Leonardo, Volume 42, Issue 5 | Leonardo/ISAST

Leonardo, Volume 42, Issue 5

October 2009

Contents

Editorial

Leonardo Gallery

Color Plates

Special Section: Space Art

  • Universal Cognitive Maps and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe
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    For almost 50 years the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) research program was pursued under the hypothesis of the universality of the physical laws in the cosmos. The authors call attention to some epistemological issues that make it necessary to seek other aesthetic, spiritual and ethical “cognitive universals.” They propose the participation of a broader community of scholars from natural, social, artistic and humanistic disciplines to explore all the possible “universal cognitive maps” that eventually might favor the detection of extraterrestrial intelligent life.

Special Section: Lovely Weather: Art and Climate Change

  • Ground-breaking: Scientific and Sonic Perceptions of Environmental Change in the African Sahel
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    Soils surrounding ancient settlements can hold evidence of the activities of past societies. To seek an understanding of how past societies have reacted and contributed to environmental change requires many data sources. The real-time audiovisual installation Ground-breaking problematizes the presentation of such data, gained in this case through the image-analysis of soil materials. These data are used to connote environmental events and consequent human responses. By combining these data with audiovisual synthesis and environmental recordings, the authors present a basis for developing conceptualizations of new locales undergoing environmental change; the visual and sonic narratives that are developed allow the art-science interface to be explored.

  • Architecture as Nature: A Biodigital Hypothesis
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    The author's 2005 Leonardo publication documented a biology-based procedure for generating experimental digital architecture. The text evolved out of Louis Sullivan's morphological lexicon and design process as articulated in A System of Architectural Ornament. The present article is rooted in that paper but here infused with theoretical ideas from Leibniz, Deleuze, Rajchman and Dawkins emphasizing biodesign and bioarchitecture's role as part of nature. In addition, new projects and digitally grown tree/truss experiments illustrate generative, digital-botanic designs integrating biological simulation and/or 3D parametric components inspired by nature.

Articles and Notes

  • Words, Images and Avatars: Explorations of Physical Place and Virtual Space by Japanese Electronic Media Artists
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    While this article discusses the philosophical and even spiritual relevance of the cultural imprint of individual artists' work, especially for artists originating in a unique environment such as that of Japan, its main purpose is to address how artists capture the character of physical place, whether consciously or subconsciously, when producing creative work in a virtual environment, and how recent artists are exploring their desire to produce tangible objects from their virtual creations.

  • Prayer Bead Gestures and Television: A Case Study on Cultural Inspirations for Interaction Art Education
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    The authors, interactive design-art educators, recount their experience in using cultural inspirations as part of student exercises. The authors found that, although students proposed various design concepts drawing from the surrounding culture, very few moved beyond experience design art. In order to remedy this situation without giving explicit direction, the authors encouraged students to examine cultural habits and/or artifacts from their past or their current lives in the hope that this could generate innovative design ideas. One such project is the Prayer Bead Gesture Based TV Input Device.

  • Henri Matisse Drawing: An Eye-Hand Interaction Study Based on Archival Film
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    Henri Matisse (1869–1954) attached fundamental importance to his drawings, in particular to the famous Themes et Variations series. These were accomplished following a precise method, starting with arduous life studies and evolving into brilliant spontaneous drawings. A 1946 archival documentary film showing the artist drawing four portraits of his grandson Gerard was shot in such a way as to allow the present author to undertake a detailed eye-hand interaction analysis of the drawing process. It was found that Matisse's temporal working rhythm and use of motor memory resulted in a more direct approach than that used by most painters. Taken together with remarks the artist made throughout his lifetime, these results provide a cognitive interpretation of his drawing method.

  • Music Neurotechnology for Sound Synthesis: Sound Synthesis with Spiking Neuronal Networks
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    Music neurotechnology is a new research area emerging at the crossroads of neurobiology, engineering sciences and music. Examples of ongoing research into this new area include the development of brain-computer interfaces to control music systems and systems for automatic classification of sounds informed by the neurobiology of the human auditory apparatus. The authors introduce neurogranular sampling, a new sound synthesis technique based on spiking neuronal networks (SNN). They have implemented a neurogranular sampler using the SNN model developed by Izhikevich, which reproduces the spiking and bursting behavior of known types of cortical neurons. The neurogranular sampler works by taking short segments (or sound grains) from sound files and triggering them when any of the neurons fire.

  • Temporal Convergence in Shared Networked Narratives: The Case of Blast Theory's Day of the Figurines
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    Day of the Figurines, developed by Blast Theory in collaboration with the Mixed Reality Laboratory at Nottingham University, is a massively multiplayer board game for up to a thousand participants. Players can interact remotely with other participants via SMS through their mobile phones from anywhere in the world. Following an analysis of this game's complex use of time, the authors introduce a framework structured around five layers of time, from authorial to perceived time, that will facilitate the management and investigation of networked narratives shared by mobile communities over prolonged periods of time.

Special Section: Leonardo Celebrates Leonardo da Vinci

  • A Film on Leonardo da Vinci by Luciano Emmer
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    Leonardo da Vinci probably did not consider the possibility of realizing images with real movement. Many centuries later, however, the author's father, Luciano Emmer, had the idea of reinterpreting the images of the famous artist and scientist using the technique of cinema.

Leonardo Reviews

  • The Nuclear Comeback by Justin Pemberton. Icarus Films, release 2008, copyright 2007. DVD, 53 min, closed captioned. Distributor's web site: 〈http://icarusfilms.com/ new2008/nuc.html〉
  • Memory against Culture by Johannes Fabian. Duke University Press, Durham and London, U.S.A/U.K., 2007. 208 pp., illus. Hardcover; paperback
  • Roy Ascott: The Syncretic Sense Curated by Paula Orrell. Plymouth Arts Centre, 4 April–24 May 2009.
  • Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection by Ornella Corazza. Routledge, London and New York, U.K./U.S., 2008. 192 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-45519-0
  • The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics edited by Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson. McFarland Company, Jefferson, NC, U.S.A., 2008. 197 pp., illus.
  • Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction by Ray Brassier. Palgrave, New York, 2007. 275 pp. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-230-52204-6
  • Perspective, Projections and Design: Technologies of Architectural Representation edited by Mario Carpo and Frédérique Lemerle. Routledge, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2007. 224 pp. Hardcover; paperback. ISBN-10: 0-415-40204-2; ISBN-10: 0-415-40206-9
  • California Video: Artists and Histories edited by Glenn Phillips. Getty Publications, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A., 2008. 312 pp., illus. Hardcover. ISBN-13: 978-0-892-36922-5
  • The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove. Black Dog, London, U.K., 2008. 269 pp. Hardcover. ISBN: 978-1-906155-49-0
  • Buffalo Heads: Media Study, Media Practice, Media Pioneers, 1973–1990 edited by Woody Vasulka and Peter Weibel. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2008. 800 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 0-262-72050-7
  • Challenges: A Memoir of My Life in Opera by Sarah Caldwell, with Rebecca Matlock. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, U.S.A., 2008. 256 pp., illus. Hardcover. ISBN: 978-0-8195-6885-4
  • The Dreams of Interpretation: A Century Down the Royal Road edited by Catherine Liu, John Mowitt, Thomas Pepper and Jakki Spicer. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, 2007. 344 pp. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-8166-4800-9
  • Leonardo Reviews On-Line

Transactions

  • Re-inventing Fourier
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    Artists asked to represent sound in a visual way mysteriously re-invented many of the concepts that preside over the mathematical signal transforms used in computer music. Their drawings adopted a systematic 2-dimensional structure and sometimes resembled time-frequency representations such as the Fourier transform. This makes us ponder here over the different criteria of what makes a “good” computer representation for the scientist, and what makes a “good” visual work for the artist.

  • The Monument Project (Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice)
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    This paper describes the concepts, ideas, background and operations of The Monument Project (Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice), a digital video installation that produces a continuous stream of weather-responsive panoramic images from the top of the Monument in the City of London. The work, which was commissioned by Julian Harrap Architects, was part of a £4.5 million refurbishment of the 17th-century landmark, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr. Robert Hooke to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666.

  • Emergence and Generative Art
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    Emergence, the idea that in some sense more comes out of a system than was put in, is the holy grail of generative art. Yet emergence is a slippery concept. Originating in the philosophy of science, it has been taken up in systems theory, cognitive science and Artificial Life. As a consequence there are numerous definitions of emergence in the literature, but none well-suited to discussions of generative art. The paper reviews some existing definitions and proposes a new definition of generative-art emergence.

  • Processpatching, Defining New Methods in aRt

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