Leonardo, Volume 47, Issue 5

October 2014

Contents

Editorial

Leonardo Gallery

Artists’ Articles

  • An Album in 1,000 Variations: Notes on the Composition and Distribution of a Parametric Musical Work
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    The authors discuss the making and distribution of an audio album that was created using parametric techniques and released in 1,000 distinct variations, as a kind of limited edition for the age of digital distribution. After describing the project, they discuss how the project has affected their thinking about the production of electronic music, the process of musical distribution and the concepts of tracks, musical works and uniqueness.

  • ATRIA: A Sound Installation Exploring the Interface between Art, Science and Technology by Remapping Cardiovascular Development
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    ATRIA was an immersive sound installation that was the result of a dynamic, reflective dialogue between artist Deborah Robinson and biologist Simon Rundle during Robinson’s residency within the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, Plymouth University. The work drew on theoretical ideas in developmental biology and the sociology of science and practical, laboratory investigations in developmental physiology. Data from videos of snail embryos used to map physiological function during development using conventional (scientific) diagrams were “remapped” as sound projections into a three-dimensional building space, transposing scientific knowledge into a public experience as a “mutable mobile.”

  • Tangible User Interface Design for Climate Change Education in Interactive Installation Art
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    The authors discuss how tangible user interface objects can be important educational and entertainment tools in environmental education. The authors describe their interactive installation artwork Reefs on the Edge, which incorporates tangible user interface objects and combines environmental science and multiple art forms to explore coral reef ecosystems that are threatened by the effects of climate change. The authors/artists argue that the use of tangible user interface in an installation-art setting can help engage and inform the public about crucial environmental issues.

Color Plates

General Articles

  • “He” Had Me at Blue: Color Theory and Visual Art
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    Schopenhauer and Goethe argued that colors are dangerous: When philosophers speak of colors, they often begin to rant and rave. This essay addresses the confusing and treacherous history of color theory and perception. An overview of philosophers and scientists associated with developing theories leads into a discussion of contemporary perspectives: Taussig’s notion of a “combustible mixture” and “total bodily activity” and Massumi’s idea of an “ingressive activity” are used as turning points in a discussion of Roger Hiorns’s Seizure—an excruciatingly intoxicating installation.

  • What’s Wrong with an Art Fake? Cognitive and Emotional Variables Influenced by Authenticity Status of Artworks
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    What’s wrong with art fakes? The authors tested effects of art “forgery” on aesthetic appreciation and the perceived quality of paintings in a multidimensional manner comprising cognitive and emotional variables: When naïve participants were exposed to replicas of works by renowned artists, information about the alleged authenticity status had a major effect on the perceived quality of the painting, and even on artist-associated values such as the artist’s talent. All these variables were negatively influenced when depictions were labeled as copies compared to identical ones labeled as originals. The authors’ findings show the importance of symbolic and personal values as modulators in art appreciation.

General Note

  • Design and Superconducting Levitation
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    When specific metals are cooled to a very low temperature (typically colder than about −200°C), they become superconductive and can make magnets levitate. This paper reports on a collaboration between physicists and designers to exploit this quantum levitation. The main goal of this collaboration was to create artistic displays, experiments and videos to engage a large public with fundamental physics. Beyond its public success, this “SupraDesign” project enabled an encounter between two communities: researchers in physics and designers. The collaboration revealed unexpected similarities in working methods, such as testing through experimentation, engaging in teamwork and making use of creativity in a constraining environment.

Historical Perspective

  • The Tragedy of Radical Subjectivity: From Radical Software to Proprietary Subjects
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    Considering the aestheticization of post-World War II research in cybernetics as part of a cultural shift in art practices and human and machine subjectivities, the author brings these spheres together by analyzing encounters between the experimental artists and researchers who wrote for and edited Radical Software in the early 1970s, including Harry A. Wilmer, Gregory Bateson and Paul Ryan. She then connects their experimental uses of video feedback (a central tenet of cybernetics) to new and increasingly pervasive human-machine subjectivities.

Special Section of Leonardo Transactions: Balance-Unbalance

  • Balance-Unbalance: Art and Environmental Crisis
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    Balance-Unbalance aims to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between nature, science, technology and society with the intent of engendering a deeper awareness and creating lasting intellectual working partnerships in solving our global environmental crisis.

  • A Balanced Approach to Local and Global Action
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    The hosting of the Balance-Unbalance 2013 International Conference in a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve was seen as a strategic opportunity to align the objectives and activities of Biosphere Reserves to the aspirations of Balance-Unbalance.

  • Art as a Catalyst
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    The investigation of the role of Art as a Catalyst at the intersection of science and technology has become a global focal point over the last decade. The Balance-Unbalance 2013 international conference explored this issue in depth. “Artists as Catalysts” was the main topic of the 2013 Ars Electronica Festival - strong evidence of significant interdisciplinary progress. Nevertheless the question remains: How is art, science and technology changing in the process? Does cross-disciplinary artist-initiated collaboration function as a catalyst in this setting? This paper briefly examines these issues based on personal participatory experience.

  • Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre and Balance-Unbalance: The art! ⋈ climate Project
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    The art! ⋈ climate contest used art as a catalyst in helping to build bridges between sound artists and specific humanitarian actions related to climate change, with the intent of engendering a deeper awareness and creating lasting working partnerships in addressing our global environmental crisis. Both the process and the outcomes of this initiative highlight the value of integrating creative approaches into humanitarian work for complex risk management issues.

  • Towards Ecological Autarky
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    While the notion of autarky is often contested in terms of feasibility and desirability, art and design projects that deal with autarky seem moreover to suggest positive socio-cultural and ecological effects of autarkic living. A social network model of autarky is introduced to unify these seemingly opposing views.

  • Biosphere Soundscapes
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    Biosphere Soundscapes (BioScapes) is a large-scale interdisciplinary art project underpinned by the creative possibilities of soundscape ecology, a rapidly evolving field of biology used to record environmental patterns and changes. This project is designed to inspire communities across the world to listen to the environment and re-imagine the potential of International UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as learning laboratories for a sustainable future.

  • Birding the Future
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    Birding the Future is a multi-layered interdisciplinary project that explores issues of species loss and biodiversity while specifically focusing on the warning abilities of birds as indicators of environmental health. It is an outdoor installation and image walk incorporating multi-channel sound, stereoscopic images, text, Morse code messages, calls of endangered and extinct bird species and a rendering of projected extinction rate. Birding the Future is a global project designed as a series of local, site-specific works.

  • Hug@ree: An ARTiVIS Experience for Sustainability
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    Hug@ree is an interactive installation that provides a bond between urban beings and the forest. It is an ARTiVIS (Arts, Real-Time Video and Interactivity for Sustainability) experience that provides interaction with trees and videos of trees in real-time, raising awareness of the natural environment and how individual action can collectively become so relevant. In this paper, the authors present an overview of the Hug@ree concept, related work, implementation, user experience evaluation and future work.

  • Anastatica Sensibile - Grounding Interactivity on a Natural Process
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    Interactive artistic installations represent avant-garde forms of Contemporary Art. They are artistic works able to change their behavior in response to the behavior of the viewers, turning them into (more or less) active participants. This paper discusses an interactive installation the authors developed during the beginning of 2012 for the St. Elmo Castle in Naples, Italy. In this installation the audience determines the evolution of the life cycle of specific plants, in terms of an opening/closing process. The paper proposes some reflections on this case study, especially about the engagement dimension promoted by the work.

  • A Walk in the Woods: Investigating Ethical Design, Ubiquitous Computing and Social Media
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    This paper will examine what has been learned through three years of research by an interdisciplinary university laboratory investigating ethical design and media. The University of New Mexico’s Social Media Workgroup (SMW) is an environment in which faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and outside experts work in interdisciplinary collaborative teams to design and develop a wide variety of media tools, assets and events including the large-scale projection work Particle Falls visualizing real-time air quality in San Jose, California, and a permanent public work at the University of Utah, E-Oculus.

  • Catalysts for Change: Creative Practice as an Environmental Engagement Tool
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    This paper presents research investigating how creative practice can complement scientific discourses in engaging the public with environmental issues. Focusing on the Floating Land environmental art festival and The People’s Garden eco-visualization, this enquiry examines how participatory creative projects can engender social learning and reflection on environmental values that operate as catalysts for change.

  • Participatory Video and Games for a New Climate
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    In a world of changing climate risks, the humanitarian sector is facing an unprecedented future of changing hazard profiles and increasingly complex decision-making scenarios. Individuals, communities and disaster managers need to re-examine their way of analyzing information and learn how to make decisions founded on uncertainty rather than historical trends. As a result of this increasingly dynamic future, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre decided to re-examine its own strategies for communicating complex climate risk management concepts by engaging with the arts through the use of games and participatory video.

  • Contemporary Climate Change Art as the Abstract Machine: Ethico-Aesthetics and Futures Orientation
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    The fusion of visual art and climate science to produce something new to mediate the urgency of the climate change issue is explored in relation to Simon O’Sullivan’s conception of contemporary art invoking Deleuze and Guattari’s ethico-aesthetics and futures orientation. The question considered is: Can and does climate change art crystallize a different subjectivity within viewers? Conclusions are that the visual art considered in this article does have the prospect of connecting viewers with some realization of future climate change implications.

  • The Functions of Environmental Art
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    The psycho-historical theory of art posits that the functions of an artwork are effects of that artwork selected and reproduced because they fulfill humans’ mental and social needs. To develop this account, I hypothesize a cluster of core functions of environmental art, which encompasses effects such as tracking, broadcasting, emotions manipulation, cooperation, and critical reflection.

  • The Changing Boundaries of Knowledge Between Māori Awareness and Western Science
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    Conventionally, indigenous knowledge such as that held by Māori (the indigenous culture of Aotearoa New Zealand) is seen as in total contrast to Western scientific knowledge. In this paper the author puts forward instances where ideology is held in common across cultural borders. A general awareness of facets of shared ideology has been refined, extended and given substance through three curatorial projects involving Dr. Te Huirangi Waikerepuru, a highly respected kaumatua (elder). These took place in Istanbul, Albuquerque and Aotearoa New Zealand. Ethically, acceptance of these commonalities leads to considering the shifting boundary of knowledge in contemporary life.

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