Leonardo, Volume 54, Issue 6 | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University
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Artists’ Articles

  • From Structure to Atoms: From Compression/Tension Systems to a Molecular Tensegrity
    J. David Van Horn, Dayu Wang
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    The authors reconsider macroscopic structures, including tensegrity structures, as ensembles of compression and tension forces and fit these structures to a triangular spectrum. They then present a derivative structural analogy to the three classes of molecular bonding as a bridge to microscopic structure. The construction of tensegrity sculptures of particle interactions and covalent molecules using tension and compression components follows. The authors derive and utilize two properties in this analysis: (1) a “simplest tensegrity” subunit structure and (2) interpenetrating, discontinuous compressive components—the tension components may also be discontinuous in a structure. This approach provides new artistic models for molecules and materials and may inform future artistic, architectural, engineering and scientific endeavors.

  • SOS—The Space Option Star: Addressing the Energy Dilemma
    Arthur R. Woods, Marco C. Bernasconi
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    Humanity is facing an imminent energy dilemma in that limited proven reserves of fossil fuels could be exhausted at mid-century, and no current alternative terrestrial energy options can be sufficiently scaled to achieve the goal of divesting from fossil fuels by 2050, as called for by many governments and international organizations to address the climate emergency. Energy from space is the only near-term, technically feasible and scalable alternative currently available to humanity, but it is seldom mentioned as a potential solution. The Space Option Star (SOS) is proposed as an orbital artwork to alert the world population to the imminent energy dilemma and to the space energy option, as well as being an in situ demonstration of space-to-space wireless power transmission.

General Articles

  • How Choreostorming Informs Thinking in Molecular Genetics and Cancer Biology
    Jill Bargonetti
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    The medium of interpretive dance to convey basic science is well regarded but not commonplace for college-level instruction or scientific hypothesis development. The molecular biology of cancer involves multiple polymer languages that coordinate genome information flow from DNA to RNA to proteins. The author’s course (1) uses a nonbinary art-science approach to teach the molecular biology of cancer; (2) communicates cellular processes to cancer patients in order to empower them to understand what they are experiencing; and (3) assists cancer scientists in developing hypotheses through kinesthetic and visual enactment of cellular processes. Nontrained movers and scientific thinkers together participate in choreostorming, a nonbinary process for developing, and extending, thought experiments into the movement laboratory.

  • Slow Looking at Slow Art: The Work of Pierre Bonnard
    Rebecca Chamberlain, Robert Pepperell
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    Slow looking is an increasingly prevalent strategy for enhancing visitor engagement in the gallery, yet there is little research to show why looking at artworks for longer should be beneficial. The curator of a recent exhibition of Pierre Bonnard at the Tate Gallery in London encouraged viewers to look slowly in order to enrich their experience of Bonnard’s paintings. This article explores some of the reasons why Bonnard’s work, in particular, rewards the viewer who spends more time studying it. The authors draw on various scientific studies of the ways in which observers process color contrasts, spatial configuration and figure-ground segregation in artworks and in everyday vision. They propose that prolonged interactions with works of art can facilitate perceptual learning, and they suggest ways in which these effects could be empirically studied using psychological methods.

  • A Neural Network Looks at Leonardo’s(?) Salvator Mundi
    Steven Frank, Andrea Frank
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    The authors use convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to analyze authorship
    questions surrounding the works of Leonardo da Vinci—in particular,
    Salvator Mundi, the world’s most expensive painting
    and among the most controversial. Trained on the works of an artist under study
    and visually comparable works of other artists, the authors’ system can
    identify likely forgeries and shed light on attribution controversies.
    Leonardo’s few extant paintings test the limits of the system and require
    corroborative techniques of testing and analysis.

  • Being Formal without Being a Formalist
    Steve Gibson
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    This article argues for the value of using formal models within the (digital media) artwork. Eschewing the antiformalism common to much of postmodernism, it argues for a more active engagement with formal concerns. Without embracing the totalizing theories of late modernist formalism, or discarding the idea of “the concept,” the author argues for a more formal approach to the making of the (digital media) artwork. The goal is to point to models that can be used to intimately connect form and concept rather than treat them as separate or warring entities. The article critically explores three very specific digital media artworks that endeavor to bridge the gap between formalism and conceptualism, each pointing to indicative (but not exhaustive) methods for reuniting form and concept.

  • Gastronomic Algorithms: Artistic and Sensory Exploration of Alain Passard’s Michelin Plates in the Manner of Giuseppe Arcimboldo with GANs
    Emily L. Spratt
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    Although recent advances in artificial intelligence to generate images with deep learning techniques, especially generative adversarial networks (GANs), have offered radically new opportunities for its creative applications, there has been little investigation into its use as a tool to explore the senses beyond vision alone. In an artistic collaboration that brought together Chef Alain Passard, art historian and data scientist Emily Spratt and computer programmer Thomas Fan, the collaborators used photographs of the three-star Michelin plates from the Parisian restaurant Arpège as a springboard to explore the art of culinary presentation in the manner of the Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

  • Pareidolia and the Pitfalls of Subjective Interpretation of Ambiguous Images in Art History
    Raquel G. Wilner
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    In art history, we sometimes discover hidden images within a picture and conduct a subjective introspective analysis of the motivation behind these images. The author argues that many such highly ambiguous hidden images are better explained by the pareidolia phenomenon: the tendency to find patterns in random stimuli. The arguments brought forth by Sidney Geist and Dario Gamboni illustrate the pitfalls and controversy of subjective visual analysis and how a perceptual phenomenon can mislead our conclusions. This article proposes that this controversy can be approached by establishing pictorial intent: Did the artist deliberately paint the hidden image, or is it merely a perceptual artifact?

  • The Choreography of the Creative Process: Drawing in Time and Space
    Amit Raphael Zoran, Naama Glauber
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    This article provides a new perspective on the contribution of computers to visual art, exploring how the visual product’s aesthetic qualities and the making process itself can render a hybrid artistic outcome. A medium that unifies the physical product with the spirit of the making process has innovative potential for computational artistic practice. The article demonstrates various techniques to visualize artists’ motor performance in activities such as drawing and carving. The authors digitally track artists’ movements and computer graphic tools to expose expressive performance, highlight working styles and bring their strokes’ hidden paths to the artwork’s forefront. The authors discuss contextual application of this form of visualization to new domains of visual art.

General Note

  • The Missing Female Homunculus
    Haven Wright, Preston Foerder
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    The somatosensory homunculus shows an exaggerated human figure that illustrates the proportion of the brain devoted to the sense of touch in each part of the body. Originally based on Wilder Penfield’s brain mapping, it has been presented as a drawing of a human figure along the somatosensory cortex, an independent human figure and a sculpted figure. Until recently, these homunculi have been male due to the lack of information on the female somatosensory cortex. A few female homunculi have been drawn. Based on more current brain research, the authors present, to their knowledge, the first sculpted 3D female somatosensory homunculus.

Technical Article

  • Generating Rhythmic Graphic Patterns and Paul Klee’s Concept of the Active Line
    Seçkin Maden
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    Most studies that investigate auditory influence on visual design scenarios disregard the inherent temporal nature of sonic entities. This article addresses problems posed in the interaction of multiple data types—e.g. the visual representation of musical data—and the ways in which one type of information may shape another in simultaneous generations. The author’s proposed method for analogy takes advantage of the structural organization behind several rhythmic sequences to generate visual geometric patterns in which the temporal characteristics of the former affect the spatial features of the latter. The structural analysis of auditory rhythms shows that similar cyclical organizations also exist in their geometric correspondents.


  • Designing Location-Specific 3D-Printed Vessels Using Mobile-Based Multisensor Data Fusion
    Chun-Cheng Hsu
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    This statement presents an innovative creative process for designing ceramic vessels. The authors detail how three disparate concepts—mobile device-driven creativity, digitally designed and fabricated ceramics, and multisensor data fusion—are unified and applied to an emerging practice in which sensor data are used to generate vessel designs via a prototype smartphone app. In a pilot study users in a variety of locations tested the app, and their designs were 3D printed, with location becoming a tangible parameter. Results show the feasibility of using data fusion, mobile devices and digital fabrication to create physical, location-specific artifacts. Broad implications and potential ways forward are then discussed.

  • Citizen Surgery: A Framework for Uncanny Operations
    Kaisu Koski
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    This paper introduces an idea for emerging practices of “citizen surgery” in which individuals without surgical training engage with techniques, instruments and language of professional surgery. These activities may take place as participatory events as well as gallery or online performances, typically involving food or craft-based simulators and revolving around skills acquisition and dissection of surgical culture.

Special Section: Pioneers and Pathbreakers

  • The Second International Electrography and Copy Art Biennial, Valencia, Spain, 1988: The Beginning of the Digital Graphics Age
    José-Ramón Alcalá-Mellado
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    In the late 1980s, the commercialization of digital reproduction technology led copy art in a new direction, ushering in a new era of events with global impact and significance. Among these events was the second International Electrography and Copy Art Biennial, held in Valencia, Spain, in October 1988, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first electrophotographic copy. This landmark occasion marked the beginning of a new and prosperous digital era that would continue throughout the following decade and was spearheaded by artists of the so-called third generation.

Special Section: The Science of Art

Special Section: Abstracts from the Spectra 2018 Symposium

Leonardo Reviews

2021 Leonardo Volume 54 Author Index

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Leonardo, Volume 54, Issue 6

December 2021