From a September 7, 2023 SFU Café Scientifique announcement of their Fall 2023 event schedule (received via email),
We hope you had a great summer and are all excited for a brand new fall line-up:
SFU Café Scientifique lectures and discussions on Zoom
Tuesdays from 5:00-6:30pm, Zoom invites are sent to those who register.
Email email@example.com for inquires.
Sept 26, 2023 Vance Williams, Chemistry
Title: (Un)Natural Beauty: Art, Science and Technology
Description: While art is often described in opposition to science and technology, in reality, these disciplines are mutually supporting and reinforcing explorations of the natural and constructed world. In this presentation, I will examine the intersection of art and science and the often blurry distinction between the scientist and the artist.
Title: Who, What, Where, When, and Why: the power of genomics in public health
Description: Within days of first being identified the full genome sequence of SARS Cov-2 was published online. Here we discuss the extraordinary power and limitations of genomics for understanding disease spread and for designing effective public health interventions.
November 28, 2023 Dustin King, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Title: Decoding how life senses and responds to carbon dioxide gas.
Description: Dustin King’s Indigenous background is central to his work and relationship with the biochemical research he conducts. He brings Indigenous ways of knowing and a two-eye seeing approach to critical questions about humanity’s impact upon the natural world.
Join Dr. King on a microscopic journey into intricate cellular systems, which make use of CO2 in incredible ways. The presence of CO2 on Earth has given rise to a diverse evolutionary tree, with plants and animals developing ingenious methods for harnessing and using CO2 in their unique habitats. We travel from the depths of the ocean floor to the air we breathe, to understand the implications of increasing CO2 levels in nature and in daily human life.
I wouldn’t have thought art/science or, as it sometimes called, sciart was a particularly obscure concept these days but it’s a good reminder that much depends on the community from which you draw your audience.
Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool? Sept. 20  6:00-8:00 @Fields
This event is a collaboration between ArtSci Salon and the Quantified Self Meet up Group led by Eric Boyd. Join us for a thought-provoking exploration into the world of “Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool?”.
While the era of the Quantified Self isn’t over, new tools have emerged which make the idea of JUST quantifying yourself (for personal growth or insight) seem outdated. The widespread assumptions is that ChatGPT and other Generative AI tools can do at least some of your thinking FOR YOU. Similarly, MidJourney can churn out passable images from just a prompt (that ChatGPT wrote for you), even if you aren’t an artist. This ability has raised many red flags and concerns regarding intellectual property and copyright infringement. And hundreds more such tools are arriving like a tsunami as venture capitalists pour billions into Generative AI startups. How do we navigate Generative AI for personal growth and creativity? What are its ethical uses? How do we use it for personal growth and creativity, for education or accessibility? What is it’s impact on our sense of self and on the conditions of our employment?
6:00-6:30pm. Reception and Networking
6:30-7:15pm. Panel Discussion (see below)
7:15-7:45pm. Q&A with the audience
8pm – option – retiring to a nearby pub for discussions
Engage with a diverse panel of experts, each offering a nuanced perspective on the integration of AI into personal development:
Techie Viewpoint:Eric Boyd, will talk in general about the “Augmented Self” idea, and relate his experiences working with these tools on an unusual creative project – a solarpunk tarot deck. It’s a gigantic project, and “orchestrating artificial cognition” is the weird “augmented” experience at the heart of it.
Other Viewpoints: Seeking project show & tell, brief opinions and constructive criticism!
This event will be recorded. If you wish to join us on Zoom, please, head to the Facebook event page here a few days before the event to get the link.
Audience Participation: We invite your participation! If you’d like to speak on the panel, we are still looking to flesh it out. Ideally we’re looking for an educator who is grappling seriously with the impact of e.g. ChatGPT on their students and the process and goals of education in general. And we’re open to other ideas and viewpoints! Please contact the organizer (Eric Boyd) via meetup message with a brief description of your background and what you might share/say in 5+ minutes. It doesn’t need to be formal, these are the frontiers!
And everyone, please bring your curiosity and your questions! We welcome all input, especially critical or out-of-frame input. We don’t even know what kind of language we should be using to discuss this!
If you are intrigued by the intersection of technology, self-improvement, and personal expression and seek a nuanced perspective on the augmented self, this event is designed for you.
Join us for an evening of generative AI collaboration stories (in the usual manner of QS “what did you do”), candid exploration, and thought-provoking dialogue. Chart your course through the potential and complexities of the Augmented Self with the guidance of insightful experts and a community of like-minded explorers.
This event description began from a series of prompts to ChatGPT. Can you spot the unedited sections? Does it matter if you can or can’t? It feels very new and different to make things this way. Let’s talk about it. see full description by organizer Eric Boyd.
“Migrations Without Borders” is a modular piece of art that explores the potential of AI to mimic and remix cultural styles and elements [emphasis mine]. Incorporating eight distinct musical styles and corresponding visual elements, the piece allows for the dynamic composition of linked music themes and visuals.
But “Migrations” is more than just a showcase of AI’s abilities. It is a deliberate mixture of themes, including immigration, remix culture, AI bias, and the interplay of language and imagery. Drawing from Dhaivat’s personal experience and Toronto’s diverse cultural landscape, the piece creates a universe of cross-pollination that encourages reflection on the ways in which technology is changing our relationship to culture, identity, and acceptable thought.
The art invites us to consider the consequences of AI’s powers of mimicry and integration. What does it mean for likenesses and cultures to collide and mix so easily? How do we navigate the borrowing of styles and representations that may not be our own? What responsibilities and freedoms do we have in this rapidly evolving landscape?
I wouldn’t ordinarily post about an art exhibition closing or finale event but this it a good companion event in Toronto and gives people in the Vancouver area an opportunity for something that’s more avant garde than I realized when the exhibition was announced in May 2023,, from the Phase Shifting Index Closing Celebration event page on the Polygon Art Gallery website,
Jeremy Shaw: Phase Shifting Index
Sunday, September 24 5:00pm
[Location: The Polygon Gallery at 101 Carrie Cates Court in North Vancouver, BC, Canada]
Artist in attendance
Final day to see Phase Shifting Index—for the full experience of the seven-channel work please come at least 35 minutes before the exhibition closes at 5:00 pm.
Doors at 5:00pm Screening of Jeremy Shaw’s short film Quickeners at 5:15pm Conversation between Jeremy Shaw and The Polygon’s Audain Chief Curator Monika Szewczyk at 5:45pm Reception at 6:15pm
About Quickeners Quickeners: They live about 500 years after us and belong to the entirely rational- thinking species of Quantum Human, who are immortal and connected to each other through an abstract entity called “The Hive”. However, Quickeners have a developed a rare disorder named “Human Atavism Syndrome” – or H.A.S.- that prompts them to unexplainably desire to engage in long-forgotten behavioural patterns of humans. Detached from Hive, the Quickeners fall into an ecstatic state in which they sing, clap, cry, scream, dance and handle poisonous snakes [emphasis mine].
About Phase Shifting Index Through a seven-channel video, sound, and light installation—the most ambitious use to date of Jeremy Shaw’s signature, evolving ‘post-documentary’ approach—visitors experience seven distinct subcultures that believe they can fundamentally alter reality.
About Jeremy Shaw Born in North Vancouver and now based in Berlin, Jeremy Shaw works in a variety of media to explore altered states and the cultural and scientific practices that aspire to map transcendental experience. His films, installations and sculptures have gained worldwide acclaim with solo exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA PS1, New York, and Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin as well international surveys including the 57th Venice Biennale, 16th Lyon Biennale and Manifesta 11, Zurich.
From June 23 to Sept. 24, 2023, The Polygon Gallery presents the North American premiere of Phase Shifting Index by North Vancouver-born, Berlin-based artist Jeremy Shaw. The immersive installation combines film, sound, and light to tell a story about an imagined future in which human beliefs and survival are at stake.
Phase Shifting Index is a seven-channel video, sound, and light installation that functions as a science-fiction pseudo-documentary about seven distinct subcultures that believe they can fundamentally alter reality. Each screen shows a group engaging in ritualistic movements while dressed in clothing that places them in periods ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s. Shaw uses outdated modes of 20th-century video technology (such as 16mm film and Hi-8 video tape), while interviews in indecipherable languages are subtitled in English. All seven channels are tied together by an overarching narrator who describes their belief systems and the significance of their movements: body-mind centering, robotic popping-and-locking, modern and postmodern dance, jump-style, hardcore punk skanking, and trust exercises, amongst others.
As the work progresses, the audiovisual elements of each screen draws the viewer into a dramatic narrative arc. At the climax, the seven autonomous subcultural groups align in a trans-temporal dance routine, with all subjects on all screens engaged in the same cathartic, synchronized movements, before disintegrating into abstraction and chaos. Sounds and sights collide on screen and then meld into a synaptic colour field. The result is a suspension of time and space, as the seven parallel realities fuse into one psychedelic art installation.
It was the ‘psychedelic’ in the last line along with references to the 1960s that dampened my enthusiasm for this ‘mind blowing’ experience. However, Ryan Kelln’s Transmigrations and proposed talk at Art Science Salon/Quantified Self Toronto’s event “Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool?” broadened my thinking on the matter.
Be careful not to fall, is a familiar stricture when applied to ‘leaning out of windows’ supplying a frisson of danger to the ‘lean’ but in German, ‘aus dem Fenster lehnen’ or ‘lean out of the window’, is an expression for interdisciplinarity. It’s a nice touch for a book about an art/physics collaboration where it can feel ‘dangerous’ to move so far out of your comfort zone. The book is described this way in its Vancouver (Canada) Public Library catalogue entry,
Art and physics collide in this expansive exploration of how knowledge can be translated across disciplinary communities to activate new aesthetic and scientific perspectives.
Leaning Out of Windows shares findings from a six-year collaboration by a group of artists and physicists exploring the connections and differences between the language they use [emphasis mine], the means by which they develop knowledge, how that knowledge is visualized, and, ultimately, how they seek to understand the universe. Physicists from TRIUMF, Canada’s particle physics accelerator, presented key concepts in the physics of Antimatter, Emergence, and In/visible Forces to artists convened by Emily Carr University of Art + Design; the participants then generated conversations, process drawings, diagrams, field notes, and works of art. The “wondrous back-and-forth” of this process allowed both scientists and artists to, as Koenig [Ingrid Koenig] and Cutler [Randy Lee Cutler] describe, “lean out of our respective fields of inquiry and inhabit the infinite spaces of not knowing.”
From this leaning into uncertainty comes a rich array of work towards furthering the shared project of artists and scientists in shaping cultural understandings of the universe: Otoniya J. Okot Bitek reflects on the invisible forces of power; Jess H. Brewer contemplates emergence, free will, and magic; Mimi Gellman looks at the resonances between Indigenous Knowledge and physics; Jeff Derksen finds Hegelian dialectics within the matter-antimatter process; Sanem Güvenç considers the possibilities of the void; Nirmal Raj ponders the universe’s “special moment of light and visibility” we happen to inhabit; Sadira Rodrigues eschews the artificiality of the lab for a “boring berm of dirt”; and Marina Roy metaphorically turns beams of stable and radioactive gold particles into art of pigments, oils, liquid plastic, and wood. Combined with additional essays, diagrams, and artworks, these texts and artworks live in the intersection of disparate fields that nonetheless share a deep curiosity of the world and our place within it, and a dedication to building and sharing knowledges.
Self-published, “Leaning Out of Windows: An Art and Physics Collaboration” and edited by Ingrid Koenig & Randy Lee Cutler (who also wrote many of the essays) was produced through an entity known as Figure 1 (located in Vancouver). It can be purchased for $45 CAD here on the Figure 1 website or $41.71 (CAD?) on Amazon. (Weirdly, if you look at the back outside cover you’ll see a price of $45 USD.)
Kind of a book
“Leaning” functions as three kinds of books in one package. First, it is documentation for a six year project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), second, a collection of essays, and, third, a catalogue for three inter-related exhibitions. (Aside: my focus is primarily on the text for an informal book review.)
Like an art exhibition catalogue, this book is printed in a large, awkward to hold format, with shiny (coated) pages. It makes reading the essays and documentation a little challenging but perfect for a picture book/coffee table book where the images are supposed to look good.
I particularly liked the maps for the various phases of the project and the images for phase 1 showing what happens when an image is passed from one artist to the next, without explanation, asking for a new image to be produced and passed on to yet another artist and so on. There is no discussion amongst the artists about the initial impetus (the first artist in the stream of four met with physicists at a science symposium to talk about antimatter).
Unexpectedly, the documentation proved to be a highlight for me. BTW, you can find out more about the Leaning Out of Windows (LOoW) project (e.g. participants, phases, and art/science resources) on its website.
Koenig should be congratulated for getting as much publicity for the book as possible, given the topic and that there are no celebrities involved. CBC gave it a mention (May 8, 2023) on its Books: Leaning Out of Windows webpage. It also got a mention by Dana Gee in a May 12, 2023 ‘Books brief‘ posting on the Vancouver Sun website.
Plus, there were a couple of articles in an art magazine highlighting the art/science project while it was in progress featuring the few images I was about to access online for this project.
A January 6, 2020 article in Canadian Art Magazine by Randy Lee Cutler and Ingrid Koenig introduces the project (Note: I’ll revisit the “metaphor and analogy” mention in this article and throughout the LOoW book later in this post),
The disciplines of art and physics share certain critical perspectives: both deal with how metaphor and analogy inform creative processes. Additionally, artists and physicists address issues of the imagination, creative thinking and communication, and how meaning is made through theoretical research and process-based investigations. There are also important differences in these perspectives. Art brings an appreciation for abstract or non-representational practices. Physics research addresses complex problems relevant to understanding the study of matter and motion through space and time. Physicists also contribute knowledge about how the universe behaves. Together, the achievements of art and physics allow the possibility of a much richer understanding of the nature of reality than each field can contribute individually.
There’s a January 13, 2020 article in Canadian Art Magazine by Perrin Grauer featuring Mimi Gellman, Note: A link has been removed,
Artwork by artist and ECU Associate Professor Mimi Gellman was selected to appear on the cover of the current issue of Canadian Art magazine.
The gleaming, otherworldly image graces the magazine’s issue on antimatter —a subject which “presents a mirror world of abstract phenomena: time reversals, mutual annihilation, cosmic rays, cloud chambers, an infinite sea of sub-atomic particles that parallels our ‘real’ world of matter,” according to the issue’s editors.
Mimi describes her work as approaching some of the affinities between the biological, the perceptual, the cultural and the astronomical.
“My drawings do not explore the exterior world we perceive but rather what I call the ‘architecture of consciousness’ which permits us to perceive it,” she says.
“Recalling astronomical diagrams and reflecting the mixture of hybrid cultural worldviews in my background, they reveal deep similarities between the dimension explored by sub-atomic physics and the implicit interiority of contemporary art.”
I’m sorry I never saw any announcements for the project exhibitions, all of which seemed to have taken place at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. There were three concepts each explored in three exhibitions, with different artists each time, titled: Antimatter, Emergence, and In/visible Forces, respectively.
A bouquet or two and a few nitpicks
Randy Lee Cutler and Ingrid Koenig have a wonderful quote from Karen Barad, physicist and philosopher, in their essay titled, “Collaborative Research between Artists and Physicists,”
Barad introduces the concept of intra-action and the fluidity of materialization through our bodily entanglements—through intra-action our bodies remain entangled with those around us. “Not only subjects but also objects are permeated through and through with their entangled kin, the other is not just in one’s skin, but in one’s bones, in one’s belly in one’s heart, in one’s nucleus, in one’s past and future.This is a true for electrons as it is for brittlestars as it is for the differentially constituted human.” As Barad asks herself, “How do I know where my physics begins and ends?” … [p. 13]
To the left of the page is a black and white photograph of entangled cables captioned, “GRIFFIN (Gamma Ray Infrastructure for Fundamental Investigations of Nuclei- TRIUMF.” It’s a nice touch and points to the difficulty of ‘illustrating’ or producing visual art in response to physics ideas such as quantum entanglement, something Einstein called, ‘spooky action at a distance’. From the Quantum entanglement Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,
Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the group cannot be described independently of the state of the others [[emphasis mine], including when the particles are separated by a large distance [emphasis mine]. The topic of quantum entanglement is at the heart of the disparity between classical and quantum physics: entanglement is a primary feature of quantum mechanics not present in classical mechanics.
Some of the essays
One essay that stood out in LOoW, was “A Boring Berm of Dirt’ (pp. 141-7) by Sadira Rodrigues. She notes that dirt and soil are not the same; one is dead (dirt) and the other is living (soil) and that the berm has an important role at TRIUMF. If you want a more specific discussion of the difference between dirt and soil, see David Beaulieu’s February 23, 2023 essay (Soil vs. Dirt: What’s the Difference?) on The Spruce website.
Rodrigues’ essay (part of the Emergence concept) situates the work physically (word play alert: physics/physically) whereas all of the other work is based on ideas.
In “Boring Berm … ,” radioactivity is mentioned, a term which is largely taboo these days due its association with poisoning, bombs, and death. The eassy goes into fascinating detail about TRIUMF’s underground facility and how the facility deals with its nuclear waste and the role that the berm plays. (On a more fanciful note, the danger in the title of the book is given another dimension in this essay focused on nuclear topics.) Regardless, the essay was definitely an eye-opener.
Aside: The institution has been rebranded from: TRIUMF (Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics) to: TRIUMF (Canada’s national particle accelerator centre). You can find a reference to the ‘nuclear’ name in my October 2, 2018 posting although the name was already changed, probably in the early to mid-2010s. There is no mention of the ‘nuclear’ name in TRIUMF’s Wikipedia entry, accessed August 22, 2023.
Gellman and language
Mimi Gellman’s essay, “Crossing No Divide: Mapping Affinities in Art and Science” evokes unity, as can be seen in the title. She’s one of the more ‘lyrical’ writers,
There is a place in our imagination where east or west, or large or small, or any other opposites cease to be productive contradictions. As an artist and educator, I have become interested in the non-binary and resonance between Indigenous Knowledge and physics, between art and science, and between traditional ways of considering cognition and thinking with the hand. [p. 33]
This is how Gellman is described for the January 13, 2020 article in Canadian Art Magazine, which is archived on the Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD) website,
Mimi Gellman is an Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi (Ojibway-Jewish Métis) visual artist and educator with a multi-streamed practice in architectural glass and conceptual installation. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Culture + Community at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada, and is completing her research praxis PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University on the metaphysics of Indigenous mapping.
She highlights some interesting observations about language and thinking,
The Ojibwe language, Anishinaabemowin, like many Indigenous languages is verb-based in contrast with Western languages’ noun-based constructions and these have deep implications for the development of one’s worldview. …
I suspect anyone who speaks more than one language can testify to the observation that language affects one’s worldview. More academically, it’s called linguistic relativity or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I find it hard to believe that it’s considered a controversial idea but here goes from the Linguistic relativity Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,
The idea of linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis /səˌpɪər ˈhwɔːrf/ sə-PEER WHORF, the Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language influences its speakers’ worldview or cognition, and thus individuals’ languages determine or shape their perceptions of the world.
The hypothesis has long been controversial, and many different, often contradictory variations have existed throughout its history. The strong hypothesis of linguistic relativity, now referred to as linguistic determinism, says that language determines thought and that linguistic categories limit and restrict cognitive categories. This was held by some of the early linguists before World War II, but it is generally agreed to be false by modern linguists. Nevertheless, research has produced positive empirical evidence supporting a weaker version of linguistic relativity: that a language’s structures influence and shape a speaker’s perceptions, without strictly limiting or obstructing them.
Gettng back to Gellman, language, linguistic relativity, worldviews, and, adding physics/science, she quotes James (Sa’ke’j) Youngblood Henderson “a research fellow at the Native Law Centre of Canada, University of Saskatchewan College of Law. He was born to the Bear Clan of the Chickasaw Nation and Cheyenne Tribe in Oklahoma in 1944 and is married to Marie Battiste, a Mi’kmaw educator. In 1974, he received a juris doctorate in law from Harvard Law School,”
[at a 1993 dialogue between Western and Indigenous scientists …]
[Youngblood Henderson] We don’t have one god. You need a noun-based language to have one god. We have forces. All forces are equal and you are just the amplifier of the forces. The way you conduct your life and the dignity you give to other things gives you access to other forces. Even trees are verbs instead of nouns. The Mi’kmaq named their trees for the sound the wind makes when it blows through the trees during the autumn about an hour after the sunset, when the wind usually comes from a certain direction. So one might be like a ‘shu-shu’ something and another more like a ‘tinka-tinka’ something. Although physics in the western world has been essentially the quest for the smallest noun (which used to be a-tom, ‘that which cannot be further divided’), as they were inside the atom things weren’t acting like nouns anymore. The physicists were intrigued with the possibilities inherent in a language that didn’t depend on nouns but could move right to verbs when the circumstances were appropriate.3
This work from Gellman is a favourite of mine, and is featured in the January 13, 2020 article in Canadian Art Magazine and you’ll find it in the book,
Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Theodor W. Adorno, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel were unexpected guest stars in Derksen’s essay, “From Two to Another: The Anti-Matter Series,” given that he is an award-winning poet. These days he has this on his profile page on the Department of English, Simon Fraser University website, “Dean and Associate Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.”
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are well known as materialists, having helped define a materialist view of history, of economics and of capitalism. And both Marx and Engels aimed to develop Marxism as a science rather than a model based on naturalizing capitalism and “man.” … [p. 89]
Derksen includes a diagram/poem, for which I can’t find a digitized copy, but here’s what he had to say about it,
My mode of looking at this [antimatter] is through poetic research —which itself does not aim to arrive at a synthesis but instead looks for relational moments. In this I also see a poetic language emerge from both discourses [artistic/scientific]—matter-antimatter thought and dialectical thinking. For my contribution to Leaning Out of Windows, I have tried to combine the scientific aspect of dialectical thinking with the poetic aspect of matter-antimatter thought and experimentation. To do this, I have taken the diagrammatic rendering of Carl Anderson’s experiment which resulted in his 1932 paper … as a model to relate the dialectical thinking at the heart of Marxism and matter-antimatter thought. …
Towards the end of his essay, Derksen notes that he’s working (on what I would call) a real poem. I sent an email to Derksen on August 21, 2023 asking,
Have you written the poem or is still in progress?
If you have written it, has it been published or is it being readied for publication? I would be happy to mention where.
If you do have it ready and would like to ‘soft launch’ the poem, could you send it to me for inclusion in the post?
No response at this time.
Flashback to Alan Storey
I think it was 2002 or 2003 when I first heard about an artist at TRIUMF, Alan Storey. The ‘residency’ was the product of a joint effort between the Canada Council for the Arts (Canada Council) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC).
I spoke with Storey towards the end of his ;residency; and he was a little disappointed because nothing much had come of it. Nobody really seemed to know what to do with an artist at a nuclear facility and he didn’t really didn’t seem to know either. (Alan Storey’s work can be seen in the City of Vancouver’s collection of public art works here and on his website.)
My guess is that someone had a great idea but didn’t think past the ‘let’s give money to science institutions so they can host some artists who will magically produce wonderful things for us’ stage of thinking. While there is no longer a Canada Council/NSERC programme, it’s clear from LOoW (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [SSHRC]) that lessons have been learned.
Kudos to David Morissey who acted as an interface and convenor for the artists and to Nigel Smith (Director 2021 – present) and Jonathan Bagger (Director 2014 – 2020) for supporting the project from the TRIUMF side and to Ingrid Koenig and Randy Lee Cutler who organized and facilitated LOoW from the artists’ side.
Now, for the nits
“Co-thought” is mentioned a number of times. What is it? According to my searches, it has something to do with gestures. Here’s one of the few reference I could find for co-thought,
Co-thought and co-speech gestures are generated by the same action generation process by Mingyuan Chu and Sotaro Kita. Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2016 Feb;42(2):257-70. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000168. Epub 2015 Aug 3.
People spontaneously gesture when they speak (co-speech gestures) and when they solve problems silently (co-thought gestures) [emphasis mine]. In this study, we first explored the relationship between these 2 types of gestures and found that individuals who produced co-thought gestures more frequently also produced co-speech gestures more frequently (Experiments 1 and 2). This suggests that the 2 types of gestures are generated from the same process. We then investigated whether both types of gestures can be generated from the representational use of the action generation process that also generates purposeful actions that have a direct physical impact on the world, such as manipulating an object or locomotion (the action generation hypothesis). To this end, we examined the effect of object affordances on the production of both types of gestures (Experiments 3 and 4). We found that individuals produced co-thought and co-speech gestures more often when the stimulus objects afforded action (objects with a smooth surface) than when they did not (objects with a spiky surface). These results support the action generation hypothesis for representational gestures. However, our findings are incompatible with the hypothesis that co-speech representational gestures are solely generated from the speech production process (the speech production hypothesis).
It would have been nice if Koenig and Cutler had noted they were borrowing a word ot coining a word and explaining how it was being used in the LOoW context.
Fruit, passports, and fishing trips
The editors/writers use the words or variants, metaphor, poetry, and analogy with great abandon.
“Fruitful bridge” (top of page) and “fruitful match-ups” (bottom of page) on p. 18 seemed a bit excessive as did the “metaphorical passport” on p. 5.
I choked a bit over this on p. 19, “… these artist/scientist interactions can be seen as ‘procedural metaphors’ that enact a thought experiment … .” Procedural metaphor? It seems a bit of a stretch.
A last example and it’s a pair: “metaphorical fishing trips whereby artist and scientists received whatever they might reel in …” on p. 42 (emphases mine). Fishing trips are mentioned in a later essay too, one of the few times there’s some sort of follow through on an analogy.
Maybe someone who wasn’t involved with the project should have taken a look at the text before it was sent to the printer.
Using the words, poetry, metaphor, and analogy can be tricky and, I want to emphasize that in my opinion, those words were not often put to good use in this book.
Moving on, arts and sciences together have a longstanding history.
Poetry and physics
One of the giants of 19th century physics, James Clerk Maxwell was also known for his poetry. and some of the most evocative (poetic) text in the LOoW book can be found in the quotes from various physicists of the 20th century. The link between physicist and poetry is explicit in a September 17, 2018 posting (12 poignant poems (and one bizarre limerick) written by physicists about physics) by Colin Hunter for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.
Going back further, there’s De rerum natura, a poem in six books, by Lucretius ((c. 99 BCE– c. 55 BCE). Amongst many other philosophical concerns (e.g., the nature of mind and soul, etc.), Lucretius also discussed atomism (“… a natural philosophy proposing that the physical universe is composed of fundamental indivisible components known as atoms; from the Atomism Wikipedia entry). So, poetry and physics have a long history.
Leaving aside Derksen’s diagram/poem, there’s a dearth of poetry in the book except for a suite of seven poems from TRIUMF physicist and professor at UBC, Jess Brewer following his “Emergence, Free Will and Magic” essay,
Emergence / An extremely brief history of one universe, expressed as a series of science fiction poems by Jess H. Brewer, June 29, 2019
Inspired by Dyson Freeman’s delightful lecture series , “Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe,” Reviews of Modern Physics (51) 1979
1. Bang Why not? For reasons known only to itself, the universe begins The quantum foam of spacetime seethes with effortless energies, entering and exiting this continuum with a turbulent intensity transcending the superficially smooth expanding cosmos and yet it kens the glacial passage of “time”, because it waits. And kens the vast reaches of “space”, because it watches, Its own experiences has taught it that from each iteration of complexity, awareness will emerge.
… [p. 149]
My thanks to Brewer for the poetry and magic and my apologies for any mistakes I’ve introduced into his piece. I was trying to be especially careful with the punctuation as that can make quite a difference to how a piece is read.
While Muriel Rukeyser is not a physicist at TRIUMF or, indeed, alive, one of her poems leads the essay “Leaning into Language or the Universe is Made of Stories,” by Randy Lee Cutler and Ingrid Koenig,
Time comes into it Say it. Say it. The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.. —Muriel Ruykeyser, Speed of Darkness, 1968
Muriel Rukeyser was a poet, playwright, biographer, children’s book author, and political activist. Indeed, for Rukeyser, these activities and forms of expression were linked. …
One of Rukeyser’s intentions behind writing biographies of nonliterary persons was to find a meeting place between science and poetry. [emphasis mine] In an analysis of Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry, Virginia Terris argued that Rukeyser believed that in the West, poetry and science are wrongly considered to be in opposition to one another. Thus, writes Terris, “Rukeyser [set] forth her theoretical acceptance of science … [and pointed] out the many parallels between [poetry and science]—unity within themselves, symbolic language, selectivity, the use of the imagination in formulating concepts and in execution. [emphasis mine] Both, she believe[d], ultimately contribute to one another.”
Rokeyser’s poem raised a few questions. Is her poem a story? Or, is she using symbolic language, the poem, to poke fun at stories and atoms? Is she suggesting that atoms are really stories? I found the poem evocative especially with where it was placed in the book.
Morrissey takes a prosaic approach, from the essay “Leaning into Language or the Universe is Made of Stories,”
… [in response to Rukeyser’s claim about stories] Morrissey responded stating that “scientific theories are stories—but how we evaluate stories is important—they need to be true, but they do probe, and some are more popular than others, especially theories that we can’t measure.” He surprised us further when he said that wrong stories can also be useful—they may have elements in them that turn out to be useful for future research. … [pp. 205-6]
In general and throughout this project, it seems as if they (artists and physicists) tried but, for the most part, were never quite able to articulate in poetic, metaphoric, and analogical forms. They tended to fall back onto their preferred modes of scientific notations, prosaic language, and artworks.
Both sides of the knife blade cut
Everybody does it. Poets, academics, artists, scientists, etc. we all appropriate ideas and language, sometimes without understanding them very well. Take this for example, from the Canadian Broadcasting’s (CBC) Books “Elementary Particles” August 16, 2023 webpage,
Elementary Particles by Sneha Madhavan-Reese
A poetry collection about family history and scientific exploration
Through keen, quiet observation, Sneha Madhavan-Reese’s evocative new collection takes us from the wide expanse of rural India to the minute map of Michigan we carry on the palms of our hands. These poems contemplate ancestral language, the wonder and uncertainty of scientific discovery, the resilience of a dung beetle, the fleeting existence of frost flowers on the Arctic Ocean.
The collection is full of familiar characters, from Rosa Parks to Seamus Heaney to Corporal Nathan Cirillo, anchoring it in specific moments in time and place, but has the universality that comes from exploring the complex relationship between a child and her immigrant parents, and in turn, a mother and her children. Elementary Particles examines the building blocks of a life — the personal, family, and planetary histories, transformations, and losses we all experience. (From Brick Books)
Sneha Madhavan-Reese is a writer currently based in Ottawa. In 2015 she received Arc Poetry Magazine’s Diana Brebner Prize and was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her previous poetry collection is called Observing the Moon
As you can see, there’s no substantive mention of physics in this book description—it’s just a title. Puzzling since there’s this about the author on Asian Heritage Canada’s Sneha Madhavan-Reese webpage
Sneha Madhavan-Reese’s award winning poetry has been widely published in literary magazines in North America and Australia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT in 2000, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 2002. Madhavan-Reese currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario. [emphases mine]
It seems the mechanical engineer did not write up her book blurb because even though the poet’s scientific specialty is not physics as such, I’d expect a better description.
In the end, it seems art and science or poetry and science (in this case, physics) sells.
Alchemy, beauty, and Marx’s surprise connection to atomism
It was unexpected to see a TRIUMF physicist reference alchemy. The physicists haven’t turned lead into gold but they have changed one element into another. If memory holds it was one metallic atom being changed into another type of metallic atom. (Having had to return the book to the library, memory has serve.)
The few references to alchemy that I’ve stumbled across elsewhere in my readings of assorted science topics are derogatory, hence the surprise. Things may be changing; Princeton University Press published a November 7, 2018 posting by author William R. Newman about Newton and alchemy. First, here’s a bit about William Newman,
William R. Newman is Distinguished Professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Indiana University. His many books include Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution and Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
People often say that Isaac Newton was not only a great physicist, but also an alchemist. This seems astonishing, given his huge role in the development of science. Is it true, and if so, what is the evidence for it?
WN: The astonishment that Newton was an alchemist stems mostly from the derisive opinion that many moderns hold of alchemy [emphasis mine]. How could the man who discovered the law of universal gravitation, who co-invented calculus, and who was the first to realize the compound nature of white light also engage in the seeming pseudo-science of alchemy? There are many ways to answer this question, but the first thing is to consider the evidence of Newton’s alchemical undertaking. We now know that at least a million words in Newton’s hand survive in which he addresses alchemical themes. Much of this material has been edited in the last decade, and is available on the Chymistry of Isaac Newton site at www.chymistry.org. Newton wrote synopses of alchemical texts, analyzed their content in the form of reading notes and commentaries, composed florilegia or anthologies made up of snippets from his sources, kept experimental laboratory notebooks that recorded his alchemical research over a period of decades, and even put together a succession of concordances called the Index chemicus in which he compared the sayings of different authors to one another. The extent of his dedication to alchemy was almost unprecedented. Newton was not just an alchemist, he was an alchemist’s alchemist.
The ‘beauty’ essay by Ingrid Koenig was also a surprise. Beauty seems to be anathema to contemporary artists. I wrote this in an August 23, 2016 posting (Georgina Lohan, Bharti Kher, and Pablo Picasso: the beauty and the beastliness of art [in Vancouver]), “It seems when it comes to contemporary art, beauty is transgressive.”
Koenig describes it as irrelevant for contemporary artists and yet, beauty is an important attribute to physicists. Her thoughts on beauty in visual art and in physics were a welcome addition to the book.
Marx’s connection to atomism
This will take a minute.
De rerum natura, a six-volume poem by Lucretius (mentioned under the Poetry and physics subhead of this posting), helped to establish the concept of atomism. As it turns out, Lucretius got the idea from earlier thinkers, Epicurus and Democritus.
This chapter turns to Karl Marx’s treatment of Epicureanism and Lucretius [emphasis mine] in his doctoral dissertation, and argues that the questions raised by Marx may be brought to bear on our own understanding of Epicurean philosophy, particularly in respect of a tension between determinism and individual self-consciousness in a universe governed by material causation. Following the contours of Marx’s dissertation [emphasis mine], the chapter focusses on three key topics: the difference between Democritus’ and Epicurus’ methods of philosophy; the swerve of the atom; and the so-called ‘meteors’, or heavenly bodies [emphasis mine]. Marx sought to develop Hegel’s understanding of Epicurus, in particular by elevating the principle of autonomous action to a first form of self-consciousness – a consideration largely mediated by Lucretius’ theorization of the atomic swerve and his poem’s overarching framework of liberating humans from the oppression of the gods.
Fascinating, eh? The rest of this is behind a paywall. For the interested, here’s a citation and link for the book,
Approaches to Lucretius; Traditions and Innovations in Reading the De Rerum Natura Edited by Donncha O’Rourke, University of Edinburgh
Publisher: Cambridge University Press Online publication date: June 2020 Print publication year: 2020 Online ISBN: 9781108379854
It’s a little surprising Derksen doesn’t mention the connection in his essay.
It’s an interesting book if not an easy one. (By the way, I wish they’d included an index.) You can get a preview of some of the artwork in the January 6, 2020 article on the Canadian Art Magazine website.
I can’t rid myself of the feeling that LOoW (the book) is meant to function as a ‘proof of concept’ for someone wanting to start an art/science department or programme at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, perhaps jointly with the University of British Columbia. It is highly unusual to see this sort of material in anything other than a research journal or as a final summary to the granting agency.
Should starting an art/science programme be the intention, I hope they are successful in getting such it together and, in the meantime, thank you to the physicists and artists for their work.
We should all ‘lean out of windows’ on occasion and, if it means, falling or encountering ‘dangerous, uncomfortable ideas’ then, that’s alright too.
Intriguingly they used this image for the news release without a caption (I added the one you see) and no attribution/credit,
Now for the text, Note: A link has been removed,
AI-generated writing, photography, art and music have been skyrocketing in popularity, but that surging success has also triggered an enormous backlash, with many rejecting AI art — and even asserting that its proliferation marks the beginning of the end for humanity.
So why do some people react so negatively to art made by artificial intelligence? According to a new study from the UBC Sauder School of Business, it’s because for some, it challenges what it is to be human.
For the study, which appears in the June 2023 edition of Computers in Human Behavior, researchers led a series of psychology experiments involving AI art. In one, participants were shown two paintings, and were told that one was generated by AI and the other was human-made; in another, they listened to two pieces of music, one supposedly created by humans and the other by AI.
In reality, however, both pieces of artwork that participants were asked to evaluate were created by either AI or by a human. The researchers randomly labeled one of them as AI-made and the other one as human-made. Still, participants showed an overwhelming preference for artwork they thought was made by people.
“We found that there is a very pervasive bias against work made by AI artists,” says UBC Sauder PhD student Guanzhong Du (he/him), who co-authored the study with Kobe Millet and Michail D. Kokkoris from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Florian Buehler at Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences in Dornbirn, Austria.
“No matter which one is actually made by the human artist, people prefer the artwork that is labelled as human. They think it is more creative — and when they listen to music or look at paintings made by human artists, they think they are more awe-inspiring.”
To find out what’s driving the bias, the researchers tested whether the anti-AI sentiment was more pronounced in people with stronger “anthropocentric creativity beliefs” — that is, the belief that creativity is a uniquely human characteristic and distinguishes Homo sapiens from other species. They also measured the value of the artworks by asking participants which ones they would be willing to buy.
The results showed the bias against AI art is more pronounced in people who believe that creativity is a uniquely human characteristic, and that they were willing to pay more for works they believed were generated by humans.
“For those people, learning that AI can also be creative may be very threatening, because it challenges their worldview about what human beings are,” says Du. And the bias isn’t a matter of personal taste, he adds.
“It’s not like some people prefer Coke and some prefer Pepsi. It represents a deeper philosophical question about our understanding of human identity,” says Du. “What makes human beings unique as a species? What differentiates us from others? And what is our place in the universe?”
Artificial intelligence is already woven into everyday life, found in everything from chatbots to autocorrect to digital assistants like Siri and Alexa.
More recently, works made by AI art generators have swept social media. AI art also made headlines when a song featuring vocals by what sounded like music megastars Drake and The Weeknd went viral, raising alarm bells about creativity and ownership for artists and record companies.
The study is the first of its kind to link people’s aversion to AI art with speciesism and anthropocentrism, and their view that digital works threaten “the last fortress of human supremacy arguments, artistic creation.”
Du predicts that in the future, we will encounter more and more AI art. He also believes we should be aware of the human bias the study exposes, and embrace AI-generated art rather than resist it.
“We should learn to appreciate the beauty and the creativity of AI. Because if we leverage AI, if we work with AI, maybe we can better develop our own creativity. Maybe we can collaborate with AI, and achieve something we cannot achieve alone,” he says. “But if we are unaware of our bias against AI, that is not possible.”
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.
I have one upcoming art/science event being held on the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vancouver campus. At the very end of this post, there’s a brief mention of two art/climate events to be held at the Peter Wall Institute on campus.
Ars Scientia draws to a close?
Ars Scientia was initially announced in 2021 as a two year initiative between Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI), the Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery (the Belkin) and UBC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy (UBC PHAS). In other words, physicists and artists collaborating to do something over a two-year period.
There’ve been a number of Ars Scientia talks (use the search term “Ars Scientia” to find them on this blog) and now there’s going to be second (presumably final) symposium, “encou(n)ters.” From a May 9, 2023 Belkin Gallery notice (received via email),
Monday, May 15  from 2-6 pm at UBC Botanical Garden 
The Ars Scientia research cluster launched a collaborative residency program in 2021, bringing together artists and physicists to interrogate the intersections of art and science. Join us at UBC Botanical Garden for our second annual research symposium, _encou(n)ters_, to learn more about residency experiences and engage in interdisciplinary discussions with our participating artist and physicist investigators. Alongside presentations from Ars Scientia collaborators, we are honoured to invite Kavita Philip for a keynote lecture. UBC’s Research Excellence Cluster program seeded Ars Scientia with the objective of creating programming that fuses the practices of art and science in the emerging [emphasis mine] field of interdisciplinary research.
Although “interdisciplinary” and “interdisciplinarity” are frequently viewed as twentieth century terms, the concept has historical antecedents, most notably Greek philosophy. Julie Thompson Klein attests that “the roots of the concepts lie in a number of ideas that resonate through modern discourse—the ideas of a unified science, general knowledge, synthesis and the integration of knowledge”, while Giles Gunn says that Greek historians and dramatists took elements from other realms of knowledge (such as medicine or philosophy) to further understand their own material.
For an example of art and science from ancient times, “De rerum natura” or on the “Nature of Things” is a six book poem devoted to physics according to its Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,
De rerum natura (Latin: [deː ˈreːrʊn naːˈtuːraː]; On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through poetic language and metaphors. Namely, Lucretius explores the principles of atomism [emphases mine]; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna (“chance”), and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities.
In 2011, the historian and literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt wrote a popular history book about the poem, entitled The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. In the work, Greenblatt argues that Poggio Bracciolini’s discovery of De rerum natura reintroduced important ideas that sparked the modern age. The book was well-received, and later earned the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
More recently than Lucretius, Richard Holmes’ 2008 book “The Age of Wonder; How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science” explores the relationship 19th century English romantic poets had with science.
Monday, May 15  from 2-6 pm at UBC Botanical Garden
The symposium is free and open to the public, but space is limited; RSVP here.
Building Momentum, 2-3 pm
Opening remarks by Ars Scientia research leads Shelly Rosenblum, Jeremy Heyl and Andrea Damascelli; Artist talks by jg mair with Alannah Hallas and Timothy Taylor
Experiments in Real Space, 3:15-4:30 pm
Introduction and audience participation experience by James Day; Artist talks by Josephine Lee, Kelly Lycan and Justine Chambers, and Scott Billings
Keynote Address: Kavita Philip, 5-6 pm
Introduction by Susan Sechrist; Keynote address by Kavita Philip
Please join us for a reception following the panels to continue the conversation and enjoy the garden
The keynote speaker, Kavita Philip, joined the University of British Columbia in 2020 according to an October 1, 2020 UBC announcement, Note: Links have been removed,
Dr. Kavita Philip has commenced her appointment as the President’s Excellence Chair in Network Cultures, joining UBC as Professor of English with the UBC Department of English Language and Literatures.
Dr. Philip received her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 1996. Her research and teaching in Global South histories and sociologies of science, computational technologies, environment, network cultures, media, and politics crosses geographic boundaries and ranges across scholarly disciplines. For 25 years, Dr. Philip has been engaged not only in the intellectual task of forging methods to connect techno-scientific, social scientific, and humanistic inquiry, but also in the institutional task of building these collaborative spaces. She seeks to develop public humanities research that acknowledges the intertwined material and social contexts of cultural production. These networked commitments make her the ideal candidate for this chair.
Dr. Philip most recently taught in the History department at the University of California, Irvine. In addition, she has taught in Literature programs as well as Media and Communication Studies, beginning her career at Georgia Tech’s School of Literature, Communication, and Culture (formerly an English Department). There, she participated in the creation of a Bachelor of Science degree in Science, Technology and Culture. Dr. Philip expanded and bridged legacy English department curricula from the 1980s with approaches from STS, eco-criticism, speculative fiction, and media studies. In addition, she founded and ran the “Science, Technology, and Race” project, which was heralded for its exemplary pedagogy and outreach. At Georgia Tech, she received the E. Roe Stamps award for excellence in teaching.
At UC Irvine, in addition to her role as a Professor in History, Dr. Philip was also an affiliated Faculty in Informatics, and the Director and co-founder (with Du Bois scholar Dr. Nahum Chandler) of the research group in Science, Technology and Race at the University of California, Irvine. During her time at UC Irvine, she also served as the Director of the Critical Theory Institute, Director of the Graduate Feminist Emphasis, and Director of Graduate Studies in History.
Susan Sechrist, the scholar, who is introducing Dr. Philip, has this to say about herself on her eponymous blog, Note: Links have been removed,
I write literary and speculative fiction as well as critical essays at the intersection of fiction, science, and mathematics. My feature, Go Figure, is a column about mathematical metaphor in fiction, for the online literary blog Bloom. My math-curious short story, A Desirable Middle, was published by the eclectic Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.
I live in Vancouver, Canada, on the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). I’m a Creative Writing MFA student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Public Scholar, awarded when I was working on a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. Before returning to graduate school, I worked as a technical writer and editor for over 20 years, freelancing for clients as varied as high-tech research organizations, academic institutions, software and hardware companies, and technology start-ups.
At a Society for Technical Communication (STC) conference in Las Vegas, I presented a paper on an idea that would become the core of my scholarly research: what if technical writers used figurative and metaphorical language to explicate difficult, complex, scientific ideas? What if technical documentation was actually… interesting? That question led to a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Skidmore College, where my thesis was about the connections between literature and mathematical breakthroughs.
There are two other upcoming research events (art and climate change) that you can check out on this Belkin Gallery page (just scroll down past the symposium).
I stumbled across this piece of research about the same time as I received a book from the library (requested months ago), “All the Beauty in the World; The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me” by Patrick Bringley. 2023 (Simon and Schuster). The author is describing his earliest experience of art in the context of starting a new job as a guard at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in the wake of his brother’s death,
Roaming the old master wing, i was stopped and held fast by Pieter Bruegel’s The Harvesters, from 1565. I responded to that great painting in a way that I now believe is fundamental to the peculiar power of art. Namely: I experienced the great beauty of the picture even as I had no idea what to do with that beauty. I couldn’t discharge the feeling by talking about it—there was nothing much to say. What was beautiful in the painting was not like words, it was like paint—silent, direct, and concrete, resisting translation even into thought. As such, my response to the picture was trapped inside me, a bird fluttering in my chest. And I didn’t know what to make of that. It is always hard to know what to make of that. As a guard, I will be watching countless visitors respond in their own ways to the curious feeling. [all emphases mine; p. 10]
This research into art and its effects on you is focused solely on digitized paintings viewed on screens (more details about with paintings follow after the citation and link to the paper). With that in mind, from a March 27, 2023 news item on ScienceDaily,
People all around the world are drawn to creating and consuming art, and human emotions are often a central subject in visual artworks as well as in music and performance art. However, the mechanisms underlying the feelings that art evokes remain poorly characterised.
A new study reveals how viewing visual art affects our emotions. The research subjects viewed different kinds of artworks and described the feelings that the art stimulated in their bodies. The researchers recorded the subjects’ eye movement while they viewed the art. In addition, the subjects assessed what kind of emotions each piece of art evoked.
I find the image illustrating the research quite fascinating,
“Viewing the art evoked many different kinds of feelings and emotions in people. Even though many of the pieces handled sad or scary topics, the emotions that the people experienced were mainly positive. The bodily sensations evoked by art also contributed to the emotions: the stronger the body’s reaction was to the artwork, the stronger were the emotions experienced by the subject,” says Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from the Turku PET Centre at the University of Turku, Finland.
“In the artworks, human figures were the most interesting subject and were looked at the most. People have a tendency to empathise with each other’s emotions and this is probably also the case when we view human figures in art. The human emotions presented in art pieces can be absorbed by the viewer unnoticed, through so-called mirroring,” says Academician Riitta Hari from Aalto University.
Altogether 1,186 people from different countries participated in the study and they assessed the emotions evoked by over 300 artworks. The research was conducted with online surveys and eye movement recordings in the laboratory.
“Our results suggest that our bodies have a significant role in the aesthetic experience. Bodily sensations can draw people to art: art evokes feelings in the body, and such stimulation of the body’s pleasure centres feels pleasant to the viewer. This is why the emotions and bodily sensations evoked by art can be used, for example, in mental health rehabilitation and care,” Professor Nummenmaa recounts.
It looks to me, based on what’s described in the introduction, WikiArt’s homepage (source of the digitized paintings used in the study) and the list of famous paintings, that they have focused heavily on European art, Note 1: Links have been removed; Note 2: Researchers have limited funds and may have to constrain their interests,
Emotion is central to art. Humans all around the world are drawn to creating and consuming art due to its capability to evoke emotions (Chatterjee & Vartanian, Citation2014; Zentner et al., Citation2008), and human emotions are also a central subject of numerous artworks ranging from The Scream by Edvard Munch to The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Emotions coordinate physiological and behavioural activation patterns to promote survival and govern decision-making across contexts ranging from mate selection (Johnston, Citation2006) to feeding (Spence et al., Citation2016) and environmental preferences (Kaplan, Citation1987). …
Yet, humans may experience powerful emotions in the absence of survival challenges, notably when encountering art. …
The stimuli were digital photographs of 336 paintings and drawings spanning multiple genres and periods. Most of the stimuli were retrieved from the WikiArt Emotions database (Se ID:s in Supplementary Text 1) and were chosen based on their capacity to evoke emotions in the viewers (Mohammad & Kiritchenko, Citation2018). These artworks were complemented with 20 internationally famous paintings and 20 famous Finnish paintings presumably not widely known outside Finland (see Supplementary text 2); this was done to make sure the stimulus contained also well-known and well-liked as well as unfamiliar artworks. …
Suuplementary text 2 [sic?] Famous Finnish and international paintings included in the study
Finnish: Gunnar Berndtson: Morsiamen laulu, Albert Edelfelt: Lapsen ruumissaatto, Albert Edelfelt: Leikkiviä poikia rannalla, Akseli Gallen-Kallela : Lemminkäisen äiti, Akseli Gallen-Kallela : Symposion, Pekka Halonen: Tienraivaajia Karjalassa, Werner Holmberg: Postitie Hämeessä,Edvard Isto: Hyökkäys, Tove Jansson: Juhlat kaupungissa, Eero Järnfetl: Kaski, Eero Järnfetl: Maisema Kolilta, Juho Rissanen: Kuppari, Juho Rissanen: Lapsuuden muisto, Juho Rissanen: Piipunsytyttäjät, Tyko Sallinen: Piruntanssi, Tyko Sallinen: Saunassa, Helene Schjerfbeck: Toipilas, Hugo Simberg: Haavoittunut Enkeli, Hugo Simberg: Vanhus ja lapsi, Ellen Thesleff: Kaiku. International: Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, Sandro Botticelli: La Primavera, William-Adolphe Bouguereau: The Wave, Francisco de Goya: El Tres de Mayo, Grant Wood: American Gothic, Francisco de Goya: La maja desnuda, Hokusai: The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Edward Hopper: Nighthawks, Wassily Kandinsky: Composition 8, Gustav Klimt: Der Kuss, Édouard Manet: Olympia, Edvard Munch : Aske, Pablo Picasso: The Old Guitarist, Rembrandt van Rijn: Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee, Auguste Renoir: Le Moulin de la Galette, Diego Riviera: The Flower Carrier, Henri Rousseau: The Sleeping Gypsy, Peter Paul Rubens: Massacre of the Innocents, Vincent van Gogh: Starry night, Johannes Vermeer: Meisje met de parel
It would be interesting to find out if there are differences attributable to a viewer’s unconscious assumptions about art, specifically paintings. Would we experience our emotions differently in front of prehistoric art, or ancient Egyptian art, or art uninfluenced by European art?
Is there some sort of misunderstanding between Toronto’s ArtSci Salon and the Onsite Gallery at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) University)?
Previously, I featured a series organized around the ‘more-than’human’ exhibition at the Onsite Gallery which included events being held by the ArtSci Salon in my February 1, 2023 posting. This morning (April 3, 2023), I received, via email, an April 2, 2023 ArtSci Salon announcement about some upcoming events for the ‘Re-situating: more-than-human’ event series (sigh), Note 1: They’ve added a poet to the Poetry Night, added more detail to the May 2023 excursion, and added a call for projects; Note 2: The Onsite Gallery continues call to it the ‘more-than-human’ exhibition,
Poetry Night Wednesday, April 5  – 7:30-9:30
An immersive poetry performance that involves three poets reading poems and a site-specific live projection mapping response created by artist Ilze Briede (Kavi). Come to this in-depth and unique event of deep listening and embodied experience!
Dr. Madhur Anand, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph Dr. Karen Houle, College of arts, University of Guelph
Liz Howard, Department of English, Concordia University
Projection mapping by Ilze Briede (Kavi) PhD student, York University
Don’t forget next event of the Re-Situating series:
The rare Charitable Research Reserve is an urban land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region/Wellington, protecting over 1,200 acres of highly sensitive lands.
This event follows and concludes several interdisciplinary dialogues on ethics of care, ecology, symbiosis, and human-plant relations. We weave together embodied discovery and sensory experience ; listening and thinking about the ethical and material implications of recognizing non-human individuals as valuable ; as well as different disciplines, epistemologies, positionalities. Our goal is to acquire better awareness of the ecological community to which we belong, with the intention of rethinking and resituating the human within a diverse, complex, and multifaceted ecosystem of other-than-human lifeforms.
The day will begin with a panel between artists and scientists investigating the social, economic, and natural complexities affecting both human and plant-life. The afternoon events will include a 30-minute walk through the wetlands at rare (wetland as carbon sinks), a Master Class led by Dr. Alice Jarry (the design of plant-based air filtration), and a rare led walk following the ecological lichen monitoring.
IMPORTANT! Bus will leave for rare at 9 am and will return to Toronto at 5:30 pm.
Please, note: Tickets are limited. Should you not be able to attend, please let us know so we can free up the space for someone else.
We require a nominal registration fee of $5 which will be refunded on the day of the event.
Sunday, May 7  – 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Meeting place: Onsite gallery, 199 Richmond Street West.
11:00 am-12:30 pm: Panel
Sumia Ali, McMaster University
Grace Grothaus, PhD candidate, York University
Dr. Alice Jarry, Speculative Life BioLab, Concordia University
Dr. Marissa Davis, University of Waterloo
12:30-1:30pm: lunch – catered
1:30-2:15 Wetlands walk
Dr. Alice Jarry, Speculative Life BioLab, Concordia University – Plant based filtration systems
4:30-5:15 The lichen monitoring walk. This program at rare is one of several long-term ecological monitoring programs yielding valuable baseline data and can help to identify critical changes in ecosystem dynamics.
5:30 – return to Toronto
For more information and for media inquiries please contact Roberta Buiani – ArtSci Salon, The Fields Institute firstname.lastname@example.org Jane Tingley – Slolab, York University email@example.com
From the April 2, 2023 ArtSci Salon announcement (received via email),
call for GLAM Incubator projects for 2023 – 2024
For more information about the Call for Projects please visit the GLAM Incubator’s website For specific questions about the Incubator or this year’s call, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to answer any questions you or any potential partner organizations might have.
The GLAM Incubator is a research and support hub that connects galleries, libraries, archives, and museums with industry partners, researchers, and students to advance the development of seedling projects that benefit cultural institutions, industry, and the research and teaching goals of universities worldwide. The overarching goal of the Incubator is to provide support to experimental projects that benefit the GLAM industries and engages students. It provides the broader context and overarching structure for an ongoing series of responsive, finite, cross-sector action research collaborations. A collaboration between the Faculty of Information and the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto, the GLAM Incubator provides space, administrative assistance, research expertise, equipment, event facilitation, limited funding, and knowledge mobilization.
Each year, the GLAM Incubator puts out a Call for Projects from GLAM institutions for small-scale projects that experiment or incubate new programming, service models, interactive experiences, technical services, knowledge media, and user interfaces that will have an impact on GLAM institutions or professions more broadly. Please consult our Call for Projects page for more information.
The GLAM Incubator is a theory and innovation lab dedicated to launching and supporting small-scale projects focused on the development of cutting-edge programming, service models, interactive experiences, knowledge media, and user interfaces that address a specific issue or opportunity associated with emerging technologies within the GLAM sector. The themes and contents of the projects supported by the Incubator evolve in keeping with shifting technological developments and in response to the fluctuating needs and concerns of the various stakeholders involved in the cultural industry sectors (professionals, patrons, funders).
The Incubator will use its resources and infrastructure to run multiple projects concurrently. In addition to meeting the above criteria, projects will demonstrate a capacity to engage a diversity of stakeholders, as well as new and existing community partners. Projects will be “small-scale,” with a well-bounded research design (e.g. a study addressing a specific issue or timed opportunity faced by a community or industry partner) and short-term (1-3 years) duration. Active projects will be set up in a “doored lab,” either dedicated or shared. The Incubator will purchase or assist with the purchase of technological equipment and software required for the research. It will assist with administrative tasks and knowledge mobilization activities, as described in more detail below. It will provide in-kind support to help project leads secure external grants to fund other costs associated with the research (including research assistant salaries, conference travel, etc.). In exchange, project leads and their teams will ensure that a significant proportion of the research activities occur within that space.
Project teams must participate in an annual Symposium and engage their research and results in Incubator-supported knowledge mobilization activities, public or community outreach activities, and student engagement opportunities, where applicable.
Incubator projects will be selected through an application process.
Two-page description of the project that includes an explanation of the project’s purpose and impact on a GLAM industry or profession;
Resume(s) of the lead applicant(s);
A list of collaborators including brief biographies or descriptive information
Sustainability for continuing the project after incubation
A list of potential equipment, space, administrative, and funding needs.
We also welcome inquiries from potential applicants.
Enjoy the events and good luck with your submission to GLAM.
Should you be interested in an ArtSci Salon event (and part of whatever this series and exhibition is being called), titled ‘On Ethics of Care’, held in late March 2023, there’s an embedded two hour video on their ‘Re-situating: more-than-human’ webpage,
Let’s clear up a few things. First, as noted in the headline, the Cambridge Festival (March 17 – April 2, 2023) is being held in the UK by the University of Cambridge in the town of Cambridge. Second, the specific festival event featured here is a display put together by students and professors at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and in the town of Cambridge as part of the festival and will be held for two days, March 31 – April 1, 2023.
Dreams are being turned into reality as new research investigating the unusual experiences of people with depersonalisation symptoms is being brought to life in an art exhibition at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, England.
ARU neuroscientist Dr Jane Aspell has led a major international study into depersonalisation, funded by the Bial Foundation. The “Living in a Dream” project, results from which will be published later this year, found that people who experience depersonalisation symptoms sometimes experience life from a very different perspective, both while awake and while dreaming.
Those experiencing depersonalisation often report feeling as though they are not real and that their body does not belong to them. Dr Aspell’s study, which is the first to examine how people with this disorder experience dreams, collected almost 1,000 dream reports from participants.
Now these dreams have been recreated by eight students from ARU’s MA Illustration course and the artwork will go on display for the first time on 31 March and 1 April as part of the Cambridge Festival.
This collaboration between art and science, led by psychologist Matt Gwyther and illustrator Dr Nanette Hoogslag, with the support of artist and creative technologist Emily Godden, has resulted in 12 original artworks, which have been created using the latest audio-visual technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), and are presented using a mix of audio-visual installation, virtual reality (VR) experiences, and traditional media.
Dr Jane Aspell, Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at ARU and Head of the Self and Body Lab, said: “People who experience depersonalisation sometimes feel detached from their self and body, and a common complaint is that it’s like they are watching their own life as a film.
“Because their waking reality is so different, myself and my international collaborators – Dr Anna Ciaunica, Professor Bigna Lenggenhager and Dr Jennifer Windt – were keen to investigate how they experience their dreams.
“People who took part in the study completed daily ‘dream diaries’, and it is fabulous to see how these dreams have been recreated by this group of incredibly talented artists.”
Matt Gwyther added: “Dreams are both incredibly visual and surreal, and you lose so much when attempting to put them into words. By bringing them to life as art, it has not only produced fabulous artwork, but it also helps us as scientists better understand the experiences of our research participants.”
Amongst the artists contributing to the exhibition is MA student Jewel Chang, who has recreated a dream about being chased. When the person woke up, they continued to experience it and were unsure whether they were experiencing the dream or reality.
False awakenings and multiple layers of dreams can be confusing, affecting our perception of time and space. Jewel used AI to create an environment with depth and endless moving patterns that makes the visitor feel trapped in their dream, unable to escape.
Kelsey Wu, meanwhile, used special 3D software and cameras to recreate a dream of floating over hills and forests, and losing balance. The immersive piece, with the audience invited to sit on a grass-covered floor, creates a sense of loss of control of the body, which moves in an abnormal and unbalanced way, and evokes a struggle between illusion and reality as the landscape continuously moves.
Dr Nanette Hoogslag, Course Leader for the MA in Illustration at ARU, said: “This project has been a unique challenge, where students not only applied themselves in supporting scientific research, but investigated and used a range of new technologies, including virtual reality and AI-generated imagery. The final pieces are absolutely remarkable, and also slightly unsettling!”
After reading the latest newsletter (received via email on March 20, 2023), featuring Scott Billings’ talk ‘Latest Life’, from the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Belkin Gallery I was reminded of a book produced at the nanoscale back in 2009 (May 21, 2009 posting; scroll down to the final paragraph) and which I wrote about again in 2012 (October 12, 2012 posting) when ‘Teeny Ted from Turnip Town’ was added to the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest book. (‘Teeny Ted’ also has a Wikipedia entry.)
The March 20, 2023 Belkin Gallery (also known as the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery) newsletter is promoting the next Ars Scientia events (the information can also be found on this webpage),
We hope you’ll join us this spring for talks and presentations related to our ongoing research projects in art and science, and the Anthropocene. Over the past years, we have developed a deep and abiding interdisciplinary research practice related to these themes, working with diverse disciplines that are fortified through oppositions, collaborations and the celebration of new perspectives. We have shared our different fields of experience, expertise and resources to catalyze meaningful responses to research, pedagogy, communication and outreach, and in doing so build responses that are more than the sum of their parts. This methodology of bringing the unique perspectives and practices of artists and curators to academic units presents an opportunity to foster new modes of knowledge exchange. In this spirit, we hope you’ll join us in thinking through these critical areas of inquiry.
Building on exhibitions like The Beautiful Brain and Drift, the Ars Scientia research project connects artists with physicists to explore the intersections between the disciplines of art and science. A collaboration between the Belkin, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the Blusson Quantum Matter Institute [QMI], [emphases mine] this spring’s artists’ residencies culminate in a series of talks by JG Mair, Scott Billings and Timothy Taylor, followed by a symposium in May with keynote speaker Kavita Philip.
Please join Scott Billings for Latent Life, a presentation based on his recent research in the Ars Scientia residency. Drawing from a 1933 lecture in which Neils Bohr asserts that the impossibility of using a physical explanation for the phenomenon of life is analogous to the insufficiency of using a mechanical analysis to understand phenomena of the atom, Billings will discuss his seemingly conflicting dual practice as both visual artist and mechanical engineer. Reflecting upon a preoccupation with the animality of cinematic machine, among (many) other things, Billings will relay his recent direct experience with photonic writing [emphasis mine] at QMI’s NanoFab Lab and the wonderful new conundrum of making and exhibiting micro-sculptures that are far too small to see with the naked eye.
Date & time: March 28 , 1:00-2:00pm [PT]
Location: 311, Brimacombe Building (2355 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4)
For more information on this event, please click here.
Photonic writing and sculpture? I’m guessing the word ‘writing’ in this context doesn’t mean what it usually means. Still, it did bring back memories of the world’s smallest book. I always did wonder about the point of producing book that couldn’t be read without expensive equipment. And now, there’s sculpture that can’t be seen.
I hope Billings’s talk will shed some light on this phenomenon of artists and writers creating objects than cannot be seen with the naked eye. Scientists do this sort of thing for fun but the motivation for writers and artists seems to be about proving something and not at all about play.