Leonardo, Volume 41, Issue 1

February 2008

Contents

Editorial

Special Section: Art Embodies A-Life: The VIDA Competition

  • Art Embodies A-Life: The VIDA Competition
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    Artificial Life artworks hold a unique place in the art world, one that has been largely mapped by the VIDA international competition through its annual recognition of outstanding works based on A-Life. Works that have received awards since the VIDA competition began in 1999 (25 prize-winning artworks and 56 honorary mentions) have gained viewer appreciation and popularity at the same level as any other kind of art. Yet these works define a territory of their own, delineated here through characteristics of A-Life art that arise from both the artist's studio and the research lab and that mark the 25 awarded artworks. Following this article, the Leonardo VIDA Gallery presents a selection of eight prize-winning works that show the breadth of the competition to date; each is discussed here.

  • The VIDA Gallery

Artist's Article

  • Fractured Cybertales: Navigating the Feminine
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    The author considers ways in which her interactive artworks “fracture” narratives relating to femininity and critique web-design conventions that often encode these narratives. In the process, she discusses how interactive media and electronic culture provide unique opportunities for exploring gender.

Special Section: Leonardo Celebrates Leonardo da Vinci

  • Leonardo and Leonardo da Vinci
  • Leonardo da Vinci and Perpetual Motion
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    Leonardo da Vinci illustrated several traditional forms of “perpetual-motion machine” in small pocket books now known as the Codex Forster. He was well aware that these designs, based on waterwheel/pump combinations, mechanical overbalancing hammers or rolling balls, would not—and could not—work.

  • L'Arte dei “Romori”: Leonardine Devotion in Luigi Russolo's Oeuvre
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    The author has discerned a deep interest in the occult arts at the core of Luigi Russolo's Art of Noises. Such an interest is confirmed by Russolo's admiration for Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo's writings on music and acoustics constituted in fact a scientific and spiritual paradigm for Russolo; the former's mechanical musical-instrument projects were important models for Russolo's own, from 1913's intonarumori to the nuovo istrumento musicale a corde of 1931. Perhaps because of the futurists' ambivalent position toward the figure of Leonardo (proto-futurist or passatista), Russolo profusely quoted Leonardo but carefully avoided mentioning any borrowing.

  • Leonardo, Nonlinearity and Integrated Systems
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    In one of his lesser-known studies of flow, Leonardo da Vinci in 1513 came upon yet another question he could not answer: When blood hits the wall of the heart, does the flow split in two? In 1977, this question was answered by Albert Libchaber in an experiment that became a cornerstone of chaos theory. Can Leonardo's question, Libchaber's solution and notions of integrated systems be drawn together to create a whole? While this trajectory has its limitations, the journey has some rewards, taking in Leonardo's cosmology, chaos theory, poststructuralist philosophy, the Polynesian worldview, the Internet and the weather.

  • The Proportional Consistency and Geometry of Leonardo's Giant Crossbow
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    The traditional scholarly appraisal of Leonardo's Giant Crossbow design dismisses it as a fanciful object, although often with praise of it as a quintessential example of his technical draftsmanship. The author offers evidence of Leonardo's likely intent that the drawing function as a reliable plan with which readers of a treatise on military engineering could consider a strategy, or an imaginative solution (a fantasia), for building the full-scale giant crossbow. At issue are the agreements between the illustrated dimensions and the written specifications, the proportional consistency of those dimensions and the possible use of Archimedean geometry to determine the primary dimensions.

From the Leonardo Archive

  • Letterpress Language: Typography as a Medium for the Visual Representation of Language
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    This examination of three works by Johanna Drucker, 26 '76 (1976), from A to Z (1977) and Against Fiction (1983), all printed letterpress, focuses on the formal properties of typography and its capacity to extend the meaning of a written text. Handsetting metal type necessarily focuses one's attention on the specificity of written language as a sequence of discrete letters. Each has properties of size, weight and shape; and placement and type styles can be widely varied. The technical constraints of letterpress tend to conserve the norm in the representation of language: line after straight line of a single typeface. The author's intention in deviating from these norms has been to extend, rather than negate or deny, the possibilities of meaning by encouraging plural readings at the levels of the word, the line and the page. Other issues such as the relation of language to experience, to literary tradition or to the social context in which it is produced are investigated.

Leonardo Reviews

  • Water Sound Images: The Creative Music of the Universe by Alexander Lauterwasser. Gunter Maria Zielke, trans. MACROmedia Publishing, Newmarket, NH, 2006. 176 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 978-1-888138-09-2
  • Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture by Annalee Newitz. Duke University Press, Durham, NC, U.S.A., 2006. 223 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 0-8223-3745-2
  • Bernie Boston: American Photojournalist by Therese Mulligan. RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, Rochester, NY, U.S.A., 2006. 112 pp., illus. ISBN: 1-933360-19-4
  • Cutting Code: Software And Sociality by Adrian Mackenzie. Peter Lang, New York, 2006. 216 pp. Paper. ISBN: 0-8204-7823-7
  • Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception by Al Seckel. Firefly Books, Inc., Buffalo, NY, U.S.A. 312 pp. ISBN: 1-55407-151-8
  • The New Typography by Jan Tschichold. Ruari McLean, trans. Introduction by Robin Kinross; foreword by Richard Hendel. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2006. 286 pp., illus. ISBN: 978-0-520-25012-3
  • Making Easy Listening: Material Culture and Postwar American Recording by Tim J. Anderson. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2006. 280 pp., illus. Trade, paper. ISBN: 0-8166-4517-5; 0-8166-4518-3
  • The Material Image: Art and the Real in Film by Brigitte Peucker. Stanford University Press (Cultural Memory in the Present), Stanford, CA, U.S.A., 2007. 272 pp. Trade, paper. ISBN: 0-8047-5431-6; 0-8087-5430-6
  • Ghosthunter: A Journey through Haunted France by Simon Marsden. Editions Flammarion, Paris, 2006. 192 pp. Trade. ISBN: 2-0803-0530-1
  • Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers edited by Diarmuid Costello and Jonathan Vickery. Berg Publishers, Oxford and New York, 2007. 213 pp. Paper. ISBN: 1-84520-319-1
  • Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art edited by Caroline A. Jones. MIT Press, London, 2006. Copublished with the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A. 258 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-10117-3
  • Full Metal Apache: Transactions between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America by Takayuki Tatsumi, Duke University Press, Durham NC, U.S.A., 2006. 272 pp., illus. Trade, paper. ISBN 0-8223-3762-2; ISBN: 0-8223-3774-6
  • Organized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions by Ned Rossiter. NAi, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 2006. In association with the Institute of Network Cultures, Hogeschool van Amsterdam. 250 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 90-5662-526-8
  • Salvador Allende by Patricio Guzmán. First Run/Icarus Films, Brooklyn, NY, 2006. VHS/DVD, 100 min, color, b/w. Distributor's web site: 〈www.frif.com〉
  • The Secret Life of Babies, Parts 1 2 by Bernard George. Icarus Films, Brooklyn, NY, 2005. Video, 2 × 43 min, color. Distributor's web site: 〈www.frif.com〈
  • Leonardo Reviews On-Line

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