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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

LACMA Launches Art and Technology Lab

John Eger sent us this update on LA  County Museum of Art

December 10, 2013

An exciting thing happened today: we launched our new Art + Technology Lab at LACMA. The Lab is an experiment in bringing artists and technologists together to develop projects that we plan to share with the public here at the museum. We also issued our first call for proposals. Artists and collectives interested in pursuing projects that engage emerging technology are invited to apply by January 27, 2014, for grants up to $50,000, plus in-kind support from our advisory board and participating technology companies.
We plan to fund a small number of projects in the first year of the program. Several technology companies have joined the effort: Accenture, NVIDIA, DAQRI, SpaceX, and Google are helping to make this project possible. Our advisory board also includes independent artists and academics, such as Dan Goods (visual strategist at Jet Propulsion Labs) and Ken Goldberg (professor of industrial engineering and operations research at the University of California, Berkeley).

Robert Irwin and James Turrell in the anechoic chamber at the University of California, Los Angeles. The artists explored the concept for an unrealized project with the Gannet Corporation as part of the original Art and Technology program at LACMA. Photograph © Malcolm Lubliner
This isn’t the first time LACMA has embarked on a program to bring artists and technologists together. The Art and Technology program at LACMA that ran from 1967 to 1971 is legendary, and included Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenberg, James Turrell, Robert Irwin, and others. When we launched our online Reading Room a few years ago, the Report on the Art and Technology Program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967–1971 quickly jumped to the top of the list of popular out of print publications. The publication includes some amazing documentation of the collaborations between artists and industry, including several projects that failed to lead to a completed work of art, but gave rise to innovations many years or even decades later.
The Lab is inspired by the history at LACMA, but the program we’re launching now differs in some respects. Today, compared to the late 1960s, the boundary between art and technology is much more fluid. We fully expect to see participants in the program that move easily between both disciplines. That makes aligning artists and technology developers all the more exciting and fruitful. We also plan to reveal projects in progress through regular presentations at LACMA, including talks with artists and demonstrations of prototypes. Our commitment to exploring the nexus of art and technology is long-term, and we look forward to building on the program over time.

The exterior entrance to the new Art + Technology Lab at LACMA via the Director’s Round Table Garden at the east end of the museum campus.
The Lab is housed in our newly remodeled Balch Research Library. The County of Los Angeles supported the renovation, which wraps up this month, with a grant from their Productivity Investment Fund. Those of you familiar with the research library will, we hope, be surprised and pleased by the transformation. We opened up a wall of windows looking out on the park and gave the space an overhaul that enables us to accommodate not only the new Lab program, but also more books and space for our librarians to work with researchers.
For questions about the Art + Technology Lab, or to find out about upcoming programs at LACMA, join our mailing list:
Amy Heibel, Vice President, Technology, Web and Digital Media 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Natalie Jeremijenko: Women who talks to fish

Four years ago, the Australian-born artist Natalie Jeremijenko stood at the edge of Pier 35 in Downtown Manhattan, trying to start a conversation with some striped bass. Just north of the Manhattan Bridge, she and several collaborators dropped 16 tall buoys into the East River. The buoys were fitted with submersible sensors that monitored water quality and with LEDs that flashed when fish swam by, charting the Piscean passage. “I fell into the river four times installing it,” Jeremijenko recalls. “You have no idea, just standing on land, how ferocious those currents are!”

The installation, “Amphibious Architecture,” devised with the architect David Benjamin, stayed in the river for several months — a miniature skyline bobbing and blinking in the reflected glare of the real thing. With the piece, Jeremijenko was interested, she said, in “highlighting what’s under this pretty reflective surface that enhances real estate value but is actually a diverse, teeming habitat.” Viewers on land alerted to the presence of fish could send them text messages care of an SMS number. The fish then “responded” with texts of their own, chatting about themselves and their surroundings: “Hey there! There are 11 of us, and it’s pretty nice down here. I mean, Dissolved oxygen is higher than last week. . . .”

At New York University, where she is a professor of visual art, Jeremijenko had developed seaweed bars containing a PCB-chelating agent that observers were encouraged to hurl into the river — food meant to help rid the fish, and by extension, the water, of toxins. This snack was formulated to taste “delicious” to fish and humans alike: if you were feeling peckish, you could have what they were having. “It’s a very visceral way of demonstrating that we share the same natural resources, we eat the same stuff,” she once explained. “They’re not inhabiting a different world.”

Read the whole five page story in the New York Times

Sunday, December 8, 2013

And the Word is STEAM by John M. Eger

John M. Eger

And The Word is STEAM

Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, San Diego State University

Published in the Huffington Post

Last month, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), Co-Chairs of a Congressional Caucus committed to putting A (the role the arts play in nurturing young peoples new thinking skills) into the language of the America COMPETES Act (also know as the STEM act), together with 28 other house members, wrote the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology urging inclusion of provisions supportive of STEAM.
Its time they said, that:
"STEAM should be recognized as providing value to STEM research and programs across federal agencies through 'Sense of Congress' provisions and language clarifying that current research, data collection, and STEM programs may include arts integration strategies and programs,"..."Additionally, we ask that, where appropriate, data collection, surveys, and reporting on STEM activities and grant making in the federal government specifically look at arts integration activities. Finally, current interdisciplinary and inter-agency programs should be strengthened and language added to clarify that arts integration is an avenue for doing so."
The Caucus reflects what more and more educators, parents, and policymakers and researchers are saying about merging the arts and sciences and creating more meaningful interdisciplinary experiences as the best way to nurture the next generation of leaders and workers for a workforce demanding creativity and innovation.
Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa, scientist, artist, writer, poet, and designer based in India, has said, "Art and science ... are two sides of the same coin." While science is Dr. Challa's first love, art and literature are "life itself."
Dr. Challa, like many scientists see science as art and art as science and often inspired by each. Unfortunately, many others still see art and science as distinct and separate disciplines. Not unlike physicist-turned-novelist C.P Snow, who wrote over fifty years ago there are "two cultures":
"Physicists and writers exist, where "hostility and dislike" divide the world's "natural scientists -- its chemists, engineers, physicists and biologists -- from its literary intellectuals."
He found it strange that more scientists weren't artists and musicians and more artists lacked a similar interest in the sciences. What happened to the classically trained person, he mused. In his day all these subjects were "branches of the same tree."
The challenge of our age is to blur those lines, merge art and science, and develop the new thinking skills kids need to be creative and innovative in the wake a truly global-knowledge-economy.
Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein who authored a seminal book called Sparks of Genius looked and at the top 150 scientists who lived over a period of 200 years and made a rather startling discovery that each was equally accomplished in the fine arts as well as the hard sciences.
To those educators lobbying for more emphasis on the sciences, they pointed out that Galileo was a poet and literary critic. Einstein was a passionate student of the violin. And Samuel Morse, the father of telecommunications and inventor of the telegraph, was a portrait painter.
The Root-Bernstein's examined the minds of inventive people and found that creativity is something both artists and scientists can learn and, more importantly, that the seemingly disparate disciplines of art and science, music and math, complement and enhance one another.
When the White House and Congress first passed the America COMPETES Act, they were clearly thinking about the vital import of science, technology, engineering and math--not art. At the time, they authorized $151 million to help students earn a bachelor's degree, math and science teachers to get teaching credentials, and provide additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college. The Act has been reauthorized several times since.
In the meantime, educators are discovering the power of the arts and art integration, adding "A" or the arts to the mix, and insuring that both hemispheres of the brain are nurtured, the whole brain is engaged, and art and the humanities and all the sciences reinforce the connections.
Also in the last few years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), realizing that creativity and innovation clearly support U.S. economic interests , launched an effort to fund proposals that demonstrate how art and science can be woven together in an artwork, or play, demonstration or lab experiment or educational effort. Proposals costing no more that $10,000 to $100,000 were encouraged.
The National Science Foundation, responsible for STEM initiatives, also funded the Art of Science Learning last year to produce three conferences -- in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois and San Diego, California -- to look at what business, education, and communities across the United States were doing to merge the "two cultures" of art and science; and is closely examining ways to make young people creative and innovative.
More recently, the NSF funded experiments in Chicago, San Diego and Worcester , Massachusetts, called "Integrating Informal STEM and Arts-Based Learning to Foster Innovation," to find a new model for sparking creativity and innovation in our schools. Specifically they stated:
"The goal of the project's development activities is to experiment with a variety of innovation incubator models"... "to generate creative ideas, ideas for transforming one STEM idea to others, drawing on visual and graphical ideas, improvisation, narrative writing and the process of using innovative visual displays of information for creating visual roadmaps."
Both the NSF and the NEA stopped short of endorsing STEAM per se -- but it now may be time to change the focus and change the vocabulary and thus send a message to schools across the country: Merge art and science curricula, provide more interdisciplinary courses.
Barney Mansavage, a principal architect at SRG Partnership focusing on architecture for education and civic places, put it this way:
"Architecture is not a science, it's an art; cost estimating is not a science, it's an art; leadership is not a science, it's an art"... "We might also say that even science is not a science. It, too, is an art, and as such, evolving from STEM to STEAM makes real sense."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Examples of Datamade Remixes? Or digital art by another name? by Joe Nalven

The recent article posted by Patricia Frischer about  West, Malina, Lewis et al) suggests a digital path to Duchamp's readymades. Consider the analogy:

In both process and outcomes, the “datamades” resulting from DataRemix are envisioned to function analogously to Duchamp’s readymades. Their ultimate objective is to destabilize the framing narratives of data creation and representation in order to generate the possibility for new forms to arise in hopes of allowing us to see and know beyond what our instruments, algorithms, representational schemas and prevailing culture enable us to see and know. Yet, reappropriation and recombination also bring with them the framing narratives of artistic traditions from the early 20th Century that continue to evolve in our digital culture.  (excerpt from DataRemix: Designing The Datamade - Through ArtScience Collaboration by Ruth West, Roger Malina, John Lewis, Member, IEEE, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Alejandro Borsani, Brian Merlo, and Lifan Wang)

Unfortunately, there are no examplars in the article (or that I could find on the web using their  terminology):  What kind of art this might be?  In the spirit of the digital zeitgeist, I will propose several examples (below) that might fill this void.

However, before doing so, an important and final disclaimer in the article is worth noting - can these art objects be created from a 'neutral' exercise in finding datamades or must there be a deus ex machine (or an artist ex machina or artist ex computer)? Simply put, if there is no artist making a decision in whatever field of experience, on whatever planet in the universe, then there is no art. If a tree falls in the forest, etc. etc.

Let us remind ourselves that Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, and other readymades, did not magically get transported into a gallery. There must have been: (1) a recognition by Duchamp that this was the object he wanted to put in the exhibit; (2) Duchamp's purchasing the object; (3) Duchamp's reorienting it for display; (4) Duchamp's signing the object with a pseudonym; (5) Duchamp's submitting it for exhibition; (6) a rejection by the art committee and hiding of it during the show; and (7) photographing of the object by Alfred Stieglitz. (There are other versions of what happened, but that is simply another path of decision-making of taking the 'fountain (urinal)' and transforming it into a 'readymade.'

Obviously, to get an analogous object - in whatever form(s) - there needs to be a similar set of interventions by the artist and others.
But, why even bother about an analogy to finding readymades in Big Data, genomics, astrophysics and the like -- and then calling them datamades? There still must be an artist making a decision to call 'X' (whatever 'X' is) something other than what it seems to be in the real world and labeling it 'art.'

The abstract provides an answer of sorts. A crisis is imagined and the datamade is offered up as a solution. Does it work?

We propose a role for ArtScience research and creative work in contributing to the necessary shifts to go beyond the current crisis of representation. We specifically describe DataRemix, a recombination and reappropreation (sic) practice intended to trigger novel subjective experiences and associations. The narratives framing data creation and representation circumscribe what we can see and know, and how we see and know. How do we see and know beyond what our instruments, algorithms, representational schemas and training guide us to see and know? How do we look for what we don’t know we’re looking for when we can only examine at most a tiny fraction of the available data? Our argument is grounded in and will be illustrated by experience with several ArtScience collaborations spanning genomics, astrophysics, new media, and holographic sound design.

I might note in passing that Protagoras' famous quote suggests that we are stuck with ourselves and the tools of measurement we use in representing what we know and perceive. Clearly, our tools and methods change, but these newfangled tools are still a human view of reality. Big data, genomics, etc. are still 'human tools and human measures.' So, how are we to get outside of the human condition - a NHI type of art? (NHI = no humans involved)

I appreciate the concluding words which admit of an impossibility to the proposed tasks.

Yet, reappropriation and recombination also bring with them the framing narratives of artistic traditions from the early 20th Century that continue to evolve in our digital culture. These carry an aura of arbitrariness that runs counter to the functioning of science which requires reproducibility and validity. This very contradiction is at the heart of our working definition of DataRemix. In proposing DataRemix we hope to contribute to the dialog about arbitrariness already ongoing in the visualization community. Maintaining the dichotomy of artistic approaches as devoid of meaning, decorative or subjective and non-artistic approaches as meaningful, valid and objective eschews the practical reality that, as Monroe observes, visualization is inherently aesthetic and created for an intended audience, and iterates towards the audience as part of the analytic process. Additionally, familiarity with a representational schema enables us to forget that at one point elements of its design were also based on arbitrary yet repeatable mappings that lead to their utility and meaning. Stylistic and aesthetic concerns are increasingly a subject of study in the VIS and HCI communities. As Viegas and Wattenberg reflect, the power of artistic data visualization arises from artists “committing various sins of visual analytics” and directly engaging and guiding an audience towards a point of view. 

[Ah yes, their are artistic interventions and somehow geared to an audience!]

They remind us that even with dispassionate analysis as its goal, creating a visualization that is truly neutral is “generally impossible” and propose further exploration of the value of artistic explorations. In this light, we propose to explore DataRemix as a mechanism for artistic approaches to engage empirical approaches in creating new ways of seeing and knowing. (References are in the original article.)

Well, what is really possible and fruitful?  There are any number of artists that play with randomness. Such randomness can be applied to the incorporation of any field of data.  I would think that if one allows impurity (namely, human and artistic interventions) then the model works. Without those 'impurities' (that's me and you and all the other humans reading this narrative), we get Platonic zip. Idealized nothings.  But then, that's my point of view. 

Here goes with some impure artistic inventions that incorporate randomness into their methods. 

These examples would be DataRemixes that yield datamades.  (I suppose if there is an objection to my use of these neologisms, I can call my examples 'DataRemixes2' and 'datamades2.' A rose by any other name is still a rose.) 

Paul Reiners Cellular Automata

I don't pretend to understand the mechanics of cellular automata, but Reiners has been incorporating this method into music and visualization. While the approach is intentional, the results provide randomness. 

Paul Reiners, Cellular Automata in Van Gogh's Sunflowers
Reiners:   A CA consists of:

    A matrix, or grid, of cells, each of which can be in one of a finite number of states
    A rule that defines how the cells' states are updated over time

The matrix of cells can have any number of dimensions. Given a cell's state and the state of its neighbors at time t, the rule determines the cell's state at time t + 1. (This will become clearer after you look at some concrete examples.)

So, how would this look.  If you go online you can watch (enlarge the screen) the cells within Van Gogh's Sunflowers move as if they were little insects.

Don Relyea's Random Art Generator

What I was able to do with Relyea's random art generator is to control its source data - either limiting it to a predesignated folder on my computer or allowing it to mix with randomly selected objects on the web.

Paradox created with Relyea's Random Art Generator limited to file folder on my computer. (Upper)  Konecni Random mixes an image provided by Vladimir Konečni with an object selected at random from the web. (Lower) Layout of items is randomly assigned by Random Art Generator and then reworked by the artist.

These two examples, it might be objected, begin with an artist's intent with randomness subsumed to the original purpose. The examples are not just found.  But then, neither was Duchamp's readymades just found.  Their is a conceit in each approach that gives the appearance of some found object as if it were randomly encountered. Hardly. While the readymade is not studio art or a plein air painting or an intended photograph, it is carefully selected with an artistic purpose.

The proposed DataRemix must also rely on some conceit to give it the air of being found - as the analog to a readymade, the newly minted datamade.

We are trapped inside the human condition, the human measure of things. The artist can create a novelty as if it were found out there somewhere - a philosophy of 'as if.'

I am arguing for a lower threshhold, a less ambitious approach to finding art in the vast hurricane of data on the net and in our minds.

And all of these are wonderfully included in the making of contemporary art in digital media (might even call it, digital art).

In that regard, I am pleased to see further advances with all things digital.


As Joe Nalven obliquely points out, essentially all of the concepts discussed by the authors of the article are old hat – as concepts. To realize this, one needs only to examine developments in electronic music since 1950s in which a variety of approaches to randomness has been utilized. In some of the allegedly aleatoric work of John Cage, there is actually a great deal of composer's intervention. Iannis Xenakis sometimes intervened very minimally indeed, using the random-field stochastic processes.

May I briefly go off the subject and introduce the Chinese man whose portrait I took? (Joe combined it with some allegedly randomly chosen object from the web.) I met him on one of the many thousands of stone stairs leading to the peak of Tai Shan, a holy mountain (5,000+ feet) in Shandong province. Off to the side of the giant staircase, the charming man ran a miniature fertility counseling center!

Vladimir Konečni

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New Ways of Seeing and Knowing by Patricia Frischer

DataRemix: Designing The Datamade Through ArtScience

Ruth West just presented this data remix paper at IEEE VIS Arts Program (VISAP), Atlanta, Georgia, October 2013 the full paper is available on line

Visual artists are comfortable with collage and ready mades and over the years have gained an audience for these works which combine disparate objects to generate new meanings. In the music word this process is called remix or mashup. Using a computer to aid in this process , we use tools like copy and paste. In fact, every one who uses copy and paste is in fact, remixing. 

Ruth West (one of the judges for the DNA of Creativity project, and her colleagues (Roger Malina, John Lewis, Member, IEEE, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Alejandro Borsani, Brian Merlo, and Lifan Wang ) are attempting to use scientific data in this way. They are calling this "datamix" generated art "datamades".

The goal is to encourage the scientific community that usually relies on feasibility through reproducibility to throw caution to the wind and see what happens if arbitration is embraced. The hope is that the results will have one big advantage that the arts can claim and that is relevance to an audience. 

Please read the entire article for extensive explanation of their whole process.  We would love to hear your comments and observations on this subject 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Persistent Arts and Crafts Education for Future Scientists and Engineers

This article was brought to our attention by John Chalmers:

Roger Malina is launching a series of discussions around Robert and Michele Root Bernstein’s White Paper for the SEAD White Paper Study that has just been delivered to the US National Science Foundation.  The title of the White Paper is:The Importance of Early and Persistent Arts and Crafts Education for Future Scientists and Engineers and provides empirical evidence of why training in the arts and crafts (including the making and hacking movements) should be a key component for the early training of future innovative scientists and engineers. The full white paper is available at

The topic was part of a SEAD workshop that was just held in Washington DC with representatives of the US National Science Teachers Association, the US National Art Educators Association , the American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Association for Gifted Children, Association of Science and Technology Centers, Art of Science Learning, Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, American Association for the Advancement of Science . There were also observers from the US National Science Foundation, the US National Endowment for the Arts and the US Congresssional STEAM caucus. They will be including questions and comments that arose during the workshop. Much excitement arose in the workshop when they were informed that a Memorandum of Understanding between the US National Science Foundation, the US National Endowment for the Arts and the US National Endowment for the Humanities had just been signed to better coordinate and respond to transdisciplinary research and education arising between the sciences, engineering, arts, design and humanities.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Digital Grotesque: Printing Architecture

With thanks to Dana Levine for sending us this link:

Digital Grotesque . Printing Architecture from Digital Grotesque on Vimeo.
Digital Grotesque is the first fully immersive, solid, human-scale, enclosed structure that is entirely 3D printed out of sand. This structure, measuring 16 square meters, is materialized with details at the threshold of human perception. Every aspect of this architecture is composed by custom-designed algorithms.

Please visit for a further description.

Michael Hansmeyer
Benjamin Dillenburger

Partners and Sponsors:
• Chair for CAAD, Prof. Hovestadt, ETH Zurich
• Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
• voxeljet AG
• FRAC Centre
• Strobel Quarzsand GmbH
• Pro Helvetia

Research for the Digital Grotesque project was carried out at the Chair for CAAD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. All components were printed by voxeljet AG. The first part of Digital Grotesque is a commission by FRAC Centre for its permanent collection.

Fabrication Team:
Maria Smigielska, Miro Eichelberger, Yuko Ishizu, Jeanne Wellinger, Tihomir Janjusevic, Nicolás Miranda Turu, Evi Xexaki, Akihiko Tanigaito

Video & Photo:
Demetris Shammas, Achilleas Xydis

"Flicker" by Origamibiro (

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Digital dress for a strip teaser

At the Ace Hotel in New York to a crowd of uber-cool fashonistas and paparazzi we revealed the 3D printed gown designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti modeled by queen of burlesque Dita Von Teese.

3D Printed Fashion Dita Von Teese

3D printed gown detail on Shapeways

Dita Von Teese in Shapeways 3D printed gown

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

OK NO, just for the fun of it.

Just for the fun of it look at this video made by Brent Bushnell who was at a SteamConnect event at the Children's Museum in July 2013. His site is Two Bit Circus. and STEAM Carnival,

Two Bit Circus is a think tank and talent magnet building products at the crossroads of amusement and education. The interdisciplinary team strives to make entertainment more enriching and education more fun. Our endeavors include attractions that increase traffic and revenue for public venues; large-scale, cause-based events that are impossible to forget; and original content that has already gathered millions of loyal followers online.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Call for Papers Conference on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design

CALL FOR PAPERS evomusart 2014
3rd International Conference on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired
Music, Sound, Art and Design
April 2014, Baetha, Andalusia, Spain
Part of evo* 2014
New this year: Special track on Artificial Neural Network applied to
Music, Sound, Art and Design
Following the success of previous events and the importance of the
field of evolutionary and biologically inspired (artificial neural
network, swarm, alife) music, sound, art and
design, evomusart has become an evo* conference with independent
proceedings since 2012. Thus, evomusart 2014 is the twelfth European
Event and the third International Conference
on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design.
The use of biologically inspired techniques for the development of
artistic systems is a recent, exciting and significant area of
research. There is a growing interest in the application of these
techniques in fields such as: visual art and music generation,
analysis, and interpretation; sound synthesis; architecture; video;
poetry; design; and other creative tasks.
The main goal of evomusart 2014 is to bring together researchers who
are using biologically inspired computer techniques for artistic
tasks, providing the opportunity to promote, present and discuss
ongoing work in the area.
The event will be held in April, 2014 in Baetha, Andalusia, Spain, as
part of the evo* event.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Crativity in the Art Lecture at UCSD

The Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind and The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination: "Creativity in the Arts: A Neuronal Hypothesis"
4 pm, SME 149, UC San Diego
Visiting from the College de France, Professor Changeux is one of the most distinguished scientists of our era, having made major breakthrough discoveries in both biochemistry and neurobiology. In addition to his scientific accomplishments, he has organized art exhibitions, served as chair of the inter-ministry commission for the conservation of French artistic heritage, and written on the subject of art and philosophy and their relation to neuroscience.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sea of Changes exhibit

Opening Reception: Sea of Changes exhibit 
Rodney McCoubrey
View more than 50 artworks made by students at Oakcrest Middle School and Senior Citizens from recycled and reclaimed materials. All art is for sale; proceeds benefit Oakcrest School and the Senior Center! Enjoy light refreshments as you view the artwork. Artist Instructor: Rodney McCoubrey. The Artist Outreach Grant program is funded by the Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation.  

Saturday, June 1, 3:00-5:00pm
Encinitas Community & Senior Center
1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Art and Science Hybrids

In Praise of Hybridity: Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frank J Malina

By Roger Malina


My father was a hybrid. He achieved success in the 1940s as a scientist in the nascent field of astronautics, helping develop the theory of space flight and leading the team that launched the first human made object into outer space (1). As a pioneering kinetic artist in the 1950s he helped start the art and technology movement that has led to large industries in entertainment and cultural media.

In the 1960s he socialized with other hybrid artist-scientists such as artist and mathematician Anthony Hill, artist and bio-rheologist L. Alcopley and mathematician-artist Claude Berge member of the Oulipo literary group (2). But they were few and far between. They were often lonely professionals and marginalized by their peers. My father debated the problem with his friends such as C.P.Snow, Jacob Bronowski, Roy Ascott and Buckminster Fuller.

This year a group of colleagues and I have been developing a report funded by the US National Science Foundation and supported by the US National Endowment for the Arts, the SEAD White Papers Study (3). The study seeks to enable new forms of collaboration between the sciences, engineering, the arts, design and humanities, identifying opportunities and obstacles. It has been an exhilarating task working with a growing, dynamic and energetic community of practice. Artists are involved in all fields of science and engineering, from the health sciences to the nano-sciences, from digital manufacturing to space technologies. And they are working on the hard problems of our time where it is impossible to decouple culture from science  or engineering; climate change, the aging of the brain, sustainable energy.

The hybrids have arrived! From mixed teams of artists and scientists, to hybrid individuals with dual career tracks they are working in universities, industry and the burgeoning making and hacking spaces. In studying the demographics we were surprised that 20% of them are hybrids in the sense that they have both a higher education degree in science or engineering and a second diploma in a field of arts, design or humanities. (We also noted that the community of practice is gender balanced with 50% women and 50% men). These hybrids often play a special role as ‘translators’ able to navigate between the different ways of knowing represented by the sciences and the arts. Nature magazine (4) recently took note of the phenomenon, asking whether there were new hybrid career tracks emerging. They noted the recent development of PhD programs dedicated to the training and cultivation of these hybrids.

Physiologist and artist Robert Root Bernstein has recently studied hundreds of successful scientists and engineers; out of all proportion with the general population of scientists and engineers, and the public, they are hybrids participating in deep avocations in the arts that they view as essential to their own scientific practice. (5)

There are very good reasons to have disciplines and to train scientists and engineers to drill deep with a single minded focus. Art is not Science (6).But there are also good reasons to have mobile professionals who can navigate in trans-disciplinary practices. The good news is that the Tree of Knowledge has been felled and we now live in an evolving system of Networked Knowledge, enabled and accelerated by the internet and on line collaboration technologies. As Anthony Hill and Claude Berge would have told you, this is a topological revolution. It is far easier to make connections in complex network structures that are continuously evolving, than in tree structures that rigidify as they age (7). Unfortunately our institutions are still locked into the topology of old tree structures rather than complex networks and hybridity is still often a high risk activity.

I think my father would be thrilled at the turn of events. My father once wrote “It was my feeling that one way in curbing the misuse of technology might be if we could, through the arts, emotionally prepare young people to see the aesthetic, positive side of things and also then respond by seeing the negative” (8), Chastened by the human crimes committed using advanced science and technology during the second world war, he was convinced that the arts and sciences had to be connected at their very source, the human imagination and passions that drive scientific, engineering and artistic discovery. This emerging hybrid community is carrying within it the ideals of a socially robust science (9) that foregrounds not only ethics and values as core values in science and engineering but also celebrates with joy and pleasure the well-being of human beings in all their, non-reductive, complexity.


  1. There is a large literature on Frank Malina’s career in astronautics from co founder and first Director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, designer of the WAC Corporal rocket and co founder of the International Academy of Astronautics:
  2. I have recently co written a history of the Leonardo Journal that Frank Malina founded to champion the work of artists involved in science and technology:
  3.   The SEAD network is coordinated by Carol Lafayette; the SEAD White Paper Study is co chaired by Roger Malina and Carol Strohecker working with an international community of 200 professionals. The work of the network and the draft report can be found at:
  4. Interdisciplinarity: Artistic Merit, Virginia Gewin, Nature, 496, 537-539 (2013) doi:10.1038/nj7446-537a
  5.    Root-Bernstein RS, Lindsay Allen^, Leighanna Beach^, Ragini Bhadula^, Justin Fast^, Chelsea Hosey^, Benjamin Kremkow^, Jacqueline Lapp^, Kaitlin Lonc^, Kendell Pawelec^, Abigail Podufaly^, Caitlin Russ^, Laurie Tennant^, Erric Vrtis^ and Stacey Weinlander^.  Arts Foster Success: Comparison of Nobel Prizewinners, Royal Society, National Academy, and Sigma Xi Members.J Psychol Sci Tech 2008; 1(2):51-63.
  6. See the writing of my colleague Physicist Jean-Marc Levy Leblond, La science n’est pas l’art, Jean Marc Levy-Leblond, Hermann Editeurs, Paris 2010 ISBN 978-2705669409 “. My rebuttal is at
  7. See the Leonardo Project on the Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks:
  8. See
  9. See the work of European Research Council President Helga Nowotny, for instance

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Evolving Creative Campus

Many colleges and universities are looking to put more arts at the center of campus life and in the process, foster creativity.
The Creative Campus initiative, a program of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, is leading the way.
The idea began early in 2004 at a meeting convened by the Ford Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Dana Foundation, the AT&T Foundation, Pfizer and the Altria Group. The idea simply was "to examine the factors that characterize effective partnerships in education and the arts: the projects, proposals, curricula, and creative forces that make such partnerships work."
Later, thanks to $3.5 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Trusts, the "Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program" was created "to seed innovative, interdisciplinary programs that brought together artists with a range of community and campus-based partners in order to stimulate arts-based inquiry and elevate the role of the arts in academic life. "
The grants now helping over 14 Universities establish projects that serve to nurture the entire campus including many "collaborative projects (which involve) intense partnerships that require shared language, trust, and a "restructuring" of knowledge and practice. While Creative Campus projects fell into both (cooperative and collaborative) categories, the truly collaborative projects proved most transformative for both participants and the larger campus."

After six years of study the Association seems pleased that the role of the arts has indeed stimulated academic life, but fully aware that:
"In spite of the incentives for campus-based arts presenters to work across disciplines and to become better integrated into the curricular and co-curricular life of campus, there are significant cultural and structural barriers that make such work difficult. Budgets, facilities, selection processes, and professional norms all work against innovative programming that places other goals (learning, engagement, conversation, community building) above more narrowly conceived notions of curatorial excellence. Furthermore, institutional structures and academic practices, from tenure to course review and scheduling and budgetary silos, also discourage faculty and other campus partners from embracing arts-based interdisciplinary inquiry."
One of the barriers, not surprisingly are the artists themselves. Alan S. Brown and Steven J. Tepper, PhD., who wrote the report and did most of the research, commented that "While a small cohort of artists and university arts programs explore the intersections of art and other disciplines, a large majority of the country's presenters and producers of performing arts programs - opera, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre and multi-disciplinary presenters - remain committed to finely tuned missions and business models that more or less exclude interdisciplinary work - much less work across artistic genres. "
Clearly, they argue, what is needed is a "new breed of artists who are vitally engaged in research and discovery, mindful and articulate about their creative process, open to critical reflection, and who can bridge disciplines and interact with people from different backgrounds."
Importantly, the University can do a lot of things to make the campus experience, as well as the courseware, come alive. Yale University, for example, (while not a recipient of the Creative Campus grant program) has started using their on campus Art Gallery to be a teaching mechanism for the whole university...including courses that help teachers how best to teach K-12 students. Already, last year they hosted over "48 courses from departments other than art history or art" according to The New York Times.
In addition to the art courses, according to the Yale University newspaper, 578 individual class sessions--from "women's, gender and sexuality a "Photography and Memory" course and an African American studies class on "Re-Visioning Subjectivities'--were held during the last year.
There is a message here for all universities desirous of seeing more interdisciplinary course development, and aspiring to be a creative campus. Ways to get faculty to work more collaboratively must be developed. Providing incentives for such collaborations to encourage art and science marriages is clearly essential. So too is leadership at the highest level to make such collaborations a critical part of the University mission.
The goal must be to forge an undergraduate curriculum that offers truly interdisciplinary courses, and curricula that make the college experience meaningful for life and work in the new global economy, an economy that highly values creativity and innovation.

Follow John M. Eger on Twitter:

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Sent by John Chalmers:
My IMERA colleague, political anthropologist Cedric Parizot has been running a very succesful  ’frontiers’
project in Aix Marseille- we had a great workshop for instance which looked at how new network science affects our concepts of frontiers. They have now issued a call for proposals for work by artists, scientists= you will see that the ambition is to be transdisciplinary and find new forms for showing the complexities of the issues around frontiers: There is a special art-science emphasis

Roger Malina

ANTIATLAS Call For Proposals
The antiAtlas of borders is a transdisciplinary event that will take
place between September 30, 2013 and March 1, 2014. Bypassing
cartography, at the crossroads of research and art, it offers a new
approach of the mutations of borders and on the way they are
experienced by people in the 21st century.
The antiAtlas is an outcome of the transdisciplinary research project
led by IMéRA (Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées –
Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Research) on the mutations of
contemporary territorial configurations (2011-2013). It will be one of
the steps of Ulysses, a major exhibition program in Marseille-Provence
2013 supported by the FRAC (Regional Fund for Contemporary Art). The
objective of the antiAtlas is to decompartmentalize the fields of
knowledge, bringing together artists, human scientists, hard
scientists and professionals.
The antiAtlas will rely on five different supports:
1 : an international symposium open to researchers, institutional
actors, and to the public at large. It will take place at the Maison
Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme in Aix en Provence, from the
30th of September to the 2d of October 2013)
2 : a first art-science exhibition at the Musée des Tapisseries in Aix
en Provence (from 1rst October to 3 November 2013)
3 : a second art-science exhibition at La Compagnie, a place dedicated
creation and art in Marseille (from 13 December 2013 to 1srt mars
4 : an artistic and scientific web site that will complete and
perpetuate the work done and presented through the research program
and the two exhibitions
5 : an art science printed volume (winter 2014)
Scientific and Artistic Committee: Cédric Parizot (coordinator of the
research program, IMéRA, IREMAM, CNRS, Aix Marseille University), Jean
Cristofol (ESAA, Aix en Provence), Anne Laure Amilhat Szary
(University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble), Nicola Mai (London Metropolitan
University, London; IMéRA), Antoine Vion (Sociologist, LEST, Aix
Marseille University), Paul Emmanuel Odin (Art critic, La compagnie).
Curator: Isabelle Arvers
The call for proposals is opened in order to select original
productions for the exhibition that will take place at la Compagnie,
from 13 December 2013 to 1rst March 2014.
Because of its transdisciplinary nature, the antiAtlas of Borders
offers multiple levels of involvement and participation. Visitors will
engage with a variety of transmedia applications within a space
punctuated with interactive sculptures, installations and videos. This
playful exhibition will stimulate the public through the interaction
with robots, drones and video games. This is an exhibition to engage
with: try it yourself!
The curator and the artistic and scientific committee are looking for
various proposals (artworks, net. Art, photo, video, testimonies,
documentaries, video games …) showing different ways to experience the
borders. Proposals from migrants, professionals and artists are
welcome, in order to contribute to prepare a resolutely participatory
The proposals will be selected by a scientific and artistic committee:
Isabelle ARVERS (art curator specialized in web art)
Cédric PARIZOT (Anthropologist, coordinator of the research program
antiAtlas, IMéRA, IREMAM, CNRS, Aix Marseille University),
Jean CRISTOFOL (Philosopher, ESAA, Aix en Provence),
Anne-Laure AMILHAT-SZARY (Geographer, University Joseph Fourier,
Grenoble), representing the European research program Euroborderspaces
(7e PCRD)
Paul Emmanuel ODIN (Critic, ESAA, responsible for the programming of
la Compagnie)
Nicola MAI (Anthropologist, London Metropolitan University, London),
Antoine VION (Sociologist, LEST, Aix Marseille University)
Launch date of the call for proposals: 7 May 2013
Deadline for reception of the proposals: 30 June 2013
Selection of the proposals by the committee: 31 July 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Innovation Incubator in San Diego - Come one Come all

Learn about opportunities to participate in the
Art of Science Learning Incubator for Innovation
hosted by the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
Public information sessions are offered:
 At these meetings, we will:

  • Discuss the integration of the arts into STEM as a strategy for regional economic vitality and the future of America's economic competitiveness
  • Describe how the Art of Science Learning uses the arts as a catalyst for creativity and innovation
  • Articulate various opportunities for participation
  • Invite your involvement, to contribute to and benefit from this unprecedented effort
Our own PR for DNA of C, Kim Richards has summerized some of the information for you: 
The Art of Science Learning innovation incubator in San Diego is now recruiting! 

Harvey Seifter, project director and principal investigator, and San Diego incubator director, Nan Renner, hosted an information session on Friday morning April 26 at the Natural History Museum. The session started with an in depth overview of the history of the project leading up to where it stands today. More detail on the background available here:

The team is calling for 100 community members of all ages and expertise, including 20 high school and college students, to join them in learning the project's new arts-based curriculum and solve issues around the region's innovation challenge: water. Recruiting is taking place in San Diego and the northern Baja region in Mexico.

The incubator will kick off in October, and after the first three months 10 teams will self-select, five addressing the innovation challenge and the other five creating new programs integrating arts into STEM learning. The curriculum will be taught by a group of experts most likely during Saturday sessions for a total of 150 hours over a year's time. Participants will become certified Art of Science Learning Fellows and will be armed with brand new tools to innovate.

To join the incubator, visit: There are also opportunities for individuals and organizations to participate by becoming team mentors or partnering on public outreach. You can host an incubator meeting, a public event or a temporary showcase, for example.

To get involved, please provide a resume and a one--]page statement to address these two questions:
1. What interests and skills will you bring to the incubatorfs innovation community?
2. How will you use your innovation skills in our local, regional, and/or international communities? Please email your response to Nan Renner, San Diego Incubator for Innovation, by June15, 2013 at, subject line: Incubator application, title:
(Your last name) application 2013.

RSVP online for the information meetings at or learn more about the project at
Please direct any questions to Nan Renner at
Thank you!
Nan & Amanda--
Nan Renner & Amanda Sincavage

San Diego Incubator for Innovation, Art of Science Learning
a program of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
funded by the National Science Foundation

1549 El Prado, Suite 1
San Diego, CA 92101
619.232.7502, ext. 1210

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Up and Coming Art and Science Film Festival

up&coming film festival

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 / 7:00 PM
Calit2 Auditorium
ArtPower! Film is expanding its annual Up&Coming Student Film Festival to include two nights of filmmaking, exploration, conversation, networking, and a brand new student networking event called Talent Campus.

The first night of the Up&Coming Festival will feature cinema created in the spirit of collaboration through art, science, and technology. Special presentations include Mikumentary, a series of short, independent, non-commerical films about the Hatsune Miku phenomenon by UCSD Professor and filmmaker Tara Knight and Drone Technology and Filmmaking, a presentation by Research Scientist/National Geographic Emerging Explorer Albert Lin.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oh, The Humanities! Why STEM Shouldn’t Take Precedence Over the Arts

By Grace Richards

Reprinted with kind permission of  Online Degree Programs 

As much trouble as the education industry is in, every state continues to witness the dissolving of the very funds intended to help it. Major cuts in education have been directed toward the arts and humanities where millions of students are being deprived of these subjects and outlets.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 1.5 million elementary students are without music, nearly 4 million are without the visual arts, and almost 100% of them, more than 23 million, are educated without dance and theatre.

Government Push for STEM

While the Department of Education (DoE) attempts to find a one-size-fits-all solution for more than 14,000 public school districts through its Common Core Standards, the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have been placed as the focal point for education, well ahead of arts and humanities.
Dave Csintyan, CEO of the educational non-profit organization See the Change USA, feels taking away from the arts and humanities programs is the wrong answer but said the push for STEM may actually have a positive effect on arts and humanities students who are exposed to STEM learning.
"Rigorous STEM exposure is equally applicable to professional success no matter the field of choice," he said.
Education reform has been a major part of Barack Obama’s presidency, who has proposed a bill called the STAPLE Act, which would provide immigrant PhD students in STEM fields a green card upon graduation. The argument is that these students, who commonly return to their home country to develop companies and businesses, should be given the option to remain in America and help boost the economy.
This potential law is a major player in the push for STEM. It voices the government’s insistence that the education system is not producing enough Master’s and PhD STEM graduates.
But the major push for STEM education in America may, in fact, not be that necessary after all. A Georgetown University, Rutgers University, and Urban Institute-collaborated study found that "U.S. colleges and universities are graduating as many scientists and engineers as ever before…[and the] findings indicate that STEM retention along the pipeline shows strong and even increasing rates of retention from the 1970s to the late 1990s. Over the past decade, U.S. colleges and universities graduated roughly three times more scientists and engineers than were employed in the growing science and engineering workforce."
It seems the great migration toward STEM by the government will indeed have adverse effects and not solely in regards to the cuts in education funds. There is the economic impact to consider, as well.
The Americans for the Arts Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study showed that the nonprofit arts and culture industry accounts for more than four million full-time jobs and more than $135 billion in economic activity. It also generates over $22 billion in revenue for local, state, and federal governments each year.
But access to the arts for students of all ages continues to shrink as more government officials continue to solely invest in STEM, forcing the arts and humanities to fend for themselves.
According to Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, picking a degree shouldn’t be up to the student. It should be up to what is best for the student, or at least what he thinks is best for the student.
"I want to spend our money getting people science, technology, engineering and math degrees," he said in a radio interview on WNDB-AM in Daytona Beach. "That’s what our kids need to focus all of their time and attention on: those type of degrees that when they get out of school, they can get a job."

Stronger Together Than Apart

Eric Darr, president of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, said he doesn’t think arts and humanities students are being turned off from pursuing those particular degrees, although some of the recent press may help sway some of their decisions – in particular articles about salary comparisons.
"The social sciences — communications, pre-law, journalism — continue to be very popular," he said.
As much as the DoE encourages the increase in STEM, it is aware that education needs the influence of the arts and humanities.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences formed its Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at the request of Congress. The group, comprised of scientists, engineers, leading business executives, philanthropists, jurists, artists, and journalists, were asked to find the answers to a question posed by Congress: What actions should government officials take to maintain national excellence in humanities and social science education in order to better improve the economy and civil society?
Darr believes it is a mistake to try to separate STEM and the social sciences. He said they are both stronger together.
Recent moves by government officials looking to improve education, however, have done just that via budget cuts.
One of the more obvious statements in the STEM push is the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative, which places all 50 states in an academic competition to be the best and be eligible for additional education funding, has STEM emphasis as one of its seven point factors. Arts and humanities, however, is not on the list.
Many have gravitated to the idea that STEM is the best source for innovation and job creation. But according to the Americans for the Arts organization, their studies show that children involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair.
These same students are also three times more likely to be elected to class office in their school, giving them early leadership skills and making them more apt to become leaders in the business world.
Karl Eikenberry, a fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, former ambassador to Afghanistan and a retired general was reported saying during a CHSS discussion at Stanford that knowledge of history, foreign languages and cultures can help America more successfully navigate the increasing number of multinational issues that need multinational solutions.
The need for advancements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will never cease, as will the need for the study of social sciences like human behavior, languages, linguistics, and philosophy. The answer is the continual interworking of both.
"The new economy requires that we continue to improve and encourage STEM education because mastering existing and new technologies is vital," said Edward Abeyta, director of K-16 Programs at the University of California-San Diego Extension. "It also requires that arts be included in the curricula to capture the full potential of the whole-brain."
He said the education industry needs to take a STEAM approach.
"It is using the combination of all these capabilities that drives creativity and innovation," he said of STEAM. "The future economic cost of not having a whole brain education system that fosters creativity and innovation is immense. It requires retraining instructors to teach how to deal with ambiguities and nuances – how to think creatively and how to construct or deal with abstract issues instead of so much of the emphasis being on teaching facts. Teachers will need to teach our students to ‘think’ – not memorize."
One of the major components of STEM is rote memorization which can hinder a student’s ability to think freely on subjects. When social sciences and arts are provided, students are able to understand problems rather than simply accepting solutions.
Even if the STEAM approach is best, funding cuts to arts and humanities programs remain an inescapable reality. In the face of such cuts, arts and humanities students will have less career counseling and professional guidance in school than their STEM peers. As such, these students need to become their own career coaches and figure out for themselves how to convince employers of the relevance and value of their degrees.

How Humanities Students Can Help Themselves

Humanities students need to educate themselves on how to communicate their abilities and ideas. Also, having a firm business foundation along with understanding the importance of their own craft is essential to impressing an employer and landing a job.
Darr said students must place themselves in the best position to secure a job coming out of college and gave some tips on how to do it:
  • Keep a portfolio of your work. Through your education, internships, and early career, continue to catalog documents, audio and video recorded projects, and any other materials showing your work. Not having proof that you are talented in your field can be costly.
  • For those in the arts field, creating a portfolio of your work – whether art, music, film – gives employers an insight into your established work and where you are headed in your field. The portfolio needs to show the quality and complexity of your work and how it has progressed over time. A portfolio should mimic a timeline providing visual evidence of professional growth.
  • Get an internship – at all costs. Earning a degree is a must, but obtaining internship work related to your industry is vital. When applying for a job, nearly every professional opening requires some experience. It is very important to have on a resume to show that you have some idea of what it is to work in your area. Even a short history of understanding how to conduct social science research or working in an arts industry is steps ahead of someone who only has a degree. A philosophy major may consider interning with a law firm or a consulting firm to become comfortable in a business environment.
  • Take classes that help you become a good communicator. At the end of your college career, take a course on communication, preferably one that will count toward your degree. Most degree programs give students the ability to take upper level courses of their choosing. For example, a student studying philanthropy may consider taking a business course to help them understand the business side of non-profit work.
  • To fully participate in today’s society, you need to have some knowledge of technology – even if you’re a fine arts student. Most schools offer courses in social media. Knowing how to use and manage social networking sites will go a long way in helping you land a career job.
There is no denying the importance of STEM education and the economic and technological impacts it has on the world. But STEM standing alone, or by itself atop the educational mountain, will soon prove counterproductive.
"The idea that we must choose between science and humanities," Abeyta said, "is false."
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