Leonardo, Volume 37, Issue 3

June 2004

Contents

Editorial

After Midnight

Artist's Note

  • Smell Your Destiny: Web Interaction with the Fifth Sense
    Get at MIT Press

    Smell Your Destiny is a fishy tale that parodies the quest for success exhibited in the 21st-century cyber-personality. This article is adapted from the author's web project, where traits formerly considered undesirable and now considered desirable for achieving success are administered to the populace by means of aromatherapy. Play-on-word medications, derived from the names of actual pharmaceuticals, are prescribed in pill form for ingestion by fish that swim in community gene pools. The pills induce curative fish fragrances that are exuded by the fish into the environment. Trait changes occur when residents breathe in the fumes, which are prescribed to accommodate current societal values. URLs and links within the work provide access to virtual smelling sites.

Artists' Statements

Special Section: ISEA 2002 Selected Papers

  • ISEA 2002: Orai At the Crossroads of Meaning
  • Orai, or How the Text Got Pleated: A Genealogy of La Plissure du Texte: A Planetary Fairytale
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    This paper is an attempt to make sense of the Japanese word orai and to consider in what way the author's own “comings and goings” across artistic, literary and esoteric pathways led to the formulation of his practice, later to be theorized as telematic art and to be understood as a form of associative connectivism. The paper focuses on La Plissure du Texte, his first project involving distributed authorship.

  • Orai and the Transdisciplinary Wunderkammer
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    The inevitable realization in scientific circles that the reality of the imagined has an equivalent epistemological significance to the material raises fascinating questions, as it invites a skeptical reconsideration of the essential basis of knowledge. While this dramatic shift provides a moment of profound satisfaction for those artists, designers and scientists who have long argued for a transdisciplinary worldview, it also provides a moment of the greatest challenge as we begin to consider how knowledge might be extended, codified and distributed in a multiverse of collaborative realities

  • Into the Hollow of Darkness: Realizing a 3D Interactive Environment
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    The author considers the meaning of interactivity and the potentials of virtual environments, in particular in the exploration of the total visual field and its periphery. She presents her artistic project, the aim of which is to cause viewers to become more sensitive to their own perceptions, respecting images and indistinct sensations that may arise

  • Resisting Surveillance: Identity and Implantable Microchips
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    Surveillance technologies and centralized databases are threatening personal privacy and freedom. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) microchip technology is one of several potential human tracking and authentication systems. The author's interactive art installation Pop! Goes the Weaselaims to explore opportunities for resisting surveillance by altering underlying assumptions concerning identity. Viewers are encouraged to experiment with resistance by avoiding access control, intervening in the database and subverting notions of a stable or single identity. The author is planning a future project to develop an interface between the author's two implanted microchips and her computer in order to track her computer usage as it relates to her technology-induced shifting sense of self.

General Articles

  • Divisions of the Plane by Computer: Another Way of Looking at Mondrian's Nonfigurative Compositions
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    The article discusses a novel way of looking at Mondrian's nonfigurative paintings. Different periods of Mondrian's life correspond to distinct types of nonfigurative compositions, but can the distinction be formalized? How many bits or numbers are needed to characterize a typical composition? Can the rules of a composition type be expressed in the language of the computer? If distinct composition types require different computer programs, can these be based on a common frame-work, a mechanism, perhaps? The findings presented here are only tentative, but it is interesting to note that some characteristics can be modeled reasonably well, whereas others still resist formalization in the presented framework. The author's approach borrows principles from genetic programming. Employing a built-in random number generator, it can be used to explore a large space of “compositions.”

  • The Turbulent Structure of Sfumato within Mona Lisa
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    The author describes a particular way of looking at the Mona Lisa whereby evidence of a turbulent structure (based on underlying sfumato) that reveals an infinity of hidden faces behind the famous figure can be seen. When light is progressively reduced by a “squinting process,” the effect is especially striking in the last face on the edge of the painting's dark areas. The author interprets this visual phenomenon in the context of entropic skins geometry, which he has developed to describe the geometry and statistics of turbulent flows. Finally, the author argues that the form just under Mona Lisa's left shoulder can be interpreted as a human skull anamorphosis, as a kind of ironic signature by Leonardo.

  • Creative Aspects of Sonification
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    Agoal of sonification research is the intuitive audio representation of complex, multidimensional data. The authors present two facets of this research that may provide insight into the creative process. First, they discuss aspects of categorical perception in nonverbal auditory scene analysis and propose that these characteristics are simplified models of creative engagement with sound. Second, they describe the use of sonified data in musical compositions by each of the authors and observe aspects of the creative process in the purely aesthetic use of sonified statistical data.

  • A Unique Art Form: The Friezes of Pirgí
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    In the village of Pirgí, on the Greek island of Chios, the façades of hundreds of buildings are completely covered with gray and white friezes. Circles, squares, triangles and rhomboids are used to create a lively geometry, ranging from the straightforward to the complex, to give each house its distinctive identity, its own unique face to display to the world. While analyzing the frieze designs, the authors discovered that the frieze artists intuitively obey a unique set of color-reversing rules. The goal of the project was to explain this powerful art form and to discover the essential mathematical structure underlying these color-reversing friezes.

Theoretical Perspective

  • From Perception to Consciousness: An Epistemic Vision of Evolutionary Processes
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    The concept of plasticity provides a unifying hypothesis to account for the natural properties of living systems as well as the different levels of perception and information associated with these systems. Are the metadynamics of evolutionary processes able to describe the nature of consciousness as a whole? The close study of the link between the coherence of emerging objects and the way we think they appear allows us to use the metaphor of a discontinuous bridge linking primitive perceptions to consciousness just as brain plasticity is linked to art.

Leonardo Reviews