Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 16 November 2022

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, 16 November 2022 at 6:30pm
LiKaShing building - Room LK205/206
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi and prof. Curtis Frank
Free and open to everybody

The LASERs (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) are an international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. See the program for the whole international series and the dates for the Bay Area. Send an email to "scaruffi at stanford dot edu" if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs.
Where: Stanford University, LiKaShing building - Room LK205/206
There should be ample parking in the structure on corner of Campus Drive West and Roth Way. (Stanford map)
Parking is mostly free at Stanford after 6pm.
If you cannot attend in person, you can watch it on Zoom. Click here to register or here.
Program (the order of the speakers might change):
  • Kim Anno (California College of the Arts) on "Spectacle of Nature and Iconic Western texts: Oedius Rex and Dante’s Purgatorio" Rearranging iconic Western texts to reconfigure new meaning... Read more
    If you missed this presentation, you can view it by clicking on the image:
  • Kokichi Sugihara (Meiji University, Japan) on "How to Make Impossible Objects" The “impossible object” initially meant an imaginary 3D structure which occurs in our mind... Read more
    If you missed this presentation, you can view it by clicking on the image:
  • Virj Kan (Design Scientist) on "Molecular Design Interactions" The emerging field of biodesign, an interdisciplinary practice fusing science, nature, and creativity... Read more
    If you missed this presentation, you can view it by clicking on the image:
  • Kal Spelletich (Machine Artist) on "Galactic Scale Inquiries into the Nature of the Cosmos" Reconstructing scientific tools and experiments with light, stones, sound, metal, video, and machines... Read more
    If you missed this presentation, you can view it by clicking on the image:
  • Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Kim Anno is a painter, photographer, and film/video artist whose work has been collected and exhibited by museums nationally and internationally. Anno has had exhibitions and screenings at the University of Suffolk, England, 14th Annual New Media Festival, Seoul, Korea, Bejing, Chengdu, Shanghai, China, Yamanba projects, Tokyo, Japan, Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, Goethe Institute in Johannesburg, the Durban Municipal Gallery, South Africa in the "Don't Panic Exhibition", Flux Projects, Atlanta, Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta, Sky Dive Gallery, Houtson, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Wave Form Gallery, Cincinnati, Anglim/Trimble gallery in San Francisco, Seeline Gallery, LA, Patricia Correia Gallery, Santa Monica, Sue Scott Gallery, NY, Site Santa Fe Biennale: One Night Stand in New Mexico, the King's Art Center, California Retrospective, the Varnosi Museum in Hungary, DC Dusseldorf International Expo (Germany), Pulse, Miami, among others. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Art Papers, Utne Reader, Sierra Magazine, SF Chronicle, Art Practical, Areaparis magazine among others. In Fall 2022, she is the Holt Resident Artist at Stanford University.
  • Virj Kan is a designer, engineer, media artist, and entrepreneur. Her work investigates new paradigms for design, through transdisciplinary research and technology development. Whether it is in the domain of business, technology or art, her work centers on reshaping human relationships with the environment and each other. Currently she is the CEO of Primitives Biodesign, a biomaterials b-corp that produces functional, intelligent, and biodegradable materials to combat environmental issues in ocean conservation, plastics pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and food waste. Before getting involved with Primitives Biodesign, she designed IoT and mobile computing products at Samsung Design Innovation Center and 3D human-robotic interfaces at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Virj holds a Master of Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bachelor of Science from Art Center College of Design. Her work has been recognized with the Green Award at the Greentech Festival, SXSW Interactive Innovation award, Best Paper Award at the ACM SIGCHI, Honorable Mention Awards at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC), Fast Company Innovation by Design, Ars Electronica, SXSW, and Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
  • Kokichi Sugihara is a Meiji University distinguished professor emeritus. His research area is mathematical engineering. In his research on computer vision, he found a method for constructing 3D objects from “impossible figures”, and extended his research interest to human vision and optical illusion. He is acting also as an illusion artist by creating various impossible objects. He won the first prize four times in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest.
  • Piero Scaruffi is a cultural historian who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, the latest one being "The Nature of Consciousness" (2006). He pioneered Internet applications in the early 1980s and the use of the World-Wide Web for cultural purposes in the mid 1990s. His poetry has been awarded several national prizes in Italy and the USA. His latest book of poems and meditations is "Synthesis" (2009). As a music historian, he has published ten books, the latest ones being "A History of Rock and Dance Music" (2009) and "A History of Jazz Music" (2007). His latest book of history is "A History of Silicon Valley" (2011). The first volume of his free ebook "A Visual History of the Visual Arts" appeared in 2012. His latest book is "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature. He founded the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) in 2008. Since 2015 he has been commuting between California and China, where several of his books have been translated.
  • Kal Spelletich has been a pivotal figure in the machine art and robotics community and frequently collaborates with scientists, engineers, musicians and audiences. His work is performative and interactive and require the participation of viewers, inspiring social engagement both inside the gallery and outside in the world. It sometimes combines art and mysticism with the rigors of science, technology and meditative practices through an unlikely form, robots. The work raises open-ended questions about the dominant economic producers of technology, the interplay of technology and spirituality, the role of the collective in capitalism and economic and educational privilege. Technology and robotics are becoming ubiquitous. Kal questions the values, roles, and norms inherent in how our culture develops, applies, and uses technology. He is an anarchist, activist, guerrilla gardener and educator. Some of his primary issues are investigating how to see these times we live in and developing the means to create a different world. He has performed, exhibited and lectured worldwide, collaborating with scientists, musicians, and politicians. Spelletich’s work has been included in numerous museum and gallery exhibitions over the past three decades, including the De Young Museum, SFMOMA, The Exploratorium Museum and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, S.F., Ca., California Folk Art Museum, L.A., Ca., Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, Ca., and Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin, Ca. He has exhibited internationally in Namibia, India, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, France, Czech Republic, Holland, England, Slovakia and Austria. Spelletich lives and works in San Francisco, California.

Extended abstracts:

Spelletich responds as an artist to science’s extraordinary, transformative contributions to visual culture and knowledge. Reconstructing scientific tools and experiments with light, stones, sound, metal, video, and machines, his kinetic sculptures and installations explore the sublime dimensions and durations of astronomy, geology, and physics. He highlights their explosion of experience’s everyday parameters, evoking wonder in the face of nature and raising the question of our place in the universe. At a time when the authority of science has been crudely dismissed, and critical thinking has given way to groundless conspiracy theories, Spelletich explores fundamental scientific discoveries and the weight of their hold on the world. His new project "Galactic Scale Inquiries into the Nature of the Cosmos" on display at Telematic Media Arts is rooted in the history of science, drawing inspiration from the ancient figures of Pythagoras and Gan De; the early modern Leonardo, Newton, and Galileo; and the underappreciated heroes of 20th-Century astronomy and astrophysics, Jocelyn Burnell and Vera Rubin, among others. At the same time, Spelletich’s work emphasizes the fact – revealed by the recent rise of misinformation — that the authority of science is not sustained by science itself, but rather depends upon a collective, social commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and the truth. His kinetic sculptures and installations are interactive. They respond to the physical presence of bodies in space, and they require the audience to engage them. In this way, the show is political, sparking minds and activating audiences by engaging them in a reflective practice that bridges art, science, and social consciousness – even philosophy – in the pursuit of a shared understanding.

Anno is currently Holt Visiting Artist at Stanford University. Spectacle of Nature is a solo exhibition by Kim Anno, of a large-scale video installation, sculpture, and paintings. Anno is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker exhibiting and screening internationally. The center of her work grapples witha poetic gesture of both loss and hope in the midst of the Anthropocene era. The exhibition presents a large-scale video installation that is akin to a proscenium that is falling apart, in the spirit of Bertholt Brecht. She has made a black and white animation in collaboration with artist Charles Woodman that depicts a floating abstraction set to an adaption of Dante’s Canto onefrom Purgatorio. Anno adapted the script by secularizing Dante’s poem and crafting one with environmental concerns. Anno has long been concerned with rearranging iconic Western texts to reconfigure new meaning. These paintings collage images from UC Berkeley’s butterfly lab, 18-19th century steel engravings of animals and landscape and taxonomy. She leaves us to wonder where the tyranny of the picturesque begins and ends.

The “impossible object” initially meant an imaginary 3D structure which occurs in our mind when we see an “impossible figure” but which cannot exist as a real physical object. However, some tricks were found to realize actual 3D structure and now the “impossible object” means a real 3D object whose behavior looks impossible due to optical illusion. In this talk I will show a mathematical method for designing impossible objects such as “impossible-motion objects” with which inserted motions look impossible and “ambiguous cylinders” which change the appearances drastically in a mirror.

Subtle, overlooked everyday interactions carry the potential to transform how we engage with the world. An umbrella is the interface to the rain and climate; a store-bought apple is the interface to the transnational food system; your skin is the interface to your body’s health. In this talk, Virj Kan will describe her work in the emerging field of biodesign, an interdisciplinary practice fusing science, nature, and creativity to harness the machinery of the natural world for applications in industrial design, materials science, food, medicine, architecture and beyond. Kan’s work investigates new mediums for design and information display that bridge the disparate communication systems between humans, machines, and nature. This talk will cover her body of work which spans from musical records that translate microbial growth into sound, portraits that render the microorganisms in our skin microflora to become perceptible, and stimuli-responsive biopolymers that enable everyday objects to come to life and communicate the ecological signals they’re part of. Together, the projects provide a glimpse into a new material reality where signals in our biological and chemical world are revealed and integrated into the information landscape of everyday life.

Photos and videos of this evening


The Stanford LASERs are sponsored by the Stanford Deans of: Engineering; Humanities & Sciences; and Medicine; by Chemical Engineering and by Continuing Studies.