Leonardo, Volume 49, Issue 1 | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University
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Special Section: Art and Biology

  • Art, Space and Hyperreality: An Artistic Exploration of Artificiality, Meaning and Boundaries within Astrobiological Practice
    Andy Gracie
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    A dual exploration of scales both massive and minuscule has allowed the author to create artworks and experiments that combine cultures of microscopic organisms and data from space probes and planetary landers. Meanwhile, a gradual increase in the author’s laboratory practice has led to a familiarity with in vitro processes and a corresponding theoretical examination of their significance and place in the cultural milieu. Central to these developments in the author’s practice has been the emergence of notions and understandings of simulation theory that unify both nature-technology relationships and ongoing work with organic and living materials. The author describes his artistic experiments with hybrid ecosystems, robotics, artificial intelligence, space exploration and astrobiology and the threads and themes that have persisted throughout them.

  • Biopaintings Produced by Filamentous Fungi
    Patrícia Noronha
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    The author explores the use of tridimensional filamentous fungi patterns to produce biopaintings. The painting process involves incorporation of food dyes into a fungi growth medium. Then, after some biochemical processes, the fungal forms are dehydrated and immobilized in polyester resin. Changes in colors and texture occur, resulting in lively images.

Artists’ Note

  • Black (W)hole: An Artscience and Education Collaboration
    Sara Mast, Jessica Jellison, Christopher O’Leary, Jason Bolte, Cindy Stillwell, Charles Kankelborg, Nicolás Yunes, Joey Shapiro Key, Jessica Raley
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    Black (W)hole is an immersive art installation created collaboratively by artists and scientists utilizing data visualization of an extreme mass ratio inspiral (EMRI) and the sonification of its emitted gravitational waves in an experiential work of “artscience” and science education. The sensory-rich environment of the installation engages mind and body, expanding and enriching the participant’s capacity to imagine and wonder about the beauty and meaning of this highly abstract astronomical object, the black hole. The work investigates both historical and current gravitational wave astronomy, illustrating our 21st-century understanding of the cosmos.

General Articles

  • Wave of the Future? Reconsidering the Neuroscientific Turn in Art History
    Kate Mondloch
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    This essay examines the much-contested “neuroscientific turn” in art history, taking the cues of the best of the turn while rejecting its false starts. The most promising transdisciplinary encounters spanning the brain sciences and the humanities begin from the premise that human experience is embodied, but the “body” itself is interwoven across biological, ecological, phenomenological, social and cultural planes. Certain media artworks critically engaged with neuroscience productively model such an approach. Taking Mariko Mori’s brainwave interface and multimedia installation Wave UFO (1999–2002) as a case study, the author explores how works of art may complicate and augment brain science research as well as its dissemination into other social and cultural arenas.

  • To Make Sounds inside a “Big Can”: Proposing a Proper Space for Works of Sound Art
    Jing Wang
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    Creators of sound art consider sound as both a tangible reality and a conceptual term; sound art works rely on and use listening as their predominant mode of perception. The author contextualizes sound art in China and problematizes existing venues where sound art is performed and exhibited. She then suggests that a proper space is necessary to certain works of sound art, and she proposes the “big can” as an ideal venue, based upon previous experience with existing art spaces as well as the unique nature of sound art. Sound generates space; now it is time to make space for sound.

  • Generation of Kandinsky Art
    Kang Zhang, Jinhui Yu, Steven Zides
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    The authors present a programmed experiment to automatically generate art in the style of Kandinsky during his Bauhaus years. The program the authors developed analyzes the artist’s paintings based on his art theories and the authors’ own understanding and observations of his artworks. The authors describe the generation process in detail and share and discuss sample generated images styled according to four of Kandinsky’s paintings. By pseudorandomizing various parameters, the program is able to make each styled image it generates unique. The authors’ approach is highly scalable, limited only by the memory space set in the programming language Processing, which is used for the generation. Potential impacts of the authors’ approach are also discussed.

Historical Perspective

  • Early Digital Computer Art at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Incorporated
    A. Michael Noll
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    This article is a history of the digital computer art and animation developed and created at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Incorporated, 1962–1968. Still and animated images in two dimensions and in stereographic pairs were created and used in investigations of aesthetic preferences, in film titles, in choreography, and in experimental artistic movies. Interactive digital computer music software was extended to the visual domain, including a real-time interactive system. Some of the artworks generated were exhibited publicly in various art venues. This article emphasizes work in digital programming. This pioneering work at Bell Labs was a significant contribution to digital art.


  • Understanding the Unpredictability of Cancer using Chaos Theory and Modern Art Techniques
    Dhruba Deb
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    The unpredictability of cancer poses a threat to personalized cures. Although cancer is studied as a chaotic system, the shape of its unpredictability, known as the strange attractor, is unclear. In this article, the author discusses a conceptual model, building on the strange attractor in cancer phase space. Using techniques of cubism, the author defines the 10-dimensional phase space and then, using an abstract expressionist approach, represents the strange attractor, which twists and turns in multi dimensions, indicating the unpredictability of cancer. This conceptual model motivates the identification of specific experiments for a system-level understanding of cancer.

  • Flight of the Sea Swallow: A Crossreality Telematic Performance
    Roger Mills, Bruno Roy
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    Flight of the Sea Swallow is a cross-reality telematic performance project developed by the multimedia group blackhole factory. Live data from distributed heat, light and movement sensors is visualised within the virtual and real-world performance spaces, with the aim of increasing tele-presence for performers and audiences. This article describes the background of the project, as well as its design and implementation over several iterative performances.

Special Section: Practice-Based Research and New Interfaces for Musical Expression

  • Practice-Based Research and New Interfaces for Musical Expression
    Andrew Johnston, Sam Ferguson
  • An Annotated Portfolio of Research through Design in Acoustic Sonification
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    The Hypertension Singing Bowl was shaped from a year of the author’s blood pressure readings, and 3D printed in stainless steel so it would ring. This digitally fabricated singing bowl is an “ultimate particular” that establishes the design space of Acoustic Sonifications. This paper presents early experiments with Acoustic Sonification and analyses them using an Annotated Portfolio to identify interaction, perception, aesthetics and contemplation as important axes of the domain. This illustrates how Annotated Portfolios could also be used to analyse New Interfaces for Musical Expression.

  • Artefact ‘Scripts’ and the Performer-Developer
    Benjamin Carey
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    This paper outlines the methodological and theoretical considerations encountered in the practice-based research of a performer-developer. Considering the relevance of self-reflective and autoethnographic methods for practice-based, creative-production research projects, the relationship between development and use of technological artefacts for musical performance is discussed with reference to relevant theory.

  • Designing New Musical Interfaces as Research: What’s the Problem?
    Luke Dahl
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    Practice-based research in NIME is rooted in the practices of design and musical performance. Perspectives from HCI on the relationship between design and research, examining the role of questions or design problems in research, and considering the wickedness of the task help us frame and understand our work.

  • The Situation of Practice-Led Research Around NIME, and Two Methodological Suggestions for Improved Communication
    Owen Green
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    The author offers a pair of proposals for possible practice-led tactics for live electronic music research, both aimed at enhancing musical communication within the sub-discipline and based on activities that the author takes to be informally present in much of the conduct of musicians. By way of background, he first explains why improving musical communication is important in terms of its potential benefit to our disciplinary coherence and our collective ability to communicate fruitfully with each other and with researchers in allied disciplines.

  • Diversity in NIME Research Practices
    Michael Gurevich
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    This article advocates for a dialogue about research traditions and paradigms within the community around New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). Although the research community collectively values interdisciplinarity, the author argues that we have not done enough to acknowledge and account for the inevitable epistemological differences that emerge with disciplinary diversity. Over time, NIME has seen a rise in the proportion of technical reporting and a concomitant decline in practice-based research, which historically played a more central role. Exploration and explication of the values, assumptions, and expectations that circumscribe legitimacy in practice-based research are needed in order to maintain and advocate for its relevance.

  • Opportunities for Practice-Based Research in Musical Instrument Design
    Andrew Johnston
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    This paper considers the relationship between design, practice and research in the area of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). The author argues that NIME practitioner-researchers should embrace the instability and dynamism inherent in digital musical interactions in order to explore and document the evolving processes of musical expression.

  • Gestural Performance of Electronic Music—A “NIME” Practice as Research
    Jan C. Schacher
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    The practice of gestural electronic music performance provides a valid context for artistic or practice-based investigations in the field of ’NIME.’ To this end, the material and conceptual conditions for the development of performance pieces using gestural actions need to be explored. The use of digital musical instruments and concepts for the expressive performance with digital sounds leads to questions of perception—by the musician and by the audience—of movements and actions, the body, the instruments, and of their affordances. When considering this performance mode as a topic for investigation, it becomes evident that in order to be based on practice, research in this field needs a definition and differentiation that helps to identify the specific perspectives that are only made possible through application in an actual artistic practice.

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Leonardo, Volume 49, Issue 1

February 2016