Leonardo, Volume 36, Issue 2

April 2003

Contents

Editorial

Artist's Article

  • GFP Bunny
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    The author describes his transgenic artwork GFP Bunny and discusses the theoretical and practical implications of creating a new mammal in the context of art. Weaving together insights from philosophy, molecular biology, natural history, cognitive ethology and art, the author places primary emphasis on the welfare of the transgenic rabbit he has created. The author rejects biological determinism and states his goals of developing a dialogical relationship with the bunny based on love and care.

Artists' Statements

  • Color Plates
  • Leonardo On-Line Bibliographies
  • Leonardo Network News. The Newsletter of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology and of L'Observatoire Leonardo des Arts et Technosciences

Special Section: A-Life in Art, Design, Edutainment, Games and Research: A-Life in Robotics and Hardware Evolution

  • Towards Epistemically Autonomous Robots: Exploiting the Potential of Physical Systems
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    The authors outline one path towards constructing interactive artworks with the potential for displaying novel behavior. They use Peter Cariani's taxonomy of adaptive robotic systems as a framework for comparing the capabilities of systems that interact with their environments. The authors then describe two examples of structurally autonomous systems that are able to construct their own sensors independently of a human designer. The first device, the evolved radio, is the result of a recent hardware evolution (HE) experiment conducted by the authors. The second device, the electrochemical ear, was constructed almost 50 years ago by the British cybernetician Gordon Pask. The emergent behavior in both systems is only possible because many conventional engineering constraints were relaxed during their construction. Using existing technology, artists have the opportunity to explore the potential of structurally autonomous systems as interactive artworks.

  • Computer Creativity in the Automatic Design of Robots
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    This article demonstrates the possibility that robotic systems can automatically design robots with complex morphologies and tightly adapted control systems at a low cost. These automatic designs are inspired by nature and achieved through an artificial coevolutionary process to adapt the bodies and brains of artificial life-forms simultaneously through interaction with a simulated reality. Through the use of rapid manufacturing, these evolved designs can be transferred from virtual to true reality. The artificial evolution process embedded in realistic physical simulation can create simple designs often recognizable from the history of biology or engineering. This paper provides a brief review of three generations of these robots, from automatically designed LEGO structures, through the GOLEM project of electromechanical systems based on “truss” structures, to new modular designs that make use of a generative, DNA-like representation.

General Article

  • BRIDGES I: Interdisciplinary Collaboration as Practice
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    Today, a worldwide community of innovators is engaged in the convergence of art, technology and science, as are a number of vital and active organizations, yet there seems to be very little discourse about the process of doing interdisciplinary work. The BRIDGES Consortium seeks to create a collaborative forum for the study and development of interdisciplinary collaboration as a practice. At the first Bridges Summit, held in June 2001, participants discussed a broad range of topics, including: preceding historical developments, the role of language, institutional hurdles to collaboration and the value of art/technology-based research. The event concluded with recommendations for aggregating, validating and strengthening the interdisciplinary community through the creation of a new form of collaborative organization.

Theoretical Perspectives on the Arts, Sciences and Technology

  • Evolution of Gravitational Synesthesia in Music: To Color and Light!
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    The author presents a detailed history and theory of a basic form of synesthesia, little studied to date, connected with the associative perception of gravity in music. This synesthesia appears to be common to all other kinds of art as well.

Historical Perspectives on the Arts, Sciences and Technology

  • The Invented World of Mariano Taccola: Revisiting a Once-Famous Artist-Engineer of 15th-Century Italy
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    The Sienese artist-engineer Mariano Taccola left behind five books of annotated drawings, presently in the collections of the state libraries of Florence and Munich. Taccola was well known in Siena, and his drawings were studied and copied by artists of the period, probably serving as models for Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks. However, his work has received little attention from scholars and students in recent times. The author, a sculptor, has long been interested in Taccola's drawings for his studio projects. Although Taccola lacked the fine drawing hand displayed by many of his contemporaries, his inventive work may appeal especially to viewers today. Based on examination of the original drawings, the author discusses the qualities that make Taccola's drawings unique and considers what Taccola's intentions may have been in making them.

Technical Article

  • Circle Packings and the Sacred Lotus
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    How must n non-overlapping equal circles be packed in a given circle so that the diameter of the circles will be as large as possible? This paper presents an account of this problem and its putative solutions and related configurations in lotus receptacles, classical Japanese mathematics (wasan) and traditional Japanese design. Particular emphasis is placed on the connection between the conjectural solutions of this discrete geometrical problem and the fruit arrangements in the receptacles of lotuses, because in most cases the actual fruit arrangements are identical to the mathematical solutions. As the lotus is an important symbol in Buddhism and lotus decorations are quite common in Japanese Buddhist art, packings of circles in a circle have been represented in Japanese art for centuries.

New Media Dictionary

Leonardo Reviews

  • The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould. The Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., and London, U.K., 2002. 1433 pp., illus. $39.95 Trade. ISBN: 0-674-00613-5
  • The Great Exhibition of 1851: New Interdisciplinary Essays edited by Louise Purbrick. Manchester Univ. Press, Manchester, U.K., 2001. 232 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN 0-7190-5592-X
  • Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age by Malcolm Le Grice. British Film Institute, London, U.K., 2001. 484 pp. Paper. ISBN 0-85170-873-0
  • Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines by Evelyn Fox Keller, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2002. 388 pp. Trade. ISBN: 0-674-00746-8
  • Origins, Imitation, Conventions: Representation in the Visual Arts by James S. Ackerman. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2002. 328 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-01186-7
  • The Psychology of Graphic Images: Seeing, Drawing, Communicating by Manfredo Massironi. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, U.S.A., 2002. 319 pp., illus. Paper, $35.00; Cloth, $89.95. ISBN: 0-8058-2932-6; ISBN: 0-8058-2933-4
  • Surroundings Surrounded: Essays on Space and Science edited by Peter Weibel. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., and London, U.K., 2002. 719 pp., illus. Paper, $34.95 ISBN 0-262-73148-7
  • The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts 1919–1936 by Margret Kentgens-Craig, Lynette Widder, trans. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2001. 283 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN 0-262-61171-6
  • Leon Battista Alberti: Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance by Anthony Grafton. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., and London, U.K., 2002. 417 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 0-674-00868-5
  • The Metaphysics of Beauty by Nick Zangwill. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A., and London, U.K., 2001. 217 pp. ISBN 0-8014-3820-9-1
  • Ars Electronica 2002: Unplugged—Art as the Scene of Global Conflict
  • Materials Received