LASER Talks Nomad | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

LASER Talks Nomad

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We explore Consciousness, Representation and Embodiment with the contribution of researchers from the University of Palermo. These keywords are observed through the lenses of human cognition. Why and how do I know that I am experiencing something ? Moreover artificial systems are pervasively entering multiple aspects of our life, what if instead of artificial we focus on extended ones ? Does embodiment applies to artificial forms ?


14:00 - 14:10 Intro Laser Nomad

14:10 - 14:30 Salvatore Tedesco
14:30 - 14:50 Carmelo Calì
14:50 - 15:10 Davide Rocchesso
15:10 - 15:30 Maria Mannone
15:30 - 15:50 Antonio Chella

15:50 - 17:30 Laser NOMAD Discussion / Q&A pubblic


Prof. Antonio Chella

Consciousness and Creativity


The research field of conscious AI systems concerns the computational models of consciousness. The talk will outline the current state of research of conscious AI systems  and it will discuss its relationships with creativity, with particular emphasis to musical creativity. The field of conscious AI systems is tightly related with topics as information integration, embodiment, adaptation, emotions, which are all of interest in order to model musical creativity. On the one hand, facing the problem of consciousness could be a decisive move towards the design of effectively creative systems, on the other hand the study of models of creativity could be helpful in order to better understand human consciousness. 


Antonio Chella is a full professor of Robotics at the Department of Engineering of the University of Palermo, where he is the founder and director of the Robotics Laboratory.  He coordinated several Social Robotics projects including Cicerobot, a museum robot guide at the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento; Robotics and Autism, in collaboration with the Child Neuropsychiatry of Palermo; Robotics and ALS, in collaboration with the ALS Center of the University General Hospital of Palermo; RoboDanza, in collaboration with the cultural association Tavola Tonda; Robot Orchestra Conductor in collaboration with the Alessandro Scarlatti Conservatory of Palermo. In 2017 he was awarded the "James Albus Medal" by the BICA Scientific Society (Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures). He is a member of the Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts of Palermo. His main research concerns the study of consciousness in robots and machines; he is the co-author of the main reference text in the field. He is the author of more than 200 international publications.


Prof. Davide Rocchesso

Designing Sound with Vocal Primitives


What are the fundamental elements of sound? What is the
best framework for analyzing existing sonic realities and for
expressing new sound concepts? These are long standing questions in
sound physics, perception, and creation. In everyday life,
it is our body that helps establishing bridges between distal
(source-related) and proximal (sensory-related) representations of
sound. In particular, it is our vocal apparatus that offers body-based
representations of sound, so that vocal imitations can be used as
probes into the world of sound at large.


Davide Rocchesso received the Ph.D. degree from the University of
Padova in 1996. He is professor of computer science at the
University of Palermo. He was the coordinator of EU FET
projects SOb (the Sounding Object) and SkAT-VG (Sketching Audio
Technologies using Vocalizations and Gestures). He had been chairing
the COST Action on Sonic Interaction Design. His main research
interests are sound modelling and synthesis, interaction design,
evaluation of interactions.


Maria Mannone

Can Beauty be Translated? A Journey between Mathematics, Music, and Nature


Contemplating the majesty of a tree, listening to an orchestral piece, and studying a mathematical equation might not be too far activities. Mathematics can constitute a bridge to compare objects and transformations between them, as well as to map them from a domain to another one. In particular, musical structures, with their themes and transformations, can be investigated through the language of mathematics (and categories in particular). The same formalism can be applied to nature, comparing shapes and their variations. I present methods of investigation and examples, including trees, ammonites, and flowers. They can be analyzed and translated into music, keeping some essential features and considering specific cognition criteria. From organized musical structures to the sound itself, the presentation includes some hints of how the quantum mechanics formalism can be applied to the analysis of human voice. Might a melodious soprano voice be not too far from the Schrödinger equation’s solutions?


Maria Mannone (Ph.D.) is a theoretical physicist and a composer. She graduated in Italy, France (IRCAM-Paris VI Sorbonne), and in the US (University of Minnesota). Her research involves mathematics, music, and images. Author of books, she gave talks and invited lectures in America, Europe, and Asia, where she is collaborating with the Tohoku University for the development of a new musical instrument, the CubeHarmonic. Currently, she is a subject expert (‘cultore della materia’) at the Department of Mathematics and Informatics in Palermo.


Prof. Salvatore Tedesco

Aesthetics and Embodiment


Construction of form, emotions and aesthetic appreciation can usefully 
be rethought in the context of an interaction between philosophical 
knowledge, theoretical computer science and new technologies for 
production and control of images and sounds. The short report proposed 
seeks to clarify the terms of reference and to suggest some 


Salvatore Tedesco teaches Aesthetics at the University of Palermo, and 
coordinates the Dams course of studies. His main research projects 
deals with Morphology, evolutionary aesthetics, history of aesthetics, 
contemporary theories of literature. He has published 11 monographs on 
various aspects of modern and contemporary aesthetics, more than 80 
papers, and is currently editing (with Federico Vercellone) a 
"Glossary of Morphology".


Carmelo Calì

Perceptual Grammar of Sounds


Music cognition complies with the perceptual grammar which consists of 
the properties of sounds as units and the grouping factors as 
preferential rules. The units have emerged through the interaction 
with the environment as crucial features in conveying information. The 
rules are the heuristics that enable the cognition of the environment 
in the forms of the auditory modality by solving problems of ordering 
and structure derivation. The specialization of the perceptual grammar 
of sounds plays a foundational role for music cognition. It provides 
composers and listeners with shared capacities to build and extract 
meaning from musical shapes and their relevant qualities in space and 
time. Musical examples will be presented to argue that the 
specialization of the perceptual grammar is consistent with historical 
and geographical variability of musical systems and styles, which draw 
from the expressive potentialities it affords with a high degree of 


Carmelo Calì is associate professor at the University of Palermo. 
His main research interests are theories and models of visual, 
auditory and tactile perception, cognitive foundations of aesthetics, 
human-robot interaction and industrial design.


CHAIRED BY: Luca Forcucci




LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) Talks is Leonardo's international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversations. LASER Talks were founded in 2008 by Bay Area LASER Chair Piero Scaruffi and are in over 30 cities around the world. To learn more about how our LASER Hosts and to visit a LASER near you please visit our website

The mission of the LASERs is to provide the general public with a snapshot of the cultural environment of a region and to foster interdisciplinary networking.


November 7th, 2019 from  2:00 PM to  5:30 PM
Via S. Biagio 9
Bellinzona, TI 6500-CH
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