A nonprofit organization devoted to interdisciplinary studies, public events and free hands-on education; and producer of the L.A.S.T. Festival in the San Francisco Bay area
The Thymos Foundation, producer of the Life Art Science and Technology (L.A.S.T.) Festival, aims at organizing, presenting and nurturing interdisciplinary events that combine art, tech and science to help reshape the cultural environment of the 21st century towards a multidimensional form of individual and social creativity.
The LAST Festival is a new kind of festival celebrating daring entrepreneurs, thinkers, scientists, artists and engineers, whose passion and vision have reshaped their industries, our lives and the future.
Silicon Valley is at the epicenter of technological, scientific and other creative innovations that impacts life for all of us. It is vital that in democratic society, all have a voice and access to these thought leaders or influencers, in determining together how this culture evolves.The LAST Festival is the platform to democratize and broaden access to people in the Bay Area and beyond. Our programming is a vehicle for the public to have a voice, for action and change - a platform to share and interact with new technology, new art - where science, art and technology intersects
We seek to inform, educate, mobilize, catalyze, maximize best ideas and opportunities for individual empowerment by connecting the public to leading innovators of Silicon Valley. Our symposia create common ground for open dialog between engineers and artists on the future of art and tech and how it impacts our world.
We are purposeful, civic-minded, democratic process that values sharing new knowledge with the public, bringing together thought leaders and change-makers - providing actionable information, encouraging cross-pollinization and entrepreneurship.
We are inspired and driven by the civic public who attend our events and engage with our presenters. We are dedicated to making a meaningful impact in the lives of our audience.
Be intentional about culture. We are all stakeholders in how new science, technology and art intersect and affect our culture and human existence. Our public gatherings facilitate access to the current world of science, tech and art - inspiring more people to participate in and contribute towards determining the direction of an evolving, dynamic culture of this region.
All events are free and open to the public.
Why art/science/tech interaction matters. An ode to interdisciplinary work.
Creativity does not happen in a vacuum, whether it's art, tech or science. They all coexist, influence each other and interact. Silicon Valley did not happen in a vacuum, it happened within the intense cultural ecosystem of the Bay Area. Thymos aims at organizing, presenting and nurturing interdisciplinary events that combine art, tech and science to help reshape the cultural environment of the 21st century towards a multidimensional form of individual and social creativity.
Art is the recreation of the world in human image. Each mind does it differently
because each mind is different. Needless to say, the existence of millions of
different views of the world would make life very difficult.
Luckily we also have science.
Art is the process of creating a very personal view of the world.
Science is the process of creating a very impersonal view of the world.
So society has
actually evolved away from the arts and towards a uniform view of the world.
Art loves diversity, variety, unorthodoxy: there are many truths in art.
Science aims for one and only one universal truth.
Art renders the familiar unfamiliar.
Science renders the unfamiliar familiar (or, at least, manageable).
The two complement each other in many ways.
major scientific revolutions have usually coincided with major artistic booms,
whether in Athens, Florence, England or... the Bay Area.
The Bay Area was a refuge for unorthodox thinkers, writers, musicians and
artists before it became a hub of unorthodox technology.
Unfortunately, in highly technological/scientific regions, there is a tendency
towards specialization, and therefore against interdisciplinarity.
Specialization, ultimately, means: knowing more and more about less and less.
The alarm was sounded already in the 20th century:
Lucio Fontana's "White Manifesto" (1946),
CP Snow's "The Two Cultures" (1959) ,
WT Jones' "The Sciences and the Humanities" (1965), etc.
The fragmentation of knowledge creates boundaries, turns the continuum of
human knowledge into a set of discrete cells.
The digital revolution of the 21st century is providing the opportunity for
an unprecedented degree of exchange, interaction, integration, convergence and
blending. We can see the continuum again.
Artists can be made aware and increasingly employ technology and science
in their work. Scientists and engineers can be made aware that there is more
than just a new paper or a new release in life.
The business world is becoming more aware that art educates people to be
creative, that art can help usher in a paradigm shift.
The evolution of society
depends on all facets to evolve, not just one.
What the Thymos Foundation can contribute to STEAM. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)
We want people to see the continuum.
Our original motivation was to "democratize" what is referred to as
"high culture". This culture tends to be by specialists for specialists.
It spreads outside institutions via conferences or salons, but rarely
via public programs. Sometimes public programs "democratize" it by
lowering the quality of the content, so as to appeal to the "masses".
By "democratize it", we do not mean that we want to lower the caliber of the
We like the challenge.
We want to bring to the general public the kind of high-caliber programs
that are usually reserved for the specialists.
We want to make accessible to everybody the kind of high-level knowledge that
tends to be reserved for an elite; typically, an academic elite.
We perceived this as a missing link, a gap to be filled.
Our "democratizing" process is not about lowering the standards of the scientific,
technological, humanistic and artistic programs that are offered by
specialized institutions; on the contrary, we want to bring
the highest possible standard of presentation to the general public.
Hence we want to involve the top scientists, inventors, scholars and artists.
Hence all our events are designed to be free and open to everybody.
What the LAST Festival accomplishes in the Bay Area.
Today the Bay Area ("Silicon Valley" has become a reductive term) is the world's
most powerful technological driver. It has grown so rapidly that it lacks the
kind of cultural and social identity that other metropolitan centers naturally
acquired over the centuries.
We celebrate the entire ecosystem. We try the cement a sense of community
that goes beyond the "high-tech" boom.
The LAST festival combines talks by top scientists, engineers and thinkers with
an exhibition of interactive high-tech art installations, live performances, and free workshops; all of them around the new technology and science that is shaping the 21st century.
We were encouraged by the enthusiasm that people from different fields
expressed from this simple idea.
It is telling that this festival was founded and it is still run by unpaid volunteers.
The original budget was zero.
We have had stellar speakers who simply spoke because they liked the idea.
All the artists paid for their expenses to exhibit their digital interactive
There are plenty of organizations that offer great talks, starting with the
local universities, the museums and institutions such as the
Computer History Museum.
What is special about the LAST festival is
the merge of the sciences and the humanities
(the "A" should really be a more general "H").
The LAST festival is an offshoot of the LASER series that LAST's founder
Piero Scaruffi has been running in the Bay Area since 2008 (at Stanford Univ.,
U.C. Berkeley and Univ. of San Francisco) and that has spread
to 14 universities worldwide under the aegis of Leonardo ISAST.
Overall, the LASERs have had more than 200 speakers.
They still exist and grew by orders of magniture because both the speakers
and the audience sent a simple feedback: "we need something like this".
The LAST festival was born as a "bigger" LASER with a selection of the
best LASER speakers of all times and of
the best artists.
Now the festival is trying to add new sections: performances,
sociological debates on the effects of digital technology,
an exhibition of "makers" (as 3D Printing is changing the whole concept of
what a maker is), etc.
21st century culture is being expanded both horizontally (thanks to the emergence of new poles such as China) and vertically (thanks to the emergence of new technologies).
The Global Contemporary (the title of a recent ZKM exhibition) is being shaped by the tension between an increasingly multicultural world (that tends to fragment and polarize) the ubiquity of the digital (that tends to flatten and homogenize).
A methodological and aesthetic revolution is being driven by fluid incoherence between antithetical poles: local/global, micro/macro, analog/digital, real/virtual...
A new form of culture is emerging that reflects the ubiquity of
disruptive innovation and the total defamiliarization entailed by it.
The "ordinary" is increasingly extraordinary, and seldom private, because the
new ideologies of production and consumption entail the constant monitoring of private life while offering ever newer forms of nonstop participation.
Founder, Author, Cultural Historian, Scientist
graduated in Mathematics (summa cum laude) in 1982 from University of Turin, where he did work in General Theory of Relativity. For a number of years he was the founding director of the Artificial Intelligence Center at Olivetti, based in Cupertino, California, and later joined IntelliCorp, which had been one of the earliest Artificial Intelligence startups. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University and Stanford University conducting research on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, has lectured in three continents, teaches two classes at U.C. Berkeley, and has published a number of books ranging from Cognitive Science to Rock Music. As a software consultant, he pioneered Internet applications, Artificial Intelligence and Object-Orientated design in Silicon Valley. He also co-wrote a massive "History of Silicon Valley" (2012), that has been translated in Chinese (2014) and voted seventh most influential book of the year.
"Synthesis" (2009) collects poems and meditations.
He pioneered Internet-based journalism. In 1985 he created his first e-zine, distributed by e-mail over the Internet. Between 1986 and 1990 he created an online database, downloadable via ftp. That database mutated into his own website in 1995: www.scaruffi.com
That website became the main avenue for his writings about popular and avantgarde music. His main books on music are: "A History of Rock and Dance Music" (2009), "A History of Jazz Music 1900-2000" (2007), "A History of Popular Music before Rock Music" (2007), and a guide to avantgarde music (out of print and being revised on the website). He also writes regularly about cinema, literature, science and history.
He has organized several interdisciplinary cultural events in the Bay Area. He founded the Leonardo Art Science Evenings (LASERs) in January 2008 under the aegis of Leonardo ISAST. By 2015 LASERs were being held at University of San Francisco, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley (all three chaired by him in person), UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, in New York, in Washington DC at the National Academy of Science, in London at the Univ of Westminster, as well as in Texas, Kansas, Seattle, Toronto, etc.
In 2014 he founded the LAST (Life Art Science Tech) festival.
An avid traveler who spends months on the road, he had visited more than 160 countries of the world as of 2015.
In 2012 he published two ebooks on the Visual Arts: "A Visual History of the Visual Arts - Part 1: From Impressionism to Surrealism" and "A Visual History of the Visual Arts - Part 2: From Abstract Art to Conceptual Art"; which were followed by "A Visual History of the Visual Arts - Part 3: The Age of Globalization (2013).