Reviewer biography

Current Reviews

Review Articles

Book Reviews Archive

YLEM Journal: Artists Using Science and Technology

by Loren Means, Editor; Gregg Rickman, Guest Editor
YLEM, San Francisco, USA, Sept-Oct 2006
Vol. 26 No. 10
16 pp., illus. b/w
Journal website: http://www.ylem.org
SSN: 1057-2031.

Reviewed by Rob Harle (Australia)


YLEM (pronounced eye-lem) is Greek for "the exploding mass from which the universe emerged". It is the name of this journal being reviewed and also of the "international organization of artists, scientists, authors, curators, educators and art enthusiasts who explore the intersection of the arts and sciences". Their web site is www.ylem.org - if you are interested in art and science; it is a must to visit.

This issue has the subtitle The Rapture for Nerds and looks at the messianic enthusiasm of some of the leaders in the technological race to transcend biological humans (as we are now), and not so much replace us, but "phase us out" so the new super artificial intelligent entities, "post-singularity", can rule the Universe. The Rapture of course is borrowed from the fundamentalist Christian religious concept of the chosen few being whisked up to heaven when the second coming occurs.

There are four main essays that provide balanced, informative, and stimulating reading in this imminent world of technological transcendence. Don Riggs’ scholarly essay A.I. has a brief historical look at AI and discusses various presentations of this in literature and popular films. What is Artificial Intelligence by Doug Williams whilst also discussing popular aspects of AI also looks deeper at the attempts to develop AI from an engineering and programming perspective. Howard V. Hendrix’s Agnostic at the Singularity comes at this phenomena from a psychological and social/cultural critique approach, which for me expounds some real wisdom. Greg Rickman’s Some Authors Ray Kurzweil Should Read (or Re-Read) tries to come to grips with Kurzweil’s apparent messianic zeal for transcending our biological heritage as quickly as possible. This brief essay discusses J.B.S. Haldane’s similar anti-humanist approach to eliminating all but the greatest thinkers through his eugenics approach to reproduction and transcendence!

YLEM is great reading and always presents a fair and balanced approach to both sides of the case in question but I have to ask, "What has this current issue got to with art?" After all YLEM’s declared aim is, "to explore the Intersection of the Arts and Sciences". I thought this meant visual art, as previous issues have a good balance of visual art (images and discussion). Apart from the cover artwork, The Chase Is Afoot II by Alice Kelley and David Ziels there is no art in this issue at all!
The reproduction quality of this issue and the paper used is a great improvement on the previous issue. I would like to see the journal present more articles accompanied by images, made by artists working at the art-science interface. Perhaps some critical book reviews and a far broader section on upcoming exhibition-conference dates would extend this rather slim and somewhat parochial journal.



Updated 1st May 2007

Contact LDR: ldr@leonardo.org

Contact Leonardo: isast@sfsu.edu

copyright © 2007 ISAST