Leonardo Journal Volume 42, Issue 3, (2009)

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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.

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



Intimate Science and Hard Humanities

by Roger Malina

Artist's Article

Midas: A Nanotechnological Exploration of Touch

by Paul Thomas

ABSTRACT: The Midas Project investigates the trans-meditational space between skin and gold. Research for the project was conducted through the analysis of data recorded with an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). The AFM, in its force spectroscopy mode, gathers data by picking up the surface vibrations as the cantilever touches the cell. The Midas project culminated in an installation that included data projection and audio work utilizing subsonic speakers to make the data from the atomic vibrations audible and palpable.

Special Section: Creativity and Cognition 2007 Conference Papers

Special Section Introduction: Creativity and Cognition 2007: Materials of Creativity

by Elisa Giaccardi and Linda Candy

Emerging Materiality: Reflections on Creative Use of Software in Electronic Music Composition

by Olav W. Bertelsen, Morten Breinbjerg and Soren Pold

ABSTRACT: The authors examine how materiality emerges from complex chains of mediation in creative software use. The primarily theoretical argument is inspired and illustrated by interviews with two composers of electronic music. The authors argue that computer mediated activity should not primarily be understood in terms of simple mediation, but rather as chains of complex mediation in which the dominant form of representation is metonymy rather than metaphor.

Educating the New Makers: Cross-Disciplinary Creativity

by Mark D. Gross and Ellen Yi-Luen Do

ABSTRACT: Making computationally embedded things demands cross-disciplinary creativity, and creative designers must master many materials and methods. The studio-laboratory workspace is essential for learning to engage in such creative endeavors. In this kind of environment, students are encouraged to define their own problem statements and decide what to design. The faculty encourages tinkering, design and the play instinct. In this paper, the authors present their interest in building methods and tools that can open new design spaces in the studio-laboratory environment. They reflect on the distinctive characteristics of this learning environment and how these quallities aid design and foster creative engagement.

Trivet Fields: The Materiality of Interaction in Architectural Space

by Dagmar Reinhardt and Joanne Jakovich

ABSTRACT: The proliferation of interactive technologies expands the palette of the architect, prompting a re-examination of notions of materiality in architecture. This article explores how the introduction of computational processes that accelerate, amplify or animate conventional mechanisms of time and space might alter the relationship between human perception and matter. We present a spatial paradigm for the materiality of interaction in architectural space and demonstrate it in a recente installation work, Trivet Fields, which employs a heterogeneous model of interactivity to articulate spatial materiality.

Body Matters: The Palpability of Invisible Computing

by Thecla Schiphorst

ABSTRACT: There is an emerging recognition of the value of designing for technology as experience, and of the point that the body matters in the context of technology design. Mark Weiser coined the term invisible computing, remarking that the most profound technologies disappear into the fabric of everyday life. This paper offers a framework from the field of somatics to contribute to the discourse of embodiment and experience in technology, particularly with regard to the body in everyday life. Somatics brings with it epistemologies of practice and embodied approaches to learning and interacting that focus on attention, context and awareness. This paper presents a set of design examples that demonstrate ways in which somatics can be applied to technology design.

Materiality, Memory and Imagination: Using Empathy to Research Creativity

by Cathy Treadaway

ABSTRACT: Our perception of the physical world is informed by our bodily sensory experiences. This rich source of information stimulates the brain and is remembered and remade in the creative processes that feed our imagination. How does experience of materiality shape our creative use of digital imaging tools, and how does the technology influence creative practice? This article contends that creative processes are heavily reliant on our memories of physical experience and that tools to support creative digital practice could be enhanced to utlize the rich muliti-sensory stimulation it provides. This paper presents collaborative art-making that has been used to investigate issues arising from case study research, enabling the author to empathically experience the artist's creative processes and to provide insight into how digital tools can support creative practice.

General Articles

Entomogenic Climate Change: Insect Bioacoustics and Future Forest Ecology

by David D. Dunn and James P. Crutchfield

ABSTRACT: Rapidly expanding insect populations, deforestation and global climate change threaten to destabilize key planetary carbon pools, especially the Earth's forests, which link the micro-ecology of insect infestation to climate. To the extent mean temperature increases, insect populations accelerate deforestation. This alters climate via the loss of active carbon sequestration by live trees and increased carbon release from decomposing dead trees. A self-sustaining positive feedback loop can then emerge. Extensive field recordings demonstrate that bioacoustic communication plays a role in infestation dynamics and is likely to be a critical link in the feedback loop. These results open the way to novel detection and monitoriing strategies and nontoxic control interventions.

M.A.D.: Media Art Database(s) and the Challenges of Taste, Evaluation and Appraisal

by Slavko Kacunko

ABSTRACT: This essay seeks to delineate the possible mutual benefits that different disci;loines such as art history, media studies, computer science, etc. might derive from their specific efforts at forumulating requirements and strategies for the appraisal of records and data as well as scientific and other concepts related to media art in its widest sense. In this context, the author presents the M.A.D. Media Art Database project as an information system at the disposal of meida art and its history and theory, and as a netowrk interface between archived material and knowledge. With its bottom-up structure, the M.A.D. database is proposed as a decisive motive force in assembling potent aggregates of knowledge and expertise.

Musical Compost, Consorts and Collapsing Pyramids: On the Disintegration of Traditional Performance Practices to Raise a Sound Society

by Hafez Modirzadeh

ABSTRACT: By introducing a consort of instrumentalists representing musical traditions from Iran to the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Japan, Korea and the Americas, the author presents a paradoxical compost approach of defining while disintegrating musical cultural elements, thus conveying the transformative nature of self and society. Improvisition informs the author's chromodal concept, illustrated in the article with a collapsing pyramid model, thereby illuminating co-existence as a shared creative source that ultimately expands human potential through the extinction of the formal.

Theoretical Perspective

From Sfumato to Transarchitectures and Osmose: Leonardo da Vinci's Virtual Reality

by Cami Nelson

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the ways in which Leonardo da Vinci's anachronistic skepticism of Renaissance perspective and his subsequent invention of sfumato prefigure contemporary digital technology and its ability to literalize this formal technique. Marcos Novak and Char Davies offer parallel theories on the permeable boundaries among objects and between physical and virtual worlds. The resultant theories, like those of Leonardo, offer new conceptions of space and representation that challenge those who suggest the digital world will subvert the physical. Briefly comparing Leonardo's initial revisions to Renaissance perspective to those realized through digital technology, this paper examines radical revisions of the notions of space and boundary and the ways in which those revisions challenge the traditional goal to aptly represent the physical world via linear perspective.

Special Section: ArtScience: The Essential Connection

Howard Florey: Photographer, Cinematographer and Sunday Painter

by Robert Root-Bernstein

Leonardo Reviews

Reviews by Kathryn Adams, Jan Baetens, Martha Blassnigg, Rob Harle, Amy Ione, Boris Jardine, Chris Speed and Ornella Corazza


Performative Art: The Politics of Doubleness

by Hyunkyoung Cho and Joonsung Yoon

ABSTRACT: Performative art comes from two major ideas. One concerns the performativity as what happens in the collaborative action of human and computer; the other, the doubleness of technology as one insight overcoming the human-subject centered dichotomy. As the linking point where two ideas meet, performative art critiques the politics of contemporary technology-based art in the humanist context.

Faces of the Teouma Lapita People: Art, Accuracy and Facial Approximation

by Susan Hayes, Frederique Valentin, Hallie Buckley, Matthew Spriggs and Stuart Bedford

ABSTRACT: In 2008 we completed facial approximations of four individuals from the early Lapita Culture, a seafaring people who were the first to settle the islands of the Western Pacific circa 3000 years ago. Typically an approximation is performed as a 3D sculpture or using computer graphics. We chose to sketch what we have been able to determine from the remains because the artistic conventions of drawing work with visual perception in ways that are more complementary to the knowledge, theories and methods that make up the facial approximation of human remains.

Dynamic Display System for Better Interaction Ability in Interactive Installation

by Kirak Kim, Chee-Onn Wong and Keechul Jung

ABSTRACT: In this paper, a dynamic display system that increases the ability of an interactive artwork is presented on an interactive installation. The dynamic display system aims to widen an interactive range to provide the maximum freedom to all spectators. The installation creates a high immersion and due to this, the artist can channel their somesthesia to be accessed easily by spectators. In addition, this installation provides flexible space in which artists can express their work to be widely available for spectators.

Cosmic Revelation

by Tim Otto-Roth and Andreas Haungs

ABSTRACT: As a collaboration by the KASCADE experiment and Tim Otto Roth, Cosmic Revelation is a minimalist light art project and a scientific experiment as well. In a field of 16 flashing mirror sculptures connected to the KASCADE detector field at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Germany) the impact of high energetic cosmic rays on earth can be bodily experienced. Cosmic Revelation is presented directly in the detector field, but also remotely in other places. As a new kind of land art, the flashing field not only refers to the physical processes in matter, but hints also at the protecting and moderating qualities of the atmosphere as basic condition to create on earth a biosphere.

Leonardo Network News

Updated 6 May 2009