An October 16, 2023 notice (received via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon makes this performance announcement,
PATTERNS FROM NATURE Saturday, November 4th, 2023 Isabel Bader Theatre 93 Charles St West Toronto 8pm Free admission
An ambitious new project is set to captivate audiences with a mesmerizing fusion of physics, film, and music.
Physicist Stephen Morris, filmmakers Udo Prinsen, Gita Blak, Lee Hutzulak, Tina de Groot, and composer/saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff are joining forces to explore Morris’ area of research Emergent Patterns in Nature through a captivating multimedia experience.
The centerpiece of this innovative project is a four-movement, 40-minute work. Each filmmaker will delve into a specific research area within Emergent Patterns in Nature, exploring Branches, Flow, Cracks, and Ripples. Collaborating closely, the team will draw inspiration from one another’s progress into the composition and filmmaking processes. These areas were inspired, in part, by the books about Patterns in Nature by Philip Ball.
Blending jazz and classical elements, the composition will be performed by a chamber ensemble featuring woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, string quartet, bass, drum set, and conductor. Renowned soloists, including clarinetist François Houle, the Molinari String Quartet, pianists Matt Mitchell and Santiago Leibson, bassist Carlo De Rosa, drummer Satoshi Takeishi, trombonist Ryan Keberle, and saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, will contribute their virtuosity to the performance.
This groundbreaking collaboration promises to transport audiences on an immersive journey through the wonders of Emergent Patterns in Nature. The result will be an unforgettable multimedia experience that pushes the boundaries of creativity and innovation.
Toronto ensemble: Camille Watts (flute), François Houle (clarinet), Quinsin Nachoff (tenor saxophone), Peter Lutek (bassoon), Jason Logue (trumpet), David Quackenbush (french horn), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Mark Duggan (percussion), Santiago Leibson (piano), Carlo De Rosa (bass), Satoshi Takeishi (drums), Molinari String Quartet (Olga Ranzenhofer – violin I, Antoine Bareil – violin II, Frédéric Lambert – viola, Pierre-Alain Bouvrette – cello), JC Sanford (conductor)
In co-presentation with Art-Sci Salon at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the University of Toronto Department of Physics
Made possible, in part, through the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts, the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec
Just Register here and/or there’s a roundtable discussion scheduled for the next day,
Let’s talk it up
An October 20, 2023 notice (received via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon makes this related event announcement,
Patterns from Nature is a new project intersecting physics, film, and music. Physicist Stephen Morris, filmmakers Udo Prinsen, Gita Blak, Lee Hutzulak, Tina de Groot, and composer/saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff joined forces to explore Morris’ area of research Emergent Patterns in Nature through a captivating multimedia experience.
The transdisciplinary collaborations that led to this complex multimedia and multidimensional work raises many questions:
Why and in what way did science, film and music come to converge in this work?
What role did each participant play?
How did they interpret the scientific findings informing the project?
What were the inspirations, the concerns, the questions that each participant brought into this work?
Come with your questions and curiosity, share your experience and feedback with the protagonists
Thanks to Rebecca Bollwitt’s August 29, 2023 posting on her miss604.com blog for notice of this upcoming exhibit and event, Note 1: A link has been removed; Note 2: This is not my usual topic area (emerging science and technology),
The Precipice art exhibition, presented by CPAWS-BC [Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter], showcases seven BC-based artists working in mixed media to tell stories of biodiversity, loss, and hope.
Precipice is an exhibit and gathering place where artists, biologists and activists will teach, play and host conversations about biodiversity with the community. The exhibition features work by Cherry Archer, Nell Burns, Adea Chung, Grace Lee, Jesse Recalma, Sarah Ronald, and Clare Wilkening and is curated by Rachael Ashe.
Works by seven BC artists renew hope amidst an extinction crisis
Take a sensory journey from loss to hope at Precipice, an art exhibit and gathering space where conversations about solutions to biodiversity loss will thrive. Precipice: Changing the Course of the Extinction Crisis in BC runs at the Alternatives Gallery in Vancouver from September 15-23, 2003.
Precipice: Changing the Course of the Extinction Crisis in BC is an art exhibition that tells stories of loss and hope for lands, animals, waters and people in British Columbia, Canada’s most biodiverse province. At Alternatives Gallery in Vancouver, seven BC-based artists will express how deeply biodiversity in nature affects the human experience.
Presented by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia, Precipice is more than an art exhibit. It’s a gathering place where artists, biologists and activists will teach, play and host community conversations about biodiversity.
“Precipice is a convening space for critical conversations about what people living in BC can do to protect our children’s futures,” says Tori Ball, Terrestrial Conservation Manager at CPAWS-BC. “We’re living through an extinction crisis – forest fires, floods and droughts. But we can’t lose hope.”
Right now, Indigenous Nations are working to protect their traditional territories and the province has an unparalleled opportunity to support their vision and ensure that lands and waters are healthy and protected, says Ball. “This is how we can mitigate the effects of climate change and support communities in BC. Precipice is an open, community space for people to gather, learn and take action.”
Works featured at Precipice show that when we do better for Nature, people thrive too: a textile sculpture embodies the life experience of a tree; a ceramic tile installation depicts the family history of our Southern Resident killer whales; and textural cut-outs explore wildlife relocation caused by habitat loss.
Precipice’s community programs welcome guest speakers including Chief Rebecca David of Pauquachin Nation, Councillor Archie Little, Nuchatlaht First Nation, Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council artists workshops and storytelling events. Tickets are free or by donation and the schedule of events is listed below.
Precipice is curated by Rachael Ashe and features work by Cherry Archer, Nell Burns, Adea Chung, Grace Lee, Jessie Recalma, Sarah Ronald and Clare Wilkening. The gallery is always free to enter and is open Monday to Thursday from 4 PM to 6 PM for public viewing. All are welcome to join workshops and guest speaker nights during extended weekend and evening hours.
Precipice art exhibition is presented by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia (CPAWS-BC). A portion of the proceeds will support the non-profit’s work to advocate for the protection of lands, waters and wildlife in BC.
When: September 15-23, 2023 Time: 4 PM to 6 PM, [emphasis mine] plus special evening and weekend events. Where: Alternatives Gallery and Studio, 1659 Venables Street, Vancouver, BC. [emphasis mine] Tickets:Always free to visit the gallery Monday to Friday from 4-6 PM. [emphasis mine] Donations welcomed for special evening speakers night, weekend workshops and more online
Special events include:
Opening night: September 15, from 6-9 PM
Family Fun day: September 17 from 10-2 PM
Ocean Pollution panel: September 19 from 6-7:30 PM
The Future of Conservation panel: September 21 from 6-8 PM
Beginner-friendly ceramics workshop with Clare Wilkening: September 23 at 12 PM.
Here’s a bit more about the September 23, 2023 Precipice special event from the Precipice homepage (scroll down),
Saturday, September 23
Celebrate BC Culture Days by creating your very own clay creation inspired by the natural world at this Clay Workshop with Clare Wilkening. This is a beginner-friendly workshop. No previous artistic experience is required!
Tickets are by donation, with a suggested donation of $5-10.
Climate Action Through Circularity (Zero Waste Conference 2023)
Metro Vancouver’s annual Zero Waste Conference (ZWC) is coming up on November 1-2, 2023 and there’s more from the ZWC website,
THIS YEAR’S THEME – CLIMATE ACTION THROUGH CIRCULAIRTY
Join us at the 2023 Zero Waste Conference – an annual confluence of visionaries, innovators, and thought leaders committed to a future without waste. This year, we dive deep into the power of circular economy and regenerative principles to drive climate action.
Uniting champions and practitioners from across business, government, and civil society, our event is a celebration of transformational change. Experience the power of the circular economy, witness its prowess in driving climate action, and marvel at how industry leaders and organizations are deploying it to construct a sustainable future.
Apparently not all educational toys are equal so according to a July 18, 2023 article by Nate Berg for Fast Company, Note: Links have been removed,
Seemingly overnight, and almost by necessity, toys have become teachers. The educational toy market has exploded in recent years, with some researchers estimating more than $100 billion in sales globally by 2028. The uptick is partly thanks to an acronym. STEM—for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—has become an easy way to distinguish toys with an educational side from toys that are just meant to be fun.
Or at least it was supposed to be easy. With more and more toys labeled as offering STEM benefits, toymakers and toy buyers alike are starting to wonder where the line is drawn. Is a set of racing cars or building blocks actually educational, or are parents and kids being taken in by a widespread case of “STEM-washing”?
During the pandemic, STEM toys (and their artsy cousins, STEAM—science, tech, engineering, arts, and math—toys) became must-haves for families across the country. …
STEM toys have a growing presence in toy stores and online, and a market that’s expected to grow by nearly a billion dollars over the next few years. Scientific toys, a subset of the STEM category, has grown 28% over the past three years to about $281 million in annual sales, according to Frédérique Tutt, a toy industry analyst at Circana. The growth is even bigger for STEM-adjacent building sets like Lego, which have grown 51% in that time, to more than $2 billion in annual sales, she says.
From building blocks to toy car ramps to stomp-fired air rockets, a wide range of marginally educational toys were suddenly being sold as STEM products. Whether STEM-washing or inconsistent marketing is to blame, the confusion has led the toy industry to try to get precise about what a STEM toy is.
Featuring more than 100 artworks, manuscripts, sound recordings and books, many on display for the first time, Animals: Art, Science and Sound explores how animals have been documented across the world over the last 2,000 years
Season of events includes musicians Cosmo Sheldrake and Cerys Matthews, wildlife photographer Hamza Yassin and ornithologist Mya-Rose Craig, also known as Birdgirl, and more
Complemented by two free displays featuring newly acquired material from animal rights activist Kim Stallwood and award-winning photographer Levon Biss
Animals: Art, Science and Sound(21 April – 28 August 2023) at the British Library reveals how the intersection of science, art and sound has been instrumental in our understanding of the natural world and continues to evolve today.
From an ancient Greek papyrus detailing the mating habits of dogs to the earliest photographs of Antarctic animals and a recording of the last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō songbird, this is the first major exhibition to explore the different ways in which animals have been written about, visualised and recorded.
Journeying through darkness, water, land and air, visitors will encounter striking artworks, handwritten manuscripts, sound recordings and printed publications that speak to contemporary debates around discovery, knowledge, conservation, climate change and extinction. Each zone also includes a bespoke, atmospheric soundscape created using recordings from the Library’s sound archive.
Featuring over 120 exhibits, highlights include:
Earliest known illustrated Arabic scientific work documenting the characteristics of animals alongside their medical uses (c. 1225)
Earliest use of the word ‘shark’ in printed English (1569) on public display for the first time
One of the earliest works on the microscopic world, Micrographia (1665) by Robert Hooke, alongside three insect portraits by photographer Levon Biss (2021) recently acquired by the British Library, which use a combination of microscopy and photography to magnify specimens collected by Charles Darwin in 1836 and Alfred Russell Wallace circa 1859
Leonardo da Vinci’s notes (1500-08) on the impact of wind on a bird in flight, on public display for the first time
One of the rarest ichthyology publications ever produced, The Fresh-Water Fishes of Great Britain (1828-38), with hand painted illustrations by Sarah Bowdich
First commercially published recording of an animal from 1910 titled Actual Bird Record Made by a Captive Nightingale (No. I) by The Gramophone Company Limited
One of the earliest examples of musical notation being used to represent the songs and calls of birds from 1650 by Athanasius Kircher
One of the earliest portable bat detectors, the Holgate Mk VI, used by amateur naturalist John Hooper during the 1960s-70s to capture some of the first sound recordings of British bats
Cam Sharp Jones, Visual Arts Curator at the British Library, said: ‘Animals have fascinated people for as long as human records exist and the desire to study and understand other animals has taken many forms, including textual and artistic works. This exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase some of the earliest textual descriptions of animals ever produced, as well as some of the most beautiful, unique and strange records of animals that are cared for by the British Library.’
Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sound at the British Library, said: ‘Sound recording has allowed us to uncover aspects of animal lives that just would not have been possible using textual or visual methods alone. It has been used to reclassify species, locate previously unknown populations and allowed us to eavesdrop on worlds that would otherwise be inaudible to our ears. It is such an emotive medium and I hope visitors will be inspired to explore the Library’s collections, as well as tune in to the sounds of the natural world in their everyday lives.’
[Note: All of the events have taken place.] There is a season of in-person and online events inspired by the exhibition, such as a Late at the Library with musician, composer and producer Cosmo Sheldrake hosted by musician, author and broadcaster Cerys Matthews and Animal Magic: A Night of Wild Enchantment where five speakers, including wildlife cameraman, ornithologist and Strictly Come Dancing winner Hamza Yassin and birder, environmentalist and diversity activist, Mya-Rose Craig, each have 15 minutes to tell a story. There is a family event on Earth Day 22 April where Art Fund’s The Wild Escape epic-scale digital landscape featuring children’s images of animals will be unveiled. A selection of these works are included in an outdoor exhibition around Kings Cross.
A richly illustrated publication by the British Library with interactive QR technology allowing readers to listen to sound recordings and a free trail for families and groups also accompanies the exhibition.
The exhibition is made possible with support from Getty through The Paper Project initiative and PONANT. With thanks to The American Trust for the British Library and The B.H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library. Audio soundscapes created by Greg Green with support from the Unlocking our Sound Heritage project, made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Scientific advice provided by ZSL (the Zoological Society of London).
Animals: Art, Science and Sound is complemented by two free displays at the British Library. Animal Rights: From the Margins to the Mainstream (7 May – 9 July 2023) in the Treasures Gallery draws on published, handwritten and ephemeral works from the Library’s collection relating to animal welfare. It features newly acquired material collected by animal rights activist Kim Stallwood who will be in conversation at the Library about the history of animal welfare legislation. Microsculpture (12 May – 20 November 2023) showcases nine portraits by photographer Levon Biss that capture the microscopic form and evolutionary adaptions of insects in striking large-format, high-resolution detail.
Animals: Art, Science and Sound draws on the British Library’s role as home to the UK’s national sound archive, one of the largest collections of sound recordings in the world. With over 6.5 million items of speech, music and wildlife, this includes audio from the advent of recording to the present day, and over 70,000 recordings are freely available online at sounds.bl.uk and in the British Library’s Sound Gallery in St Pancras.
Opening on 2 June , Digital Storytelling features publications that use new technologies to reimagine reading experiences
Visitors will discover a range of digital stories, on display together for the first time, including four-time BAFTA nominated 80 Days, an interactive adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and the exclusive public preview of Windrush Tales, the world’s first interactive narrative game based on the experiences of Caribbean immigrants in post-war Britain
Also on display will be interactive media providing insights into the lived stories behind historical events, from the 2011 Egyptian uprising in A Dictionary of the Revolution to a moving account of the loss of a relative in the Manchester Arena Bombing in c ya laterrrr.
The British Library has announced it will be opening a new exhibition, Digital Storytelling(2 June – 15 October 2023), that explores how evolving online technologies have changed how writers write, and readers read.
The narratives featured in the exhibition will prompt visitors to consider what new possibilities emerge when they are invited as readers to become a part of the story themselves. Visitors will get to discover how technology can be used to enhance their reading experience, from Zombies, Run!, the widely popular audio fiction fitness app, to Breathe, a ghost story that “follows the reader around”, reacting to users’ real-time location data.
On display for the first time is a playable preview of Windrush Tales,the world’s first interactive narrative game based on the lived experiences of Caribbean immigrants in post-World War II Britain. The game is still in development; the preview is its first public launch, and is made exclusively available for the exhibition by 3-Fold Presents. The exhibition also premieres a new edition of This is a Picture of Wind, with a new sequence of poems inspired by Derek Jarman’s writing about his garden. This is a Picture of Wind was originally written in response to severe storms in the South West of England in 2014. [I found the attribution a little puzzling; hopefully, I haven’t added to the confusion. Note 1: This is a Picture … is a web-based project from J.R. Carpenter, see more in this January 22, 2018 posting on the IOTA Institute website ; Note 2: As for Derek Jarman, there’s this “… if modern gardening has a patron saint, it must be the English artist, filmmaker, and LGBT rights activist Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942–February 19, 1994)”; as for writing about his garden, “The record of this healing creative adventure became Jarman’s Modern Nature (public library)— part memoir and part memorial, …” both Jarman excerpts are from Maria Popova’s April 4, 2021 posting on the marginalian; Note 3: There are accounts of the 2014 storms mentioned in the IOTA posting but sources are not specified]
Items on display will also explore how writers and artists can provide an empathetic look into the lived realities behind the news. Digital Storytelling illustrates this throughA Dictionary of the Revolution, which charts the evolution of political language in Egypt during the uprising in 2011. Another work, c ya laterrrr, is an intimate autobiographical hypertext account of the loss of author Dan Hett’s brother in the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
Visitors will also get to experience the wide-ranging possibilities of historical immersion and alternate story-worlds through these emerging formats. The exhibition will feature Astrologaster, an award-winning interactive comedy based on the archival casebooks of Elizabethan medical astrologer Simon Forman, and Clockwork Watch, a transmedia collaborative story set in a steampunk Victorian England.
Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications in Contemporary British Published Collections and co-curator of the exhibition, says:
“In 2023 we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the British Library. Over the last half a century, digital technologies have transformed how we communicate, research and consume media – and this shift is reflected in the growth of digital stories in the Library’s ever-growing collection. In recognition of this evolution in communication, we are thrilled to present Digital Storytelling, the first exhibition of its kind at the British Library. Working closely with artists and creators, the exhibition draws on the Library’s expertise in collecting and preserving innovative online publications and reflects the rapidly evolving concept of interactive writing. At the core of all the items on display are rich narratives that are dynamic, responsive, personalised and evoke for readers the experience of getting lost in a truly immersive story.”
A season of in-person events inspired by the exhibition will feature writers, creators and academics:
Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk. Immerse yourself in the Clockwork Watch story world, party with Professor Elemental and explore 19th century London in Minecraft, Friday 13th October 2023.
As you can see two of the Digital Storytelling events have yet to take place.
This exhibit too has a fee.
You can find the British Library website here. (Click on Visit for the address and other details.) Some exhibits are free and others require a fee. I cannot find information about an all access pass, so, it looks like you’ll have to pay individual fees for the exhibits that require them. Members get free access to all exhibits.
Not sure how I ended up on a National Film Board of Canada (NFB) list but this morning (August 14, 2023) their latest emailed newsletter provided a thrill. From the August 11, 2023 NFB newsletter,
Montreal premiere: Ask Noam Chomsky anything in this interactive VR experience
CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY is an interactive virtual reality installation created by Sandra Rodriguez, that lets you have a whole conversation with an AI-generated version of public intellectual Noam Chomsky. Be one of the first people to experience it at the NFB Space in Montreal.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere—from the photo enhancer in your smartphone to self-parking cars and the virtual assistant in your kitchen. But what is it exactly?
CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY: A playful conversation on AI is an engaging and collaborative virtual reality experience that invites us to examine the promises and pitfalls of AI. If machine intelligence is promoted as an inevitable future, we should all be able to ask: What are we hoping to achieve with it? And at what cost?
Visitors use VR headsets to enter the AI world, where they are greeted by CHOM5KY—an artificial entity inspired by and built from the vast array of digital traces of renowned professor Noam Chomsky. CHOM5KY is a friend and serves as a guide, inviting us to peek under the hood of machine-learning systems, and offering thought-provoking takes on how artificial intelligence intersects with human life.
Why Noam Chomsky? [emphasis mine] Professor Chomsky is a philosopher, social critic, historian and political activist, but is perhaps best known for his work in linguistics and cognitive science, the study of the mind. As one of the most recorded and digitized living intellectuals, he has left behind an extensive wake of data traces, enough to create an AI system based on his legacy. Chomsky is also skeptical about the pompous promises made of AI. Which makes him the perfect guide to encourage visitors to question everything they see—and help demystify AI.
Sandra Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a director/producer and sociologist of new media technology. She has written and directed documentary features, web docs and VR, XR and AI experiences that have garnered multiple awards (including a Peabody, best VR awards at DOK Leipzig and the PRIX NUMIX, and the prestigious Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica). She has served as UX lead and consultant for esteemed institutions such as CBC/Radio-Canada and the United Nations. Fascinated by storytelling and emergent technology’s potential for social change, Sandra has created a body of work that spans AI-dance performance, multi-user VR and large-scale XR installations. She is a Sundance Story Lab Fellow and MacArthur Grantee. She is also a Scholar and Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she leads “Hacking XR,” MIT’s first official class in immersive media creation. [Note: XR is Extended Reality]
SCHNELLE BUNTE BILDER Co-producers
The media art collective SCHNELLE BUNTE BILDER was founded in Berlin in 2011. Technically on the cutting edge, their hearts beat for art, culture and science. Together with curators, musicians and other artists, they develop productions for exhibitions and cultural events. Somewhere between art and technology, they combine classical and generative animation with creative coding and critical design to create extraordinary media scenography. Since then, the studio has grown organically and currently consists of a solid core of designers, artists and developers: Michael Burk, Ann-Katrin Krenz, Felix Worseck, Niklas Söder and Johannes Lemke.
Marie-Pier Gauthier Producer
Marie-Pier Gauthier is a producer at the NFB’s Montreal Interactive Studio and has been contributing to this storytelling laboratory for the past 12 years. Whether it’s digital creations on mobile devices or the web, interactive installations, or virtual or augmented reality experiences, she guides and supervises projects by innovative creators working at the crossroads of disciplines, who use a range of storytelling tools, including social networks, code, design, artificial intelligence and conversational robots. Marie-Pier Gauthier has collaborated on more than 100 interactive works (The Enemy, Do Not Track, Way To Go, Motto) that have received over 100 awards in Canada and abroad.
Laurence Dolbec Producer
Laurence Dolbec is a producer in the interactive studio at the National Film Board of Canada. She has more than 12 years of experience working in production, notably for some of Quebec’s most creative institutions including Place des Arts, TOHU and C2 Montréal. Laurence started her career in New York City working for Livestream, which is now part of Vimeo. Her most recent productions explores the spheres of artificial intelligence and knowledge.
Louis-Richard Tremblay Executive Producer
Louis-Richard Tremblay has been an executive producer with the French Program’s Interactive Studio since 2019. He first stepped into a producer role with the NFB in 2013, after a dozen or so years at CBC/Radio-Canada. Fascinated by the power of interactive experiences and media of all kinds, he has guided numerous international co-productions at the NFB, helped produce dozens of award-winning works in Canada and internationally, and regularly participates in panels, conferences and master classes.
Created by Sandra Rodriguez, CHOM5KY vs. CHOMSKY is a co-production by the National Film Board of Canada and SCHNELLE BUNTE BILDER, with support from the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
Two Oddities: Berlin and Moov AI and tickets for the Canadian premiere
Starting September 6  in Montreal. Buy your tickets! Explore the world of artificial intelligence with an engaging and collaborative virtual reality experience by Sandra Rodriguez that examines the promises and pitfalls of AI.
I’m not sure why Moov AI (based in Montreal, Canada) doesn’t appear in the most recent credits for the project but they host that teaser as an example from one of their projects,
Replicate Noam Chomsky’s persona
Chomsky vs. Chomsky is a virtual reality and artificial intelligence immersive experience that showcases an interaction guided by CHOMSKY_AI, the virtual host built from digital traces of Noam Chomsky.
Sandra Rodriguez is the director of this project, which was realized in collaboration with the NFB, the MIT Open Documentary Lab, Schnellebuntebilder, and Moov AI.
Using the digital traces left by Noam Chomsky and archives of his interviews, our team built an AI conversational agent that replicates his personality and cynical humor.
This chatbot is at the heart of the technical solution we developed and deployed to support the experience and link the creative vision of the project’s director to the technical requirements to ensure a fluid and immersive experience.
AI to power a chatbot.
After the immense success of the prototype at Sundance 2020, the teams involved in the project are hard at work completing the final phase of production of Chomsky vs. Chomsky.
The project team is equipped with a CHOMSKY_AI conversational device that is true to the director’s artistic vision and allows thousands of people worldwide to chat with the digital doppelgänger of such a significant figure in contemporary history.
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media is a 1992 documentary film that explores the political life and ideas of linguist, intellectual, and political activist Noam Chomsky. Canadian filmmakers Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick expand the analysis of political economy and mass media presented in Manufacturing Consent, a 1988 book Chomsky wrote with Edward S. Herman.
Funny, provocative and surprisingly accessible, MANUFACTURING CONSENT explores the political life and ideas of world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky. Through a dynamic collage of biography, archival gems, imaginative graphics and outrageous illustrations, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick’s award-winning documentary highlights Chomsky’s probing analysis of mass media and his critique of the forces at work behind the daily news. Available for the first time anywhere on DVD, MANUFACTURING CONSENT features appearances by journalists Bill Moyers and Peter Jennings, pundit William F. Buckley Jr., novelist Tom Wolfe and philosopher Michel Foucault. This Edition features an exclusive ten-years-after video interview with Chomsky.
No less an authority than the American Chemical Society (ACS) notes that some people are more attractive to mosquitos than others. If you’ve ever traveled with a group people, it becomes very apparent who’s attractive and who’s not (to mosquitos) as some members get covered in bites while others go virtually unscathed.
(sigh) I’m highly attractive to almost any insect that flies and bites so this July 17, 2023 ACS news release “Why are mosquitos so obsessed with me? (video)” on EurekAlert ‘attracted’ my attention,
Some people are more attractive to mosquitos than others, and new research is starting to show why. This Reactions episode dives into the chemistry of the molecules on our skin that make some of us so much more appealing to these pesky insects. It also reveals which products we can use to try to deter them. https://youtu.be/VYUug72GWB0
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
The video is a little over 9 mins. long and the host (Alex Dainis) speaks from personal experience as she is an ‘attractor’.
It’s been years since the last time it’s been featured here and i can’t remember how I stumbled across PCAST’s ([US] President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) latest meeting but thank you.
Day 1: discussion and consideration for approval: A letter on advancing public engagement with the sciences & A Report on the seventh assessment of the national nanotechnology initiative [emphases mine]
The video of the July 27, 2023 meeting is here on the PCAST YouTube channel, as well as, here on the PCAST 2023 Meetings webpage. It runs approximately 1 hr. and 22 mins.
Surprisingly (to me), science engagement took up more than 1/2 of the time (45 – 50 mins.). One of the recommendations was to get more community participation (they didn’t mention citizen science; the committee mentioned discussing values) and there was talk about listening more to the community (they acknowledged that experts tend not to do that enough).
Then, it was time for the 7th assessment of National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). Less time and more drama: the recommendation was to sunset or revise the 21st Century Nanotechnology R & D Act (2003). After 20 years, nanotechnology is considered ‘mature’ and the approach needs to change as applications become the focus of the work.
The documents for both science engagement (a letter to the US president) and 7th assessment of the NNI (a report) will be uploaded to the PCAST Documents & Reports webpage by mid- to late August 2023.
Should you be interested in the US PCAST discussions on artificial intelligence, scroll down to the May 18-19, 2023 meeting on the PCAST 2023 Meetings webpage.
Back in 2015, Melanie Keene’s book, “Science in Wonderland; The scientific fairy tales of Victorian Britain,” illuminated a storytelling approach used by Victorians to teach science. (See my September 13, 2017 posting about both Keene’s book and a book about innovation for an overview [part 1] and some commentary [part 2].).
More recently, a May 31, 2023 news item on phys.org describes a similar but updated approach to using fairy tales when communication about science,
A team of researchers, led by Lancaster University, has been developing accessible and creative means of communicating sustainability research from the social sciences for policymakers and the wider public.
Using fairy tale characters – mermaids, vampires, and witches – as metaphors, the team, including researchers from the Universities of Strathclyde and Manchester, have sought to communicate typically complicated arguments in evocative and engaging terms.
Responding to some of the challenges of climate change (electricity generation, low-carbon transport, plastic pollution), the research team present three ‘telling tales’. These ‘translate’ existing academic research, taking inspiration from well-known fairy tale characters, to cast this research in an accessible and powerful light:
Renewables are mermaids – alluring and attractive solutions for policymakers to increasing energy demands, but a distraction from other important routes to Net Zero, like demand reduction. Like mermaid figureheads on sailors’ ships, renewables should accompany our transition to Net Zero but they should not be the only destination.
Cars are vampires – dangerous entities that are deadly and sucking the wellbeing from communities by dividing divide workplaces and retailing outlets from homes, creating lengthy commutes. Policymakers have, until now, waved garlic at them, to control how fast and where they travel, rather than reaching for the stake and re-imagining everyday life without cars.
Plastics are witches – a complex category that is, say the research team, misunderstood by the current witch-hunt against plastics. Though they can be harmers (e.g. single-use plastics), they also have ‘healing’ properties (i.e. durable and useful materials that can substitute more damaging materials). Policymakers should work towards systems of re-use to maximise their benefits, rather than simply ‘demonising’ plastics in general.
Having developed these tales, the team worked with illustrator Véronique Heijnsbroek to create a range of inspiring images.
This work responds to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call for ‘transformational adaptation’. This paper offers serious messages and alternative policy approaches with the aim to accessibly communicate the types of shifts that this will involve:
– Renewables, though important, are not the only measure required by a future of fossil-free electricity generation. Demand reduction, though a less attractive solution, must be considered to ensure this future is possible.
– Cars are known to be deadly and dangerous, yet we have designed daily life and society around their use. More stringent measures are required when thinking of what role they should play in future societies.
– Plastics are currently demonised. Plastics are not to blame, as much as the systems of production, consumption, and disposal they are tied up with. Policies should encourage systems of re-use to maximise their benefits, rather than simply demonising plastics in general.
“It would be easy to interpret this work as a trivialisation of research or, even, a patronisation of potential readers,” says lead author Dr Carolynne Lord, from Lancaster University.
“This is not our intention. The point is that communicating through specialist language is not adequately conveying the message to the communities that it needs to reach. We need to start communicating our work in more accessible ways.”
Dr Torik Holmes, from the University of Manchester, adds: “Storytelling has been gaining traction in the field of energy research in the social sciences. We’ve built on this through the use of fairy tale characters to argue how UK policy reflects a fixation with renewables, over cautionary responses to car ownership and use, and too narrow understandings of, and reactions to, plastics.”
And Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs, from the University of Strathclyde, comments: “Communicating in new and intelligible ways that combine the complexity of research with inspiring stories is important. There is now a real urgency in which transformative responses to climate change are required. Though much social science work offers potential solutions, it can do so in a way that is hard to understand by those who have the power to make change a reality”.
The authors hope their concept will inspire the scientific community to recommunicate energy-based social science research in more digestible forms.
They plan to hold an online workshop starting Monday 28th August  [emphasis mine] with other researchers and illustrators to develop and extend this cast of characters. More information can be found on the Telling Tales of Energy Research website: https://tellingtalesofenergyresearch.wordpress.com/.
Their hope is that by moving research findings beyond academic circles, and to policymakers and popular audiences, this type of work can help bring about the changes required.
I have a bit more about the workshop but first, here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
The organizers are definitely emphasizing enjoyment. Here’s more from the Telling Tales of Energy Research Workshop webpage,
How much writing experience do I need?
You don’t need to have pieces already written, but you must be ready to dedicate at least 3 hours (or more) over the week to write. You don’t need to have taken other creative writing classes. And even if you have, there’s loads in store waiting for you.
You won’t just be learning the craft of writing, or how to pitch your piece to an outlet… You’ll be learning how to create space for writing in your life.
At the same time, you’ll be joining a community of writers also passionate about social and environmental justice! This community, with the activities and guidance, will make you feel ready to pitch your ideas to outlets to and beyond the Academy.
What does participating involve?
Online activities: 15:00-16:30pm BST on both Monday 28 August and 4 September 2023.
In addition, for the week 28 August to 1 September you’ll be committing to at least 30 minutes a day for our online writing retreat.
How do I enrol?
Attendance opportunities are limited, please fill in this Expression of Interest by Monday 31st July  17:00 BST. The team will let you know if you’ve been selected asap.
I realize it’s past the deadline for an Expression of Interest but it never hurts to try and, if there’s enough interest they might schedule a 2nd workshop. Good luck!
I have two news releases about this reseach, one from March 2023 focused on the technology and one from May 2023 focused on the graffiti.
Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the technology
While this looks like an impressionist painting (to me), I believe it’s a still from the spatial reality capture of the temple the researchers were studying,
A March 30, 2023 news item on phys.org announces the latest technology for research on Egyptian graffiti (Note: A link has been removed),
Simon Fraser University [SFU; Canada] researchers are learning more about ancient graffiti—and their intriguing comparisons to modern graffiti—as they produce a state-of-the-art 3D recording of the Temple of Isis in Philae, Egypt.
Working with the University of Ottawa, the researchers published their early findings in Egyptian Archaeology and have returned to Philae to advance the project.
“It’s fascinating because there are similarities with today’s graffiti,” says SFU geography professor Nick Hedley, co-investigator of the project. “The iconic architecture of ancient Egypt was built by those in positions of power and wealth, but the graffiti records the voices and activities of everybody else. The building acts like a giant sponge or notepad for generations of people from different cultures for over 2,000 years.”
As an expert in spatial reality capture, Hedley leads the team’s innovative visualization efforts, documenting the graffiti, their architectural context, and the spaces they are found in using advanced methods like photogrammetry, raking light, and laser scanning. “I’m recording reality in three-dimensions — the dimensionality in which it exists,” he explains.
With hundreds if not thousands of graffiti, some carved less than a millimeter deep on the temple’s columns, walls, and roof, precision is essential.
Typically, the graffiti would be recorded through a series of photographs — a step above hand-drawn documents — allowing researchers to take pieces of the site away and continue working.
Sabrina Higgins, an SFU archaeologist and project co-investigator, says photographs and two-dimensional plans do not allow the field site to be viewed as a dynamic, multi-layered, and evolving space. “The techniques we are applying to the project will completely change how the graffiti, and the temple, can be studied,” she says.
Hedley is moving beyond basic two-dimensional imaging to create a cutting-edge three-dimensional recording of the temple’s entire surface. This will allow the interior and exterior of the temple, and the graffiti, to be viewed and studied at otherwise impossible viewpoints, from virtually anywhere— without compromising detail.
This three-dimensional visualization will also enable researchers to study the relationship between a figural graffito, any graffiti that surrounds it, and its location in relation to the structure of temple architecture.
While this is transformative for viewing and studying the temple and its inscriptions, Hedley points to the big-picture potential of applying spatial reality capture technology to the field of archaeology, and beyond.
“Though my primary role in this project is to help build the definitive set of digital wall plans for the Mammisi at Philae, I’m also demonstrating how emerging spatial reality capture methods can fundamentally change how we gather and produce data and transform our ability to interpret and analyze these spaces. This is a space to watch!” says Hedley.
Did Hedley mean to make a pun with the comment used to end the news release? I hope so.
University of Ottawa and ancient Egyptian graffiti
Egypt’s Philae temple complex is one of the country’s most famed archeological sites. It is dedicated to the goddess Isis, who was one of the most important deities in ancient Egyptian religion. The main temple is a stunning example of the country’s ancient architecture, with its towering columns and detailed carvings depicting Isis and other gods.
In a world-first,The Philae Temple Graffiti Project research team was able to digitally capture the temple’s graffiti by recording and studying a novel group of neglected evidence for personal religious piety dating to the Graeco-Roman and Late Antique periods. By using advanced recording techniques, like photogrammetry and laser scanning, researchers were able to create a photographic recording of the graffiti, digitizing them in 3D to fully capture their details and surroundings.
“This is not only the first study of circa 400 figural graffiti from one of the most famous temples in Egypt, the Isis temple at Philae,” explains project director Dr. Jitse H.F. Dijkstra, a professor of Classics in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa (uOttawa). “It is the first to use advanced, cutting-edge methods to record these signs of personal piety in an accurate manner and within their architectural context. This is digital humanities in action.”
Professor Dijkstra collaborates in the project with co-investigators Nicholas Hedley, a geography professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Sabrina Higgins, an archaeologist and art historian also at SFU, and Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin, a uOttawa alumna, now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Oslo.
Temple walls reveal their messages
The newly available state-of-the-art technology has allowed the team to uncover hundreds of 2,000-year-old figural graffiti (a type of graffito consisting of figures or images rather than symbols or text) on the Isis temple’s walls. They have also been able to study them from vantage points that would otherwise have been difficult to reach.
Today, graffiti are seen as an art form that serves as a means of communication, to mark a name or ‘tag,’ or to leave a reference to one’s presence at a given site. The 2,000-year-old graffiti of ancient civilisations served a similar purpose. The research team has found drawings – some carved only 1mm deep – of feet, animals, deities and other figures meant to express the personal religious piety of the maker in the temple complex.
Using 3D renderings of the interior and exterior of the temple, the team gained detailed knowledge about where the graffiti are found on the walls, and their meaning. Although the majority of the graffiti are intended to ask for divine protection, others were playful gameboards; Old Egyptian temples functioned as a focus of worship and more ephemeral activities.
A first for this UNESCO heritage site, the innovative fieldwork is at the forefront of Egyptian archaeology and digital humanities (which explores human interactions and culture).
“What ancient Egyptian graffiti have in common with modern graffiti is they are left in places not originally foreseen for that purpose,” adds Professor Dijkstra. “The big difference, however, is that ancient Egyptian graffiti were left by individuals at temples in order to receive divine protection forever, which is why we find hundreds of graffiti on every Egyptian temple’s walls.”
The Philae Temple Graffiti Project was initiated in 2016 under the aegis of the Philae Temple Text Project of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Swiss Institute for Architectural and Archaeological Research on Ancient Egypt, Cairo. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and aims to study the figural graffiti from one of the most spectacular temple complexes of Egypt, Philae, in order to better understand the daily practice of the goddess’ worship.
The study’s first findings were published in Egyptian Archeology
Fascinatingly for a project where new technology has been vital, the work has been published in a periodical (Egyptian Archaeology) that is not available online. It is published by the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) which also produces the similarly titled “Journal of Egyptian Archaeology”.
You can purchase the relevant issue of “Egyptian Archaeology” here. The EES describes it as a “… full-colour magazine, reporting on current excavations, surveys and research in Egypt and Sudan, showcasing the work of the EES as well as of other missions and researchers.”
Here’s a citation for the article,
Figures that Matter: Graffiti of the Isis Temple at Philae by Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin, Jitse Dijkstra, Nicholas Hedley and Sabrina Higgins. Egyptian Archaeology, Spring 2022, [issue no.] 60.
Sometimes research that seems mundane reveals something unexpected. Of course, scientists gain from communicating with the public but, in this case, researchers wanted to probe past the obvious and they announced their results in a December 5, 2022 news item on phys.org,
Scientists who communicate their research to non-scientific audiences experience positive retroactive effects on their scientific work, according to a newly published study. “As a result of their involvement in public outreach, the scientists we surveyed not only perceived an increase in their personal motivation and competence for public communication, but they also saw benefits related to networking and knowledge exchange with colleagues from other disciplines within interdisciplinary research networks,” explains psychologist Dr Friederike Hendriks from the Technische Universität Braunschweig. Together with psychologist Prof Rainer Bromme from the University of Münster, she collected assessments from scientists at Münster University on their involvement in the public communication activities of two interdisciplinary research networks in the field of cell dynamics and imaging. The basic premise, she says, is that scientists who engage in communication with non-scientific audiences need to broaden their own specialised views of their research in order to make complex topics understandable. As the same principle is true for interactions with fellow researchers from other disciplines, communication with people beyond the scientific community can also promote communication between different disciplines within science.
The interviewees reported almost no negative effects related to their community outreach. However, they agreed that they had limited time and resources for such tasks. Furthermore, doctoral students were more hesitant in their assessment of their role in public communications and its benefits than postdocs, who are more advanced in their careers, and professors. “As a scientist, you have to weigh priorities in the face of multiple tasks,” says Rainer Bromme. He emphasises that their study “helps make clear that science communication is not just an effort that you make for other people on top of your many other tasks, that it can also be beneficial for your work,” adding that public communication both demands and promotes reflection on one’s own research and the relationship between science and society.
Crossing boundaries facilitates learning on multiple levels
The positive side effects that the scientists associated with their public outreach activities included finding a “common language” between different disciplines, getting an overview of research projects, and developing a better understanding of the research of their colleagues in other disciplines. In one case, two research groups who collaborated on public outreach activities even went on to undertake a joint scientific project. The majority of interviewees also reported that they enjoyed the activities, perceived an improvement in their public communication skills and were motivated, by their positive experiences, to pursue further engagement. Individuals also reported that interacting with non-expert audiences had encouraged them to reflect on their own work on a more abstract level. These diverse potentials were identified and explored by the researchers who produced this study based on the theory of “boundary crossing”. “When boundaries come up or are even crossed in communication with other people, this opens up avenues for learning about yourself and your conversation partners,” explains Friederike Hendriks.
Science communication as a beneficial joint task
When compared to postdocs and professors, doctoral students rated their own research as less interesting to the public. They were also more likely to think that their careers would not benefit from science communication and that it should be done by experienced people. “As a doctoral student, you usually work on smaller research questions and, only as your expertise develops in your career, can you place them in larger contexts so that they also become interesting for people beyond the scientific community,” explains Friederike Hendriks. She emphasises that it is, therefore, important to design science communication formats and opportunities that are appropriate for doctoral students in terms of content and time. She explains how, in the research networks involved in the survey, this was achieved through, for example, lab workshops for high-school students and contributions to picture exhibitions.
She also highlights that the high level of outreach the scientists interviewed had engaged in shows that research networks can help establish a culture in which communication is seen as a valuable joint task rather than a burdensome additional task. Friederike Hendriks herself is currently working with her junior research group to develop communication training for early career researchers which teaches research-based strategies and skills to support researchers to engage in comprehensible and counterpart-involving conversations about science.
Sample and communication activities in the focus of the study
The team surveyed 75 scientists from various career stages and disciplines – including doctoral students, postdocs and professors from medicine, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science – who collaborate in research networks across disciplinary boundaries. The participating networks included the Collaborative Research Centre 656 “Molecular Cardiovascular Imaging” and the “Cells in Motion” Cluster of Excellence at the University of Münster. The focus of the study was on activities initiated by these networks. They ranged from laboratory tours, workshops and lectures for children, young people and adults to exhibitions with interactive exhibits and scientific images, to information media such as websites, brochures, audio and video formats, and press relations.
The study was conducted in 2016 and 2017 and has now been published in the social science journal “Science Communication”. Friederike Hendriks was working at the University of Münster at the time the survey was undertaken.
I wonder what the results would if the research were conducted again under current political and social conditions.