Leonardo 52:5, 2019
On the cover: David Gepp, Stirring the Porridge with Albert E, UV-sensitive pigments on glass plates, 2017. (© David Gepp)
ISSN: 
1071-4391

Leonardo, Volume 52, Issue 5

October 2019

Contents

Editorial

General Articles

  • The Platonic Forehand and Backhand of Cybernetic Architecture
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    Since the 1960s, the field of digital architecture has been grounded on a computational practice of design, which has been inseparable from cybernetic constructions of architectural issues. The result of the former has been a common oscillation, in digital architectural practices, between the construction of design problems in reference to technoscientific notions and its construction as a reification of such resources. This article analyzes these aspects of digital architecture in reference to N.K. Hayles’s vision of the construction of knowledge as a “seriation” and her conception of the “platonic forehand and backhand” in the work of scientists. Finally, the author identifies possible scenarios for a cybernetic practice of architecture that is not necessarily trapped in technocratic and reified visions of design issues.

  • Documenting Media Art: An Archive and Bridging Thesaurus for MediaArtHistories
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    While media art has evolved into a critical field at the intersection of art, science and technology, a significant loss threatens this art form due to rapid technological obsolescence and static documentation strategies. Addressing these challenges, the Interactive Archive and Meta-Thesaurus for Media Art Research was developed to advance an Archive of Digital Art. Through an innovative strategy of “collaborative archiving,” social Web 2.0 features foster the engagement of the international media art community and a “bridging thesaurus” linking the extended documentation of the Archive with other databases of “traditional” art history facilitates interdisciplinary and transhistorical comparative analyses.

  • Art Let Loose: Autonomous Procedures in Art-Making
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    This paper proposes the term “autonomous procedures” as a general description of those methods that can be applied autonomously to making an artwork and “systems” as a more specific term for those autonomous methods that fall within the systems theory definition of systems. The text looks critically at the two major proposals for describing and classifying autonomous procedures: Philip Galanter’s generative art and the notion of “open systems”; it then proposes a new description: recurrence. Finally it offers a short survey of artworks made using nonrecurrent procedures

  • Can Musical Machines Be Expressive? Views from the Enlightenment and Today
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    How can music produced by automated technologies be expressive? Transitive theories of expression dominated eighteenth-century ideas of automated music, and many contemporary designers of robotic instruments adhere to these ideas, increasing sonic nuance to make their instruments seem more like expressive human performers. A listener-centered understanding of expression—an “intransitive” perspective— allows us to see automatic instruments as capable of expression despite the fact that no human performer is present. The expressive potential of these instruments is best understood as a product of their mechanical nature—their idiomatic movements and sounds, which remain distinct from those of human-operated instruments. This article explores two case studies in the history of “expressive” automated instruments: Diderot and Engramelle’s cylinder-driven instruments from eighteenth-century France and contemporary robotic musical instruments.

  • The Entropic Envelope
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    This article introduces a computational model of the temporal experience of moving image sequences. The heart of the model, the concept of an entropic envelope, is based on information theoretic ideas. The concept is first described informally and then explained in a more mathematically precise manner. The article finally concludes with tentative reflections on the methodology of computation model building in cinema studies.

  • Mathematics and Performance Art: First Steps on an Open Road
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    This paper concerns the presentation of a set of possibilities of connecting mathematical concepts and performance art pieces. These possibilities have their origin in a personal practice in performance art and mathematics but are presented here as connecting both areas, as well as connecting theory and practice, especially in a performance art context. Three main possibilities are discussed here: a model to connect with a performance art piece using mathematic tools, turbulence in mathematics and in performance art and some thoughts on how to understand a performance art piece as an intersubjective matrix. A case study is also provided.

  • Computer Scientists with Serious Music Avocations Share Their Thinking
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    This article presents the cognitive capacities and tendencies in the lives of computer scientists who play classical music as a serious avocation. Using qualitative research and thematic analysis methods, narratives of seven participants are constructed through open-ended interviews, from which the essence of their thinking skills is extracted in the form of four primary themes: being in the zone, assuming an engineering/ scientific mindset, aesthetic thinking and joyous thinking. With such a rich thinking toolkit, this study motivates educators to support individuals with interdisciplinary interests and calls for such individuals not to leave behind their musical passions despite pragmatic career considerations.

General Note

  • Toward an Ontology of the Interface: Identifying the Interface as a Mediation Entity
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    The interface is more than an assemblage of processes and effects; it is more than a pure relational instance. The interface can be identified as an entity in itself and in relation to other entities. In this article, the author presents an ontological work on the interface, defining what it is and how it exists, and discussing its relation to other entities. The interface is defined both abstractly as a mediation complex—by identifying characteristics present in its multiple instantiations—and in relation to other entities—by observing the case of the human-computer interface.

Technical Article

  • Auguste Rodin Draws Blind: An Art and Psychology Study
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    Late in his life Rodin produced many thousand “instant drawings.” He asked models to make natural energetic movements, and he would draw them at high speed without looking at his hand or paper. To help understand his “blind drawing” process, the authors tracked the eye and hand movements of art students while they drew blind, copying complex lines presented to them as static images. The study found that line shape was correctly reproduced, but scaling could show major deficiencies not seen in Rodin’s sketches. The authors propose that Rodin’s direct vision-to-motor strategy, coupled with his high expertise, allowed him to accurately depict in one sweep the entire model, without “thoughts arresting the flow of sensations.”

Extended Abstracts

Statement

  • Merging Art, Science and Motherhood to Save Joshua Trees
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    Human behaviors have driven us into a planet-wide species extinction crisis that is linked to the rapidly changing climate. To move forward we need interdisciplinary research approaches that protect our resources and a variety of outreach strategies to educate and inspire the public toward sustainable living. We need a public identity shift into the role of environmental caretaker to continue living on this planet and to improve the environmental conditions for ourselves and others. In her current doctoral ecological and arts research, the author draws on themes of motherhood to connect people to these ecological issues on a deep and tangible level. Her hope is to better communicate the complexity surrounding species loss and to motivate sustainable actions.

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