Leonardo, Volume 45, Issue 1

February 2012

Contents

Editorial

Color Plates

Articles and Notes

  • The Harrisons: Talking and Remembering
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    Peter Selz engages Helen and Newton Harrison in discussion about their expansive career in ecological art. The artists reflect upon the influences of Renaissance artists and the Bauhaus on the development of their approach, and they chronicle their concern with survival at progressively larger scales. In their recent Force Majeure series, working at the ecosystemic level, they present poetic meditations on prospects for the security of all living things as land, food, fresh water and other species diminish.

  • The Tree, the Spiral and the Web of Life: A Visual Exploration of Biological Evolution for Public Murals
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    The authors created the Spiral of Life as a new, accessible symbol for the evolution of life. This novel visual interpretation of evolution challenges traditional tenets of the field in light of emerging new themes in research. The Spiral brings recent principles to the general public and also provides scientists with a new visual concept to support further discussion. The Spiral emerged from the combination of the analysis of the latest scientific research with an artistic process to create new images and icons. A resulting complementary series of artworks was installed in five cultural institutions and museums in Pittsburgh, PA.

  • The Postmodern Beauty of Fractals
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    Fractal art, one of the significant conjunctions of art, modern mathematics and computer technology, has been the author's primary art medium for the past five years. After presenting an introduction to the general properties of fractal art, the author explains certain visual aspects and processes of creating such art using examples from his own work.

  • Reading John Cage's Variations III as a Process for Generating Proto-Architectural Form
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    Yago Conde based his 1988 concept design for the Barcelona Olympic Village water fountain on John Cage's indeterminate graphic work Fontana Mix. In this paper, a critique of Conde's work serves as the departure point for an examination of Cagean notions of indeterminacy, an interrogation of the original musical context of Fontana Mix, and the presentation of a distinct methodology (employing NURBS modeling) for proto-architectural representation of Cage's graphic score Variations III.

  • Conceptual Art: A Blind Spot for Neuroaesthetics?
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    Conceptual art presents an important challenge for neuroaesthetics. Such art helps to stimulate complex psychological events—beyond the perceptual responses usually studied by neuroscience. If science is to engage meaningfully with art, scientists need to address the conceptual content of our experience of many different kinds of art. As a test case, this essay suggests that neuroaesthetics should come to terms with works such as Marcel Duchamp's Bôite-en-valise (1935–1941), which is representative of many artworks and art exhibitions organized into composite parts or groups of works. The essay shows that, typically, art stimulates a network of conceptual relations rather than merely perceptions of the visible aspects of single artworks.

  • Electric Circus, Electric Ear and the Intermedia Center in Late-1960s New York
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    Composer Morton Subotnick moved to New York in 1966 for a brief but productive stay, establishing a small but notable electronic music studio affiliated with New York University. It was built around an early Buchla system and became Subotnick's personal workspace and a creative home for a cluster of emerging young composers. Subotnick also provided artistic direction for a new multimedia discoteque, the Electric Circus, an outgrowth of ideas he formulated earlier at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. A Monday evening series at the Circus, Electric Ear, helped spawn a cluster of venues for new music and multimedia. While the NYU studio and Electric Ear represent examples of centers operating outside commercial forces, the Electric Circus was entrepreneurial in nature, which ultimately compromised its artistic values.

  • Contemporary Art and Cybernetics: Waves of Cybernetic Discourse within Conceptual, Video and New Media Art
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    This paper aims to highlight the interplay of technology and cybernetics within conceptual art. Just as Lucy Lippard has illustrated the influence of information theory within 1960s conceptual art, this paper traces the technological discourses within conceptual art through to contemporary digital art—specifically, establishing a correlation between Katherine Hayles's mapping of first-, second- and third-wave cybernetic narratives and, respectively, 1960s–1970s conceptual art, 1970s–1990s video art and new media art. Technology is shown to have a major influence on conceptual art, but one often based on historical, social and cybernetic narratives. This paper echoes Krzystof Ziarek's call for a Heideggerian poiesis and Adorno/Blanchotnian “nonpower” within conceptual art and advocates Ziarek's notion of “powerfree” artistic practices within new media and transgenic art.

Leonardo Reviews

  • U-n-f-o-l-d: A Cultural Response to Climate Change The Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Glass Curtain Gallery, Chicago, IL, U.S.A., February 2011–April 2011. Exhibit web site: www.mocp.org/exhibitions/2011/03/unfold.php
  • La science n'est pas l'art by Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond. Editions Hermann, Paris, France, 2010. 119 pp., illus. ISBN: 978-27056-6945-4
  • Air edited by John Knechtel. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A, 2010. Alphabet City Media Books Series. 320 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN-10: 0-262-01466-1
  • The Filming of Modern Life: European Avant-Garde Film of the 1920s by Malcolm Turvey. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2011. 170 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 978-0-262-01518-9
  • New Realisms: 1957–1962: Object Strategies between Readymade and Spectacle edited by Julia Robinson. The MIT Press, Cambridge, London, U.S.A., U.K., 2010. 294 pp., illus. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-262-51522-1
  • Performing the Archive: The Transformation of the Archive in Contemporary Art from Repository of Documents to Art Medium by Simone Osthoff. Atropos Press, New York, U.S.A. and Dresden, Germany, 2009. 208 pp. Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0-982-53090-0
  • In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2010. 304 pp. ISBN-10: 0674047834; ISBN-13: 978-0-674-04783-9
  • Compression Purity by Will Alexander. City Lights, San Francisco, CA, U.S.A., 2011. 94 pp. Paper. ISBN: 978-0-87286-541-9
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011

Special Section of Leonardo Transactions: Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks

  • Networks of Contemporary Popular Musicians
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    The Internet has enabled easy storage and retrieval of various network data, including data showing the relationship between music professionals. “High-Throughput Humanities” is a new way of thought that aims to bring analysis of such large-scale data to the study of traditional humanities subjects including music. Here we present how networks of musical professionals can help us understand the process of collective music production and the human perception of musical similarity.

  • Social, Sexual and Economic Networks of Prostitution
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    This article discusses the networks of prostitution, in particular those that can be extracted from online data, and what they can teach us about prostitution itself, disease spreading, cultural differences and a broader spectrum of socio-economical phenomena.

  • GAP: A NeoGeo Approach to Classical Resources
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    Google Ancient Places (GAP) is a Google Digital Humanities Award recipient that will mine the Google Books corpus for classical material that has a strong geographic and historical basis. GAP will allow scholars, students, and enthusiasts world-wide to query the Google Books corpus to ask for books related to a geographic location or to ask for the locations referred to in a classical text. The traditional difficulty of identifying place names will be overcome by using a combination of URI-based gazetteers and an identification algorithm that associates the linear clustering of places within narrative texts with the geographic clustering of locations in the real world.

  • Need to Categorize: A Comparative Look at the Categories of Universal Decimal Classification System and Wikipedia
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    This study analyzes the differences between the category structure of the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) system (which is one of the widely used library classification systems in Europe) and Wikipedia. In particular, the authors compare the emerging structure of category-links to the structure of classes in the UDC. The authors scrutinize the question of how knowledge maps of the same domain differ when they are created socially (i.e. Wikipedia) as opposed to when they are created formally (UDC) using classification theory. As a case study, we focus on the category of “Arts”.

  • 06.213: Attacks with Knives and Sharp Instruments: Quantitative Coding and the Witness to Atrocity
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    Text corpora of testimony to survival and other traumatic events have expanded because of more efficacious and available data collection tools. New methods mobilizing controlled vocabularies, relational data schema, and natural language processing both enable these fragmentary collections of witnessing and offer ways to make them readable. “06.213” describes the background for these methods as relates to testimonial corpora and the framework of a new text analytics project focused on organizing the unstructured fragments of a collection around reader-specified conceptual foci.

  • The Development of the Journal Environment of Leonardo
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    The authors present animations based on the aggregated journal-journal citations of Leonardo during the period 1974–2008. Leonardo is mainly cited by journals outside the arts domain for cultural reasons, for example, in neuropsychology and physics. Articles in Leonardo itself cite a large number of journals, but with a focus on the arts. Animations at this level of aggregation enable us to show the history of the journal from a network perspective.

Transactions

  • Developing Software-Dependent Artwork: Artist and Software Developers' Collaboration
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    Software-dependent artwork is on the increase as software use expands into every part of our lives. Sometimes artists develop this style of artwork by themselves, but more commonly they seek help from technologists, creating an opportunity for artists and software developers to collaborate. This paper presents the experience of a real-world collaboration through a case study of the development of a software-dependent artwork where students were the software developers.

  • Media Art, Mediality and Art Generally
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    The wide ranging, trans-disciplinary interest in technological media suggests the possibility of a new discipline concerned with the history, implications and practice of mediation. Within this context, the field of media art gains a new sense of coherence and identity. Given the lingering tension between media art and mainstream contemporary art, this may lead the latter to assert its disciplinary autonomy. This paper argues against such a move. Media art is better positioned as an integral strand within contemporary art and, more particularly, as a key space of creative enquiry and practice within a generally conceived contemporary art education.

  • Songs of Genes, by Genes, for Genes
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    The authors have defined a new concept of “base_position” and translated the protein-coding sequence to a sequence consisting of 12 base_positions. The authors developed a new algorithm for translating the base_position sequence to a melody with a range of at most a twelfth and without leaps larger than an octave, which should be turned upside-down by a step or small skip after a big leap and was used as the musical theme. The lyric was written according to the summary of the gene. The authors propose a new action of expressing respect to genes by creating songs of genes, by genes, for genes.

  • Crystal Zoetrope: New Visual Medium for Displaying 3D Animation
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    The authors have turned the Zoetrope, initially an optical toy from the pre-cinema era, into a three-dimensional (3D) animation display. “Crystal Zoetrope” is a new visual medium involving a glass disc with numerous engraved objects that displays a sophisticated 3D animation. It can be built in small sizes and even be embedded in everyday objects or environments. Using this new visual medium, the authors produced the 3D animation “Sea of Stars” that portrays the life cycle of planets in the universe.

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