The University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG) has partnered with Bridges to create an exhibition of five local artists who explore mathematical themes in their work. The exhibition runs concurrently with the conference.
A session of invited readings of poetry exploring mathematical themes, in a wide range of styles. Attendees will also be invited to share their own poetry in an open mic session. A printed anthology will be available at the conference.
A longstanding tradition at Bridges—a casual variety show in which all conference participants are invited to share their talents, musical or otherwise, with a brief performance.
I have some more details about the exhibition at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG) from a July 19, 2017 ArtSci Salon notice received via email,
P A S S A G E + O B S T A C L E
LAURA DE DECKER
ANDREW JAMES SMITH
OPEN DAILY: 12–5 PM
EXHIBITION RECEPTION: FRIDAY JULY 28, 5–8 PM
PRESENTED IN COOPERATION WITH BRIDGES WATERLOO 2017
PASSAGE + OBSTACLE features a selection of work by multidisciplinary
area artists Patrick Cull, Paul Dignan, Laura De Decker, Soheila
Esfahani, and Andrew James Smith. Sharing a rigorous approach to
materials and subject matter, their artworks parallel Bridges’ stated
goal to explore “mathematical connections in art, music, architecture,
education and culture”. The exhibition sets out to complement and
expand on the theme by contrasting subtle and overt links between the
use of geometry, pattern, and optical effects across mediums ranging
from painting and installation to digital media. Using the bridge as a
metaphor, the artworks can be appreciated as a means of getting from A
to B by overcoming obstructions, whether perceptual or otherwise.
EXHIBITION IS FREE AND OPEN TO BOTH CONFERENCE VISITORS AND THE PUBLIC
University of Waterloo Art Gallery
East Campus Hall 1239
519.888.4567 ext. 33575
This would usually be a simple event announcement but with the advent of a new, related (in my mind if no one else’s) development on Facebook, this has become a roundup of sorts.
Facebotlish (Facebook’s chatbots create their own language)
The language created by Facebook’s chatbots, Facebotlish, was an unintended consequence—that’s right Facebook’s developers did not design a language for the chatbots or anticipate its independent development, apparently. Adrienne LaFrance’s June 20, 2017 article for theatlantic.com explores the development and the question further,
Something unexpected happened recently at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab. Researchers who had been training bots to negotiate with one another realized that the bots, left to their own devices, started communicating in a non-human language.
In order to actually follow what the bots were saying, the researchers had to tweak their model, limiting the machines to a conversation humans could understand. (They want bots to stick to human languages because eventually they want those bots to be able to converse with human Facebook users.) …
Here’s what the language looks like (from LaFrance article),
Here’s an example of one of the bot negotiations that Facebook observed:Bob: i can i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to Bob: you i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me Bob: i i can i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me Bob: i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to Bob: you i i i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice: balls have 0 to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to Bob: you i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
It is incomprehensible to humans even after being tweaked, even so, some successful negotiations can ensue.
Facebook’s researchers aren’t the only one to come across the phenomenon (from LaFrance’s article; Note: Links have been removed),
Other AI researchers, too, say they’ve observed machines that can develop their own languages, including languages with a coherent structure, and defined vocabulary and syntax—though not always actual meaningful, by human standards.
In one preprint paper added earlier this year  to the research repository arXiv, a pair of computer scientists from the non-profit AI research firm OpenAI wrote about how bots learned to communicate in an abstract language—and how those bots turned to non-verbal communication, the equivalent of human gesturing or pointing, when language communication was unavailable. (Bots don’t need to have corporeal form to engage in non-verbal communication; they just engage with what’s called a visual sensory modality.) Another recent preprint paper, from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, and Virginia Tech, describes an experiment in which two bots invent their own communication protocol by discussing and assigning values to colors and shapes—in other words, the researchers write, they witnessed the “automatic emergence of grounded language and communication … no human supervision!”
The implications of this kind of work are dizzying. Not only are researchers beginning to see how bots could communicate with one another, they may be scratching the surface of how syntax and compositional structure emerged among humans in the first place.
LaFrance’s article is well worth reading in its entirety especially since the speculation is focused on whether or not the chatbots’ creation is in fact language. There is no mention of consciousness and perhaps this is just a crazy idea but is it possible that these chatbots have consciousness? The question is particularly intriguing in light of some of philosopher David Chalmers’ work (see his 2014 TED talk in Vancouver, Canada: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_chalmers_how_do_you_explain_consciousness/transcript?language=en runs roughly 18 mins.); a text transcript is also featured. There’s a condensed version of Chalmers’ TED talk offered in a roughly 9 minute NPR (US National Public Radio) interview by Gus Raz. Here are some highlights from the text transcript,
So we’ve been hearing from brain scientists who are asking how a bunch of neurons and synaptic connections in the brain add up to us, to who we are. But it’s consciousness, the subjective experience of the mind, that allows us to ask the question in the first place. And where consciousness comes from – that is an entirely separate question.
DAVID CHALMERS: Well, I like to distinguish between the easy problems of consciousness and the hard problem.
RAZ: This is David Chalmers. He’s a philosopher who coined this term, the hard problem of consciousness.
CHALMERS: Well, the easy problems are ultimately a matter of explaining behavior – things we do. And I think brain science is great at problems like that. It can isolate a neural circuit and show how it enables you to see a red object, to respondent and say, that’s red. But the hard problem of consciousness is subjective experience. Why, when all that happens in this circuit, does it feel like something? How does a bunch of – 86 billion neurons interacting inside the brain, coming together – how does that produce the subjective experience of a mind and of the world?
RAZ: Here’s how David Chalmers begins his TED Talk.
(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)
CHALMERS: Right now, you have a movie playing inside your head. It has 3-D vision and surround sound for what you’re seeing and hearing right now. Your movie has smell and taste and touch. It has a sense of your body, pain, hunger, orgasms. It has emotions, anger and happiness. It has memories, like scenes from your childhood, playing before you. This movie is your stream of consciousness. If we weren’t conscious, nothing in our lives would have meaning or value. But at the same time, it’s the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe. Why are we conscious?
RAZ: Why is consciousness more than just the sum of the brain’s parts?
CHALMERS: Well, the question is, you know, what is the brain? It’s this giant complex computer, a bunch of interacting parts with great complexity. What does all that explain? That explains objective mechanism. Consciousness is subjective by its nature. It’s a matter of subjective experience. And it seems that we can imagine all of that stuff going on in the brain without consciousness. And the question is, where is the consciousness from there? It’s like, if someone could do that, they’d get a Nobel Prize, you know?
CHALMERS: So here’s the mapping from this circuit to this state of consciousness. But underneath that is always going be the question, why and how does the brain give you consciousness in the first place?
(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)
CHALMERS: Right now, nobody knows the answers to those questions. So we may need one or two ideas that initially seem crazy before we can come to grips with consciousness, scientifically. The first crazy idea is that consciousness is fundamental. Physicists sometimes take some aspects of the universe as fundamental building blocks – space and time and mass – and you build up the world from there. Well, I think that’s the situation we’re in. If you can’t explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals – space, time – the natural thing to do is to postulate consciousness itself as something fundamental – a fundamental building block of nature. The second crazy idea is that consciousness might be universal. This view is sometimes called panpsychism – pan, for all – psych, for mind. Every system is conscious. Not just humans, dogs, mice, flies, but even microbes. Even a photon has some degree of consciousness. The idea is not that photons are intelligent or thinking. You know, it’s not that a photon is wracked with angst because it’s thinking, oh, I’m always buzzing around near the speed of light. I never get to slow down and smell the roses. No, not like that. But the thought is, maybe photons might have some element of raw subjective feeling, some primitive precursor to consciousness.
RAZ: So this is a pretty big idea – right? – like, that not just flies, but microbes or photons all have consciousness. And I mean we, like, as humans, we want to believe that our consciousness is what makes us special, right – like, different from anything else.
CHALMERS: Well, I would say yes and no. I’d say the fact of consciousness does not make us special. But maybe we’ve a special type of consciousness ’cause you know, consciousness is not on and off. It comes in all these rich and amazing varieties. There’s vision. There’s hearing. There’s thinking. There’s emotion and so on. So our consciousness is far richer, I think, than the consciousness, say, of a mouse or a fly. But if you want to look for what makes us distinct, don’t look for just our being conscious, look for the kind of consciousness we have. …
Vancouver premiere of Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Consciousness
Baba Brinkman’s new hip-hop theatre show “Rap Guide to Consciousness” is all about the neuroscience of consciousness. See it in Vancouver at the Rio Theatre before it goes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August .
This event also features a performance of “Off the Top” with Dr. Heather Berlin (cognitive neuroscientist, TV host, and Baba’s wife), which is also going to Edinburgh.
Wednesday, July 5
Doors 6:00 pm | Show 6:30 pm
Advance tickets $12 | $15 at the door
*All ages welcome!
*Sorry, Groupons and passes not accepted for this event.
“Utterly unique… both brilliantly entertaining and hugely informative” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Broadway Baby
“An education, inspiring, and wonderfully entertaining show from beginning to end” ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Mumble Comedy
There’s quite the poster for this rap guide performance,
In addition to the Vancouver and Edinburgh performance (the show was premiered at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May 2017; see Simon Topping’s very brief review in this May 10, 2017 posting on the reviewshub.com), Brinkman is raising money (goal is $12,000US; he has raised a little over $3,000 with approximately one month before the deadline) to produce a CD. Here’s more from the Rap Guide to Consciousness campaign page on Indiegogo,
Brinkman has been working with neuroscientists, Dr. Anil Seth (professor and co-director of Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science) and Dr. Heather Berlin (Brinkman’s wife as noted earlier; see her Wikipedia entry or her website).
There’s a bit more information about the rap project and Anil Seth in a May 3, 2017 news item by James Hakner for the University of Sussex,
The research frontiers of consciousness science find an unusual outlet in an exciting new Rap Guide to Consciousness, premiering at this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival.
Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex, has teamed up with New York-based ‘peer-reviewed rapper’ Baba Brinkman, to explore the latest findings from the neuroscience and cognitive psychology of subjective experience.
What is it like to be a baby? We might have to take LSD to find out. What is it like to be an octopus? Imagine most of your brain was actually built into your fingertips. What is it like to be a rapper kicking some of the world’s most complex lyrics for amused fringe audiences? Surreal.
In this new production, Baba brings his signature mix of rap comedy storytelling to the how and why behind your thoughts and perceptions. Mixing cutting-edge research with lyrical performance and projected visuals, Baba takes you through the twists and turns of the only organ it’s better to donate than receive: the human brain. Discover how the various subsystems of your brain come together to create your own rich experience of the world, including the sights and sounds of a scientifically peer-reviewed rapper dropping knowledge.
The result is a truly mind-blowing multimedia hip-hop theatre performance – the perfect meta-medium through which to communicate the dazzling science of consciousness.
Baba comments: “This topic is endlessly fascinating because it underlies everything we do pretty much all the time, which is probably why it remains one of the toughest ideas to get your head around. The first challenge with this show is just to get people to accept the (scientifically uncontroversial) idea that their brains and minds are actually the same thing viewed from different angles. But that’s just the starting point, after that the details get truly amazing.”
Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist and award-winning playwright, best known for his “Rap Guide” series of plays and albums. Baba has toured the world and enjoyed successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and off-Broadway in New York. The Rap Guide to Religion was nominated for a 2015 Drama Desk Award for “Unique Theatrical Experience” and The Rap Guide to Evolution (“Astonishing and brilliant” NY Times), won a Scotsman Fringe First Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination for “Outstanding Solo Performance”. The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos premiered in Edinburgh in 2015, followed by a six-month off-Broadway run in 2016.
Baba is also a pioneer in the genre of “lit-hop” or literary hip-hop, known for his adaptations of The Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh. He is a recent recipient of the National Center for Science Education’s “Friend of Darwin Award” for his efforts to improve the public understanding of evolutionary biology.
Anil Seth is an internationally renowned researcher into the biological basis of consciousness, with more than 100 (peer-reviewed!) academic journal papers on the subject. Alongside science he is equally committed to innovative public communication. A Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow (from 2016) and the 2017 British Science Association President (Psychology), Professor Seth has co-conceived and consulted on many science-art projects including drama (Donmar Warehouse), dance (Siobhan Davies dance company), and the visual arts (with artist Lindsay Seers). He has also given popular public talks on consciousness at the Royal Institution (Friday Discourse) and at the main TED conference in Vancouver. He is a regular presence in print and on the radio and is the recipient of awards including the BBC Audio Award for Best Single Drama (for ‘The Sky is Wider’) and the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize (for EyeBenders). This is his first venture into rap.
Professor Seth said: “There is nothing more familiar, and at the same time more mysterious than consciousness, but research is finally starting to shed light on this most central aspect of human existence. Modern neuroscience can be incredibly arcane and complex, posing challenges to us as public communicators.
“It’s been a real pleasure and privilege to work with Baba on this project over the last year. I never thought I’d get involved with a rap artist – but hearing Baba perform his ‘peer reviewed’ breakdowns of other scientific topics I realized here was an opportunity not to be missed.”
Brinkman isn’t the only performance-based artist to be querying the concept of consciousness, Tom Stoppard has written a play about consciousness titled ‘The Hard Problem’, which debuted at the National Theatre (UK) in January 2015 (see BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] news online’s Jan. 29, 2015 roundup of reviews). A May 25, 2017 commentary by Andrew Brown for the Guardian offers some insight into the play and the issues (Note: Links have been removed),
There is a lovely exchange in Tom Stoppard’s play about consciousness, The Hard Problem, when an atheist has been sneering at his girlfriend for praying. It is, he says, an utterly meaningless activity. Right, she says, then do one thing for me: pray! I can’t do that, he replies. It would betray all I believe in.
So prayer can have meanings, and enormously important ones, even for people who are certain that it doesn’t have the meaning it is meant to have. In that sense, your really convinced atheist is much more religious than someone who goes along with all the prayers just because that’s what everyone does, without for a moment supposing the action means anything more than asking about the weather.
The Hard Problem of the play’s title is a phrase coined by the Australian philosopher David Chalmers to describe the way in which consciousness arises from a physical world. What makes it hard is that we don’t understand it. What makes it a problem is slightly different. It isn’t the fact of consciousness, but our representations of consciousness, that give rise to most of the difficulties. We don’t know how to fit the first-person perspective into the third-person world that science describes and explores. But this isn’t because they don’t fit: it’s because we don’t understand how they fit. For some people, this becomes a question of consuming interest.
There are also a couple of video of Tom Stoppard, the playwright, discussing his play with various interested parties, the first being the director at the National Theatre who tackled the debut run, Nicolas Hytner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7J8rWu6HJg (it runs approximately 40 mins.). Then, there’s the chat Stoppard has with previously mentioned philosopher, David Chalmers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BPY2c_CiwA (this runs approximately 1 hr. 32 mins.).
I gather ‘consciousness’ is a hot topic these days and, in the venacular of the 1960s, I guess you could describe all of this as ‘expanding our consciousness’. Have a nice weekend!
I have listings for two art/science events in Vancouver (Canada).
Dance, poetry and quantum entanglement
From April 20, 2017 (tonight) – April 22, 2017, there will be 8 p.m. performances of Lesley Telford’s ‘Three Sets/Relating At A Distance; My tongue, your ear / If / Spooky Action at a Distance (phase 1)’ at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St, Yes, that third title is a reference to Einstein’s famous phrase describing his response of the concept of quantum entanglement.
An April 19, 2017 article by Janet Smith for the Georgia Straight features the dancer’s description of the upcoming performances,
One of the clearest definitions of quantum entanglement—a phenomenon Albert Einstein dubbed “spooky action at a distance”—can be found in a vampire movie.
In Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive Tom Hiddleston’s depressed rock-star bloodsucker explains it this way to Tilda Swinton’s Eve, his centuries-long partner: “When you separate an entwined particle and you move both parts away from the other, even at opposite ends of the universe, if you alter or affect one, the other will be identically altered or affected.”
In fact, it was by watching the dark love story that Vancouver dance artist Lesley Telford learned about quantum entanglement—in which particles are so closely connected that they cannot act independently of one another, no matter how much space lies between them. She became fascinated not just with the scientific possibilities of the concept but with the romantic ones. …
“I thought, ‘What a great metaphor,’ ” the choreographer tells the Straight over sushi before heading into a Dance Centre studio. “It’s the idea of quantum entanglement and how that could relate to human entanglement.…It’s really a metaphor for human interactions.”
First, though, as is so often the case with Telford, she needed to form those ideas into words. So she approached poet Barbara Adler to talk about the phenomenon, and then to have her build poetry around it—text that the writer will perform live in Telford’s first full evening of work here.
“Barbara talked a lot about how you feel this resonance with people that have been in your life, and how it’s tied into romantic connections and love stories,” Telford explains. “As we dig into it, it’s become less about that and more of an underlying vibration in the work; it feels like we’ve gone beyond that starting point.…I feel like she has a way of making it so down-to-earth and it’s given us so much food to work with. Are we in control of the universe or is it in control of us?”
Spooky Action at a Distance, a work for seven dancers, ends up being a string of duets that weave—entangle—into other duets. …
Lesley Telford’s choreography brings together a technically rigorous vocabulary and a thought-provoking approach, refined by her years dancing with Nederlands Dans Theater and creating for companies at home and abroad, most recently Ballet BC. This triple bill features an excerpt of a new creation inspired by Einstein’s famous phrase “spooky action at a distance”, referring to particles that are so closely linked, they share the same existence: a collaboration with poet Barbara Adler, the piece seeks to extend the theory to human connections in our phenomenally interconnected world. The program also includes a new extended version of If, a trio based on Anne Carson’s poem, and the duet My tongue, your ear, with text by Wislawa Szymborska.
Here’s what appears to be an excerpt from a rehearsal for ‘Spooky Action …’,
I’m not super fond of the atonal music/sound they’re using. The voice you hear is Adler’s and here’s more about Barbara Adler from her Wikipedia entry (Note: Links have been removed),
Barbara Adler is a musician, poet, and storyteller based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a past Canadian Team Slam Champion, was a founding member of the Vancouver Youth Slam, and a past CBC Poetry Face Off winner.
She was a founding member of the folk band The Fugitives with Brendan McLeod, C.R. Avery and Mark Berube until she left the band in 2011 to pursue other artistic ventures. She was a member of the accordion shout-rock band Fang, later Proud Animal, and works under the pseudonym Ten Thousand Wolves.
In 2004 she participated in the inaugural Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, winning the Spoken Wordlympics with her fellow team members Shane Koyczan, C.R. Avery, and Brendan McLeod. In 2010 she started on The BC Memory Game, a traveling storytelling project based on the game of memory and has also been involved with the B.C. Schizophrenia Society Reach Out Tour for several years. She is of Czech-Jewish descent.
Barbara Adler has her bachelor’s degree and MFA from Simon Fraser University, with a focus on songwriting, storytelling, and community engagement. In 2015 she was a co-star in the film Amerika, directed by Jan Foukal, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Finally, Telford is Artist in Residence at the Dance Centre and TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and accelerator-based science.
To buy tickets ($32 or less with a discount), go here. Telford will be present on April 21, 2017 for a post-show talk.
Pi Theatre’s ‘Long Division’
This theatrical performance of concepts in mathematics runs from April 26 – 30, 2017 (check here for the times as they vary) at the Annex at 823 Seymour St. From the Georgia Straight’s April 12, 2017 Arts notice,
Mathematics is an art form in itself, as proven by Pi Theatre’s number-charged Long Division. This is a “refreshed remount” of Peter Dickinson’s ambitious work, one that circles around seven seemingly unrelated characters (including a high-school math teacher, a soccer-loving imam, and a lesbian bar owner) bound together by a single traumatic incident. Directed by Richard Wolfe, with choreography by Lesley Telford and musical score by Owen Belton, it’s a multimedia, movement-driven piece that has a strong cast. …
Long Division uses text, multimedia, and physical theatre to create a play about the mathematics of human connection.
Long Division focuses on seven characters linked – sometimes directly, sometimes more obliquely – by a sequence of tragic events. These characters offer lessons on number theory, geometry and logic, while revealing aspects of their inner lives, and collectively the nature of their relationships to one another.
Playwright: Peter Dickinson Director: Richard Wolfe Choreographer: Lesley Telford, Inverso Productions Composer: Owen Belton Assistant Director: Keltie Forsyth
Cast: Anousha Alamian, Jay Clift, Nicco Lorenzo Garcia, Jennifer Lines, Melissa Oei, LInda Quibell & Kerry Sandomirsky
Costume Designer: Connie Hosie Lighting Designer: Jergus Oprsal Set Designer: Lauchlin Johnston Projection Designer: Jamie Nesbitt Production Manager: Jayson Mclean Stage Manager: Jethelo E. Cabilete Assistant Projection Designer: Cameron Fraser Lighting Design Associate: Jeff Harrison
Dates/Times: April 26 – 29 at 8pm, April 29 and 30 at 2pm
Student performance on April 27 at 1pm
A Talk-Back will take place after the 2pm show on April 29th.
Shawn Conner engaged the playwright, Peter Dickinson in an April 20, 2017 Q&A (question and answer) for the Vancouver Sun,
Q: Had you been working on Long Division for a long time?
A: I’d been working on it for about five years. I wrote a previous play called The Objecthood of Chairs, which has a similar style in that I combine lecture performance with physical and dance theatre. There are movement scores in both pieces.
In that first play, I told the story of two men and their relationship through the history of chair design. It was a combination of mining my research about that and trying to craft a story that was human and where the audience could find a way in. When I was thinking about a subject for a new play, I took the profession of one of the characters in that first play, who was a math teacher, and said, “Let’s see what happens to his character, let’s see where he goes after the breakup of his relationship.”
At first, I wrote it (Long Division) in an attempt at completely real, kitchen-sink naturalism, and it was a complete disaster. So I went back into this lecture-style performance.
Q: Long Division is set in a bar. Is the setting left over from that attempt at realism?
A: I guess so. It’s kind of a meta-theatrical play in the sense that the characters address the audience, and they’re aware they’re in a theatrical setting. One of the characters is an actress, and she comments on the connection between mathematics and theatre.
Q: This is being called a “refreshed” remount. What’s changed since its first run
A: It’s mostly been cuts, and some massaging of certain sections. And I think it’s a play that actually needs a little distance.
Like mathematics, the patterns only reveal themselves at a remove. I think I needed that distance to see where things were working and where they could be better. So it’s a gift for me to be given this opportunity, to make things pop a little more and to make the math, which isn’t meant to be difficult, more understandable and relatable.
You may have noticed that Lesley Telford from Spooky Action is also choreographer for this production. I gather she’s making a career of art/science pieces, at least for now.
In the category of ‘Vancouver being a small town’, Telford lists a review of one of her pieces, ‘AUDC’s Season Finale at The Playhouse’, on her website. Intriguingly, the reviewer is Peter Dickinson who in addition to being the playwright with whom she has collaborated for Pi Theatre’s ‘Long Division’ is also the Director of SFU’s (Simon Fraser University’s) Institute for Performance Studies. I wonder how many more ways these two crisscross professionally? Personally and for what it’s worth, it might be a good idea for Telford (and Dickinson, if he hasn’t already done so) to make readers aware of their professional connections when there’s a review at stake.
Final comment: I’m not sure how quantum entanglement or mathematics with the pieces attributed to concepts from those fields but I’m sure anyone attempting to make the links will find themselves stimulated.
ETA April 21, 2017: I’m adding this event even though the tickets are completely subscribed. There will be a standby line the night of the event (from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies The Hidden Beauty of Mathematics event page,
02 May 2017
7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm)
The Vogue Theatre
918 Granville St.
The Wall Exchange lecture with Cédric Villani is sold out. There will be a standby line available on the night of the lecture.
It has been said that mathematics is the poetry of science. Some of the fundamental values of poetry parallel those of mathematics, and mathematical research is, in many ways, an art. Professor Cédric Villani will discuss the interface between mathematics and art, showing how both these disciplines seek to illuminate hidden beauty in the world.
Cédric Villani is the Director of the Institut Henri Poincaré, France’s prime and oldest international institute for research in mathematical sciences. He has received many mathematical awards, including the Fields Medal in 2010, often considered the most prestigious in mathematics. Prof. Villani is a specialist of mathematical analysis applied to problems of statistical physics, geometry and probability. His books on gas theory and optimal transport theory have become classics.
It seems poetry goes deep into the brain. A Feb. 17, 2017 news item on ScienceDaily describes some blended poetry/brain research,
In 1932 T.S. Eliot famously argued, “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
In a recent article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, Professor Guillaume Thierry and colleagues at Bangor University [Maine, US] have demonstrated that we do indeed appear to have an unconscious appreciation of poetic construction.
“Poetry,” explains Professor Thierry “is a particular type of literary expression that conveys feelings, thoughts and ideas by accentuating metric constraints, rhyme and alliteration.”
However, can we appreciate the musical sound of poetry independent of its literary meaning?
To address this question the authors created sentence sample sets that either conformed or violated poetic construction rules of Cynghanedd — a traditional form of Welsh poetry. These sentences were randomly presented to study participants; all of whom were native welsh speakers but had no prior knowledge of Cynghanedd poetic form.
Initially participants were asked to rate sentences as either “good” or “not good” depending on whether or not they found them aesthetically pleasing to the ear. The study revealed that the participants’ brains implicitly categorized Cyngahanedd-orthodox sentences as sounding “good” compared to sentences violating its construction rules.
The authors also mapped Event-Related Brain Potential (ERP) in participants a fraction of a second after they heard the final word in a poetic construction. These elegant results reveal an electrophysiological response in the brain when participants were exposed to consonantal repetition and stress patterns that are characteristic of Cynghanedd, but not when such patterns were violated.
Interestingly the positive responses from the brain to Cynghanedd were present even though participants could not explicitly tell which of the sentences were correct and which featured errors of rhythm or sound repetitions.
Professor Thierry concludes, “It is the first time that we show unconscious processing of poetic constructs by the brain, and of course, it is extremely exciting to think that one can inspire the human mind without being noticed!”
So when you read a poem, if you feel something special but you cannot really pinpoint what it is, make no mistake, your brain loves it even if you don’t really know why.
This paper has been published in an open access. journal.
While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I think it might be better to do more research before making grand statements about poetry and the brain. For example, are they positive these native Welsh speakers had never ever encountered the poetic form being studied? Would a French or Farsi or Mandarin or Russian or … speaker respond the same way to a poem from their own poetic traditions? Is the effect cross cultural? Does a translation make a difference? Are there only certain poetic forms that create the effect? I look forward to hearing more about this research in the years to come.
$5.00-10.00 cover at the door (sliding scale). Proceeds will be used to cover the cost of running this event, and to fund future Curiosity Collider events. Curiosity Collider is a registered BC non-profit organization.
#ColliderCafe is a space for artists, scientists, makers, and anyone interested in art+science. Meet, discover, connect, create. How do you explore curiosity in your life? Join us and discover how our speakers explore their own curiosity at the intersection of art & science.
The event will start promptly at 8pm (doors open at 7:30pm). $5.00-10.00 (sliding scale) cover at the door. Proceeds will be used to cover the cost of running this event, and to fund future Curiosity Collider events. Curiosity Collider is a registered BC non-profit organization.
For anyone who has wanted to hear about the videopoem or poetryfilm, Steep (1): A digital poetry of gold nanoparticles, that I presented at the 2015 International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) in Vancouver, your wait is over. From the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars Nov. 7, 2016 announcement (received via email),
Date: Thursday, November 17th, 2016 Time: 7:30 pm Place: Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC Campus, 515 West Hastings Street (between Seymour and Richards Streets) in the Diamond Lounge Speaker: Maryse de la Giroday Topic: A digital poetry of gold nanoparticles: a Steep art/science project
An object of desire, the stuff of myth and legend, and a cross-cultural icon, gold is now being perceived in a whole new way at the nanoscale where its properties and colour undergo a change. Increasingly used as a component in biomedical applications, gold nanoparticles are entering the environment (air, soil, and water). ‘Steep (1): A digital poetry of gold nanoparticles’ is a short videopoem exploring the good and the bad about gold at the macroscale and at the nanoscale.
Presented at the 2015 International Symposium on Electronic Arts, the Steep (1) videopoem is an art/sci collaboration between Maryse de la Giroday (science writer and poet) from Canada and Raewyn Turner (video artist) from New Zealand. In addition to a look at the video, the presentation offers an inside perspective on incorporating science, poetry, and video in an art/sci piece. As well, there’ll be some discussion regarding one or more of Maryse’s and Raewyn’s current art/sci projects.
Maryse de la Giroday writes and publishes the largest, independent, science blog in Canada. Her main focus is nanotechnology (the Canadian kind when she can find it). She has also written several pieces for local visual arts magazine, Preview. Maryse holds an undergraduate Communications (honours) degree from Simon Fraser University and a Master’s degree (Creative Writing and New Media) from De Montfort University (UK). (Unfortunately, Raewyn will either be in New Zealand or on the US East Coast and unable to attend.)
Thanks to my colleague, Raewyn Turner (artist, New Zealand) for information about this call for proposals. BTW, she and I are talking about putting our own proposal forward but the deadline is Sept. 30, 2016, which isn’t all that far away.
Despite being in full sight, many cabinets and showcases at universities and scientific institutions lie empty or underutilized. Located at the entrance of science departments, in proximity of laboratories, or in busy areas of transition, some contain outdated posters, or dusty scientific objects that have been forgotten there for years. Others lie empty, like old furniture on the curb after a move, waiting for a lucky passer-by in need. The ceaseless flow of bodies walking past these cabinets – some running to meetings, some checking their schedule, some immersed in their thoughts – rarely pay attention to them.
The neglect of these cabinets seems to confirm well-established ideas about science institutions as recluse spaces where secrecy reigns, and communication with the outside world is either underappreciated or prohibited. But at a closer look, this is not the case: those seemingly ignored and neglected cabinets have fascinating and compelling stories that speak to their mobility, their past uses and their owners; laboratories in their proximity burst of excitement and boredom, frustration and euphoria, their machineries being constantly fabricated, rethought, dismantled or replaced; in these laboratories, individuals, objects and instruments come to life in complicated ways. These objects, human relations and stories are forming complex ecologies that are very much alive.
The Cabinet project seeks to explore and to bring to life historical, anecdotal and imagined stories evoked by scientific objects, their surrounding space and the individuals that inhabit them. The goal is to reflect on, and reverse the stereotypical assumptions about science as inaccessible and secretive, to make the intense creativity existing inside science laboratories visible, and to suggest potential interactions between the sciences and the arts.
We invite artists, scientists and other creative individuals to turn a select number of cabinets across the University of Toronto into small-scale installations. Interventions can use a variety of media and material and engage with a number of disciplines.
The resulting distributed exhibition ( March 2017) will feature dialogues between art and science that engage with objects and instruments created in nearby science labs.
Before you send your proposal, make sure to check the location/size of the cabinets, as well as the UTSIC collection.
Please come back often as more cabinets are added
There’s also the Call for Proposals (from the Project page),
Artists are invited to populate a variety of cabinets around the St. George Campus at the University of Toronto with artworks that
interact with objects and instruments that have been fabricated or used in the labs nearby;
engage with the history of the cabinets (how they got there, who donated them, what was their initial purpose etc..);
narrate imaginary or science fictional stories about the cabinets, the labs in their proximity and the mysterious objects they have produced in the past or are currently producing.
Of course, these are only suggested scenarios. Please, contact us if you have a particular request or idea.
We request that you fill in the online proposal below with a 250 wordsMAX description, accompanied by 3-4 images that meaningfully describe your work. Please, specify your goals, how you plan to interact with certain objects or a particular environment, and how you plan to install your work, using which media etc.. This project assumes that a meaningful interaction with the surrounding context is established.
Should you be so lucky as to be in Reykjavik, Iceland on March 10, 2016, there’s an opportunity to attend a special poetry event at Mengi. Here’s more from a Feb. 25, 2016 announcement (received via email),
The Disinformation Listening Party features an extremely rare presentation of electromagnetic sound works by the pioneering sonic arts project Disinformation. Disinformation was founded in London, England, in 1995, and produced a series of highly-influential LPs and CDs, before crossing-over into the fields of sound installation, kinetic and video art, and pure research (early Disinformation works were published by the record company Ash International, aka Touch Records, later works were published by Iris Light and Adaadat Records). Disinformation installations have been described as “actively thrilling” by The Financial Times, The Sound Projector (music magazine) spoke of Disinformation producing “potent drug-like trances of utter black mysteriousness”, The Metro newspaper described Disinformation as “the black-ops unit of the avant-garde”, and The Guardian stated that “Disinformation combine scientific nous with poetic lyricism to create some of the most beautiful installations around”.
The Disinformation Listening Party focusses on shortwave radio recordings of so-called “Type II” (slow-drift) noise storms produced by coronal mass ejections on the surface of the sun.
Disinformation producer Joe Banks is a former UK government funded Research Fellow at City University (London), at Goldsmiths College and The University of Westminster, and is the author of a monograph on psychoacoustics published as “Rorschach Audio – Art & Illusion for Sound”.
PoetryFilm is an iconic and highly influential research art project and screening series, founded by curator and artist Zata Banks [now Zitowski] in 2002. PoetryFilm Paradox is an hour-long presentation, featuring 13 short film artworks exploring the complexities of erotic, romantic and familial love, including animator Kate Jessop’s moving screen adaptation of a letter from Dolce & Gabbana designer Stefano Gabbana to his partner Domenico Dolce; Bruno Teixidor’s powerful film fantasia based on a poem by the Mexican author and translator Tomas Segovia; Brooke Griffin’s sign language film, based on poetry by Raymond Luczak; Stuart Pound’s hypnotic computer visualisation of “Die Nebensonnen” by Franz Schubert; Martin Pickles and Mikey Georgeson’s contemporary rendition of the classic “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot; “Fucking Him” by artists C.O. Moed & Adrian Garcia Gomez; and “447: Intellect – N” – an extraordinary montage of Scrabble letters and electronic noise, by artist Jane Glennie. PoetryFilm Paradox was part of the British Film Institute’s 2015 “LOVE” season (supported by Film Hub London, and managed by Film London, in partnership with the BFI Audience Network), and all 3 London screenings sold out.
There is a Facebook posting for this event which also features other events at Mengi.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has made an open call for art works that could be part of the the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft mission bound for Bennu (an asteroid). From a Feb. 23, 2016 NASA news release on EurekAlert,
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch in September and travel to the asteroid Bennu. The #WeTheExplorers campaign invites the public to take part in this mission by expressing, through art, how the mission’s spirit of exploration is reflected in their own lives. Submitted works of art will be saved on a chip on the spacecraft. The spacecraft already carries a chip with more than 442,000 names submitted through the 2014 “Messages to Bennu” campaign.
“The development of the spacecraft and instruments has been a hugely creative process, where ultimately the canvas is the machined metal and composites preparing for launch in September,” said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It is fitting that this endeavor can inspire the public to express their creativity to be carried by OSIRIS-REx into space.”
A submission may take the form of a sketch, photograph, graphic, poem, song, short video or other creative or artistic expression that reflects what it means to be an explorer. Submissions will be accepted via Twitter and Instagram until March 20, 2016. For details on how to include your submission on the mission to Bennu, go to:
“Space exploration is an inherently creative activity,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We are inviting the world to join us on this great adventure by placing their art work on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, where it will stay in space for millennia.”
The spacecraft will voyage to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) and return it to Earth for study. Scientists expect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.
Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. The University of Arizona, Tucson leads the science team and observation planning and processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
I wonder why the Egyptian mythology as in Osiris and Bennu. For those who need a refresher on the topic, here’s more from the Osiris entry on Wikipedia (Note: Links have been removed),
Osiris (/oʊˈsaɪərᵻs/, alternatively Ausir, Asiri or Ausar, among other spellings), was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration.
Then there’s this from the Bennu entry on Wikipedia (Note: Links have been removed),
The Bennu is an ancient Egyptian deity linked with the sun, creation, and rebirth. It may have been the inspiration for the phoenix in Greek mythology.
… Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years and dismembered by the gravity of planets, asteroid Bennu had a tough life in a rough neighborhood: the early solar system. …
“We are going to Bennu because we want to know what it has witnessed over the course of its evolution,” said Edward Beshore of the University of Arizona, Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA’s asteroid-sample-return mission OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer). The mission will be launched toward Bennu in late 2016, arrive at the asteroid in 2018, and return a sample of Bennu’s surface to Earth in 2023.
“Bennu’s experiences will tell us more about where our solar system came from and how it evolved. Like the detectives in a crime show episode, we’ll examine bits of evidence from Bennu to understand more completely the story of the solar system, which is ultimately the story of our origin.”
Getting back to the artwork, Sarah Cascone has written a Feb. 22, 2016 posting for artnet news, which features the call for submissions and some work which already been submitted (Note: Links have been removed),
The near-Earth asteroid Bennu will become the first extra-terrestrial art gallery, with the space agency inviting the public to contribute works of art that are inspired by the spirit of exploration.
The project will follow other important moments in space art history, which include work by Invader traveling aboard the International Space Station, conceptual artwork on the UKube-1 satellite, and even a bonsai tree launched into space.
Here’s a selection of the artworks being embedded in Cascone’s posting,
At very long last, here’s our (Raewyn Turner’s and my) video, Steep (1): A digital poetry of gold nanoparticles which was presented at the 2015 International Symposium (ISEA) held in Vancouver in August 2015,
There’s more about the project and my participation (poetry) with Raewyn Turner, a visual artist from New Zealand, in an April 24, 2015 posting (scroll down about 75% of the way).