An Open Letter of Gratitude and Appreciation from the Leonardo Book Series

By Erica Hruby
Collage of several book covers from the Leonardo Book Series alternating with colorful blocks in a grid pattern.

Henceforth we present an open letter to Doug Sery on the occasion of his stepping down as acquisitions editor at MIT Press for the Leonardo Book Series since its inception. We are indebted to your expertise and steering of this important branch of Leonardo publications and wish you all the wonders of the world in your next adventure.

Current Editor-in-Chief Sean Cubitt writes:

It's hard to reconcile myself with the realisation we've been working together since 2006. I have among my bric-à-brac a photo of you in earnest conversation with the artist David Connearn in a sunny pub garden in Blackheath that seems to catch your intensity and ability to discover the capabilities of makers, thinkers and writers – not to mention striking up a fascinating conversation with David's then six year old daughter. That amazing breadth of knowledge and interests has marked you out among editors, most of whom can attend to detail, follow a brief, and advise of cuts, but few can equal your ablity to push a line of thought where it ought to go (but maybe was too nervous to travel).

It's been an amazing journey. We've published some wonderful books, and engaged in dialogues that certainly changed my thinking - for good, and for the good. The necessary speed in spotting B.S. I've always envied and enjoyed; but even more so the generosity that, richt up to your departure, has made working on the series not just a privilege but a deep and lasting pleasure.

I hope in your new freedom you will find time to write yourself, to turn up at conferences to ask the crcial question that opens eyes and minds, and continue, as you have been for all these years, a great comrade and a good friend.

Former Editor-in-Chief Joel Slayton writes: 

As a new member for the LEONARDO/ISAST Board of Directors, in 1998  I accepted the charge of becoming the series editor for the Leonardo Book Series published by  MIT Press. As a result of  Roger Malina’s leadership the fledgling book series had gained some momentum thorough a few publication by Richard Coyne, Douglas McCloud and Ken Goldberg.  These laid the groundwork with MIT Press and now it was now my opportunity to collaborate with Doug Sery to instantiated the series into what would become one of the most prestige art/tech publishing platforms for artists, scientists, researchers and scholars.  My collaboration with Doug as intense as it was challenging as we sought to identify qualified authors and subject content.  

The long-term vision for the Leonardo book series was to create a platform for publishing provocative and seminal texts that serve to open new discourses informing the  intersection of art, science and technology.  I could not have asked for a better partner and champion of this ambition than Doug Sery.  Simply put, the series would not have been possible without Doug’s intelligence and professionalism.  

Er began bringing to fruition  two important books in progress: the encyclopedic Information Arts by Steve Wilson, an exhaustive survey of the field of new media art practice, and Art and Information by Craig Harris, a survey of the Xerox Parc Artists in Residency program in which I had also proudly been a participant.  Both books remain important reference text with regard to  emergence and  history of art and technology.  

Over the next seven years of my tenure as series editor, we realized over fifteen new books by esteemed  authors including: The Language of New Media by Lev Manovich; Beyond Biology by Eduardo Kac; Protocol: When Technology Takes Over by Alex Galloway; and Media Ecologies by Mathew Buller.  In 2006, I accepted the position of Executive Director of ZERO1 in San Jose and passed the series editor torch to our colleague Sean Cubitt who has pushed the boundaries even further in scope international inclusion.

What an amazing adventure.  Doug, I thank you for your leadership, integrity and insight.  

I could not have asked for a better partner.  


The Leonardo Book Series has been published by the MIT Press since 1995. Find out more about the titles in this series at www.leonardo.info/books.