Kate McLean, Smellmap: Amsterdam, 2014. During a series of smellwalks in Amsterdam, participants identified distinct aromas emanating from the city environment. (© Kate McLean)
On the cover: Kate McLean, Smellmap: Amsterdam, 2014. During a series of smellwalks in Amsterdam, participants identified distinct aromas emanating from the city environment. (© Kate McLean)

Leonardo, Volume 50, Issue 1

February 2017

Contents

Editorial

Leonardo Gallery

  • Exhaustion Aesthetics
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    Defined as the artistic use of compression artifacts and related digital errors, glitch art emerged in the 2000s and has since become a set of vernacular media art effects, featured in digital videos by artists, net art, digitally manipulated photographs and the work of industry professionals and amateur media makers alike. Despite its rapid claim to 21st-century fashion, however, the technique has received little scholarly or curatorial attention. Exhaustion Aesthetics’s counters this by offering a key selection of contemporary glitch artworks, created predominantly by new media or self-identified glitch artists. The works included in the gallery all draw on a notion of reprieve from normative cultural functioning in different and unique ways. These five international artworks include New York–based artist Cory Arcangel’s Data Diaries (2002), in which each day for a year he placed the data from his computer’s memory into QuickTime, directing the program to treat the data as a video file; Chicago-based glitch artist John Satrom’s Windows Rainbows & Dinos (2010), a 13-minute single channel comic video drama that takes place on a Macintosh desktop; Dutch-based glitch artist Rosa Menkman’s Dear Mister Compression (2010), in which the red-and-orange contours of Menkman’s face are juxtaposed with cool purples and a white, text-based love poem generated by the computer; Team Doyobi’s (Alex Peverett and Christopher Gladwi) Art of Memorex (2012), a four-minute music video featuring multicolored glitch artifacts in varying sizes and pattern formations intercutting scenes of a surfer riding ocean waves; and San Francisco–based artist and software creator Andrew Benson’s Status Update, 2am (35 seconds) (2011) a portrait of the artist awake at his computer at 2 A.M., accompanied by a morass of audio distortion and abstract colored textures.

Artists' Articles

  • Sounds of Time and Place
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    The author describes various aural techniques developed as part of the origination of the sonic content of compositions themed on palimpsests of time and place. Field-based recordings, authentic and synthetic impulse responses, convolution reverb and the use of third-party sounds retrieved via open programmatic interfaces are considered. The role of usability feedback is also discussed, specifically its beneficial impact on informing the development both of the compositions and the techniques they utilize. An initial mobile phone application is described, together with continuing work to develop additional mobile experiences.

  • ArtMaps: A Technology for Looking at Tate’s Collection
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    This article presents ArtMaps, a crowdsourcing web-based app for desktop and mobile use that allows users to locate, move and annotate artworks in the Tate collection in relation to one or more sets of locations. Here the authors show that ArtMaps extends the “space” of the museum and facilitates a new pluriperspectival way of looking at art.

Artists' Notes

  • Conservation Science and Contemporary Art: Thinking about Tenerife
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    Art has long been seen as a way to illustrate conservation science for public outreach, especially to children. However, art has a greater role to play as a partner in interdisciplinary practice. Here we explore four examples where early-career conservationists have used the production of artwork inspired by contemporary art movements to engage critically and emotionally through the formalisms of art with conservation issues on the island of Tenerife. The authors suggest that the production of art by conservationists and as conservation (and vice versa) is key to learning to translate between art and science, leading to broader interdisciplinarity.

  • Expectations versus Reality of Artificial Intelligence: Using Art to Examine Ontological Issues
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    The author presents three of his artworks that engage with issues surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) research. The artworks provide a means for discussing issues that are predominantly ontological rather than technical; while the author used a variety of computational methods in the development of the artworks, he did not make use of any AI techniques and tools. The discussion is carried on in a speculative manner that draws from concept art, academic research and sci-fi culture.

General Articles

  • From Goal-Oriented to Constraint-Oriented Design: The Cybernetic Intersection of Design Theory and Systems Theory
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    This article traces the changing notions of constraints in design and of systems since the mid-20th century in the intersection of design theory and systems theory. Taking a second-order cybernetic perspective, the article develops constraints as observer dependent and it analyzes conditions under which constraints tend to be beneficial or detrimental. Ethical implications of constraints in design processes are established with reference to system boundaries. Constraint-oriented design is discussed as an alternative to goal-oriented design, and a method called constraint reversal is introduced as a strategy of deliberate defiance of constraints to support design exploration.

  • Facilitating Creative Equality in Art-Science: A Methodological Experiment 
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    In this article the authors discuss facilitation as a way to develop creative equality in art-science based on their experiences working on an art-science project. They suggest that the space in which representatives from the domains of sciences and arts come together to collaborate is a trading zone in which novel links and relationships can be created. They introduce the notion of “boundary method” to describe facilitation as a method that can endure different meaning-making strategies and meanings employed by stakeholders yet still retain its utility for encouraging creativity at a cross-disciplinary interface rather than within a dominant discipline.

General Notes

  • From the Analytical to the Artistic: A Review of Literature on Information Visualization 
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    Engaging a general audience with scientific research can be effectively assisted by visualization. Visualization art has the potential to engage users with data in a way that gives the audience deep and reflective insights into information. This article reviews relevant literature on different methods and practices of visualization from the analytical to artistic. The literature shows that beautiful presentations of data, in a clarified context, can help an audience with little understanding of the data domain gain deep, meaningful insights into information.

  • Koffka’s Aesthetic Gestalt 
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    A neglected theory of aesthetics by the eminent Gestaltist Kurt Koffka is reviewed with the hope that it will spark new interest in the Gestalt contribution to art. Koffka’s particular emphasis on the art object, its perceptual qualities and its relation with the intentional self holds the potential for advancing scientific theories of aesthetic experience.

Theoretical Perspective

  • Perceptual Learning, the Mere Exposure Effect and Aesthetic Antirealism
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    It has been argued that some recent experimental findings about the mere exposure effect can be used to argue for aesthetic antirealism: the view that there is no fact of the matter about aesthetic value. The aim of this article is to assess this argument and point out that this strategy, as it stands, does not work. But we may still be able to use experimental findings about the mere exposure effect in order to engage with the aesthetic realism/antirealism debate. However, this argument would need to proceed very differently and would only support a much more modest version of aesthetic antirealism.

  • Mere Exposure and Aesthetic Realism: A Response to Bence Nanay
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    Where does the quality of an artwork reside? Is it in the work or in the perceiver and her culture? Belief in the former can be called aesthetic realism, the latter aesthetic antirealism. Nanay suggests that Cutting is an antirealist because he has found that multiple brief exposures to an artwork enhance viewers’ judgments of it. In fact, Cutting is agnostic on the distinction, but as a scientist is unable to discern how quality might be objectively measured in art.

Statements

  • Conceptual and Aesthetic Dimensions of an ECG/RESP Sensor Artwork
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    This article aims to explore an innovative application pairing optical fibers with an electrocardiography (ECG)/respiration (RESP) sensor in art. The constructed interactive work Clock Inside Out not only reflects multifaceted human life but also coexists with the body in the world. Thus, the body is extended to take on a technological character and portrayed as a heteromerous embodiment. Following an analysis of the artwork, the article elaborates on the aesthetic and corporeal phenomena arising from it and concludes with the new meanings and implications carried by the artwork.

  • CODEX: Mapping Co-Created Data for Speculative Geographies
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    This article discusses a series of artworks named CODEX, produced by the authors as part of a collaborative research project between the Centre for Research in Education, Art and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster and the Oxford Internet Institute. Taking the form of experimental maps, large-scale installations and prints, the series shows how big data can be employed to reflect upon social phenomena through the formulation of critical, aesthetic and speculative geographies.

  • From Softimage to Postimage
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    With the digital revolution, the photographic paradigm of the image has become supplemented with an algorithmic paradigm. The result is a new kind of image capable to gather, compute, merge and display heterogeneous data in real time; no longer a solid representation of a solid world but a softimage—a program-mable database view. In today’s neurosciences and machine vision, the very concept of “image” as a stable visual entity becomes questionable. As a result, the authors propose that the need exists to radically expand the definition of image and abandon its humanist and subjective frame: The posthuman image—which the authors propose to call the postimage—is a collaborative image created through the process of distributed vision involving humans, animals and machines.

  • Structuralizing the Fluxus Way of Life: The Social Network of Fluxus
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    Fluxus is often understood as an avant-garde art movement led by George Maciunas in the 1960s. Such a narrative, however, is limiting as it overlooks the contribution of other prominent Fluxus artists. This article aims to challenge what is referred to as the Maciunas-based paradigm in its temporal scope and ideological homogeneity through the adoption of social network analysis.

  • Biokinesis: A Soft Kinetic Architectural Skin
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    This article proposes a soft kinetic architectural skin that represents natural, formative intelligence. Biokinesis is an interactive kinetic installation that performs soft, dynamic movements through morphological transformations based on a genetic algorithm. In this article, the authors present new possibilities for the kinetic skin by interpreting mechanical movements as holistic, biological dynamics.

  • The Death and Lives of hitchBOT: The Design and Implementation of a Hitchhiking Robot
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    In the early morning hours of 1 August 2015, as it waited for its next ride on a Philly park bench, unknown assailants destroyed hitchBOT. Arms torn from its body, legs broken, gutted of its electronics, it was left discarded in a park, minus its smiley-face LED head. Around the world headlines announced the death of a much-loved robot, children and adults shed tears, haters hated on Philadelphia, cartoonists and musicians paid tribute, journalists wrote obituaries and the publicly minded rallied to support a rebuild. The authors share the story of the life and times of their creation, hitchBOT the hitchhiking robot.

Special Section: Trust Me, I'm an Artist: Part 2

  • Molding the Signifier: Codesculpting the Possible Shapes of a Future Consciousness
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    This article introduces the art/science/transmedia project Molding the Signifier and maps out its wider cultural and societal connotations, reach and significance, with specific reference to its staging within the Trust Me, I’m an Artist event (an EU Creative Europe-funded project) that took place in Prague in 2015. As the work itself strives to artistically bridge and synthesize recent—in the opinion of the authoring artist group—existentially highly relevant results in science, so the article provides an overview and synthesis of their art/science fusion approach and methods.

  • Molding the Signifier by Ivor Diosi: An All-too-Human Victor
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    In this curatorial consideration, the author reveals factors that most essentially influenced the decision to present Ivor Diosi’s artwork Molding the Signifier, as part of the Trust Me, I’m an Artist EU project event in Prague (16–19 November 2015). It questions the notion of AI as it currently exists, suggesting that the ideas of “artificial,” “independent” or “higher” intelligence and existence are all too human (and from that point of view therefore dangerous). As curator of the event, the author argues that Molding the Signifier, although it does not confront existing legislation, does question the ethical core of the essential latent purposes of biotechnologies as a means of human creativity.

  • Heirloom: Living Portraits of and for the Artist’s Daughters Created out of Their Own Cultured Cells
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    This article presents the artwork Heirloom created by artist Gina Czarnecki and scientist John Hunt. Heirloom grows living portraits of Gina Czarnecki’s daughters from their own cells cultured from buccal swabs. The resulting artwork is an ongoing exploration in “culture,” “nurture” and “media” from the scientific, parental and artistic perspectives. The experiment is ongoing as new methods for sustaining life outside the lab have been developed for this work, potentially facilitating future DIY biotechnology for others and helping with maxillofacial reconstruction in the future. Heirloom has been presented within Trust Me, I’m an Artist, an EU Creative Europe supported project.

  • Displaying the Researched Body: Growing Cell Portraits in a Medical Museum
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    In Heirloom, artist Gina Czarnecki and scientist John Hunt grow portraits of the artist’s daughters from the daughters’ own cells onto glass casts of their faces. This required the development of novel scientific techniques to allow the growth of human cells in a gallery. Heirloom was exhibited at Medical Museion as a part of the EU Creative Europe project Trust Me, I’m an Artist. Here, the authors discuss three key issues raised by the artwork and its curation; (1) consent and ownership with regard to bodily materials, (2) biological portraiture and identity, and (3) DIY and depicting the future.

Special Section: Highlights from the IEEE VIS 2014 Arts Program (VISAP’14): Part 1

Special Section: Highlights from the IEEE VIS 2014 Arts Program (VISAP'14): Part 2

  • What Public Visualization Can Learn from Street Art
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    As public visualization is becoming increasingly popular, our physical environment should be considered an intrinsic component of its design because of the various rich, interpretative meanings that it inherently possesses. As many concepts of street art deliberately deploy such meanings within the environment in order to convey particular messages, the authors believe it can act as a valuable resource for public visualization design. The authors thus discuss four distinct rhetoric strategies to demonstrate how street art practices can relate to their environment and how these relationships can trigger critical reflection for public visualization.

  • Smellmap: Amsterdam—Olfactory Art and Smell Visualization
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    Creating a smellmap of a city is a subjective, collaborative exercise. During a series of smellwalks local participants foreground their sense of smell and name perceived aromas emanating from the urban smell-scape. Data and conversations arising from the walks are “analyzed,” and a representative smellscape of the city is visualized as a map. Scents—the nasal stimuli and a catalyst for discussion—accompany the map. As a map of what we do not know, indications of geolocated smell possibilities and ephemeral scents combine visualization with the olfactory to place the emphasis on human interaction with sensory data to create meaning and an understanding of place.

  • Spatial Correlation: An Interactive Display of Virtual Gesture Sculpture
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    Spatial Correlation is an interactive digital artwork that provides a new window into the process of creating freeform handcrafted virtual sculptures while standing in an immersive Cave virtual reality (VR) environment. The piece originates in the lab, where the artist’s full-body, dance-like sculpting process is recorded using a combination of spatial tracking devices and an array of nine synchronized video cameras. Later, in the gallery, these raw data are reinterpreted as part of an interactive visualization that relates the three spaces in which the sculpture exists: 1) the physical lab/studio space in which the sculpture was created, 2) the digital virtual space in which the sculpture is mathematically defined and stored, and 3) the physical gallery space in which viewers now interact with the sculpture.

  • Automatically Generating Animations from Escher’s Images
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    This article presents a real-time interactive software tool for automatically selecting and rearranging windowed regions of a single large image into frame-by-frame animations. Demonstrated on the tessellating, morphing pictures created by M.C. Escher, the software tool uses image-processing algorithms to compute a path through an image, traveling along visually similar regions and presenting them as a short looping movie.

Leonardo Reviews

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