Leonardo, Volume 51, issue 1 | Leonardo/ISAST
Leonardo 51:1, 2018
On the cover: 20/X computer vision output showing different areas of visual excitement based on network layer and feature map selected. The unaltered input image is in the top left. (© Shannon C. McMullen and Fabian Winkler.)
ISSN: 
1071-4391

Leonardo, Volume 51, issue 1

February 2018

Contents

Editorial

Artists' Articles

  • Doubting Conventional Reality: Interactive Mind Works
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    Quantum mechanics sits uncomfortably with “conventional reality,” defined as knowable, objective and mind-independent. There seems to be no consensus among physicists as to what the findings of quantum mechanics mean for conventional reality. Drawing on concepts of quantum mechanics, the author makes artworks that provoke viewers to doubt conventional reality. Here, she discusses two of her interactive “mind works,” which provide not only artistic metaphorical representations of quantum concepts but also quantum random events that allow viewers to test their beliefs, or otherwise, in a reality that is objective and mind-independent.

  • Ur-writings: A Geophonographic Fiction
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    Geophonography is a practice of sonifying the geological record, of tracing what Friedrich Kittler referred to as “signatures of the real.” The aesthetic efficacy of techniques for audifying and visualizing data derived from geological materials is discussed within the context of Ur-writings, a piece by the author first exhibited in 2013. Tracing a line through the work of Freud, Adorno, Kittler, Ballard and Derrida, geophonography is positioned within a cultural context that has continued to draw inspiration from speculations upon the relation between earth and mind.

Artists' Notes

  • Chunking and Recoding in the Al GRANO Project
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    Al GRANO: Framing Worlds is a composite gallery installation with individually installable artifacts that can be shown in various combinations. Three cognitive “chunks” explore different electronic technologies to address historical, cultural, scientific and geopolitical positions related to maize, a contested grain considered both food and cultural symbol in Mexico and a source of macro profits for multinational agribusiness.

  • Faces in Motion: Embodiment, Emotion and Interaction
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    As humans, we express what we think and feel by facial movements, often without even realizing it. In the (e)motion installation, the goal was to create awareness of even the subtlest movements of the face, and to facilitate interaction purely based on facial expressions. Facial movements were tracked by custom software and translated into motion vectors, which were in turn visualized and coupled with sounds. Participants could interact within the installation by responding to each other’s facial movements. (e)motion was inspired by embodied cognition and scientific studies on emotion and action. The installation was the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between art, movement science and cognitive neuroscience.

General Articles

  • Heartbeats and the Arts: A Historical Connection
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    This article traces the historical relation of heartbeats, science and art. It begins with an outline of historical ideas and science concerning the heart and the arterial pulse that will give better understanding of the intimate relation and differences between both and how early studies of the heart led to the discovery of the pulse and to the early relationship between heartbeats and art. Secondly, it tracks through history the particular interest of artists in making the pulse visible. Devices linked to bodies serve as mediators in artworks that project body mechanisms beyond corporeal limits. The works discussed project heartbeats as metaphors of emotions and life in installations that involve multiple senses.

  • Seeing through Camouflage: Abbott Thayer, Background-Picturing and the Use of Cutout Silhouettes
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    In the first decade of the twentieth century, while researching protective coloration in nature, artist-naturalist Abbott H. Thayer (1849–1921), working with his son, Gerald H. Thayer (1883–1939), hypothesized a kind of camouflage that he called “background-picturing.” It was his contention that, in many animals, the patterns on their bodies make it seem as if one could “see through” them, as if they were transparent. This essay revisits that concept, Thayer’s descriptions and demonstrations of it, and compares it to current computer-based practices of replacing gaps in images with “content-aware” digital patches.

Historical Perspective

  • Ylem: Serving Artists Using Science and Technology, 1981–2009
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    YLEM: Artists Using Science and Technology, a nonprofit group in the San Francisco Bay Area, was active from 1981 to 2009, publishing the YLEM Newsletter (later, the YLEM Journal). In the 1990s, it published the Directory of Artists Using Science and Technology, illustrated with members’ work, and established its website, www.ylem.org. YLEM’s public Forums introduced artists to science, scientists to art and the general public to new artistic and technological expression. It organized field trips to laboratories, industrial sites and artists’ studios and mounted exhibitions of members’ work. Members’ friendships mutually encouraged their work in this new arena.

Statements

  • Creative Media + the Internet of Things = Media Multiplicities
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    This paper proposes the term “media multiplicities” to describe contemporary media artworks that create multiples of “internet of things” devices. It discusses the properties that distinguish media multiplicities from other forms of media artwork, provides parameters for categorizing media multiplicities, and discusses aesthetic and creative factors in the production of media multiplicities.

  • Poem without Language: When a Writing Becomes Traceless
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    What happens when a writing cannot perform its function of documentation and indication? In the installation performance Poem without Language, developed from the action score writing Chinese calligraphy on the surface of water, the multiple closed-circuit videos raise the question of “who” can occupy the position of the observer, challenging tunnel-vision perspectivism. Such an orchestra of gazes resonates with the spatial organization in Chinese ink landscape painting, which challenges the anthropocentric ordering of things; responds to Nam June Paik’s approach to media, which disrupts the habitual way of perceiving conditioned by the mass media; and resonates with the concept of Kongwu (空無, emptiness, nothingness) from Daoism and Buddhism.

  • StudioAntarctica: Embedding Art in a Geophysics Sea Ice Expedition
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    Motivated by the potential for cross-disciplinary outcomes, an artist was embedded in a science expedition to the sea ice around Antarctica, as part of an art-science collaboration with marine physicist Craig Stevens. The scientist and the artist together focused on ice crystal formation. Most elements of the art process had three phases—before, during and after the science process. The environment largely dominated the progress and evolution of ideas. The results were multi-material and multiscale and provided a way to engage a wide range of audiences while also making nondidactic connections around global climate—and producing art.

  • The Rationale for a Redefinition of Visual Art Based on Neuroaesthetic Principles
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    Recent investigational studies have indicated that fronto-orbital, temporal and parietal lobes have a decisive role in artistic creation and personal identification of “beauty” in painting. Moreover, visual artistic work and preferences could be modified by central nervous system diseases or external stimuli such as transcranial magnetic stimulation. Both creation and preferences would depend on prior art education and sociocultural norms. However, the superior activity of the brain remains of paramount importance in production and evaluation of paintings regardless of the style, representational or abstract. Therefore, redefinition of art by neuroaesthetic principles will create a better communication between the public and the artists.

  • Project Amoreiras (Mulberry Trees): Autonomy and Artificial Learning in an Urban Environment
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    This artist’s writing discusses Project Amoreiras, developed by the Poéticas Digitais Group. The proposal is an urban intervention involving art, technology and environment, configured as an interactive installation of mulberry trees on the Paulista Avenue (São Paulo, Brazil). The article highlights its poetic and technological elements as critical positioning on pollution in the metropolitan environment, the processes of autonomy and artificial learning, the emergent behavior of the trees, the application of John Conway’s neighborhood principles to the project as well as the positive reception of the proposal by the pedestrians during the exhibition.

Special Section: PhD in Art and Design

  • Practice-Based Research in the Creative Arts: Foundations and Futures from the Front Line
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    This article explores the subject of practice-based research, its application in the creative arts and its role in generating new forms of knowledge in the context of the PhD. Our aim is to provide more clarity about the nature of practice-based research, the approach we advocate and how it contributes to new knowledge that can be shared and scrutinized in a form that is both accessible and rich in its representation of the full scope of creative arts research. We draw on examples spanning over 35 years of experience in supervising interdisciplinary PhD research programs in the arts, design and digital media.

Special Section: Highlights from the IEEE VIS 2015 Arts Program (VISAP’15)

  • Introduction
  • 20/X: Visuality, Representation and Epistemology in the Age of Intelligent Seeing Machines
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    To understand, critique and shape the impact of machines that can see in ways exceeding human capabilities, humans may need to learn to see like machines, to understand their abstractions and categorizations. The installation 20/X explores visuality, representation and epistemology in the age of intelligent seeing machines. This project is a collaboration between artists and biomedical researchers in an attempt to bring science, technology and the arts together to create an opportunity for public dialogue around an invention that will soon permeate the designed world.

  • A Concise Taxonomy for Describing Data as an Art Material
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    How can we describe data when used as an art material? As the number of artists using data in their work increases, so too must our ability to describe the material in a way that is understood by both specialist and general audiences alike. Based on a review of existing vocabularies, glossaries and taxonomies of data, we propose our own concise taxonomy. To conclude, we propose the adoption of this concise taxonomy by artists, critics and curators, and suggest that ongoing refinement of the taxonomy takes place through crowdsourced knowledge sharing on the Web.

  • Deep in Poetry: Visualizaing Texts' Sonic Depths in 3D
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    Poemage is a visualization system designed to support close reading of poems via revelation and exploration of their complex sonic struc-tures. The authors improvised adaptations of this software into 3D interactive environments, experimenting with several ways to visualize “sonic depth” in poetic texts. Not only did this process lead to intensified cross-modal literary experiences, it challenged the authors’ thinking about commonly held values pertaining to poetry, text analysis and information visualization, prompting them to experiment with new practices in each field.

Special Section: Trust Me, I'm an Artist (Part 3)

  • Trust Me, I’m an Artist: Building Opportunities for Art and Science Collaboration through an Understanding of Ethics
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    Ethical issues frequently arise in the production and exhibition of bioart, both as subject matter and as an issue in itself. This article explores how learning from the author’s experiences as lead project artist in the Creative Europe–funded Trust Me, I’m an Artist project, along with her work as a freelance artist, which is deeply embedded in laboratory settings around the world, can help build capacity and opportunities for artists and scientists to work together in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations to address the societal and cultural implications of emerging bioscientific and biomedical research areas, attitudes to patient care, and public engagement in contemporary scientific research.

  • What’s Art Got to Do with It? Reflecting on Bioart and Ethics from the Experience of the Trust Me, I’m an Artist Project
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    Bioart and biomedical art are blossoming fields, with a whole new generation of artists, the DIYbio movement enabling more people to get involved, and discoveries in bioscience bringing in new challenges. Supported by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission, Trust Me, I’m an Artist is a project initiated by artist Anna Dumitriu and ethicist Bobbie Farsides to provide a platform for discussing bioart and ethics, sharing knowledge and building capacity. This article reflects upon the author’s journey through the different art projects and how foregrounding ethics challenged her usual art critic approach.

Reviews

The Network

Endnote

  • Executive Summary of SEAD Exemplars: Evidence of the Value of Transdisciplinary Projects Report for the National Academies