Leonardo, Volume 40, Issue 3

June 2007

Contents

Editorial

After Midnight

Leonardo Gallery

Artist's Article

  • Gathered from Coincidence: Reflections on Art in a Time of Global Warming
    Get at MIT Press

    How will global warming affect art? The author proposes that the effects will be continuous with other human-caused threats to civilization such as nuclear weapons. Such threats have already contributed to devaluation of the human figure. In many different times and places, the primary focus of art, with the notable exception of Western art, has been on nonhuman imagery. Global warming will give this new significance. Questions of permanence and impermanence in art are also likely to become more relevant.

General Note

  • Games of Pain: Pain as Haptic Stimulation in Computer-Game—Based Media Art
    Get at MIT Press

    The text describes several media-art projects that introduce pain as a form of interaction within the context of a two-player game: PainStation (2001–2003) and LegShocker (2002) by Tilman Reiff and Volker Morawe, Tekken Torture (2001) by C-Level and Tazer Tag (2005) by Randy Sarafan. By presenting these examples and briefly analyzing the nature of pain and games, this text offers an overview of the implications of incorporating pain into a computer game and presents an approach to the motivations that lead players to perceive a painful experience as fun and addictive.

General Articles

  • The Non-Realistic Nature of Photography: Further Reasons Why Turner Was Wrong
    Get at MIT Press

    The authors discuss the limitations of photography in producing representations that lead to the accurate perception of shapes. In particular, they consider two situations in which the photographic representation, although an accurate reproduction of the geometry of the two-dimensional image in the eye, does not capture the way human vision changes this geometry to produce a three-dimensionally accurate perception. When looking at a photograph, the viewer's uncertainty of the camera-to-subject distance and the fact that, unnaturally, a photograph presents almost exactly the same view of an object to the two eyes result in substantially distorted perceptions. These most commonly result in a perceived flattening and fattening of the 3D shape of the object being photographed.

  • SwarmArt: Interactive Art from Swarm Intelligence
    Get at MIT Press

    Swarms of bees, colonies of ants, schools of fish, flocks of birds, and fireflies flashing synchronously are all examples of highly coordinated behaviors that emerge from collective, decentralized intelligence. Local interactions among a multitude of agents or “swarmettes” lead to a variety of dynamic patterns that may seem like choreographed movements of a meta-organism. This paper describes SwarmArt, a collaborative project between several computer scientists and an artist, which resulted in interactive installations that explore and incorporate basic mechanisms of swarm intelligence. The authors describe the scientific context of the artwork, how user interaction is provided through video surveillance technology, and how the swarm-based simulations were implemented at exhibitions and galleries.

Color Plates

Special Section: ArtScience: The Essential Connection

  • Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin: Structure as Art
  • The Study of Patterns Is Profound
    Get at MIT Press

    The author has studied natural patterns both by drawing them and by finding analogs for them in crafts materials and processes, including batik, shibori, wrinkled paper painting, paper marbling, moiré, painting and engraving on Plexiglas. She discusses the generation of patterns in nature and how scientists' understanding of them has expanded during the period of her own explorations. She recommends this study for enhancing one's connection to the natural world and the cosmos. The author also explains how she has found patterns useful as metaphors for philosophical ideas.

  • Fractal Reactor: Re-Creating the Sun
    Get at MIT Press

    The author recounts his quest to design an alternative plasma fusion device that could generate limitless energy through nuclear fusion. The proposed Fractal Reactor is based on fractal geometry rather than the Euclidean geometry used in the designs for the containment systems of plasma fusion devices. Fusion energy systems might become more effective if they more closely embody the geometry and physics of stars, nature's “fractal reactors.” The author aims to work with nature and not against it in controlling the forces that govern burning plasmas. Instead of jamming the square peg of Euclidean geometry into the round hole of fractal geometry, the author considers exerting intense forces on plasmas that approximate the gravitational forces in a star.

Theoretical Perspectives

  • The Perception of Nonmaterial Objects and Events
    Get at MIT Press

    All animals receive light and sound from the surrounding world and use this input to provide information about the material properties of that world. Humans, in addition, are able to utilize information in light and sound that has nothing to do with its material source but is about objects and events that are not materially present and may have no material existence at all. The author argues that this perceptual capacity is a necessary condition for the development of the arts, the humanities, science and all that is considered uniquely human.

  • The Nature and Functions of Synesthesia in Music
    Get at MIT Press

    The author considers the phenomenon of synesthesia, defining it as intersensory association formed by similarity or “contiguity” of heteromodal perceptions. The results of this associative process (occurring mainly at the subconscious level), when coming to the light of consciousness, may be fixed either in verbal form or directly in the sensuous material of the nonverbal arts (most significantly music). Synesthesia calls forth such notions as “melody line,” “the hearing space” and “tone color,” and makes it possible to perceive sounds and chords as “sharp,” “dull” or “high.” Synesthesia (and the particular case of “color hearing”) is the essential component of musical thinking, first of all, in music intended to evoke images.

From the Leonardo Archive

  • Rectangular Structure in My Montage Paintings
    Get at MIT Press

    The author describes his change from being a student of mathematics to that of being a painter, after studying with George Grosz. Through Grosz, the author was led to study Brueghel, and the Dutch masters and their art, together with Byzantine mosaics and African sculpture, have remained a major influence in his work.

    A study of the paintings of De Hooch and Vermeer was also helpful from the point of view of the way those artists were able to control their large shapes, even when disparate elements were included within these shapes. Also, the author describes the influence upon him of examples of Chinese paintings and his method of working with mounted layers of torn papers.

    Both the similarities as well as the differences to Cubism in his style are described in detail, with the hope that the structural content of his work will be understood and even more valued than its social message.

Leonardo Reviews

  • On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald by Eric L. Santner. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, U.S.A., 2006. 216 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-226-73503-6
  • Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria by Jonathan Holt Shannon. Wesleyan Univ. Press, Middletown, CT, U.S.A., 2006. 292 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-8195-6798-1
  • Surrealism and Cinema by Michael Richardson. Berg Publishers, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2006. 240 pp. Trade, paper. ISBN: 1-84520-225-2; 1-84520-226-0
  • New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories edited by Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., and London, U.K., 2006. 416 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-13463-2
  • Genes in Development: Re-Reading the Molecular Paradigm edited by Eva M. Neumann-Held and Christoph Rehmann-Sutter. Duke Univ. Press, Durham, NC, U.S.A., 2006. 378 pp., illus. ISBN: 0-8223-3667-7
  • Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field edited by Rodney Benson and Erik Neveu. Polity Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2005. 435 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-7456-3387-0
  • The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future edited by Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2005. 340 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-19530-5
  • Foundations of Computational Visualistics by Jörg R.J. Schirra. DUV, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2005. 294 pp., illus. ISBN: 3-8350-6015-12
  • Klimt, Schiele, Moser, Kokoschka: Vienna 1900 edited by Karen Marie-Amélie zu Salm-Salm. Lund Humphries, Burlington, VT, U.S.A., 2005. 368 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-85331-934-0
  • The New Medium of Print: Material Communication in the Internet Age by Frank Cost. RIT Cary Graphics Arts Press, Rochester, NY, U.S.A., 2005. 272 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 1-933360-03-8
  • Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi by Timothy C. Campbell. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2006. 209 pp., illus. Trade, paper. ISBN: 0-8166-4441-1; 0-8166-4422-1
  • Shadows of Reality: The Fourth Dimension in Relativity, Cubism, and Modern Thought by Tony Robbin. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, CT, U.S.A., 2006. 160 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-300110-39-1
  • Camouflage by Neil Leach. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2006. 289 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-262-62200-9
  • Cybersounds: Essays on Virtual Music Culture edited by Michael D. Ayers. Peter Lang, New York, U.S.A., 2006. 282 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-8204-7861-x
  • Leonardo Reviews On-Line

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