Leonardo Journal Volume 49, Issue 3, 2016

Leonardo is published five times a year. Leonardo is edited by Leonardo/the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, and published by the MIT Press.

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Artist-Scientists Are Designers
by Jack Ox

Leonardo Gallery

Scientific Delirium Madness 2.0

Introduction by Margot Knight

ABSTRACT: Gallery Artists: Allison Cobb, Luca Forcucci, Deborah Forster, Christine Lee, Rachel Mayeri, Guillermo Muñoz-Matutano, Kate Nichols, Karl Schaffer and Eleni Sikelianos

Artists’ Article

Motion Tracking of a Fish as a Novel Way to Control Electronic Music Performance

by Shaltiel Eloul, Gil Zissu, Yehiel H. Amo and Nori Jacoby

ABSTRACT: The authors have mapped the three-dimensional motion of a fish onto various electronic music performance gestures, including loops, melodies, arpeggio and DJ-like interventions. They combine an element of visualization, using an LED screen installed on the back of an aquarium, to create a link between the fish’s motion and the sonified music. This visual addition provides extra information about the fish’s role in the music, enabling the perception of versatile and developing auditory structures during the performance that extend beyond the sonification of the momentary motion of objects.

Artists’ Note

Robocygne: Dancing Life into an Animal-Human-Machine

by Åsa Unander-Scharin and Carl Unander-Scharin

ABSTRACT: Robocygne is an artistic project that revolves around the development of a custom-built robotic bird, dancing to a remix of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The artists created the choreography through a process in which movements were danced into the robot by the choreographer’s manipulation of the bird’s limbs, by hand, to the music. To enable this multitracking procedure, the artists, in collaboration with the engineers, developed novel software that allowed overlying recording of motions in synchronization with an audio track. From an artistic perspective, the authors discuss the search for choreographic and musical qualities and emphasize how material aspects of body and technology interrelate with emotional expression in Robocygne.

General Article

Interdisciplinary Teaching of Visual Perception through Art and Science

by Leslie Welch and Carl Fasano

ABSTRACT: The authors propose a variational art algorithm: a virtual system-based optimization algorithm developed for generating images. Observing that the topology optimization method used for multiphysics system design can produce two- or three-dimensional layouts without baselines, the authors propose to expand it beyond engineering applications for generating images. They have devised a virtual physical system—a heat-path system—that “interprets” the optimization-based process of image generation as the simultaneous drawing of multiple strokes in a painting.

Historical Perspective: Pioneers and Pathbreakers

The Howard Wise Gallery Show Computer-Generated Pictures (1965): A 50th-Anniversary Memoir

by A. Michael Noll

ABSTRACT: In April 1965, the Howard Wise Gallery in New York City held a show of computer-generated pictures by Bela Julesz and Michael Noll. This show was a very early public exhibit of digital art in the United States. This essay is a memoir of that show.

Special Section: Third International Conference on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design (EvoMUSART 2014)

Introduction by Guest Editors Juan Romero and James McDermott

Spatiotemporal Ideation and Generation with Interactive Evolutionary Design

by Jonathan Eisenmann, Matthew Lewis and Rick Parent

ABSTRACT: Interactive evolutionary design tools enable human intuition and creative decision-making in high-dimensional design domains while leaving technical busywork to the computer. Current evolutionary algorithms for interactive design tools accept only feedback about entire design candidates, not their parts, which can lead to user fatigue. This article describes several case studies in which designers used an enhanced interactive evolutionary design tool with region-of-interest feedback for character animation tasks. This enhanced interactive evolutionary design tool is called the Interactive Design with Evolutionary Algorithms and Sensitivity (IDEAS) tool. Designers’ feedback and narratives about their experiences with the tool show that interactive evolutionary algorithms can be made suitable for the ideation and generation of digital assets, even in time-varying domains.

Beyond Interactive Evolution: Expressing Intentions through Fitness Functions

by Penousal Machado, Tiago Martins, Hugo Amaro and Pedro H. Abreu

ABSTRACT: Photogrowth is a creativity support tool for the creation of nonphotorealistic renderings of images. The authors discuss its evolution from a generative art application to an interactive evolutionary art tool and finally into a meta-level interactive art system in which users express their artistic intentions through the design of a fitness function. The authors explore the impact of these changes on the sense of authorship, highlighting the range of imagery that can be produced by the system.

Codeform: A Balancing Act between Variation and Utility in Evolutionary Art

by Jon McCormack

ABSTRACT: This paper describes the artwork Codeform, an interactive, evolutionary ecosystem of virtual “creatures” created by scanning museum visitor admission tickets at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria, in 2014. The paper first describes technical mechanisms used to realize the work and then discusses the issues of finding a genotypic representation that is terse but expressive—that is, one that maximizes the useful variations that the genotype is capable of expressing in phenotype space.


Flexographıc Artists’ Books

by Ilgım Veryeri Alaca and Rumelifeneri Yolu

ABSTRACT: This article introduces experimental artists’ books created in the interstices between technology and tradition. The series of books are created by utilizing scraps produced via flexographic label printing. Each book is constituted by means of the accumulation of paper on the machine, which introduces a never-ending page structure as a result of the continuous roll, creating a swirling formation. The work is an inquiry on growth, imperfection, form and time, enriched by the impact of mechanical processes that are inherent to the creation of the book. It also investigates experimental uses of printing and paper-cutting mechanisms.

Exploring Art+Science Projects

by Ariel Kupfer

ABSTRACT: The author describes his recent projects in collaboration with scientists from the Ecole des Mines (MINES ParisTech—Centre des Matériaux). Lava Coins (2007–2009) develops a dialogue between the material and the immaterial, the natural and the industrial, external aspects and internal structure. Glass Microskeletons (2010–2012) explores the creative process through the optics of glass. Unicellular algae (diatoms) build their exoskeletons in silica through a process of biomineralization. The result is a recording of microscopic architectures in optical glass, making visible their invisible forms and documenting in objects a voyage through the intimacies of silica.

Morphometrics Show Sam Francis’s Painted Forms Are Statistically Similar to Cells in Biological Tissues

by Fayha Lakhani, Hanh Dang, Peter Selz and Tamira Elul

ABSTRACT: The paintings of the abstract expressionist artist Sam Francis contain vivid biomorphic forms. One influence for Francis may have been microscopic images of biological tissues he observed in premedical courses prior to becoming an artist. Using two morphometric measurements common in cell biology, the authors show that forms in Francis’s paintings are statistically similar to cells in biological tissues that resemble his paintings. This study highlights specific similarities between forms in Francis’s paintings and biology. It also presents a novel application of biological morphometrics that could help clarify the creative process and psychological appeal of Francis and other “organic” artists.

Leonardo Reviews

Reviews by Jan Baetens, Giovanna Costantini, Edith Doove, Amy Ione, Ana Peraica, Brian Reffin Smith and Ian Verstegen

Leonardo Network News


#OSJUBA: Open Urbanism in Post-Conflict Transformation

by Stephen Kovats


Updated 1 June 2016