Leonardo Journal Volume 41, Issue 1, (2008)

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Leonardo is a print journal, 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.

ONLINE ACCESS: Subscriptions to Leonardo include access to electronic versions of journal issues available on The MIT Press website.

ORDER: Subscriptions, individual issues and articles can also be ordered from The MIT Press.

PAST ISSUES: Browse tables of contents and abstracts of past issues of Leonardo and LMJ



A Call for New Leonardos

by Roger Malina

Special Section: Art Embodies A-Life: The VIDA Competition

Art Embodies A-Life: The VIDA Competition

by Nell Tenhaaf

ABSTRACT: Artificial Life artworks hold a unique place in the art world, one that has been largely mapped by the VIDA international competition through its annual recognition of outstanding works based on A-Life. Works that have received awards since the VIDA competition began in 1999 (25 prize-winning artworks and 56 honorary mentions) have gained viewer appreciation and popularity at the same level as any other kind of art. Yet these works define a territory of their own, delineated here through characteristics of A-Life art that arise from both the artists' studio and the research lab and that mark the 25 awarded artworks. Following this article, the Leonardo VIDA Gallery presents a selection of eight prize-winning works that show the breadth of the competition to date; each is discussed here.

The VIDA Gallery

Work by Paula Gaetano; France Cadet; Federico Muelas; Scott Draves; Michelle Teran and Jeff Mann; Haruki Nishijima; Maria Verstappen and Erwin Dreissens; Marc Böhlen and J.T. Rinker

Artist's Article

Fractured Cybertales: Navigating the Feminine

by Juliet Davis

ABSTRACT: The author considers ways in which her interactive artworks "fracture" narratives relating to femininity and critique web-design conventions that often encode these narratives. In the process, she discusses how interactive media and electronic culture provide unique opportunities for exploring gender.

Special Section: Leonardo Celebrates Leonardo da Vinci

Introduction: Leonardo and Leonardo da Vinci

by David Carrier

Leonardo da Vinci and Perpetual Motion

by Allan A. Mills

ABSTRACT: Leonardo da Vinci illustrated several traditional forms of "perpetual-motion machine" in small pocket books now known as the Codex Forster. He was well aware that these designs, based on waterwheel/pump combinations, mechanical overbalancing hammers or rolling balls, would not--and could not--work.

L'Arte dei "Romori": Leonardine Devotion in Luigi Russolo's Oeuvre

by Luciano Chessa

ABSTRACT: The author has discerned a deep interest in the occult arts at the core of Luigi Russolo's Art of Noises. Such an interest is confirmed by Russolo's admiration for Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo's writings on music and acoustics constituted in fact a scientific and spiritual paradigm for Russolo; the former's mechanical musical-instrument projects were important models for Russolo's own, from 1913's intonarumori to the nuovo istrumento musicale a corde of 1931. Perhaps because of the futurists' ambivalent position toward the figure of Leonardo (proto-futurist or passatista), Russolo profusely quoted Leonardo but carefully avoided mentioning any borrowing.

Leonardo, Nonlinearity and Integrated Systems

by Ian M. Clothier

ABSTRACT: In one of his lesser-known studies of flow, Leonardo da Vinci in 1513 came upon yet another question he could not answer. When blood hits the wall of the heart, does the flow split in two? In 1977, this question was answered by Albert Libchaber in an experiment that became a cornerstone of chaos theory. Can Leonardo's question, Libchaber's solution and notions of integrated systems be drawn together to create a whole? While this trajectory has its limitations, the journey has some rewards, taking in Leonardo's cosmology, chaos theory, poststructuralist philosophy, the Polynesian worldview, the Internet and the weather.

The Proportional Consistency and Geometry of Leonardo's Giant Crossbow

by Matthew Landrus

ABSTRACT: The traditional scholarly appraisal of Leonardo's Giant Crossbow design dismisses it as a fanciful object, although often with praise of it as a quintessential example of his technical draftsmanship. The author offers evidence of Leonardo's likely intent that the drawing function as a reliable plan with which readers of a treatise on military engineering could consider a strategy, or an imaginative solution (a fantasia), for building the full-scale giant crossbow. At issue are the agreements between the illustrated dimensions and the written specificiations, the proportional consistency of those dimensions and the possible use of Archimedean geometry to determine the primary dimensions.

From the Archive

Language: Typography as a Medium for the Visual Representation of Language

by Johanna Drucker

ABSTRACT: This examination of three works by Jahanna Drucker, 26 '76 (1976), from A to Z (1977), and Against Fiction (1983), all printed letterpress, focuses on the formal properties of typography and its capacity to extend the meaning of a written text. Handsetting metal type necessarily focuses one's attention on the specificity of written language as a sequence of discrete letters. Each has properties of size, weight and shape; and placement and type styles can be widely varied. The technical constraints of letterpress tend to conserve the norm in the representation of language: line after straight line of a single typeface The author's intention in deviating from these norms has been to extend, rather than negate or deny, the possibilities of meaning by encouraging plural readings at the levels of the word, the line and the page. Other issues such as the relation of language to experience to literary tradition or to the social context in which it is produced are investigated.

Leonardo Reviews

Reviews by Rob Harle, Nick Cronbach, Amy Ione, George Shortess, Jan Baetens, Stefaan Van Ryssen, Allan Graubard, Craig Hilton, Michael R. Mosher, Geoff Cox, Mike Leggett, Kathryn Adams


Graph Theory: Linking Online Musical Exploration to Concert Hall Performance

by Jason Freeman

The Seven Valleys: Capturing the Numinous in a 3D Computer Game Engine

by Chris Nelson

Obliterated Bodies: An Installation

by Ersan Ocak and Safak Uysal

Picbreeder: Collaborative Interactive Evolution of Images

by Jimmy Secretan, Nicholas Beato, David B. D'Ambrosio, Adelein Rodriguez, Adam Campbell and Kenneth O. Stanley

Leonardo Network News

Updated 20 February 2008