Leonardo, Volume 49, Issue 3 | Leonardo/ISAST

Leonardo, Volume 49, Issue 3

June 2016

Contents

Editorial

Leonardo Gallery

Artists’ Article

  • Motion Tracking of a Fish as a Novel Way to Control Electronic Music Performance
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    The authors have mapped the three-dimensional motion of a fish onto various electronic music performance gestures, including loops, melodies, arpeggio and DJ-like interventions. They combine an element of visualization, using an LED screen installed on the back of an aquarium, to create a link between the fish’s motion and the sonified music. This visual addition provides extra information about the fish’s role in the music, enabling the perception of versatile and developing auditory structures during the performance that extend beyond the sonification of the momentary motion of objects.

Artists’ Note

  • Robocygne: Dancing Life into an Animal-Human-Machine
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    Robocygne is an artistic project that revolves around the development of a custom-built robotic bird, dancing to a remix of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The artists created the choreography through a process in which movements were danced into the robot by the choreographer’s manipulation of the bird’s limbs, by hand, to the music. To enable this multitracking procedure, the artists, in collaboration with the engineers, developed novel software that allowed overlying recording of motions in synchronization with an audio track. From an artistic perspective, the authors discuss the search for choreographic and musical qualities and emphasize how material aspects of body and technology interrelate with emotional expression in Robocygne.

General Article

  • Interdisciplinary Teaching of Visual Perception through Art and Science
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    This paper tells the tale of an adventure in teaching an interdisciplinary course about visual perception, combining visual art and vision science, called “Making Visual Illusions.” The authors co-taught a course that brought together the hands-on methods of the art studio and the science laboratory, using visual illusions as a theme to guide student explorations. One unexpected issue that arose was the time needed to discuss basic concepts and the connections between fields in order to communicate the deeper ideas the students needed to learn. This paper explores aspects of the course that worked well and makes suggestions for improvement.

Technical Note

  • A Variational Art Algorithm for Image Generation
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    The authors propose a variational art algorithm: a virtual system-based optimization algorithm developed for generating images. Observing that the topology optimization method used for multiphysics system design can produce two- or three-dimensional layouts without baselines, the authors propose to expand it beyond engineering applications for generating images. They have devised a virtual physical system—a heat-path system—that “interprets” the optimization-based process of image generation as the simultaneous drawing of multiple strokes in a painting.

Historical Perspective: Pioneers and Pathbreakers

  • The Howard Wise Gallery Show Computer-Generated Pictures (1965): A 50th-Anniversary Memoir
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    In April 1965, the Howard Wise Gallery in New York City held a show of computer-generated pictures by Bela Julesz and Michael Noll. This show was a very early public exhibit of digital art in the United States. This essay is a memoir of that show.

Special Section: EvoMUSART 2014

  • Third International Conference on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design: Introduction
  • Spatiotemporal Ideation Generation with Interactive Evolutionary Design
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    Interactive evolutionary design tools enable human intuition and creative decision-making in high-dimensional design domains while leaving technical busywork to the computer. Current evolutionary algorithms for interactive design tools accept only feedback about entire design candidates, not their parts, which can lead to user fatigue. This article describes several case studies in which designers used an enhanced interactive evolutionary design tool with region-of-interest feedback for character animation tasks. This enhanced interactive evolutionary design tool is called the Interactive Design with Evolutionary Algorithms and Sensitivity (IDEAS) tool. Designers’ feedback and narratives about their experiences with the tool show that interactive evolutionary algorithms can be made suitable for the ideation and generation of digital assets, even in time-varying domains.

  • Beyond Interactive Evolution: Expressing Intentions Through Fitness Functions
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    Photogrowth is a creativity support tool for the creation of nonphotorealistic renderings of images. The authors discuss its evolution from a generative art application to an interactive evolutionary art tool and finally into a meta-level interactive art system in which users express their artistic intentions through the design of a fitness function. The authors explore the impact of these changes on the sense of authorship, highlighting the range of imagery that can be produced by the system.

  • Codeform: A Balancing Act between Variation and Utility in Evolutionary Art
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    This paper describes the artwork Codeform, an interactive, evolutionary ecosystem of virtual “creatures” created by scanning museum visitor admission tickets at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria, in 2014. The paper first describes technical mechanisms used to realize the work and then discusses the issues of finding a genotypic representation that is terse but expressive—that is, one that maximizes the useful variations that the genotype is capable of expressing in phenotype space.

Special Section: Trust Me, I’m an Artist

  • Trust Me, I’m an Artist
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    Trust Me, I’m an Artist (TMIAA) is a European-based project devoted to developing “Ethical Frameworks for Artists, Cultural Institutions and Audiences Engaged in the Challenges of Creating and Experiencing New Art Forms in Biotechnology and Biomedicine.” As such it brings together a wide variety of interested parties to debate and, hopefully to some extent, resolve ethical issues arising at the intersection of art, science and biomedicine. Leonardo hosts a selection of articles by the artists and curators reporting about the project and the experience.

  • Flesh-eaters: Notes toward a Zombie Methodology
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    This article reflects upon Martin O’Brien’s 2015 commission Taste of Flesh/Bite Me I’m Yours as part of Trust Me, I’m an Artist, a Creative Europe-funded project. O’Brien discusses the ethics of witnessing the “sick body” in performance and considers the concept of disease as a mode of spectatorship—a concept employed in order to think through the politics of witnessing difficult performance work by artists with illnesses. The artist particularly reflects upon the nature of participation during his performance, which involved explicit interaction with his body as “sick.” O’Brien concludes by considering the ways in which the nature of this interaction allows for the striving toward agency over one’s own flesh.

  • On Curating Pain: The Sick Body in Martin O’Brien’s Taste of Flesh/Bite Me I’m Yours
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    This article discusses the “sick body” in performance art and ethics, specifically in Taste of Flesh/Bite Me I’m Yours (2015) by London-based artist Martin O’Brien, which was commissioned by the Arts Catalyst as part of Trust Me, I’m an Artist, a Creative Europe-funded project exploring ethical issues in art that engages with biotechnology and medicine, such as medical self-experimentation, extreme body art and art practices using living materials and scientific process. It considers the bodily categorization “sick,” particularly in relation to when the markers for such categorization are rendered invisible through illnesses—in this context, cystic fibrosis. Through the performance of this illness, important ethical questions are raised for the performing sick body, including complicity, subjectivity and the situation-behavior dynamics present between a performer and an audience.

  • The Conundrum of Plant Life
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    Skotopoiesis was the first event from the series Confronting Vegetal Otherness within which the author/artist explored novel plant-human relationships beyond the limits of empathy, interfaces and language. The 19-hour performance was her attempt at intercognition with germinating cress, using her body’s shadow as a sign of human presence. Upon the conclusion of the performance, an ethical committee gathered as a part of the Trust Me, I’m an Artist series to examine the work and was challenged to consider the ethics of including plant life in artworks as well as to assess our attitude toward plants in general.

Statements

  • Flexographic Artists’ Books
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    This article introduces experimental artists’ books created in the interstices between technology and tradition. The series of books are created by utilizing scraps produced via flexographic label printing. Each book is constituted by means of the accumulation of paper on the machine, which introduces a never-ending page structure as a result of the continuous roll, creating a swirling formation. The work is an inquiry on growth, imperfection, form and time, enriched by the impact of mechanical processes that are inherent to the creation of the book. It also investigates experimental uses of printing and papercutting mechanisms.

  • Exploring Art+Science Projects
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    The author describes his recent projects in collaboration with scientists from the Ecole des Mines (MINES ParisTech—Centre des Matériaux). Lava Coins (2007–2009) develops a dialogue between the material and the immaterial, the natural and the industrial, external aspects and internal structure. Glass Microskeletons (2010–2012) explores the creative process through the optics of glass. Unicellular algae (diatoms) build their exoskeletons in silica through a process of biomineralization. The result is a recording of microscopic architectures in optical glass, making visible their invisible forms and documenting in objects a voyage through the intimacies of silica.

  • Morphometrics Show Sam Francis’s Painted Forms Are Statistically Similar to Cells in Biological Tissues
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    The paintings of the abstract expressionist artist Sam Francis contain vivid biomorphic forms. One influence for Francis may have been microscopic images of biological tissues he observed in premedical courses prior to becoming an artist. Using two morphometric measurements common in cell biology, the authors show that forms in Francis’s paintings are statistically similar to cells in biological tissues that resemble his paintings. This study highlights specific similarities between forms in Francis’s paintings and biology. It also presents a novel application of biological morphometrics that could help clarify the creative process and psychological appeal of Francis and other “organic” artists.

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