and museums, and her research and artistic products have received broad exposure in popular media such as National Geographic, the associated press, podcasts, music festivals and conferences.
  • 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.

Extended abstracts:

Human induced global change has greatly contributed to species loss with profound consequences for humans and other organisms. The iconic Joshua tree is threatened by the changing climate and may be extinct from its namesake park within a century. This loss will have countless impacts on local ecosystems and sociocultural identities. To address such complex issues requires innovative approaches that transcend disciplines and inspire sustainable actions. Now is a critical time to seek shared opportunities for art and ecological research, both for interdisciplinary problem solving as well as greater public reach. But with the rapid pace of climate change and the slow adoption of sustainable actions, how can art-science integrated research enhance our understanding of interspecies connections and support the development of sustainable societies? In this talk, I will discuss my ecological, eco-art, and social science approach to understand the ways that climate change impacts key symbiotic interactions for the distribution of Joshua trees, and how ecological research that is connected to an arts practice could affect social change. I will share my recent science discoveries on Joshua tree reproduction and survival under climate change, and how I engage diverse communities in the experience and discourse of species loss through the creation of a stop motion animation, an online dating site for Joshua trees, and an experimental painted soil study.

Starting with an etymological breakdown of alchemy and relating the practice to cyberpunk aesthetics of the 80's and 90's and tying that all to contemporary critical theory/philosophy looking at Merleau-Ponty/Deleuze/Negarestani while showing my work throughout.

Visualizations of spirals, fractals, waves, radials, zigzags, honeycombs, pinwheels, and "seed" patterns induced by light inform nearly all shamanic, indigenous, religious and archaic traditions. In 1819, Jan Purkinje, the father of modern neuroscience first described the swirling geometric visual patterns brought on by diffuse flickering light as phenomena of perception rather than a supernatural encounter. Profoundly influential experiences are found through all recorded time from cave art, shamanistic trance to Pythagorean geometry. Adepts and seekers sought the night sky, caves, and sacred space at specific seasonal moments to elevate shafts and particles of light into visionary encounters. When the human visual system encounters specific frequencies of diffuse flickering light, most people experience beautiful swirling colorful geometric patterns. The dynamics of the patterns are related to altered neuronal activity between the thalamus and the visual cortex, but there is still much that is not well understood. The phenomena is an interesting "hack," which reveals the inner workings of the human visual system without the need for "pharmacological" assistance.

We take for granted that the ancient world was teeming with brilliant white temples. But we have forgotten that the Acropolis was an anomaly, that the marble temples derived from monumental statuary, and that the Greeks strove to build in light.

Photos and videos of this evening