Category Archives: Visual Art

“Imagine Van Gogh” in Vancouver (Canada) in 2021

Here’s a video about “Imagine Van Gogh,” coming soon to Vancouver, they hope, but which opened first in Montréal in December 2019 where almost 200,000 visited the exhibit before it moved to Winnipeg in March 2020 (Note: There is an advertisement before the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) segment begins),

The Dec. 7, 2019 CBC news item (where video was embedded), provides more details about the exhibit experience (Note: A link has been removed),

Brushstrokes appear several feet wide, as more than 200 works, such as Starry Night and The Yellow House, are blown up and split into panels, giving visitors a 360-degree view of the paintings projected onto the walls and floor.

Annabelle Mauger, one of the artistic directors behind the exhibit, titled Imagine Van Gogh, says she tests this type of exhibition by seeing how her young children react to it.

“When I saw them just running [at] the image, running into the paintings, I think, this is the most fantastic thing I can do,” she told CBC News.

Mauger said she wanted to create a space where people could experience van Gogh’s art in ways traditional museums don’t allow. Classical music plays as you move around the warehouse space, where you can reach out and touch the simulated canvas or sit on the floor and watch the artwork swirl around you.

That feeling of being surrounded by the artwork is building on French photographer Albert Plécy‘s concept of “image totale,” which Maugler studied while in Provence, France at the Cathédrale d’images.

The Montreal showing of Imagine Van Gogh is its North American debut, with 40,000 tickets sold before it opened at the Arsenal Contemporary Art centre on Dec. 5.

But not everyone is a fan of such immersive art exhibitions, which seek to attract audiences to contemplate works of art by presenting them in an accessible format.

Artist Joseph Nechvatal, reviewing a similar digital art exhibition in Paris titled “Van Gogh, Starry Night,” decried it as “a nasty bit of metaphorical necrophilia” that degrades van Gogh’s daring works.

He called the show “one of the greatest banalizations of painting I have ever seen, matched only by van Gogh kitchen hand towels now being sold around town.”

In that exhibit, the paintings came to life through the use of computer-generated animation. But in Imagine Van Gogh, they retain their static quality as they’re projected on the walls, which lets the art express motion, Mauger says, while still remaining immobile.

“I don’t want the birds flying, you know,” said Mauger. “I don’t want to see the [self]-portrait of van Gogh smoking. No, for me, this is nonsense.”

Hrag Vartanian, the Canadian-raised editor-in-chief and co-founder of the influential art criticism website Hyperallergic, is more generous than Nechvatal in his assessment of the growing trend of immersive digital art shows.

“A lot of these artworks are sometimes disappointing when you’re in a museum and you realize it’s much smaller than you imagined it, or there’s a huge crowd and you don’t get a moment of contemplation you were hoping for,” he said in an interview from New York.

As for the proposed “Imagine Van Gogh” in Vancouver exhibition, Kenneth Chan reveals details about the plans in his Nov. 26, 2020 article for the Daily Hive,

A massive immersive digital art exhibition that blankets tall walls and floors with the projections of works by Vincent van Gogh is slated for Vancouver Convention Centre starting in February 2021.

Plans to bring the exhibition to Vancouver were announced today, but a specific start and end date has yet to be established. The exhibition will operate under the latest public health guidelines in BC.

The exhibition footprint inside the convention centre is 30,000 sq. ft. For context, the total amount of exhibition space at the Vancouver Art Gallery is about 41,000 sq. ft.

There has been immense interest with Imagine Van Gogh in Canada. It received nearly 200,000 visitors in Montreal before it closed in March, and almost 75,000 in Quebec City this past summer during the pandemic. Currently, the exhibition is underway in Winnipeg, and it has been extended to the end of December due to “incredible demand.”

The exhibition is in partnership with France-based Encore Productions and Paquin Entertainment Group and Tandem Expositions.

Organizers are asking interested parties to pre-register. I think they’re trying to gauge the level of interest Vancouverites have in this proposed exhibition. Organizers are offering some incentives to pre-register (from the Vancouver Imagine Van Gogh presale website),

Register now and be the first to know when tickets go on sale, and gain access to an exclusive presale to get tickets before they are available to the general public.

You will also be entered to

win one of three Premiere Packages

for you and three friends to attend the opening of the Imagine Van Gogh exhibit.
 
Additionally, you will receive other exclusive offers from our partners.

Imagine Van Gogh 2020. (Imagine Van Gogh [downloaded from https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/imagine-van-gogh-vancouver-2021]

If you need more inspiration, check out Chan’s Nov. 26, 2020 article where you will find many more images. Enjoy!

Can tattoos warn you of health dangers?

I think I can safely say that Carson J. Bruns, a Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, is an electronic tattoo enthusiast. His Sept. 24, 2020 essay on electronic tattoos for The Conversation (also found on Fast Company) outlines a very rosy view of a future where health monitoring is constant and visible on your skin (Note: Links have been removed),

In the sci-fi novel “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson, body art has evolved into “constantly shifting mediatronic tattoos” – in-skin displays powered by nanotech robopigments. In the 25 years since the novel was published, nanotechnology has had time to catch up, and the sci-fi vision of dynamic tattoos is starting to become a reality.

The first examples of color-changing nanotech tattoos have been developed over the past few years, and they’re not just for body art. They have a biomedical purpose. Imagine a tattoo that alerts you to a health problem signaled by a change in your biochemistry, or to radiation exposure that could be dangerous to your health.

You can’t walk into a doctor’s office and get a dynamic tattoo yet, but they are on the way. …

In 2017, researchers tattooed pigskin, which had been removed from the pig, with molecular biosensors that use color to indicate sodium, glucose or pH levels in the skin’s fluids.

In 2019, a team of researchers expanded on that study to include protein sensing and developed smartphone readouts for the tattoos. This year, they also showed that electrolyte levels could be detected with fluorescent tattoo sensors.

In 2018, a team of biologists developed a tattoo made of engineered skin cells that darken when they sense an imbalance of calcium caused by certain cancers. They demonstrated the cancer-detecting tattoo in living mice.

My lab is looking at tech tattoos from a different angle. We are interested in sensing external harms, such as ultraviolet radiation. UV exposure in sunlight and tanning beds is the main risk factor for all types of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers are the most common malignancies in the U.S., Australia and Europe.

I served as the first human test subject for these tattoos. I created “solar freckles” on my forearm – invisible spots that turned blue under UV exposure and reminded me when to wear sunscreen. My lab is also working on invisible UV-protective tattoos that would absorb UV light penetrating through the skin, like a long-lasting sunscreen just below the surface. We’re also working on “thermometer” tattoos using temperature-sensitive inks. Ultimately, we believe tattoo inks could be used to prevent and diagnose disease.

Temporary transfer tattoos are also undergoing a high-tech revolution. Wearable electronic tattoos that can sense electrophysiological signals like heart rate and brain activity or monitor hydration and glucose levels from sweat are under development. They can even be used for controlling mobile devices, for example shuffling a music playlist at the touch of a tattoo, or for luminescent body art that lights up the skin.

The advantage of these wearable tattoos is that they can use battery-powered electronics. The disadvantage is that they are much less permanent and comfortable than traditional tattoos. Likewise, electronic devices that go underneath the skin are being developed by scientists, designers and biohackers alike, but they require invasive surgical procedures for implantation.

Tattoos injected into the skin offer the best of both worlds: minimally invasive, yet permanent and comfortable. [emphasis mine] New needle-free tattooing methods that fire microscopic ink droplets into the skin are now in development. Once perfected they will make tattooing quicker and less painful.

The color-changing tattoos in development are also going to open the door to a new kind of dynamic body art. Now that tattoo colors can be changed by an electromagnetic signal, you’ll soon be able to “program” your tattoo’s design, or switch it on and off. You can proudly display your neck tattoo at the motorcycle rally and still have clear skin in the courtroom.

As researchers develop dynamic tattoos, they’ll need to study the safety [emphasis mine] of the high-tech inks. As it is, little is known about the safety of the more than 100 different pigments used in normal tattoo inks [emphasis mine]. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not exercised regulatory authority over tattoo pigments, citing other competing public health priorities and a lack of evidence of safety problems with the pigments. So U.S. manufacturers can put whatever they want in tattoo inks [emphasis mine] and sell them without FDA approval.

A wave of high-tech tattoos is slowly upwelling, and it will probably keep rising for the foreseeable future. When it arrives, you can decide to surf or watch from the beach. If you do climb on board, you’ll be able to check your body temperature or UV exposure by simply glancing at one of your tattoos.

There are definitely some interesting possibilities, artistic, health, and medical, offered by electronic tattoos. As you may have guessed, I’m not quite the enthusiast that Dr. Bruns seems to be but I could be persuaded, assuming there’s evidence to support the claims.

Skyrmions (nanoscale vortices) with a unique property

A Sept. 23, 2020 news item on Nanowerk describes both skyrmions and the latest in potentially practical ‘skyrmion research’ ,

Nanoscale vortices known as skyrmions can be created in many magnetic materials. For the first time, researchers at PSI [Paul Scherrer Institute] have managed to create and identify antiferromagnetic skyrmions with a unique property: critical elements inside them are arranged in opposing directions. Scientists have succeeded in visualising this phenomenon using neutron scattering. Their discovery is a major step towards developing potential new applications, such as more efficient computers.

Caption: Skyrmions are nanoscale vortices in the magnetic alignment of atoms. For the first time, PSI researchers have now created antiferromagnetic skyrmions in which critical spins are arranged in opposing directions. This state is shown in the artist’s impression above. Credit: Paul Scherrer Institute/Diego Rosales

That image makes me think of ‘op art’. For anyone unfamiliar with the art movement, there’s Bob Lansroth’s October 29, 2015 article (10 Op Art Artists Whose Work You Have to Follow) for widwalls.ch,

The nature of perception, optical effects, illusions and visual stimuli have been fascinating artists for many centuries. Optical Art, or Op Art, is relying on optical illusions and is sometimes even referred to as retinal art. Some critics would even call it a mathematically-themed form of Abstract Art, considering the use of repetitive forms and colors in order to create vibrating effects, foreground-background confusion and an exaggerated sense of depth.

Lansroth’s October 29, 2015 article is liberally illustrated with examples.

Getting back to the skyrmions at hand, a Sept. 23, 2020 Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) press release (also on EurekAlert) by Laura Hennemann, which originated the news item, describes the research in more detail,

Whether a material is magnetic depends on the spins of its atoms. The best way to think of spins is as minute bar magnets. In a crystal structure where the atoms have fixed positions in a lattice, these spins can be arranged in criss-cross fashion or aligned all in parallel like the spears of a Roman legion, depending on the individual material and its state.

Under certain conditions it is possible to generate tiny vortices within the corps of spins. These are known as skyrmions. Scientists are particularly interested in skyrmions as a key component in future technologies, such as more efficient data storage and transfer. For example, they could be used as memory bits: a skyrmion could represent the digital one, and its absence a digital zero. As skyrmions are significantly smaller than the bits used in conventional storage media, data density is much higher and potentially also more energy efficient, while read and write operations would be faster as well. Skyrmions could therefore be useful both in classical data processing and in cutting-edge quantum computing.

Another interesting aspect for the application is that skyrmions can be created and controlled in many materials by applying an electrical current. “With existing skyrmions, however, it is tricky to move them systematically from A to B, as they tend to deviate from a straight path due to their inherent properties,” explains Oksana Zaharko, research group leader at PSI.

Working with researchers from other institutions, Dr Zaharko and her team have now created a new type of skyrmion and demonstrated a unique characteristic: in their interior, critical spins are arranged in opposite directions to one another. The researchers therefore describe their skyrmions as antiferromagnetic.

In a straight line from A to B

“One of the key advantages of antiferromagnetic skyrmions is that they are much simpler to control: if an electrical current is applied, they move in a simple straight line,” Zaharko comments. This is a major advantage: for skyrmions to be suitable for practical applications, it must be possible to selectively manipulate and position them.

The scientists created their new type of skyrmion by fabricating them in a customised antiferromagnetic crystal. Zaharko explains: “Antiferromagnetic means that adjacent spins are in an antiparallel arrangement, in other words one pointing upwards and the next pointing downwards. So what was initially observed as a property of the material we subsequently identified within the individual skyrmions as well.”

Several steps are still needed before antiferromagnetic skyrmions are mature enough for a technological application: PSI researchers had to cool the crystal down to around minus 272 degrees Celsius and apply an extremely strong magnetic field of three tesla – roughly 100,000 times the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Neutron scattering to visualise the skyrmions

And the researchers have yet to create individual antiferromagnetic skyrmions. To verify the tiny vortices, the scientists are using the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source SINQ at PSI. “Here we can visualise skyrmions using neutron scattering if we have a lot of them in a regular pattern in a particular material”, Zaharko explains.

But the scientist is optimistic: “In my experience, if we manage to create skyrmions in a regular alignment, someone will soon manage to create such skyrmions individually.”

The general consensus in the research community is that once individual antiferromagnetic skyrmions can be created at room temperature, a practical application will not be far off.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Fractional antiferromagnetic skyrmion lattice induced by anisotropic couplings by Shang Gao, H. Diego Rosales, Flavia A. Gómez Albarracín, Vladimir Tsurkan, Guratinder Kaur, Tom Fennell, Paul Steffens, Martin Boehm, Petr Čermák, Astrid Schneidewind, Eric Ressouche, Daniel C. Cabra, Christian Rüegg & Oksana Zaharko. Nature (2020) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2716-8 Published: 23 September 2020

This paper is behind a paywall.

Vancouver (Canada) Biennale and #ArtProject2020, a free virtual art & technology expo from November 11th to 15th, 2020

It’s a bit odd that the organizers for an event held in Canada would arrange to have Remembrance Day for the opening day and not make any acknowledgements. (For those not familiar with it, here’s more about Remembrance Day (Wikipedia entry) and there’s more here on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s [CBC] Remembrance Day 2020 webpage and on this Nov. 10, 2020 ‘Here’s everything you need to know about the poppy’ article for the Daily Hive.)

The event description is quite exciting and the poster image is engaging, although ….

Courtesy: Vancouver Biennale

Did they intend for the blocks to the left and right (gateway to the bridge?) to look like someone holding both hands giving you the finger on each side? Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t ‘unsee’ it.

Moving on, there’s more information about the expo from a Nov. 9, 2020 Vancouver Biennale announcement (received via email),

The Vancouver Biennale announces a global invitation to #ArtProject2020, a free virtual art and technology expo about how the latest technologies are influencing the art world. The expo will run from November 11th to 15th and feature over 80 international speakers and 40 events offering accessible information and educational resources for digital art. Everyone with a personal or professional interest in art and technology, including curators, galleries, museums, artists, collectors, innovators, experience designers, and futurists will find the expo fascinating and is invited to register. Trilingual programming in English, Spanish, and Chinese will be available.

To reserve a free ticket and see the complete speaker list and schedule, visit www.artproject.io.

Curated by New York-based Colombian artist Jessica Angel, the expo will accompany the Vancouver Biennale’s first exhibition of tokenized art with new works by Jessica Angel, Dina Goldstein, Diana Thorneycroft, and Kristin McIver. Tokenized art is powered by blockchain technology and has redefined digital artwork ownership, allowing artists and collectors the benefit of true digital scarcity. The exhibition will be launched via the blockchain marketplace, Ephimera.

About the Expo

Panel Discussions, Artist Talks, Keynote Speakers: Innovators, curators, legal experts, and artists working at the leading edge of digital art will cover topics including What Is Cryptoart?, Finding Opportunity in the Digital, Women Leading the Art and Tech Movement, The Art of Immersion, Decentralising Power and Resources in the Art World, and Tools for Artists and Collectors. Speakers include The Whitney Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Christie’s, Foundation for Art and Blockchain, SuperRare, and Art in America.

Learning: Barrier-free educational workshops will teach participants about using open-source and accessible innovative tools to create, monetize, and collect digital art. Workshops are integrated with various blockchain projects to drive adoption through experience. Featured presenters include Ephimera, Status, and MakerDAO. Indigenous Matriachs 4 will present from the Immersive Knowledge Transfer series for XR media creators, artists, and storytellers from diverse cultural communities.

Activities: A Crypto-Art Puzzle will drop clues every day of the event, and the Digital Art Battle will challenge artists to draw live. This gamified experience will offer winners rewards in different tokens. Participates can also join the Rare AF team on a Virtual Gallery Tour through the Metaverse, where gallery owners will share the inspirations behind their virtual spaces.

Anchoring the virtual expo is a future physical installation by Jessica Angel. Cleverly titled Voxel Bridge, this public artwork will transform the area underneath Vancouver’s Cambie Street Bridge into a three-layered immersive experience to transport visitors between physical and digital worlds. Working with the vastness of the concrete bridge as first layer, Angel adds her site-specific installation as a second layer, and completes the experience with augmented reality enhancements over the real world as the third and final layer. The installation is slated for completion in Spring 2021 as part of the Vancouver Biennale Exhibition.

“I never want to see the Biennale stuck in the past, presenting only static sculpture in an ever-changing world. We work with what comes next, the yet unknown, and we want to go where the future is heading and where public art has, perhaps, always been going. I am excited for this expo and the next chapter of the Biennale.”  – Barrie Mowatt, Founder & Artistic Director of Vancouver Biennale

“Art is a mobilizing force with the power to bridge seemingly dissimilar worlds, and Voxel Bridge exhibits this capacity. This expo transcends the enjoyment of art into a unifying and experimenting effort, that enables blockchain technology and established art institutions to examine ways of interaction. Join us in the virtual public space, to learn, and to cultivate new forms of participation.”             – Jessica Angel, Artist

Do check the schedule: http://www.artproject.io/ (keep scrolling) and don’t forget it’s free in exchange for your registration information. Enjoy!

Concerns about Zoom? Call for expressions of interest in “Zoom Obscura,” creative interventions for a data ethics of video conferencing

Have you wondered about Zoom video conferencing and all that data being made available? Perhaps questioned ethical issues in addition to those associated with data security? Is so and you’d like to come up with a creative intervention that delves beyond encryption issues, there’s Zoom Obscura (on the creativeinformatics.org website),

CI [Creative Informatics] researchers Pip Thornton, Chris Elsden and Chris Speed were recently awarded funding from the Human Data Interaction Network (HDI +) Ethics & Data competition. Collaborating with researchers from Durham [Durham University] and KCL [Kings College London], the Zoom Obscura project aims to investigate creative interventions for a data ethics of video conferencing beyond encryption.

The COVID-19 pandemic has gifted video conferencing companies, such as Zoom, with a vast amount of economically valuable and sensitive data such as our facial and voice biometrics, backgrounds and chat scripts. Before the pandemic, this ‘new normal’ would be subject to scrutiny, scepticism and critique. Yet, the urgent need for remote working and socialising left us with little choice but to engage with these potentially exploitative platforms.

While much of the narrative around data security revolves around technological ‘solutions’ such as encryption, we think there are other – more creative – ways to push back against the systems of digital capitalism that continue to encroach on our everyday lives.

As part of this HDI-funded project, we seek artists, hackers and creative technologists who are interested in experimenting with creative methods to join us in a series of online workshops that will explore how to restore some control and agency in how we can be seen and heard in these newly ubiquitous online spaces. Through three half-day workshops held remotely, we will bring artists and technicians together to ideate, prototype, and exhibit various interventions into the rapidly normalising culture of video-calling in ways that do not compromise our privacy and limit the sharing of our data. We invite interventions that begin at any stage of the video-calling process – from analogue obfuscation, to software manipulation or camera trickery.

Selected artists/collectives will receive a £1000 commission to take part and contribute in three workshops, in order to design and produce one or more, individual or collaborative, creative interventions developed from the workshops. These will include both technical support from a creative technologist as well as a curator for dissemination both online and in Edinburgh and London.

If you are an artist / technologist interested in disrupting/subverting the pandemic-inspired digital status quo, please send expressions of interest of no more than 500 words to pip.thornton@ed.ac.uk , andrew.dwyer@bristol.ac.uk, celsden@ed.ac.uk and michael.duggan@kcl.ac.uk by 8th October 2020. We don’t expect fully formed projects (these will come in the workshop sessions), but please indicate any broad ideas and thoughts you have, and highlight how your past and present practice might be a good fit for the project and its aims.

The Zoom Obscura project is in collaboration with Tinderbox Lab in Edinburgh and Hannah Redler-Hawes (independent curator and codirector of the Data as Culture art programme at the Open Data Institute in London). Outputs from the project will be hosted and exhibited via the Data as Culture archive site and at a Creative Informatics event at the University of Edinburgh.

Are folks outside the UK eligible?

I asked Dr. Pip Thornton about eligibility and she kindly noted this in her Sept. 25, 2020 tweet (reply copied from my Twitter feed),

Open to all, but workshop timings may be more amenable to UK working hours. Having said that, we won’t know what the critical mass is until we review all the applications, so please do apply if you’re interested!

Who are the members of the Zoom Obscura project team?

From the Zoom Obscura webpage (on the creativeinformatics.org website),

Dr. Pip Thornton is a post-doctoral research associate in Creative Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, having recently gained her PhD in Geopolitics and Cybersecurity from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her thesis, Language in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction: A Critique of Linguistic Capitalism, included theoretical, political and artistic critiques of Google’s search and advertising platforms. She has presented in a variety of venues including the Science Museum, the Alan Turing Institute and transmediale. Her work has featured in WIRED UK and New Scientist, and a collection from her {poem}.py intervention has been displayed at Open Data Institute in London. Her Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) funded installation Newspeak 2019, shown at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2019), was recently awarded an honourable mention in the Surveillance Studies Network biennial art competition (2020) and is shortlisted for the 2020 Lumen Prize for art and technology in the AI category.

Dr. Andrew Dwyer is a research associate  in the University of Bristol’s Cyber Security Group. Andrew gained a DPhil in Cyber Security at the University of Oxford, where he studied and questioned the role of malware – commonly known as computational viruses and worms –  through its analysis, detection, and translation into international politics and its intersection with multiple ecologies. In his doctoral thesis – Malware Ecologies: A Politics of Cybersecurity – he argued for a re-evaluation of the role of computational actors in the production and negotiation of security, and what this means for human-centred notions of weapons and warfare. Previously, Andrew has been a visiting fellow at the German ‘Dynamics of Security’ collaborative research centre based between Philipps-Universität Marburg, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen and the Herder Institute, Marburg and is a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs at the University of Oxford. He will soon be starting a 3-year Addison Wheeler research fellowship in the Department of Geography at the Durham University

Dr Chris Elsden is a research associate in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Chris is primarily working on the AHRC Creative Informatics project., with specific interests in FinTech and livestreaming within the Creative Industries. He is an HCI researcher, with a background in sociology, and expertise in the human experience of a data-driven life. Using and developing innovative design research methods, his work undertakes diverse, qualitative and often speculative engagements with participants to investigate emerging relationships with technology – particularly data-driven tools and financialn technologies. Chris gained his PhD in Computer Science at Open Lab, Newcastle University in 2018, and in 2019 was a recipient of a SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award.

Dr Mike Duggan is a Teaching Fellow in Digital Cultures in the Department of Digital Humanities at Kings College London. He was awarded a PhD in Cultural Geography from Royal Holloway University of London in 2017, which examined everyday digital mapping practices. This project was co-funded by the Ordnance Survey and the EPSRC. He is a member of the Living Maps network, where he is an editor for the ‘navigations’ section and previously curated the seminar series. Mike’s research is broadly interested in the digital and cultural geographies that emerge from the intersections between everyday life and digital technology.

Professor Chris Speed is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where his research focuses upon the Network Society, Digital Art and Technology, and The Internet of Things. Chris has sustained a critical enquiry into how network technology can engage with the fields of art, design and social experience through a variety of international digital art exhibitions, funded research projects, books journals and conferences. At present Chris is working on funded projects that engage with the social opportunities of crypto-currencies, an internet of toilet roll holders, and a persistent argument that chickens are actually robots.  Chris is co-editor of the journal Ubiquity and co-directs the Design Informatics Research Centre that is home to a combination of researchers working across the fields of interaction design, temporal design, anthropology, software engineering and digital architecture, as well as the PhD, MA/MFA and MSc and Advanced MSc programmes.

David Chatting is a designer and technologist who works in software and hardware to explore the impact of emerging technologies in everyday lives. He is currently a PhD student in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths – University of London, a Visiting Researcher at Newcastle University’s Open Lab and has his own design practice. Previously he was a Senior Researcher at BTs Broadband Applications Research Centre. David has a Masters degree in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art (2012) and a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from the University of Birmingham (2000). He has published papers and filed patents in the fields of HCI, psychology, tangible interfaces, computer vision and computer graphics.

Hannah Redler Hawes (Data as Culture) is an independent curator and codirector of the Data as Culture art programme at the Open Data Institute in London. Hannah specialises in emerging artistic practice within the fields of art and science and technology, with an interest in participatory process. She has previously developed projects for museums, galleries, corporate contexts, digital space and the public realm including the  Institute of Physics, Tate Modern, The Lowry, Natural History Museum, FACT Liverpool, the Digital Catapult and Science Gallery London, and has provided specialist consultancy services to the Wellcome Collection, Discover South Kensington and the Horniman Museum. Hannah enjoys projects that redraw boundaries between different disciplines. Current research is around addiction, open data, networked culture and new forms of programming beyond the gallery.

Tinderbox Collective : From grass-roots youth work to award-winning music productions, Tinderbox is building a vibrant and eclectic community of young musicians and artists in Scotland. We have a number of programmes that cross over with each other and come together wherever possible.  They are open to children and young people aged 10 – 25, from complete beginners to young professionals and all levels in between. Tinderbox Lab is our digital arts programme and shared studio maker-space in Edinburgh that brings together artists across disciplines with an interest in digital media and interactive technologies. It is a new programme that started development in 2019, leading to projects and events such as Room to Play, a 10-week course for emerging artists led by Yann Seznec; various guest artist talks & workshops; digital arts exhibitions at the V&A Dundee & Edinburgh Festival of Sound; digital/electronics workshops design/development for children & young people; and research included as part of Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA) London 2019 conference.

Jack Nissan (Tinderbox) is the founder and director of the Tinderbox Collective. In 2012/13, Jack took part in a fellowship programmed called International Creative Entrepreneurs and spent several months working with community activists and social enterprises in China, primarily with families and communities on the outskirts of Beijing with an organisation called Hua Dan. Following this, he set up a number of international exchanges and cross-cultural productions that formed the basis for Tinderbox’s Journey of a Thousand Wings programme, a project bringing together artists and community projects from different countries. He is also a co-director and founding member of Hidden Door, a volunteer-run multi-arts festival, and has won a number of awards for his work across creative and social enterprise sectors. He has been invited to take part in several steering committees and advisory roles, including for Creative Scotland’s new cross-cutting theme on Creative Learning and Artworks Scotland’s peer-networks for artists working in participatory settings. Previously, Jack worked as a researcher in psychology and ageing for the multidisciplinary MRC Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, specialising in areas of neuropsychology and memory.

Luci Holland (Tinderbox) is a Scottish (Edinburgh-based) composer, sound artist and radio presenter who composes and produces music and audiovisual art for film, games and concert. As a games music composer Luci wrote the original dynamic/responsive music for Blazing Griffin‘s 2018 release Murderous Pursuits, and has composed and arranged for numerous video game music collaborations, such as orchestrating and producing an arrangement of Jessica Curry‘s Disappearing with label Materia Collective’s bespoke cover album Pattern: An Homage to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Currently she has also been composing custom game music tracks for Skyrim mod Lordbound and a variety of other film and game music projects. Luci also builds and designs interactive sonic art installations for festivals and venues (Refraction (Cryptic), CITADEL (Hidden Door)); and in 2019 Luci joined new classical music station Scala Radio to present The Console, a weekly one-hour show dedicated to celebrating great music in games. Luci also works as a musical director and composer with the youth music charity Tinderbox Project on their Orchestra & Digital Arts programmes; classical music organisation Absolute Classics; and occasionally coordinates musical experiments and productions with her music-for-media band Mantra Sound.

Good luck to all who submit an expression of interest and good luck to Dr. Thornton (I see from her bio that she’s been shortlisted for the 2020 Lumen Prize).

Non-invasive chemical imaging reveals the Eykian Lamb of God’s secrets

Left: color image after the 1950s treatment. The ears of the Eyckian Lamb were revealed after removal of the 16th-century overpaint obscuring the background. Right: color image after the 2019 treatment that removed all of the 16th century overpaint, revealing the face of the Eyckian Lamb. The dotted lines indicate the outline of the head before removal of 16th-century overpaint.

Fascinating, yes? More than one person has noticed that the ‘new’ lamb is “disturbingly human-like.” First, here’s more about this masterpiece and the technology used to restore it (from a July 29, 2020 University of Antwerp (Belgium) press release (Note: I do not have all of the figures (images) described in this press release embedded here),

Two non-invasive chemical imaging modalities were employed to help understand the changes made over time to the Lamb of God, the focal point of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. Two major results were obtained: a prediction of the facial features of the Lamb of God that had been hidden beneath non-original overpaint dating from the 16th century (and later), and evidence for a smaller earlier version of the Lamb’s body with a more naturalistic build. These non-invasive imaging methods, combined with analysis of paint cross-sections and magnified examination of the paint surface, provide objective chemical evidence to understand the extent of overpaints and the state of preservation of the original Eyckian paint underneath.

The Ghent Altarpiece is one of the founding masterpieces of Western European painting. The central panel, The Adoration of the Lamb, represents the sacrifice of Christ with a depiction of the Lamb of God standing on an altar, blood pouring into a chalice. During conservation treatment and technical analysis in the 1950s, conservators recognized the presence of overpaint on the Lamb and the surrounding area. But based on the evidence available at that time, the decision was made to remove only the overpaint obscuring the background immediately surrounding the head. As a result, the ears of the Eyckian Lamb were uncovered, leading to the surprising effect of a head with four ears (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Left: Color image after the 1950s treatment. The ears of the Eyckian Lamb were revealed after removal of the 16th century overpaint obscuring the background. (© Lukasweb.be – Art in Flanders vzw). Right: Color image after the 2019 treatment that removed all of the 16th century overpaint, revealing the face of the Eyckian Lamb. The dotted lines indicate the outline of the head before removal of 16th century overpaint. (© Lukasweb.be – Art in Flanders vzw).

During the recent conservation treatment of the central panel, chemical images collected before 16th century overpaint was removed revealed facial features that predicted aspects of the Eyckian Lamb, at that time still hidden below the overpaint. For example, the smaller, v-shaped nostrils of the Eyckian Lamb are situated higher than the 16th century nose, as revealed in the map for mercury, an element associated with the red pigment vermilion (Figure 2, red arrow). A pair of eyes that look forward, slightly lower than the 16th century eyes, can be seen in a false-color hyperspectral infrared reflectance image (Figure 2, right). This image also shows dark preparatory underdrawing lines that define pursed lips, and in conjunction with the presence of mercury in this area, suggest the Eyckian lips were more prominent. In addition, the higher, 16th century ears were painted over the gilded rays of the halo (Figure 2, yellow rays). Gilding is typically the artist’s final touch when working on a painting, which supports the conclusion that the lower set of ears is the Eyckian original. Collectively, these facial features indicate that, compared to the 16th century restorer’s overpainted face, the Eyckian Lamb has a smaller face with a distinctive expression.

Figure 2: Left: Colorized composite elemental map showing the distribution of gold (in yellow), mercury (in red), and lead (in white). The red arrow indicates the position of the Eyckian Lamb’s nostrils. (University of Antwerp). Right: Composite false-color infrared reflectance image (blue – 1000 nm, green – 1350 nm, red – 1650 nm) shows underdrawn lines indicating the position of facial features of the Eyckian Lamb, including forward-gazing eyes, the division between the lips, and the jawline. (National Gallery of Art, Washington). The dotted lines indicate the outline of the head before removal of 16th century overpaint.

The new imaging also revealed previously unrecognized revisions to the size and shape of the Lamb’s body: a more naturalistically shaped Lamb, with slightly sagging back, more rounded hindquarters and a smaller tail. The artist’s underdrawing lines used to lay out the design of the smaller shape can be seen in the false-color hyperspectral infrared reflectance image (Figure 3, lower left, white arrows). Mathematical processing of the reflectance dataset to emphasize a spectral feature associated with the pigment lead white resulted in a clearer image of the smaller Lamb (Figure 3, lower right). Differences between the paint handling of the fleece in the initial small Lamb and the revised area of the larger Lamb also were found upon reexamination of the x-radiograph and the paint surface under the microscope.

Figure 3: Upper left: Color image before removal of all 16th century overpaint. (© Lukasweb.be – Art in Flanders vzw). Upper right: Color image after removal of all 16th century overpaint. (© Lukasweb.be – Art in Flanders vzw). Lower left: False-color infrared reflectance image (blue – 1000 nm, green – 1350 nm, red – 1650 nm) reveals underdrawing lines that denote the smaller hindquarters of the initial Lamb. Lower right: Map derived from processing the infrared reflectance image cube showing the initial Lamb with a slightly sagging back, more rounded hindquarters and a smaller tail. Brighter areas of the map indicate stronger absorption from the -OH group associated with one of the forms of lead white. (National Gallery of Art, Washington).

During the conservation treatment completed in 2019, decisions were informed by well-established conservation methods (high-resolution color photography, X-radiography, infrared imaging, paint sample analysis) as well as the new chemical imaging. In this way, the conservation treatment uncovered the smaller face of the Eyckian Lamb, with forward-facing eyes that meet the viewer’s gaze. Only overpaints that could be identified as being later additions dating from the 16th century onward were carefully and safely removed. The body of the Lamb, however, has not changed. The material evidence indicates that the lead white paint layer used to define the larger squared-off hindquarters was applied prior to the 16th century restoration, but because analysis at the present time cannot definitively establish whether this was a change by the original artist(s) or a very early restoration or alteration by another artist, the enlarged contour of the Lamb was left untouched.

Chemical imaging technologies can be used to build confidence about the state of preservation of original paint and help guide the decision to remove overpaint. Combined with the conservators’ thorough optical examination, informed by years of experience and insights derived from paint cross-sections, chemical imaging methods will no doubt be central to ongoing interdisciplinary research, helping to resolve long-standing art-historical issues on the Ghent Altarpiece as well as other works of art. These findings were obtained by researchers from the University of Antwerp using macroscale X-ray fluorescence imaging and researchers at the National Gallery of Art, Washington using infrared reflectance imaging spectroscopy, interpreted in conjunction with the observations of the scientists and the conservation team from The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA), Brussels.

A January 22, 2020 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) online news item notes some of the response to the ‘new’ lamb (Note: A link has been removed),

Restorers found that the central panel of the artwork, known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, had been painted over in the 16th Century.

Another artist had altered the Lamb of God, a symbol for Jesus depicted at the centre of the panel.

Now conservationists have stripped away the overpaint, revealing the lamb’s “intense gaze” and “large frontal eyes”.

Hélène Dubois, the head of the restoration project, told the Art Newspaper the original lamb had a more “intense interaction with the onlookers”.

She said the lamb’s “cartoonish” depiction, which departs from the painting’s naturalistic style, required more research.

The lamb has been described as having an “alarmingly humanoid face” with “penetrating, close-set eyes, full pink lips and flared nostrils” by the Smithsonian Magazine.

These features are “eye-catching, if not alarmingly anthropomorphic”, said the magazine, the official journal of the Smithsonian Institution.

There was also disbelief on social media, where the lamb was called “disturbing” by some and compared to an “alien creature”. Some said they felt it would have been better to not restore the lamb’s original face.

The painter of the panel, Jan Van Eyck, is considered to be one of the most technical and talented artists of his generation. However, it is widely believed that The Ghent Altarpiece was started by his brother, Hubert Van Eyck.

Taken away by the Nazis during World War Two and Napoleon’s troops in the 1700s, the altarpiece is thought to be one of the most frequently stolen artworks of all time.

If you have the time, do read the January 22, 2020 BBC news item in its entirety as it conveys more of the controversy.

Jennifer Ouellette’s July 29, 2020 article for Ars Technica delves further into the technical detail along with some history about this particular 21st Century restoration. The conservators and experts used artificial intelligence (AI) to assist.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Dual mode standoff imaging spectroscopy documents the painting process of the Lamb of God in the Ghent Altarpiece by J. and H. Van Eyck by Geert Van der Snickt, Kathryn A. Dooley, Jana Sanyova, Hélène Dubois, John K. Delaney, E. Melanie Gifford, Stijn Legrand, Nathalie Laquiere and Koen Janssens. Science Advances 29 Jul 2020: Vol. 6, no. 31, eabb3379 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb3379

This paper is open access.

Workshop programme announced for ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Arts) 2020: Why Sentience?

From an August 28, 2020 ISEA 2020 notice (received via email),

DISCOVER THE ISEA2020 WORKSHOP PROGRAMME!💥

Montreal, August 28 — Montreal Digital Spring (Printemps numérique) unveils the workshop programme for ISEA‘s 26th edition, featuring a range of exciting workshops happening on October 17th and 18th. Facilitated by practitioners, artists and researchers who will focus on the themes and techniques related to their practices and expertise, the workshops will adopt hands-on approaches, experimentations, and discussions on themes raging from data gloves, to artificial intelligence, and bacterial growth.

NEUROMEDIA: ENHANCING SENSORY PERCEPTION FOR ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS

Part1. October 17 – 8:00am – 3:00pm
Part2. October 18 – 8:00am – 10:00am

This workshop offers a unique blend of sensor systems lab exercises from neuroscience, media arts and design to context ideas. Participants must apply in pairs to physically work together on their sensory perception projects. The pairs will meet virtually with the other workshop members to facilitate and attend presentations, and compare results.

With Jill Scott and Marille Hahne

DATA GLOVES

Part1. October 17 – 8:30am – 4:30pm
Part2. October 18 – 8:30am – 4:30pm 

In this workshop, participants will manufacture their very own pair of “Data Gloves,” economic and open-source alternatives for advanced and detailed interaction of VR environments. Participants will have access to all the designs and codes necessary to operate the “Data Gloves” and will be taught how they are built.

With Hugo Vargas

DYNAMICS OF PERCEPTIONS – ENGAGING WITH THE FELT EXPERIENCE OF TEMPORALLY DYNAMIC ALGORITHMS

October 17 – 9:00am – 12:00pm

This workshop looks at the relationship between machine subjectivity and human subjectivity expressed temporally through artistic media, and features a series of short presentations, experiments and discussions.

With Alexandre Saunier, David Howes, Christopher Salter, and Joseph Thibodeau.

ART AND INNOVATION IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA: DESIGN OF INFO-OBJECTS AND INTERFACES FOR DATA VISUALIZATION

Part 1. October 17 – 9:30am – 12:00pm
Part 2. October 18 – 1:00pm – 2:30pm

This workshop focuses on data and representation, and will present a step-by-step approach to identify significant patterns in datasets and to explore innovative methods to make insights visible and tangible. Water will be the central theme for this edition.

With Andrea Sosa, Everardo Reyes, and Homero Pellicer.

NETWORKED ART PRACTICE AFTER DIGITAL PRESERVATION

October 17 – 10:00am – 3:00pm

This workshop traces the edges and boundaries of the preservation of both analogue and digital networked art practice. Participants will collectively identify questions addressing digital preservation (including ‘preventative conservation’ and record-keeping) and work in groups to develop novel approaches, leading towards a greater understanding of the networked conservation concerns of a diverse range of work.

With Roddy Hunter and Sarah Cook. Joined by guest practitioners.

PLAYFUL INVESTIGATIONS ON MULTIPLE SCALES

October 17 – 10:30am – 2:30pm

The city operates on different scales: bikes, people, houses on street level; traffic and communities on neighbourhood level; infrastructure on the city level. This workshop playfully investigates transformations and frictions that occur when instruments that help to make sense of higher scale phenomena are introduced.

With Viktor Bedö and Ida Toft.

THE HUMAN SEARCH ENGINE: A MILLENNIAL TOOLKIT 4 ASSOCI@IVE EXPLOR@ION

Round#1. October 17 – 11:00am – 1:00pm / Round#2. October 18 – 11:00am – 1:00pm

The workshop is aimed at participants looking for a middle-ground approach towards online life. We offer a toolkit to those who wish to neither disconnect nor let habit-forming technologies run their lives. We believe we can “deprogram” these technologies in a way that empowers us.

with Carmel Barnea Brezner Jonas and Gabriel S Moses

EMPIRES, VILLAGES, ECOLOGIES OF EXPERIMENTAL PRACTICES

October 17 – 11:30am – 1:00pm

This workshop invites participants to take creative leaps through experimentation in telematic, embodied learning to break outside the box of traditional pedagogy and electronic art, because extraordinary times and complex problems call for extraordinary vision and groundbreaking solutions.

With Diana Ayton-Shenker and Xin Wei Sha

AVATARS IN ZOOM FOR ALL! (A HANDS-ON TUTORIAL)

October 17 – 1:00pm – 3:30pm

This is a hands-on participatory tutorial, where you will create deep-fake videos using your own materials, and play with various options of becoming an online avatar.

With Eyal Gruss

QUEER AND BIOPHILIC APPROACH OF THE CUTANEOUS MICROBIOME

October 17 – 1:30pm – 4:00pm

This workshop will allow participants to experience the cutaneous microbiome (micro-organisms that live on and in our skin) in a haptic -visual/olfactive- and intellectual reflection about our ubiquitous relationships of hate/love with this part of ourselves.

With Nathalie Dubois Calero

PASS AGAIN THROUGH THE HEART: GESTURE, MEMORY, AND FOOD

October 17 – 2:30pm – 4:30pm

This workshop looks at how knowledge is shared through gestures and feelings by family members. It is informed by an ongoing project that collects recipes from Canadian immigrants and refugees, each touching on acknowledgment and formation of transnational identities within North America.

With Immony Mèn and Patricio Dávil

MEASURING COMPUTATIONAL CREATIVITY: COLLABORATIVELY DESIGNING METRICS FOR EVALUATING CREATIVE MACHINES

October 18 – 3:00pm – 7:00pm

This half-day workshop extends empirical methods and engages a broader arts and machine learning community to collaboratively define quantitative metrics assessing the creativity of algorithms and machines. This workshop is a first attempt to establish evaluation metrics for the area of creative AI.

With Eunsu Kang, Jean Oh, and Robert Twomey.

Should you be considering the purchase of a pass (from the August 28, 2020 notice),

Important :
These workshops are only available to holders of an ISEA2020 FULL Pass

REMINDER: THE EARLY BIRD RATE
is available only until September 1

PURCHASE THE EARLY BIRD PASS

The ISEA 2020 hosts, Printemps numérique (Montreal Digital Spring) have included some information about their own upcoming programmes (from the Aug. 28, 2020 ISEA 2020 notice),

Major events of Printemps numérique

Contact

isea2020@printempsnumerique.ca

You can find out more about ISEA 2020: Why Sentience? here.

Open Call for Artwork—Ontario Science Centre Auction

The deadline is August 23, 2020 and artists get to keep up to 40% of a winning bid. As for the details, here’s more from an August 20, 2020 ArtSci Salon notice (received this morning Aug. 21, 2020 via email),

Hello ArtSci Salon,

I am working at the Ontario Science Centre and I lead their annual fundraiser. Due to COVID, we are not able to hold our traditional sit-down dinner, however we are organizing an eAuction and this year we are excited to be featuring Art in addition to some unique science themed packages.  We are pleased to be able to offer Artists up to 40% of the winning bids!

Would you consider sharing out our call for art to your SciArt community? Please visit our webpage on our event website for details about the Call for artwork and how to apply today. The deadline to apply is August 23.

I came across your artwork via the Sci-Art Gallery site and I am reaching out to a number of artists to consider participating, in addition to placing some ads (via Akimbo and canadainart.ca and various other local art organizations).

The Science Centre is able to leverage our relationship with various media partners who provide in-kind media space (over $450,000 value of ad space!) to help us promote the eAuction. We are also investing in paid targeted social ads to promote the auction to groups who might be interested in specific packages.

Proceeds from the auction will support the Science Centre as we imagine new ways to deliver accessible and innovative science-based learning experiences and programs.

Please feel free to email me with any questions.

Shannon Persaud Tolnay
Head, Events and Donor Communications
shannon.persaudtolnay@osc.on.ca
Phone: 416-696-3123
Cell: 416-992-7127
www.rbcinnovatorsball.ca
www.ontariosciencecentre.ca

Ontario Science Centre
770 Don Mills Road
Toronto, ON M3C 1T3

I found a few more details on the Ontario Science Centre’s Open Call for Artwork webpage,

Artist Participation Agreement (click to download and view the Agreement)

Selection Criteria Innovative connection to Science, Technology, Nature (30%), Aesthetic expression (30%), Diversity and Inclusion (20%), Ease of transport and delivery (20%).

If the Artwork is not sold, no fee will be paid to the Artist.

Employees of the Ontario Science Centre and RBC (title sponsor of the eAuction) are not permitted to submit Artwork for the eAuction, unless they agree to donate 100% of the proceeds.

Jury

Mary Jane Conboy, Chief Scientist, Ontario Science Centre

Ana Klasnja, Senior Multi Media Producer, Ontario Science Centre

Sabrina Maltese, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art

Tash Naveau, Artist and Indigenous Arts Administrator

Shannon Persaud Tolnay, Head, Events and Donor Communications, Ontario Science Centre

Personal information is collected by the Centennial Centre for Science and Technology under the authority of section 6 of the Centennial Centre of Science and Technology Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. C.5. for the administration of the juried competition to participate in the Ontario Science Centre’s  RBC Innovators’ Online Art Exhibition and eAuction. Any questions about the collection of your personal information should be directed to shannon.persaudtolnay@osc.on.ca.

Tax receipts will not be issued to Artists for Artwork submission in the RBC Innovators’ eAuction. Should the Artist wish to donate their fee back to the Science Centre, a tax receipt can be issued for the amount of the donation.

Acknowledgment, promotion and recognition will begin early October. In advertising materials (i.e. print: Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Restobar and digital: PATH Video walls, globeandmail.com, VerizonMedia, etc) In targeted Social Ads: Paid Facebook / Instagram; Paid Twitter; LinkedIn posts; In donor, member and supporter eNewsletters, On RBC Innovators’ Ball event websites www.rbcinnovatorsball.ca/auction | bidsfortheball.ca POST EVENT: 2020/2021 Annual Report, Sponsor / Donor Wall for one year / Donor newsletter. 2019 in-kind media value total $470,855.

the auction runs from October 26 – November 9, 2020. Good luck!

News from the Canadian Light Source (CLS), Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) 2020, the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2020, and HotPopRobot

I have some news about conserving art; early bird registration deadlines for two events, and, finally, an announcement about contest winners.

Canadian Light Source (CLS) and modern art

Rita Letendre. Victoire [Victory], 1961. Oil on canvas, Overall: 202.6 × 268 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Jessie and Percy Waxer, 1974, donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988. © Rita Letendre L74.8. Photography by Ian Lefebvre

This is one of three pieces by Rita Letendre that underwent chemical mapping according to an August 5, 2020 CLS news release by Victoria Martinez (also received via email),

Research undertaken at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan was key to understanding how to conserve experimental oil paintings by Rita Letendre, one of Canada’s most respected living abstract artists.

The work done at the CLS was part of a collaborative research project between the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) that came out of a recent retrospective Rita Letendre: Fire & Light at the AGO. During close examination, Meaghan Monaghan, paintings conservator from the Michael and Sonja Koerner Centre for Conservation, observed that several of Letendre’s oil paintings from the fifties and sixties had suffered significant degradation, most prominently, uneven gloss and patchiness, snowy crystalline structures coating the surface known as efflorescence, and cracking and lifting of the paint in several areas.

Kate Helwig, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Canadian Conservation Institute, says these problems are typical of mid-20th century oil paintings. “We focused on three of Rita Letendre’s paintings in the AGO collection, which made for a really nice case study of her work and also fits into the larger question of why oil paintings from that period tend to have degradation issues.”

Growing evidence indicates that paintings from this period have experienced these problems due to the combination of the experimental techniques many artists employed and the additives paint manufacturers had begun to use.

In order to determine more precisely how these factors affected Letendre’s paintings, the research team members applied a variety of analytical techniques, using microscopic samples taken from key points in the works.

“The work done at the CLS was particularly important because it allowed us to map the distribution of materials throughout a paint layer such as an impasto stroke,” Helwig said. The team used Mid-IR chemical mapping at the facility, which provides a map of different molecules in a small sample.

For example, chemical mapping at the CLS allowed the team to understand the distribution of the paint additive aluminum stearate throughout the paint layers of the painting Méduse. This painting showed areas of soft, incompletely dried paint, likely due to the high concentration and incomplete mixing of this additive. 

The painting Victoire had a crumbling base paint layer in some areas and cracking and efflorescence at the surface in others.  Infrared mapping at the CLS allowed the team to determine that excess free fatty acids in the paint were linked to both problems; where the fatty acids were found at the base they formed zing “soaps” which led to crumbling and cracking, and where they had moved to the surface they had crystallized, causing the snowflake-like efflorescence.

AGO curators and conservators interviewed Letendre to determine what was important to her in preserving and conserving her works, and she highlighted how important an even gloss across the surface was to her artworks, and the philosophical importance of the colour black in her paintings. These priorities guided conservation efforts, while the insights gained through scientific research will help maintain the works in the long term.

In order to restore the black paint to its intended even finish for display, conservator Meaghan Monaghan removed the white crystallization from the surface of Victoire, but it is possible that it could begin to recur. Understanding the processes that lead to this degradation will be an important tool to keep Letendre’s works in good condition.

“The world of modern paint research is complicated; each painting is unique, which is why it’s important to combine theoretical work on model paint systems with this kind of case study on actual works of art” said Helwig. The team hopes to collaborate on studying a larger cross section of Letendre’s paintings in oil and acrylic in the future to add to the body of knowledge.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Rita Letendre’s Oil Paintings from the 1960s: The Effect of Artist’s Materials on Degradation Phenomena by Kate Helwig, Meaghan Monaghan, Jennifer Poulin, Eric J. Henderson & Maeve Moriarty. Studies in Conservation (2020): 1-15 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00393630.2020.1773055 Published online: 06 Jun 2020

This paper is behind a paywall.

Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) 2020

The latest news from the CSPC 2020 (November 16 – 20 with preconference events from Nov. 1 -14) organizers is that registration is open and early birds have a deadline of September 27, 2020 (from an August 6, 2020 CSPC 2020 announcement received via email),

It’s time! Registration for the 12th Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC 2020) is open now. Early Bird registration is valid until Sept. 27th [2020].

CSPC 2020 is coming to your offices and homes:

Register for full access to 3 weeks of programming of the biggest science and innovation policy forum of 2020 under the overarching theme: New Decade, New Realities: Hindsight, Insight, Foresight.

2500+ Participants

300+ Speakers from five continents

65+ Panel sessions, 15 pre conference sessions and symposiums

50+ On demand videos and interviews with the most prominent figures of science and innovation policy 

20+ Partner-hosted functions

15+ Networking sessions

15 Open mic sessions to discuss specific topics

The virtual conference features an exclusive array of offerings:

3D Lounge and Exhibit area

Advance access to the Science Policy Magazine, featuring insightful reflections from the frontier of science and policy innovation

Many more

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to engage in the most important discussions of science and innovation policy with insights from around the globe, just from your office, home desk, or your mobile phone.

Benefit from significantly reduced registration fees for an online conference with an option for discount for multiple ticket purchases

Register now to benefit from the Early Bird rate!

The preliminary programme can be found here. This year there will be some discussion of a Canadian synthetic biology roadmap, presentations on various Indigenous concerns (mostly health), a climate challenge presentation focusing on Mexico and social vulnerability and another on parallels between climate challenges and COVID-19. There are many presentations focused on COVID-19 and.or health.

There doesn’t seem to be much focus on cyber security and, given that we just lost two ice caps (see Brandon Spektor’s August 1, 2020 article [Two Canadian ice caps have completely vanished from the Arctic, NASA imagery shows] on the Live Science website), it’s surprising that there are no presentations concerning the Arctic.

International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2020

According to my latest information, the early bird rate for ISEA 2020 (Oct. 13 -18) ends on August 13, 2020. (My June 22, 2020 posting describes their plans for the online event.)

You can find registration information here.

Margaux Davoine has written up a teaser for the 2020 edition of ISEA in the form of an August 6, 2020 interview with Yan Breuleux. I’ve excerpted one bit,

Finally, thinking about this year’s theme [Why Sentience?], there might be something a bit ironic about exploring the notion of sentience (historically reserved for biological life, and quite a small subsection of it) through digital media and electronic arts. There’s been much work done in the past 25 years to loosen the boundaries between such distinctions: how do you imagine ISEA2020 helping in that?

The similarities shared between humans, animals, and machines are fundamental in cybernetic sciences. According to the founder of cybernetics Norbert Wiener, the main tenets of the information paradigm – the notion of feedback – can be applied to humans, animals as well as the material world. Famously, the AA predictor (as analysed by Peter Galison in 1994) can be read as a first attempt at human-machine fusion (otherwise known as a cyborg).

The infamous Turing test also tends to blur the lines between humans and machines, between language and informational systems. Second-order cybernetics are often associated with biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana. The very notion of autopoiesis (a system capable of maintaining a certain level of stability in an unstable environment) relates back to the concept of homeostasis formulated by Willam Ross [William Ross Ashby] in 1952. Moreover, the concept of “ecosystems” emanates directly from the field of second-order cybernetics, providing researchers with a clearer picture of the interdependencies between living and non-living organisms. In light of these theories, the absence of boundaries between animals, humans, and machines constitutes the foundation of the technosciences paradigm. New media, technological arts, virtual arts, etc., partake in the dialogue between humans and machines, and thus contribute to the prolongation of this paradigm. Frank Popper nearly called his book “Techno Art” instead of “Virtual Art”, in reference to technosciences (his editor suggested the name change). For artists in the technological arts community, Jakob von Uexkull’s notion of “human-animal milieu” is an essential reference. Also present in Simondon’s reflections on human environments (both natural and artificial), the notion of “milieu” is quite important in the discourses about art and the environment. Concordia University’s artistic community chose the concept of “milieu” as the rallying point of its research laboratories.

ISEA2020’s theme resonates particularly well with the recent eruption of processing and artificial intelligence technologies. For me, Sentience is a purely human and animal idea: machines can only simulate our ways of thinking and feeling. Partly in an effort to explore the illusion of sentience in computers, Louis-Philippe Rondeau, Benoît Melançon and I have established the Mimesis laboratory at NAD University. Processing and AI technologies are especially useful in the creation of “digital doubles”, “Vactors”, real-time avatar generation, Deep Fakes and new forms of personalised interactions.

I adhere to the epistemological position that the living world is immeasurable. Through their ability to simulate, machines can merely reduce complex logics to a point of understandability. The utopian notion of empathetic computers is an idea mostly explored by popular science-fiction movies. Nonetheless, research into computer sentience allows us to devise possible applications, explore notions of embodiment and agency, and thereby develop new forms of interaction. Beyond my own point of view, the idea that machines can somehow feel emotions gives artists and researchers the opportunity to experiment with certain findings from the fields of the cognitive sciences, computer sciences and interactive design. For example, in 2002 I was particularly marked by an immersive installation at Universal Exhibition in Neuchatel, Switzerland titled Ada: Intelligence Space. The installation comprised an artificial environment controlled by a computer, which interacted with the audience on the basis of artificial emotion. The system encouraged visitors to participate by intelligently analysing their movements and sounds. Another example, Louis-Philippe Demers’ Blind Robot (2012),  demonstrates how artists can be both critical of, and amazed by, these new forms of knowledge. Additionally, the 2016 BIAN (Biennale internationale d’art numérique), organized by ELEKTRA (Alain Thibault) explored the various ways these concepts were appropriated in installation and interactive art. The way I see it, current works of digital art operate as boundary objects. The varied usages and interpretations of a particular work of art allow it to be analyzed from nearly every angle or field of study. Thus, philosophers can ask themselves: how does a computer come to understand what being human really is?

I have yet to attend conferences or exchange with researchers on that subject. Although the sheer number of presentation propositions sent to ISEA2020, I have no doubt that the symposium will be the ideal context to reflect on the concept of Sentience and many issues raised therein.

For the last bit of news.

HotPopRobot, one of six global winners of 2020 NASA SpaceApps COVID-19 challenge

I last wrote about HotPopRobot’s (Artash and Arushi with a little support from their parents) response to the 2020 NASA (US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) SpaceApps challenge in my July 1, 2020 post, Toronto COVID-19 Lockdown Musical: a data sonification project from HotPopRobot. (You’ll find a video of the project embedded in the post.)

Here’s more news from HotPopRobot’s August 4, 2020 posting (Note: Links have been removed),

Artash (14 years) and Arushi (10 years). Toronto.

We are excited to become the global winners of the 2020 NASA SpaceApps COVID-19 Challenge from among 2,000 teams from 150 countries. The six Global Winners will be invited to visit a NASA Rocket Launch site to view a spacecraft launch along with the SpaceApps Organizing team once travel is deemed safe. They will also receive an invitation to present their projects to NASA, ESA [European Space Agency], JAXA [Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency], CNES [Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales; France], and CSA [Canadian Space Agency] personnel. https://covid19.spaceappschallenge.org/awards

15,000 participants joined together to submit over 1400 projects for the COVID-19 Global Challenge that was held on 30-31 May 2020. 40 teams made to the Global Finalists. Amongst them, 6 teams became the global winners!

The 2020 SpaceApps was an international collaboration between NASA, Canadian Space Agency, ESA, JAXA, CSA,[sic] and CNES focused on solving global challenges. During a period of 48 hours, participants from around the world were required to create virtual teams and solve any of the 12 challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic posted on the SpaceApps website. More details about the 2020 SpaceApps COVID-19 Challenge:  https://sa-2019.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/Space_Apps_FAQ_COVID_.pdf

We have been participating in NASA Space Challenge for the last seven years since 2014. We were only 8 years and 5 years respectively when we participated in our very first SpaceApps 2014.

We have grown up learning more about space, tacking global challenges, making hardware and software projects, participating in meetings, networking with mentors and teams across the globe, and giving presentations through the annual NASA Space Apps Challenges. This is one challenge we look forward to every year.

It has been a fun and exciting journey meeting so many people and astronauts and visiting several fascinating places on the way! We hope more kids, youths, and families are inspired by our space journey. Space is for all and is yours to discover!

If you have the time, I recommend reading HotPopRobot’s August 4, 2020 posting in its entirety.