Leonardo, Volume 41, Issue 4

August 2008

Contents

Editorial

Artists' Articles

  • Bird Watching: An Introduction to Amateur Satellite Spotting
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    Space satellites are invisible instruments of globalization that influence governmental policies. This paper examines remote sensing satellites as optical devices capable of redefining human cognition. They represent accessibility and openness through the more agreeable paradigm of transparency. However, transparency, like surveillance, is based on the interconnection between power, knowledge and perceptual experience. Artists use a variety of tactical practices, including amateurism, to tease apart these connections. Amateurism dedicates itself to the politics of knowledge. The author concludes, based on examples of her work and that of others, that the potential for political intervention exists when knowledge is paired with action.

  • Artist as Mediator: The History of the US Department of Art Technology (2000–2005)
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    I moved to Washington, DC, at the turn of the millennium. Shortly after September 11th, I found myself with a job to do, an artist in the center of power during times of crisis. I held a desire to engage, not as a passive observer, but with an active role—the artist's role, one who sees, listens, analyzes, translates and illuminates the dangerous mechanisms of the unfolding political situation in America. This resulted in the founding of the US Department of Art Technology. The following narrative account is a portrait of the artist as mediator “between a strange, hostile world and the human spirit.”

General Article

  • Energy and Symmetry in Language and Yoga
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    The structures of syllables and of yoga poses are compared. Syllables are tripartite, with sound segments rising in sonority (acoustic energy) to a peak, then falling. Likewise, asanas are tripartite, with symmetrical movements flanking the sustaining, vital energy peak. In both entities, then, symmetric structure flanks energy peaks. This organization is not a physical necessity, but a cognitive preference.

Color Plates

Artist's Statement

Special Section: Nanotechnology, Nanoscale Science and Art

  • Introduction
  • Nanoscale and Painting
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    Filipe Rocha da Silva creates very large paintings depicting extremely small, almost invisible figures. In this text he tries to explain why he does so and considers the possible relationship of these works to nanoscale phenomena and technology, which have been so influential in the 21st century.

  • Can You Hear the Femur Play? Bone Audio Speakers at the Nanoscale
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    This paper describes the research process involved in making audio speakers out of cow bone. The paper begins by discussing the conceptual basis of the work. It goes on to explain the piezoelectric nature of the bone matrix and how this makes it possible for bone to operate as an audio speaker. It then chronicles the process of working from a theoretical possibility to a functional speaker. In the concluding section of the paper, the final artifacts and conceptual outcomes of the process are discussed.

  • Chaos Control on the Nanoscale

Special Section: ArtScience: The Essential Connection

  • Composing Music and the Science of the Heart: How to Serve Two Masters
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    The author, both a composer and a physician, chronicles his development as a musician—from his childhood fascination with improvising on the piano to the eventual performance of one of his compositions in the church of Saint Stefan in Vienna—and his career as a medical doctor studying heart disease and researching new cures. He finds that the common denominator in composing music and doing medical research is the creative impulse. In his life, music and medicine have never been in competition. Rather, when frustrated by difficulties in medical research, the author has found renewal in composing music.

  • Art in Its Experience: Can Empirical Psychology Help Assess Artistic Value?
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    This article outlines the roles of art theory and empirical psychology in understanding a work of art in its experience. Art theory sets the criteria of what the experience should be, and psychologists examine whether the predicted experience matches the observed experience of the recipient. An important issue is the role of knowledge in artistic evaluation, with resulting demand characteristics and concerns for self-presentation. With the help of recently developed implicit measures, both behavioral and biological, researchers are able to distinguish between explicitly reported knowledge and genuinely felt experience. The author presents examples of how art theory and empirical psychology might interact and how psychology can be used to examine a work's artistic value.

Theoretical Perspective

  • Operating Text and Transcending Machine: Toward an Interdisciplinary Taxonomy of Media Works
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    This paper uncovers the relationship between texts and machines, two major human inventions seemingly situated at polarities. In the Western tradition, the former originates from Aristotelian poetics and rhetoric, while the latter is associated with science and technology. The two have started to overlap in the 20th century, especially with the advent of the computer—a machine simulating human mental activities. This article begins by revisiting a few cardinal ideas from various scholars. Then, having outlined a corpus of texts in different manifestations related to the essence of machines, the author attempts to devise a preliminary framework for an inventive taxonomy of media artifacts in the post-digital age.

Special Section: Leonardo Celebrates Leonardo da Vinci

  • Leonardo da Vinci: A Review
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    The article reviews scholarship on Leonardo da Vinci during the 20th century. An initial fascination with a handful of paintings has led to a nearly comprehensive understanding of his art. A catalogue raisonnée for Leonardo and his school has yet to be made. Awareness of Leonardo as a scientist began with a vague reputation of a universal genius who never finished anything. Some praised, others sought to limit him as an artist-engineer. The 20th century revealed that Leonardo made substantial contributions in the domains of physics, mechanics, optics, perspective and medicine. Even so, nearly 500 years after his birth, much remains to be done in understanding fully one of the great geniuses of all time.

From the Leonardo Archive

  • Using the Supercomputer to Visualize Higher Dimensions: An Artist's Contribution to Scientific Visualization
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    The interdisciplinary research environment coupled with supercomputer graphics is affording new opportunities for collaborations between artists and scientists. The author has collaborated with specialists in such fields as agricultural entomology, topology and astrophysics to render visual representations of multidimensional computations. One collaboration has resulted in a single, aesthetic form encompassing both a new art form and the discovery of a suggested mathematical theorem. These team efforts provide interesting examples of research dynamics between artist and scientist as they work toward a common goal: visualization of the invisible. Such interaction serves as a prototype of the ‘Renaissance team’ where specialists provide a broad spectrum of skills in the quest for discovery. Artists can and will make important contributions to this research.

Leonardo Reviews

  • Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998–2001 by Hilda Paredes. Performed by Arditti Quartet. Mode Records, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2005. Distributor's website: 〈www.moderecords.com〉
  • Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life by Arthur C. Danto. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2005. 400 pp. Trade. ISBN: 0-374-28118-1
  • ARTSCIENCE: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation by David Edwards. Harvard University Press, 2008. 194 pp. ISBN: 978-0-6740-2625-4
  • The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States by Carla Yanni. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2007. 191 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN 10: 0-8166-4940-5
  • The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney by Michael Barrier. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A., 2007. 393 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-520-24117-6
  • Adorno in America by David Jenemann. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2007. 288 pp. Paper. ISBN: 978-0-8166-4809-2
  • Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists by Casey Reas and Ben Fry. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2007. 736 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-18262-1
  • Re: Skin edited by Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2007. 370 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-06260-7
  • The Hidden Sense: Synesthesia in Art and Science by Crétien van Campen. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2007. 208 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-22081-4
  • Prisoners of Beckett by Michka Saäl, Director. National Film Board of Canada, with Qu4tre par Quatre films. ADR Productions and Arte France, 2005. DVD, 85 min, col. Distributor's website: 〈http://www.nfb.ca〉
  • On the Rumba River by Jacques Sarasin. First Run/Icarus Films, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2006. 86 min, col. Distributor's website: 〈http://www.frif.com〉
  • Leonardo Reviews On-Line

Transactions

  • Fluente: A Virtual Choreography
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    In the virtual choreography, “Fluente”, the human material body is no more solid as we see, but is fluid as we imagine. One can see motion flows through the material body, because all the fluid motions are consequent on the energy transmission. Furthermore, the energy transmission does not only exist on one individual, but also exist among groups gradually and continually underlain the energetic conservation. Dancers exercise their body everyday in the aim to discover and rehearse how the motion of the whole is duly evolved from their motor locus. The process by which motors provoke the whole motion is as mysterious as beautiful; therefore, the author realizes it in the virtual choreography, “Fluente”. “Fluente” does not aim to present the fluid motion of human body but to explore the “inner propagation” existing within the real material bones, muscles, and our imagination as well. It comes from the center source with the vital breathe to flow as well to propagate perpetually.

  • Between Real and Ideal: Documenting Media Art
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    This paper describes a new approach to documenting media art which seeks to place in dialogue the artist's intentions and the audience's experience. It explicitly highlights the productive tension between the ideal, conceptual existence of the work, and its actual manifestation through different iterations and exhibitions in the real world. The paper describes how the approach was developed collaboratively during the production of a documentary collection for the artwork Giver of Names, by David Rokeby. It outlines the key features of the approach including artist's interview, audience interviews and data structure.

  • Music and Consciousness
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    The author examines the crucial role that music plays in the evolution of consciousness.

  • Inventing New Modes of Digital Visualisation in Contemporary Art

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