55 Years of Impact: Our Leonardo Journey and Future | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

55 Years of Impact: Discover the Untold Chapters of Leonardo's Legacy

By Tosh Swain

Imagine a journey that began in the vibrant streets of Paris in 1966 with just a single, pioneering idea—to bridge the realms of art, science, and technology.

What began as a list of artists and scientists scribbled on the back of a napkin has grown into a global, transdisciplinary network of scholars, artists, scientists, technologists, engineers, and thinkers spanning over 135 countries.

Evolving over the last 55 years, Leonardo—The International Society for Art, Science, and Technology—has served the international arts community as a thought leader and global hub for transformative interdisciplinary projects. Leonardo/ISAST promotes and documents work at the intersection of the arts, sciences, and technology, encouraging and stimulating creative collaboration across disciplines and borders to solve pressing global challenges.

With support from members of our community like you, Leonardo/ISAST has been creating opportunities for transdisciplinary research and the powerful exchange of ideas between practitioners in art, science and technology for over five decades.

As we approach our 60th anniversary, we invite you to become a supporter, uplifter, amplifier, champion, patron, or architect helping to co-create the future with us. Your donation of any size will serve our global efforts and opportunities.


$25—Supporter of Visionary Imagination
$50—Uplifter of Collective Power
$100—Amplifier of Innovation
$250—Champion of Change
$500—Patron of Global Impact
$1000—Architect of Tomorrow


1966: A Single, Pioneering Idea to Foster Collaboration


Over half a century ago, in a tumultuous time when the world stood at the precipice of transformation, kinetic artist and astronautical pioneer, Frank J. Malina, saw the need for artists to create contemporary art that recognized science and developing technologies.

Frank Malina with the WAC Corporal, standing next to a rocket in White Sands NM
Frank Malina with the WAC Corporal, White Sands NM / frankmalina.com

His first idea was to create a club: an organization of people who had dual careers as scientists and artists. One evening over dinner, he grabbed a restaurant napkin and wrote down all the names of the people he could think of who had careers both in the arts and sciences or arts and engineering.

 . . . The list barely reached sixteen people, so he gave up the idea.

In 1966–67, Malina had a new idea of starting a scholarly journal, titled Leonardo, as a way for artists to document their technical ideas in articles that communicate their research methodology and purpose with their peers.

He recognized the urgent need for a journal that would serve as an international channel of communication and a medium for artistic and scientific discourse.

Born in an era grappling with global unrest, Leonardo’s creation also involved deeper ideals, like challenging norms and dissolving barriers. Malina had a strong view that scientists and artists should contribute to world peace.

LIFE Magazine cover showing events from the 1960s
LIFE / Published by Time Inc. Books

While the 1960s surged with turbulent social, political, and cultural upheavals catalyzed by the gravity of killings and social injustices worldwide, Malina had an abiding faith in human nature and the promise of international collaboration as the best means to build the foundations of lasting peace.

Although these world events heightened awareness of pressing issues such as human rights, inequality, climate change, biodiversity loss, and cultural tensions, the stark reality is: global challenges persist, no matter how much we talk about them or what solutions we invest in.

However, even the most pressing global issues of our time are no match for the transformative power of creative collaboration across disciplines. Leonardo exists to foster transformation at the nexus of art, science, and technology because complex problems require creative solutions.

What began as a visionary idea to foster collaboration would, unbeknownst to Malina in the 1960s, send ripple effects across decades and continents. 

His scribbled list on the back of a napkin has evolved into a global, transdisciplinary community committed to pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation in pursuit of a more vibrant, just, and regenerative world. 

To think, it all started with a pioneering idea to create a new kind of journal.


The Leonardo Journal—Incubating Creativity Since 1968


First issue of Leonardo, published in January 1968
First issue of Leonardo, published in January 1968 / frankmalina.com


First published by Pergamon Press Publishers from 1968 to 1991, the pages of the Leonardo journal continue to turn in synchrony with the pulse of an ever-changing world. Since 1992, Leonardo has celebrated over 30 years with the MIT Press, including 31 volumes (186 issues) of the Leonardo journal, 649,000+ article downloads, and 84 books in the Leonardo Book Series. 

Today, Leonardo is the leading international peer-reviewed journal exploring the use of science and technology in the arts, and the reciprocal influence of the arts in advancing science and technology. 

Yet, Leonardo's story isn't just a series of groundbreaking achievements; it's a reflection of the vulnerabilities, struggles, and triumphs encountered on the path to push the boundaries of today and unleash the possibilities of tomorrow.

Fast forward to 1982, a turning point in Leonardo history and the pivotal moment when the vision of the collective took a tangible form with the birth of Leonardo/ISAST.


1982: Leonardo—The International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology


In response to the burgeoning needs of the art, science, and technology community, Leonardo/ISAST emerged as a catalyst for change. Driven by the unwavering belief that global transformation hinges on collective creativity, the visionaries behind Leonardo/ISAST, including artists, scientists, technologists, engineers, and scholars, united in a daring mission—to tackle the most complex challenges facing humanity today.

Leonardo On-Line and the Leonardo Electronic Almanac were listed in this 1995 version of the McKinley Internet Yellow Pages paper directory.
Leonardo On-Line and the Leonardo Electronic Almanac were listed in this 1995 version of the McKinley Internet Yellow Pages paper directory.

We understand that it’s not enough to address global challenges, we must transform humanity’s approach to these complex problems through creative solutions inspired by the exchange of ideas, transdisciplinary research, and collaborative communities.

If we don’t center solutions on outside-the-box collaboration across disciplines, issues of climate, human well-being, interspecies relationships, democracy, emerging social structures, and safeguarding the Earth’s habitability for humans and other life forms, will destroy our shared future.

Leonardo’s ongoing commitment to transdisciplinary exploration and innovation aims to harness the transformative power of cross-disciplinary collaboration to solve global challenges and co-create a future of boundaryless creativity.

In 1994, Leonardo took a leap into cyberspace, becoming one of the first 400 websites on the internet. This move widened accessibility to the Leonardo community, amplified our authors' work, and brought art/sci/tech news to a broader audience. Today, the Leonardo website has a growing annual audience of 165,000+ new visitors and 970,000+ page views.

Leonardo/ISAST has made large strides to democratize knowledge and bring together practitioners in diverse fields for intimate, community discussions. It's called the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) Network—a program of international gatherings that bring artists, scientists, humanists, and technologists together for informal presentations, performances, and conversations with the wider public. Since 2008, the LASER Network has encouraged contribution to cultural environments in over 57 cities and 5 continents worldwide by fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and opportunities for community building in over 120 talks per year.

At the heart of this epic journey to build the creativity infrastructure needed to reimagine systems and transform futures is the strength of the collective—the learners and leaders who form the Leonardo community and who are helping to create positive impact.


Celebrating Over 55 Years of Impact: The Next Frontier


Over the last 55 years, Leonardo has participated as a thought leader in countless conferences, symposia, festivals, lecture series, and awards programs. Since 2019, through collaboration with Arizona State University, Tsinghua University and Zhuangshi Journal of Art and Design, ZERO1, CYLAND, OLATS; private foundations (Hewlett, Ford, Knight, Haas, and Ability Rights); public agencies (CAC, NEA, the U.S. State Department); and donors, we’ve expanded global reach, inspired creative experimentation and innovation, and embraced access as an engine of creative integrity and impact. We must tip our hat to our signature partnerships and truehearted donors who enable us to launch global initiatives that address public health, social justice, and the environment, exemplified by our Leonardo-ASU Seize the Moment Initiative.


View the Final Report: Seize the Moment


Leonardo community members and partners worldwide make it possible for us to establish fellowships for cross-disciplinary experimentation (Leonardo-ASU Imagination Fellowship) and disability innovation (Leonardo CripTech Incubator). A first-of-its-kind program in the field of art and technology, CripTech Incubator deploys access as a creative practice and is designed by, with, and for disability communities. Program partners span private and public sectors, and the program is supported by one of the largest mixes of public and private funding in the area of disability, art and technology.

Drawing on Leonardo’s global network of art, science and technology practitioners, CripTech Incubator remakes the entire design cycle through access. The inaugural cohort of CripTech fellows developed their projects with residency partners, participated in public presentation and education opportunities, published reflections in the Leonardo journal and showcased their projects in our culminating exhibition, Experiments in Art, Access & Technology, or E.A.A.T., at partner site Beall Center for Art and Technology at UC Irvine and online at leonardo.info/eaat.

Fragmented projection of the interior of a piano in brown, white and cool blue hues, layered with the words “Beethoven listened with his teeth.”
Still from “Song without Words,” multichannel installation by Olivia Ting at the Experiments in Art, Access & Technology (E.A.A.T.) exhibition 30 September 2023 to 13 January 2024.

Through generous donations and strategic partnerships, such as ZERO1, Leonardo has been able to engage in new ways around the world with international cultural exchanges in Amman and New Zealand. These Creative Impact Labs are an amalgamation of collective research, experiential learning, and co-design with a focus on local communities to create impactful pieces of media and interactive art.

With the support of our community, Leonardo’s publications have transcended linguistic boundaries with bilingual special issues available in Russian, Spanish, Catalan, and Mandarin (coming 2024).

Leonardo Vision 2028, a $10 million philanthropic campaign culminating in Leonardo's 60th Anniversary in 2028, launched with the ASU Foundation in early 2022 to transform systems, amplify networks, and incubate new ideas to tackle the complex solutions we face today.  

As Vision 2028 unfolds, Leonardo/ISAST continues to envision a world where the nexus of art, science, and technology is not just explored, but actively shapes the future.

You're invited to help us positively transform our world! 

If you believe in the power of collaborative creativity, please consider donating any amount by 31 December 2023 to help amplify our impact in 2024 and beyond. Thank you.




Leonardo/ISAST is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We depend largely on the support of our community.

Screenshot of the YouTube video recording of Leonardo/ISAST’s session hosted by CEO, Diana Ayton-Shenker at the 2023 CogX Festival. At a distance, you can see bottom-center of the photo the 3 women leading the session. Above their heads is the festival logo “CogX” and 3 large scenes, the two outside screens are enlarging the speakers for the audience to see, while the middle screen shows the presentation, which has the text “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. SEE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO BE. - Diana Ayton-Shenker” and below the text are 10 photos showcasing Leonardo publications and artists’ works, plus the LEONARDO logo.
Leonardo is proud to have been a thought leader at CogX Festival in London on 14 September 2023—the world's biggest festival of AI and transformational tech. Pictured here is Diana Ayton-Shenker, CEO of Leonardo/ISAST, hosting the Global Leaders Summit (GLS ) Session “Building a digital world that benefits us all” at CogXFestival23 with Mei Lin Fung, co-Chair, People-Centered Internet; and Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri, CEO, Shakti Regeneration Institute.