Leonardo 52:3, 2019
On the cover: Data from structural biology, proteomics, microscopy and theory are combined to visualize a primordial cell in the process of division. (© David S. Goodsell)
ISSN: 
1071-4391

Leonardo, Volume 52, issue 3

June 2019

Contents

Editorial

Artist's Article

  • Quantum Computing and Complexity in Art
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    The author draws on her research experience in quantum computing to discuss the conception and form of an interactive installation, CLOUD. CLOUD explores complexity in the postdigital by referencing the principles of quantum superposition, quantum entanglement and quantum measurement.

Artists' Note

  • Artistic Approaches to Design and Manufacturing Techniques Dedicated to Space Applications
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    Space exploration is undergoing exciting disruptive change, both through the advent of new business models and through the development of innovative technologies. As a consequence of this accelerated activity, innovative design and manufacturing techniques dedicated entirely to space exploration and exploitation are slowly emerging. These go beyond the simplistic approach of considering space as a harsh environment and rather offer solutions adequately developed for alien environments such as interplanetary space or planetary bodies. As demonstrated in this paper, the art community is particularly relevant to support of these efforts. The authors present a conceptual artwork designed from the interplay of materials and local astrophysical conditions. This evolving sculptural installation uses the extreme lunar surface conditions as enablers rather than constraints.

General Articles

  • Automatism, Autonomy and Aesthetics in the Performing Arts
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    Current technologies available to artists are of unprecedented complexity and variety compared with conventional techniques. They have enabled creators, in particular those in the performing arts, to familiarize themselves with robots, avatars, virtual characters and other “intelligent agents.” As diverse as they are, these technologies use computer models inspired from life and intelligence.

  • Cybernetic-Existentialism in Performance Art
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    A theory of Cybernetic-Existentialism is proposed to offer a new critical perspective on technological performance art. Case studies of Wafaa Bilal, Stelarc and Steve Mann are used to demonstrate how core ideas and themes from both cybernetics and existentialism are increasingly converging in contemporary arts.

  • Computer Vision Models to Categorize Art Collections According to Visual Content: A New Approach to the Abstract Art of Antoni Tàpies
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    This study uses computer vision models, which to some extent simulate the initial stages of human visual perception, to help categorize data in large sets of images of artworks by the artist Antoni Tàpies. The images have been analyzed on the basis of their compositional, chromatic and organizational characteristics, without textual notes, so that the analogies found may take us closer to, and help us to understand, the creator’s original values. The system as programmed can assist the specialist by establishing analogies between different artists or periods using the same criteria.

  • Land-Grant Hybrids: From Art and Technology to SEAD
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    The authors explore the role that public and land-grant universities play in sciences, engineering, arts and design (SEAD). They combine a networked institutional history of art and technology collaborations with an ethnographic study of SEAD initiatives. They use the notion of land-grant hybrids to describe widespread entanglements between research, teaching and public engagement. Their study identifies three “matters of concern” that aid in rethinking the origins, current practices and possible futures of SEAD: disparities in sponsored collaboration, the need for hybrid practitioners to demonstrate measurable impact and the ambiguities of what counts as appropriate art and reputable research.

General Notes

  • A Note on “Demediation”: From Book Art to Transmedia Storytelling
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    This article discusses two opposite meanings of the concept of “demediation”: on the one hand, the very specific and strongly materializing reading given by Garrett Stewart, who coined the notion in an essay on book art qua visual art; on the other hand, the general and more intuitive reading of the term, as sometimes used in the broader debate on digital culture as immaterialization. Putting a strong emphasis on the (broad) notions of materiality and medium-specificity, the article offers a critique of certain immaterializing tendencies in transmedia storytelling theory, while ending with the brief presentation of an example (the collaborative network Général Instin) that tackles, within the framework of ghost theory and dust theory, the dialectic relationship of materiality and immateriality.

  • Cartography of Tree Space
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    How can vibrant, contemporary art be produced that deals with vibrant, contemporary mathematics? To address this question, a collaboration began between an artist (Schuh) and a mathematician (Devadoss), revolving around recent problems in phylogenetics and the space of evolutionary trees. The result was twofold: First, a triptych of paintings was created, using acrylic, graphite, watercolor and metal leaf, that focused on different navigations within this tree space. Second, a novel set of open mathematics problems was discovered solely as a result of this investigation.

Statements

  • Survey and Analysis of Interactive Art Documentation, 1979–2017
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    Today, documentation is becoming a major source of exposure and appreciation for artworks on the Internet, beyond the original purpose of preservation and academic archiving. This study analyzes 982 documentations of interactive digital art projects created between 1979 and 2017. Each documentation was represented as a point in a 17-dimensional vector space through binary encoding. The resulting visualization from the t-SNE algorithm shows that, compared to its phenomenological quality, most documentation of interactive art is a cinematic surrogate that follows film postproduction techniques. In conclusion, this study calls for the development of documentary techniques that can provide the viewer with a quasi-authentic experience of the original work in interactive digital art.

  • Remnance of Form: Interactive Shadows as Altered Views of Objects
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    The projective nature of light results in distorted shadows, the remnants of physical forms, no different from any human perception that is governed by subjectivity. This work seeks to widen the gap between the objective world and the perception of it by programmatically altering the association between an object and its shadow. The shadow can transform or be animated, demonstrating a range of personality and emotion. On the other hand, the visual and interaction gestalts of our installation are carefully designed to emulate physical shadows. By juxtaposing the poetic interpretation of the shadow and realistic visuals, we explore the evocation of strong personal connections with an object and its shadow.

  • The Woman Scientist: Brief Reflections on the Visual Representation of Women
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    From a dropped acknowledgment on a publication to the use of women to popularize specific scientific causes, a deeper exploration of women scientists’ role warrants discussion. Here, the author explores this representation of the woman scientist in visual art, framing the discussion from a multifaceted, cross-disciplinary perspective. Through the perspective of various artist’s reflections, the ArtLab exhibition acts as a launching board enabling continued dialogues surrounding the gender perspectives within the scientific community.

  • Patent-Bot
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    Patent-Bot is an artificial intelligence (AI) software program that learns language from the patent database to write original patents for submission to the United States Patent Office (USPTO). The program creates thousands of new patent summaries per second. Patent-Bot is itself a piece of intellectual property, which in turn exists to generate more intellectual property. Patent-Bot also invents new words in relation to its future concepts, which appear to test the current linguistic limits of innovation and communication. Patent-Bot was debuted as an interactive art installation in the Omnibus Filing exhibition at the Visual Arts Center, University of Texas at Austin. Omnibus Filing showcased artworks, inventions, prototypes and cross-disciplinary research projects undertaken by teams of scientists, artists and engineers. Patent-Bot has since exhibited at Piksel 17: A festival for Elektronisk Kunst og fri Teknologi, in Lydgalleriet, Bergen, Norway. The project is an ongoing collaboration between the authors spanning a variety of exhibition formats and modes of display.

Special Section: Art and Atoms

  • The Art of the Periodic Table
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    Captivated by the periodic table’s cultural power as one of the scientific icons, numerous contemporary visual artists transmute the table into a contemplation of its symbols and substance. This article employs a cross-disciplinary model of art criticism that focuses on the specific ways artists illuminate the periodic table’s cataloging innovation, memorable visuality, formal qualities and semiotic resonances.

Special Section: ArtScience

  • The Artificial Memory of Mr. Polly: Memory Simulation in Databases and the Emergence of Knowledge
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    Human memory may be characterized by five dimensions: (1) large capacity; (2) associativity; (3) diversity of memory systems; (4) change over time; and (5) a unified memory experience. The organization and multidimensionality underlying memory can be represented with set theory. This offers a new mathematical perspective, which is the foundation for the cognitive memory architecture Ardemia. The authors present a relational database implementation of Ardemia that supports the creation of the artificial memory of Mr. Polly, the main character in H.G. Wells’s novel The History of Mr. Polly. In addition to the implementation of Mr. Polly’s artificial memory using TimeGlue, his memory is probed with a collection of everyday memory queries that are related to temporal and schema knowledge. The investigation of Mr. Polly’s knowledge suggests an alternative representation of schemas; rather than fixed structures or explicit associations, it is possible to model schemas as the results of the interaction between existing knowledge and remembering.

  • Legitimizing Boundary Crossing for the Average Scientist: Two Cases Acknowledging How Arts Practice Informs Science
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    To normalize ArtScience, examples need to be shared of its average practitioners within the sciences, in addition to its historical exemplars. Described here are two cases of arts practice informing scientific research as experienced by early-stage researchers in postdoctoral or PhD work. Each case involves different arts approaches and yields different effects on the science; both inform ideas for how to better support and institutionalize ArtScience work.

Special Section: Pioneers and Pathbreakers

  • Exiting the Comfort Zone: From Algorithm to Interaction in the Early Work of Simon Biggs
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    The 1970s and early 1980s saw the emergence of the microcomputer and the domain of personal computing. Within that context, some artists were working with such digital systems, contributing to these developments in various ways. This article reflects upon one such artist’s involvement in these developments and how his initial interest in computational processes allowed him to explore a series of formal concerns, and how this then evolved into an engagement with more conceptual and philosophical concerns around the ontology of people and technology. The article also considers the value of undertaking creative work in interdisciplinary research environments.

  • The VanDerBeek-Knowlton Movies
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    During the second half of the 1960s, artist-filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek collaborated with Bell Labs researcher Kenneth Knowlton in the production of ten computer-animated movies. This article describes that collaboration and discusses certain movies that resulted. In this early example of collaboration between an artist and a computer technologist, VanDerBeek built on his experience to learn computer programming, and Knowlton extended his artistic sensitivities and programming languages—each learned from the other. The article concludes with a discussion of the term “computer artist” as used during those early days of computer art and animation. In the author’s opinion, VanDerBeek, by doing his own computer programming, became a computer artist, while Knowlton’s creativity in creating computer-animated sequences made him an artist.

  • Alex Adriaansens: 1953–2018
  • Helen Harrison: 1927–2018

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