Leonardo 53:3, 2020
On the cover: Crouching Figure with Visible Skeleton, Laura Ferguson, 2000.
ISSN: 
1071-4391

Leonardo, Volume 53, Issue 3

June 2020

Contents

Editorial

Artists' Article

  • Drawing to Extend Waddington’s Epigenetic Landscape
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    The authors, an artist, a mathematician and a biologist, describe their collaboration examining the potential of drawing to further the understanding of biological processes. As a case study, this article considers C.H. Waddington’s powerful visual representation of the “epigenetic landscape,” whose purpose is to unify research in genetics, embryology and evolutionary biology. The authors explore the strengths and limitations of Waddington’s landscape and attempt to transcend the latter through a collaborative series of exploratory images. Through careful description of this drawing process, the authors touch on its epistemological consequences for all participants.

General Articles

  • What Does Augmented Reality Mean as a Medium of Expression for Computational Artists?
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    As augmented reality (AR) quickly evolves with new technological practice, there is a growing need to question and reevaluate its potential as a medium for creative expression. The authors discuss AR within computational art, framed within AR as a medium, AR aesthetics and applications. The Forum for Augmented Reality Immersive Instruments (ARImI), a two-day event on AR, highlights both possibilities and fundamental concerns for continuing artworks in this field, including visual bias, sensory modalities, interactivity and performativity. The authors offer a new AR definition as real-time computationally mediated perception.

  • The Acoustic Ceramic Module
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    This paper discusses issues common to architecture, sculpture and acoustics and presents the authors’ design of an acoustic ceramic module, currently in the prototype stage. The project was conceived to create a system of ceramic tiles that can create a space as well as enhance the acoustics of its interior. Modularity ensures that through numerous combinations many patterns can be produced from one tile design. The ceramic materials used may vary, from porous chamotte to the smooth surfaces of casting slips to glazing. The key issue, apart from shaping an interior architecture, was to focus on the acoustic function of the tiles. The creative process was of a two-fold nature: Its visual aspect focused on individualization of the space, while its functional one was to ensure acoustically comfortable interiors.

  • New Prospects for Information Theory in Arts Research
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    Information Theory provoked the interest of arts researchers from its inception in the mid-twentieth century but failed to produce the expected impact, partly because the data and computing systems required were not available. With the modern availability of data from public collections and sophisticated software, there is renewed interest in Information Theory. Successful application in the analysis of music implies potential success in other art forms also. The author gives an illustrative example, applying the Information-Theoretic similarity measure normalized compression distance with the aim of ranking paintings in a large collection by their conventionality.

  • Intimate Visions: Representations of the Imperfect Body in the Age of Digital Medicine
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    The authors explore the work of artists looking at the relationship between illness, identity, the brain and imagery produced by medical imaging technology. Digital images of the brain generated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology represent a powerful unveiling, making visible that which was invisible until the creation of the CT scanner and, shortly after, the more refined MRI technology. At the intersection of fine art and clinical medical images, the authors discover a resistance and a reshaping of the experience of illness. In their focus on the brain, illness and identity, the authors feature specific works of artists impacted by diseases of the brain and spinal cord, specifically Laura Ferguson, Katherine Sherwood, Marilène Oliver, Kelly Haydon, Darian Goldin Stahl and Elizabeth Jameson.

Historical Perspectives

  • Non-Euclidean Geometry in Russian Art History: On a Little-Known Application of a Scientific Theory
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    The author has previously proposed that there are at least six different definitions of “reverse” or “inverse” perspective, i.e. the principle of organizing pictorial space in the icon. Reverse perspective is still a largely unresolved art historical problem. The author focuses on one of the six definitions, the one least familiar to Western scholars—namely, the view, common in Russian art-historical writing at the beginning of the twentieth century, that space in the icon is a visual analogue of non-Euclidean geometry. Russian mathematician-turned-theologian and priest Pavel Florensky claimed that the space of the icon is that of non-Euclidean geometry and truer to the way human vision functions. The author considers the scientific validity of Florensky’s claim.

  • Antes del Arte in Spain (1968–1969): Merging Art, Science and Politics in the Heat of the Cold War
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    This article concerns Antes del Arte, a vanguard Spanish art group that existed from 1968 to 1969. Through specific examples, the author explains the group’s history and theoretical basis as well as its artistic production. Discussing the references taken from contemporary aesthetic scientific theories, the author analyzes the substantial theoretical framework that the art critic Vicente Aguilera Cerni introduced into the group’s manifestos. Finally, she addresses the specific role that the interactions between the artistic and the scientific fields had in the context of Spain’s Franco regime.

Technical Article

  • Colored Strip Patterns and Front-Back Symmetry in Warp-Faced Pre-Columbian Textiles
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    Among the textiles made by pre-Columbian weavers in Peru are double-faced warp-faced bands, with two or more differently colored yarns in each warp location, where figures woven on one face appear, by warp substitution, in a different color on the other. Andean weavers reconciled this difference with the aesthetic concern that the two faces be as similar as possible by exploiting the symmetries of colored strip patterns.

Statement

  • Chronicle of Mud: Cross-Disciplinary Conversation Extends Our Perception in the Anthropocene
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    Chronicle of Mud is a video that places human experience next to geologic timescales and is sited in the Sprague River intertidal zone and salt marshes on the Phippsburg peninsula in Maine. The author worked with a geologist and ecopsychologist to allow for thinking together across disciplines and time-scales about radical planetary changes and our responsibilities to respond, all parties bringing different perspectives to the table in order to extend perceptions in the Anthropocene.

Special Section: ArtScience: The Essential Connection

  • Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Twain! Reengaging Science Students through Visual Aesthetics
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    Researchers have established improved methods for undergraduate science and engineering education, yet these efforts often overlook the personal meaning students find in their work. Institutions of higher learning should support the creation of personal meaning along with content mastery, aspects that are both included in arts education. The authors argue that STEM educators must work to overcome student perception that content mastery and personal meaning sit at odds. The authors provide an example of a technical course that achieves these goals as well as evidence that it is possible to foster connection while developing content mastery.

  • Of Metaphors and Molecules: Figurative Language Bridging STEM and the Arts in Education
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    STEM education in the United States is often described as being in a downward spiral, when assessed by competency test scores and lack of student motivation for engaging STEM disciplines. The authors suggest this arises from an overly instrumental view of STEM. While STEAM has arisen as a pushback paradigm, the application of STEAM in schools is challenging, and educators are often unclear about connecting STEM and the arts. The authors suggest envisioning STEAM through natural disciplinary interconnections. They focus on the integration of language arts and figurative thinking to blur the boundaries of STEM and the arts, and offer examples of figurative language—such as metaphor, linguistic etymology and synecdoche—for framing STEM teaching and learning.

  • Emergent Knowledge in the Third Space of Art-Science
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    The locus of encounter between art, science and the public can be conceptualized as third space—a generative site of shared experience. This article reports on a group-based psychosocial method led by imagery and affect—the visual matrix—that enables researchers to capture and characterize knowledge emerging in third space, where disciplinary boundaries are fluid and there is no settled discourse. It presents an account of the visual matrix process in the context of an artscience collaboration on memory and forgetting. The authors show how the method illuminates aesthetic and affective dimensions of participant experience and captures the emerging, empathic and ethical knowing that is characteristic of third space.

  • Interactive Evolution of a Bicontinuous Structure
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    The authors describe an installation that was shown at the exhibition The Best of All Possible Worlds at Technische Sammlungen Dresden in 2016. The installation provided an interactive experience of the evolution of a complex bicontinuous structure of two immiscible fluids. The evolution is driven by the surface tension of the interface of the two fluids, which results in a continuous reduction of the interface area. The process is mathematically described by a partial differential equation, which is numerically solved. In each time step, the structure, visualized by the fluid-fluid interface, is rendered and shown on an elastic display. According to the deformation of the display, the corresponding time frame is projected. By pushing against the elastic display, one therefore can interact with the structure and evolve it in time in a playful and intuitive manner.

Special Section: Leonardo STEAM Initiative on Education

  • Leonardo STEAM Initiative on Education Introduction
  • Cocreation Across Spaces of Uncertainty: Interdisciplinary Research and Collaborative Learning
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    Broad Vision was a program for art/science collaboration that adopted a model of interdisciplinary learning, teaching and research. It brought together students and tutors from art and science subjects to work collaboratively on emergent projects based around a different theme each year. In this case study, the authors discuss the critical success factors and learning gained from an interdisciplinary cocreated curriculum. This includes looking at how collaborative learning and working at the intersections of the disciplines enabled students to develop new knowledge and understanding in both their own and other subject fields.

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