Leonardo, Volume 44, Issue 2 | Leonardo/ISAST

Leonardo, Volume 44, Issue 2

April 2011

Contents

Editorial

Artists' Articles

  • Technology, Nature, Software and Networks: Materializing the Post-Romantic Landscape
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    The author began making films and installations in the early 1970s. Although he has worked across a range of media, he has always concentrated on one particular theme that he conceptualizes as a two-sided question: How do we see ourselves in relation to the natural world, and how should we position our selves and our technologies within it? This essay traces some of the threads of these seminal ideas through a selection of works made in the years between 1974 and 2009. The author concludes with a detailed description of Tree Studies, a large-scale new media installation powered by real-time data from weather stations around the planet.

  • Iridescent Color: From Nature to the Painter's Palette
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    The shifting rainbow hues of iridescence have, until recently, remained exclusive to nature. Now, the latest advances in nanotechnology enable the introduction of novel, bio-inspired color-shifting flakes into painting—thereby affording artists potential access to the full spectacle of iridescence. Unfortunately, existing rules of easel painting do not apply to the new medium; but, as nature inspired the technology, an exploration of natural phenomena can best inform how to overcome this hurdle. Thus, by adopting a biomimetic approach, this paper outlines the optical principles underlying iridescence and provides technical ground rules for its incorporation into painting.

Artist's Note

  • Performing Exile in Real Time through a French Feminist Framework
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    This paper discusses the theoretical, technological and personal processes in which the author engaged as a performance-technology researcher, leading to the creation of the Performance Online in Real Time (PORT) technology toolkit. The paper explains the process of creating a digital performance work and its theoretical framing based on French feminist philosophical and psychoanalytical theories. These enabled the author to establish a model for both a performing and a spectating position in digital performance.

General Articles

  • Nuclear Activities and Modern Catastrophes: Art Faces the Radioactive Waves
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    Nuclear-related artworks provide a favorable terrain for investigation of our contemporary epoch, for they relate to a science whose applications are highly political and that is spreading beyond the Western world. In times of global warming, indeed, the prospect of nuclear energy reappears as the latest sought-after modern technology. But after Hiroshima and Chernobyl, and given the dualistic civilian and military use of the atom, how do artists react to nuclear activities and their inherent politics? Can art provide an effective counterpractice to global nuclear politics? The author argues that art and science share the same project—the modernist project—and that art, like science, has to question its modern heritage.

  • Get at MIT Press

    It is now an accepted maxim in design theory and practice that real-world problems needing the attention of design practitioners are not neat and well-structured, but ill-structured and “wicked”—part of a larger, complex social situation. For design education, then, to take its lead from contemporary social, political and economic structures, it will have to seriously re-think its problem-solving paradigms. The authors investigate the use of self-generating learning narratives in the classroom and contrast the approach they introduce with the still-too-prevalent notion that knowledge can be transferred from teacher to student. Their methodology draws from ideas formulated by Maturana and Varela on autopoiesis, specifically the notion of co-ontogenic drift.

  • Destroying Uniformity: Using Fungi to Add a Tactile and Visual Experience to Functional Wood
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    Recent Western preference for functional wooden objects has promoted an ideal of clear, smooth, straight-grained lumber. However, wood does not need to be free of defects to be functional. This paper explores the relationship between decay and functionality in terms of parergonal aesthetics by presenting the use of fungi to alter surface texture and color on wooden bowls. In addition, the bowls' altered but functional state forces the viewer to reconsider modern views on the role of defect-free wood within a functional context.

Color Plates

Historical Perspective

  • The Fotoformas of Geraldo de Barros: Photographic Experimentalism and the Abstract Art Debate in Brazil
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    Geraldo de Barros produced a series called Fotoformas, consisting of photographic experiments that pioneered abstractionism in Brazil. Since the mid-1990s, this series has been presented in various retrospective exhibitions and publications. The predominant critical interpretation of the work has linked it with Concrete Art, downplaying Barros's participation in the Bandeirante Photography and Cinema Club (FCCB), an amateur association. This article rethinks his engagement in both circuits, demonstrating that the artist created the Fotoformas in dialogue with this photo-club. The author also analyzes Barros's experimental approach, which was based on the inscription of indexical marks on the images to deny the constraints of the camera, with the emphasis instead on process and interdisciplinary artistic practice. Thus, he created an alternative to Brazilian abstractionism, which focused mostly on formal aspects.

Leonardo Transactions

  • Transmesh: A Locative Media System
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    This research project demonstrates the technosocial possibilities that result from creating localized mediated spaces or ‘meshworks’ using Bluetooth in order to publish independently produced content. Bluetooth technology is a double-edged sword. It is a meshwork for sharing media freely between mobile device users in public places such as shopping centres and private spaces such as the home and the workplace. It presents opportunities for the design of innovative creative projects, however technical issues, user acceptance and competition for the user's attention provide continuing challenges.

  • How to Make Living Viral Tattoos
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    Living Viral Tattoos (2008) is a research-creation project featuring the development of sculptures made in vitro. The creation of tattoos in the form of blue ‘bruises’ on pig skin and donated human skin was made using retroviruses, cell and tissue culture and immunohistochemical stains. This technical paper presents the protocols created and materials used in the project with the intention of contributing to an open source model for the development of wetware and biological art processes.

  • Nanotechnology and Silver-Metal Clay for Artisans
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    Nano-scale silver particles are utilized in the production of a metal clay, which upon firing is reduced to a solid metal article. The metal clay, because of the nano-scale particles, can be fired in a conventional home oven.

  • Can Open Learning Have a Future in the University?
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    Most universities offer centralized web resources that are designed to help staff and students manage their learning experience. The author suggests that these closed systems, variously called Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) or Learning Management Systems (LMS), are not the best solution for digital-media arts education. Instead, external user-centric web services should be allowed to flow into the university web systems. In this way students and teachers increase their participation in the broader production (and critique) of knowledge in the media arts and other disciplines.

  • Resolution of Anamorphic Images Using a Computer
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    Anamorphic images are often difficult to see. The author has worked with Google SketchUp and POV-Ray to make the original images accessible. This is useful for teaching purposes, but also as a tool for art historians who are not experts in the geometry of perspective. It also allows scope for the study of anamorphosis in perception.

  • 3D Architectural Projection, Light Wall
  • Mannequins and Motorcycles in Vietnam: A Tale of an Evolved Art Video
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    The nexus between art and science has been increasingly recognized as a research area. In this paper the author discuss how she used genetic algorithms for her art practice. She refers to technical aspects only where they are directly relevant to her process. The algorithm simulates drawing by rendering image sequences using a target image such as a photograph. The first rendered image is a random placement of brush strokes. The final image closely resembles the target image. She used the image sequences to create a video work interrogating contemporary Vietnamese icons — mannequins and motorcycles.

Leonardo Reviews

  • The Moving Earth directed by Lars Becker-Larsen. Icarus Films, 52 min. Release Date: 2009. Copyright Date: 2008. 〈http://icarusfilms.com/new2009/mov.html〉
  • North of Empire: Essays on the Cultural Technologies of Space by Jody Berland. Duke Univ. Press, Durham, NC, U.S.A., 2009. 408 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 978-0822343066
  • Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy by Erin Manning. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, and London, U.K., 2009. 272 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 978-0-262-13490-3
  • Greening through IT: Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability by Bill Tomlinson. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, and London, U.K. 210 pp., illus. ISBN: 978-0-262-01393-2
  • Mapping the Moving Image: Gesture, Thought and Cinema circa 1900 by Pasi Väliaho. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, NL, 2010. Film Culture in Transition series, 256 pp., illus. ISBN: 978-90-8964-141-0; ISBN: 978-90-8964-140-3
  • Art + Science Now by Stephen Wilson. Thames Hudson, London, U.K., 2010
  • Stance: Ideas about Emotion, Style, and Meaning for the Study of Expressive Culture by Harris M. Berger. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2010. xxi + 167 pp. ISBN-13: 9780819568779 (cloth), 978-0819568779 (paperback)
  • A Mysterious Masterpiece: The World of the Linder Gallery edited by Michael John Gorman. Florence, Italy: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi/Alias. 135 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 978-8-96532-02-7
  • Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History by Simon Werrett. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 2010. 376 pp. illus. Trade. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-89377-8
  • Points on the Dial: Golden Age Radio beyond the Networks by Alexander Russo. Duke Univ. Press, Durham, NC, 2010. 278 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 978-0-8223-4532-9
  • Cold War on the Home Front: The Soft Power of Midcentury Design by Greg Castillo, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2010. 312 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 978-0-8166-4691-3; ISBN: 978-0-8166-4692-0
  • October 2010
  • November 2010

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