Tag Archives: art/sci

Venice Biennale 2024 (April 20 – November 24, 2024)

Every once in a while I get an email from a lawyer (Gale P. Eston) in New York City who specializes in the art and business communities. How I got on her list is a mystery to me but her missives are always interesting. The latest one was a little difficult to understand until I looked at the Venice Biennale website and saw the theme for this year’s exhibition,

Courtesy: Venice Biennale [downloaded from https://www.labiennale.org/en/news/biennale-arte-2024-stranieri-ovunque-foreigners-everywhere]

Biennale Arte 2024: Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere

The 60th International Art Exhibition, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, will be open from Saturday 20 April to Sunday 24 November at the Giardini and Arsenale venues.

The 60th International Art Exhibition, titled Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere, will open to the public from Saturday April 20 to Sunday November 24, 2024, at the Giardini and the Arsenale; it will be curated by Adriano Pedrosa and organised by La Biennale di Venezia. The pre-opening will take place on April 17, 18 and 19; the awards ceremony and inauguration will be held on 20 April 2024.

Since 2021, La Biennale di Venezia launched a plan to reconsider all of its activities in light of recognized and consolidated principles of environmental sustainability. For the year 2024, the goal is to extend the achievement of “carbon neutrality” certification, which was obtained in 2023 for La Biennale’s scheduled activities: the 80th Venice International Film Festival, the Theatre, Music and Dance Festivals and, in particular, the 18th International Architecture Exhibition which was the first major Exhibition in this discipline to test in the field a tangible process for achieving carbon neutrality – while furthermore itself reflecting upon the themes of decolonisation and decarbonisation

The Exhibition will take place in the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and in the Arsenale, and it will present two sections: the Nucleo Contemporaneo and the Nucleo Storico.

As a guiding principle, the Biennale Arte 2024 has favored artists who have never participated in the International Exhibition—though a number of them may have been featured in a National Pavilion, a Collateral Event, or in a past edition of the International Exhibition. Special attention is being given to outdoor projects, both in the Arsenale and in the Giardini, where a performance program is being planned with events during the pre-opening and closing weekend of the 60th Exhibition.

Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere, the title of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, is drawn from a series of works started in 2004 by the Paris-born and Palermo-based Claire Fontaine collective. The works consist of neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere”. The phrase comes, in turn, from the name of a Turin collective who fought racism and xenophobia in Italy in the early 2000s.

«The expression Stranieri Ovunque – explains Adriano Pedrosa – has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners— they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.»

«The Italian straniero, the Portuguese estrangeiro, the French étranger, and the Spanish extranjero, are all etymologically connected to the strano, the estranho, the étrange, the extraño, respectively, which is precisely the stranger. Sigmund Freud’s Das Unheimliche comes to mind—The Uncanny in English, which in Portuguese has indeed been translated as “o estranho”– the strange that is also familiar, within, deep down side. According to the American Heritage and the Oxford Dictionaries, the first meaning of the word “queer” is precisely “strange”, and thus the Exhibition unfolds and focuses on the production of other related subjects: the queer artist, who has moved within different sexualities and genders, often being persecuted or outlawed; the outsider artist, who is located at the margins of the art world, much like the self-taught artist, the folk artist and the artista popular; the indigenous artist, frequently treated as a foreigner in his or her own land. The productions of these four subjects are the interest of this Biennale, constituting the Nucleo Contemporaneo

«Indigenous artists have an emblematic presence and their work greets the public in the Central Pavilion, where the Mahku collective from Brazil will paint a monumental mural on the building’s façade, and in the Corderie, where the Maataho collective from Aotearoa/New Zealand will present a large-scale installation in the first room. Queer artists appear throughout the exhibition, and are also the subject of a large section in the Corderie, and one devoted to queer abstraction in the Central Pavilion.»

The Nucleo Contemporaneo will feature a special section in the Corderie devoted to the Disobedience Archive, a project by Marco Scotini, which since 2005 has been developing a video archive focusing on the relationships between artistic practices and activism. In the Exhibition, the presentation of the Disobedience Archive is designed by Juliana Ziebell, who also worked in the exhibition architecture of the entire International Exhibition. This section is divided into two main parts especially conceived for our framework: Diaspora activism and Gender Disobedience. The Disobedience Archive will include works by 39 artists and collectives made between 1975 and 2023.»

«The Nucleo Storico gathering works from 20th century Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Much has been written about global modernisms and modernisms in the Global South, and a number of rooms will feature works from these territories, much like an essay, a draft, a speculative curatorial exercise that seeks to question the boundaries and definitions of modernism. We are all too familiar with the histories of modernism in Euroamerica, yet the modernisms in the Global South remain largely unknown. […]. European modernism itself travelled far beyond Europe throughout the 20th century, often intertwined with colonialism, and many artists in the Global South traveled to Europe to be exposed to it […].»

In the Central Pavilion three rooms are planned for the Nucleo Storico: one room is titled Portraits, one Abstractions and the third one is devoted to the the worldwide Italian artistic diaspora in the 20th century.

«The double-room named Portraits, includes works from 112 artists, mostly paintings but also works on paper and sculpture, spanning the years of 1905 and 1990. […] The theme of the human figure has been explored in countless different ways by artists in the Global South, reflecting on the crisis of representation around the that very figure that marked much of the art in 20th century art. In the Global South, many artists were in touch with European modernism, through travels, studies or books, yet they bring in their own highly personal and powerful reflections and contributions to their works […]. The room devoted to Abstractions includes 37 artists: most of them are being exhibited together for the first time, and we will learn from these unforeseen juxtapositions in the flesh, which will then hopefully point towards new connections, associations, and parallels much beyond the rather straightforward categories that I have proposed. […]»

Artists from Singapore and Korea have been brought into this section, given that at the time they were part of the so-called Third World. In a similar manner, Selwyn Wilson and Sandy Adsett, from Aotearoa/New Zealand, have been brought into this Nucleo Storico as they are historical Maori artists.

«[…] A third room in the Nucleo Storico is dedicated to the worldwide Italian artistic diaspora in the 20th century: Italian artists who travelled and moved abroad developing their careers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as in the rest of Europe and the United States, becoming embedded in local cultures—and who often played significant roles in the development of the narratives of modernism beyond Italy. This room will feature works by 40 artists who are first or second generations Italians, exhibited in Lina Bo Bardi’s glass easel display system (Bo Bardi herself an Italian who moved to Brazil, and who won the 2021 Biennale Architettura’s Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Memoriam).»

«Two quite different but related elements have emerged – underlines Pedrosa – rather organically in the research and have been developed, appearing as leitmotivs throughout the International Exhibition. The first one is textiles, which have been explored by many artists in the show in multiple, from key historical figures in the Nucleo Storico, to many artists in the Nucleo Contemporaneo. […] These works reveal an interest in craft, tradition, and the handmade, and in techniques that were at times considered other or foreign, outsider or strange in the larger field of fine arts. […] A second motif is artists—artists related by blood, many of them Indigenous. […] Again tradition plays an important role here: the transmission of knowledge and practices from father or mother to son or daughter or among siblings and relatives.»

There’s a lot more about this huge art exhibition on the Venice Biennale website but this is enough to give you a sense of the size and scope and how the work Eston describes fits into the 2024 exhibition theme.

Gale P. Eston‘s April 12, 2024 email announced an exhibition she curated and which is being held on site during the 2024 Venice Biennale (Note 1: I’ve published too late for the opening reception but there’s more to Eston’s curation than a reception; Note 2: There is an art/science aspect to the work from artist China Blue),

Hospitality in the Pluriverse, curated by Gale Elston during the 60th edition of the Venice Biennial from April 16 to May 4, 2024.

The Opening Reception will be held April 16th, 2024 from 5-7 pm

HOSPITALITY IN THE PLURIVERSE

JEREMY DENNIS

ANITA GLESTA

ANN MCCOY

WARREN NEIDICH

ILONA RICH

Corte de Ca’ Sarasina, Castello 1199, Venezia, IT, 30122

April 16 to May 4, 2024

OPENING RECEPTION: April 16, 5 to 7 PM

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-6 PM

Performances by CHINA BLUE curated by Elga Wimmer

April 16, 18 and 19 at 6 PM

RAINER GANAHL, Requiem, performed April 17 at 6 PM

This exhibition includes five artists who explore the political, historical, aesthetical, physical, and epistemological dimensions of hospitality and its’ conflicts. Based upon the analysis of Jacques Derrida, in his Of Hospitality, this exhibition scrutinizes the reaction of the host to alterity or otherness.

Each artist examines various questions surrounding the encounter of a foreigner and their host sovereign using a variety of media such as painting, photography, sculpture, and animation.

In discussion with Adriano Pedrosa’s exhibition Foreigners Everywhere, the exhibition Hospitality in the Pluriverse understands the complexity of immigration and begs the question of what hospitality is and when and how should it be extended to the stranger, the foreigner, the “other”.

On the one hand the devastating effects of global inequality, climate change (climate refugees) and the political pressures created have led to mass migration and political and chaos. In opposition, the richness of the contributions of the other in the form of cultural and epistemological multiplicity is invaluable.

Jeremy Dennis, First Nation artist and Tribal Member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY, uses staging and computer assisted techniques to create unusual color photographs which portray indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. His photographs challenge how indigenous people have been presented in film in America Westerns as well as empowering them through the use of a haunting Zombie trope establishing the power of ancestral knowledge as a means of resistance.

Ann McCoy, a New York-based sculptor, painter, and art critic, and Editor-at- Large for the Brooklyn Rail includes a new drawing from her recent Guggenheim Fellowship exploring the fairy tale of a wolf in her father’s silver, gold and tungsten mill. The fairy tale is based on an historic site of many Irish immigrant workers’ deaths and expresses the tragedy using Jungian and alchemical references.

Warren Neidich’s work Pluriverse* engages with the concept of cognitive justice. As Bonaventure de Sousa Santos has said there can be no social justice without cognitive justice. Cognitive which includes the right of different traditions of knowledge and the cultural practices they are engaged with to co-exist without duress. Especially relevant for us here are those forms of knowledge that have evolved in the so-called enlightened global North, Indigenous Knowledges and those in the subaltern global South and Asia. Pluriverse is an expression that is inclusive of these diverse epistemologies. We don’t want to live in a normative, homogeneous Universe but rather a heterogeneous and multiplicitous Pluriverse.*

Anita Glesta, depicts the non-human foreigner (a corona virus moving through the body like a bug or a butterfly) set to a soundtrack from Hildegard von Bingen, the abbess and composer from the medieval ages. Glesta’s video was developed on a Fellowship with The ARC Laureate Felt Experience & Empathy Lab to research how anxiety affects our nervous system. As an extension of the pandemic series her animations invite the viewer to experience how humans process fear and anxiety in their bodies.

Spanish artist Ilona Rich work continues the theme of what it is to be a foreigner on a psychological level. Her colorful sculptures describe a dystopian view of the commonplace and the everyday.

Her work shows us a person who feels like a stranger in their own skin, anxious, precarious, not normative. Her dogs have two heads and the many feet of a centipede. Her sculpture Wheel of Fortune will be displayed which posits that fate is contingent on chance and our roles as host or foreigner are subject to rapid unexpected change.

The exhibition offers a dizzying study of alterity, on the biological (Glesta), the social (Dennis), the historical (McCoy), cognitive (Neidich) and personal levels (Rich).The viewer will come away with an expanded and enriched view of what it means to be a foreigner and asks what contingencies, if any, should accompany hospitality.

— Gale Elston

China Blue, Saturn Walk: Embodying Listening during the 2024 Venice Biennial with (Re)Create [emphasis mine]

Project Space Venice, curated by Elga Wimmer.

US/Canadian artist China Blue creates art performances that give a physical expression to sound based on her interest in connecting through art and science.

For her 2024 Venice exhibition, Saturn Walk: Embodying Listening by China Blue, performers and visitors walk in a labyrinth to a composition created by her and Lance Massey. This is a work based on the sonics in Saturn’s rings that China Blue and Dr. Seth Horowitz discovered as a result of a grant from NASA to explore Saturn’s rings.

In Saturn Walk: Embodying Listening for the (Re)Create Project Space Venice, the artist invites viewers to experience the sound walk following the dance performance. The dancers include Andrea Nann and Jennifer Dahl, Canada, and Laura Coloman, UK. A trace of China Blue’s performance, an artwork, Celestial Pearls, based on 16 of Saturn’s 100+ moons, will remain on view at (Re)Create Project Space Venice.

Austrian artist Rainer Ganahl performs his work, Requiem in memoriam for Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

It seems like you might need the full seven months to fully appreciate the work on display at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Dendritic painting: a physics story

A March 4, 2024 news item on phys.org announces research into the physics of using paints and inks in visual art, Note: A link has been removed,

Falling from the tip of a brush suspended in mid-air, an ink droplet touches a painted surface and blossoms into a masterpiece of ever-changing beauty. It weaves a tapestry of intricate, evolving patterns. Some of them resemble branching snowflakes, thunderbolts or neurons, whispering the unique expression of the artist’s vision.

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) researchers set out to analyze the physical principles of this fascinating technique, known as dendritic painting. They took inspiration from the artwork of Japanese media artist, Akiko Nakayama. The work is published in the journal PNAS Nexus.

Caption: Japanese artist Akiko Nakayama manipulates alcohol and inks to create tree-like dendritic patterns during a live painting session. Credit: Photo Credit: Akiko Nakayama

Yes, the ends definitely look tree-like (maybe cedar). A February 29, 2024 Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) press release (also on EurekAlert but published March 1, 2024), which originated the news item, goes on to describe the forces at work and provides instructions for creating your own dendritic paintings, Note: Links have been removed,

During her [Akiko Nakayama] live painting performances, she applies colourful droplets of acrylic ink mixed with alcohol atop a flat surface coated with a layer of acrylic paint. Beautiful fractals – tree-like geometrical shapes that repeat at different scales and are often found in nature – appear before the eyes of the audience. This is a captivating art form driven by creativity, but also by the physics of fluid dynamics.

“I have a deep admiration for scientists, such as Ukichiro Nakaya and Torahiko Terada, who made remarkable contributions to both science and art. I was very happy to be contacted by OIST physicist Chan San To. I am envious of his ability ‘to dialogue’ with the dendritic patterns, observing how they change shape in response to different approaches. Hearing this secret conversation was delightful,” explains Nakayama.

“Painters have often employed fluid mechanics to craft unique compositions. We have seen it with David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jackson Pollock, and Naoko Tosa, just to name a few. In our laboratory, we reproduce and study artistic techniques, to understand how the characteristics of the fluids influence the final outcome,” says OIST Professor Eliot Fried of OIST’s Mechanics and Materials Unit, who likes looking at dendritic paintings from artistic and scientific angles.

In dendritic painting, the droplets made of ink and alcohol experience various forces. One of them is surface tension – the force that makes rain droplets spherical in shape, and allows leaves to float on the surface of a pond. In particular, as alcohol evaporates faster than water, it alters the surface tension of the droplet. Fluid molecules tend to be pulled towards the droplet rim, which has higher surface tension compared to its centre. This is called the Marangoni effect and is the same phenomenon responsible for the formation of wine tears – the droplets or streaks of wine that form on the inside of a wine glass after swirling or tilting.

Secondly, the underlying paint layer also plays an important part in this artistic technique. Dr. Chan tested various types of liquids. For fractals to emerge, the liquid must be a fluid that decreases in viscosity under shear strain, meaning it has to behave somewhat like ketchup. It’s common knowledge that it’s hard to get ketchup out of the bottle unless you shake it. This happens because ketchup’s viscosity changes depending on shear strain. When you shake the bottle, the ketchup becomes less viscous, making it easier to pour it onto your dish. How is this applied to dendritic painting?

“In dendritic painting, the expanding ink droplet shears the underlying acrylic paint layer. It is not as strong as the shaking of a ketchup bottle, but it is still a form of shear strain. As with ketchup, the more stress there is, the easier it is for the ink droplets to flow,” explains Dr. Chan.

“We also showed that the physics behind this dendritic painting technique is similar to how liquid travels in a porous medium, such as soil. If you were to look at the mix of acrylic paint under the microscope, you would see a network of microscopic structures made of polymer molecules and pigments. The ink droplet tends to find its way through this underlying network, travelling through paths of least resistance, that leads to the dendritic pattern,” adds Prof. Fried.

Each dendritic print is one-of-a-kind, but there are at least two key aspects that artists can take into consideration to control the outcome of dendritic painting. The first and most important factor is the thickness of the paint layer spread on the surface. Dr. Chan observed that well-refined fractals appear with paint layer thinner than a half millimetre.

The second factor to experiment with is the concentration of diluting medium and paint in this paint layer. Dr. Chan obtained the most detailed fractals using three parts diluting medium and one part paint, or two parts diluting medium and one part paint. If the concentration of paint is higher, the droplet cannot spread well. Conversely, if the concentration of paint is lower, fuzzy edges will form. 

This is not the first science-meets-art project that members of the Mechanics and Materials Unit have embarked on. For example, they designed and installed a mobile sculpture on the OIST campus. The sculpture exemplifies a family of mechanical devices, called Möbius kaleidocycles, invented in the Unit, which may offer guidelines for designing chemical compounds with novel electronic properties.

Currently, Dr. Chan is also developing novel methods of analysing how the complexity of a sketch or painting evolves during its creation. He and Prof. Fried are optimistic that these methods might be applied to uncover hidden structures in experimentally captured or numerically generated images of flowing fluids.

“Why should we confine science to just technological progress?” wonders Dr. Chan. “I like exploring its potential to drive artistic innovation as well. I do digital art, but I really admire traditional artists. I sincerely invite them to experiment with various materials and reach out to us if they’re interested in collaborating and exploring the physics hidden within their artwork.”

Instructions to create dendritic painting at home

Everybody can have fun creating dendritic paintings. The materials needed include a non-absorbent surface (glass, synthetic paper, ceramics, etc.), a brush, a hairbrush, rubbing alcohol (iso-propyl alcohol), acrylic ink, acrylic paint and pouring medium.

  1. Dilute one part of acrylic paint to two or three parts of  pouring medium, or test other ratios to see how the result changes
  2. Apply this to the non-absorbent surface uniformly using a hairbrush. OIST physicists have found out that the thickness of the paint affects the result. For the best fractals, a layer of paint thinner than half millimetre is recommended.
  3. Mix rubbing alcohol with acrylic ink. The density of the ink may differ for different brands: have a try mixing alcohol and ink in different ratios
  4. When the white paint is still wet (hasn’t dried yet), apply a droplet of the ink with alcohol mix using a brush or another tool, such as a bamboo stick or a toothpick.
  5. Enjoy your masterpiece as it develops before your eyes. 

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

Marangoni spreading on liquid substrates in new media art by San To Chan and Eliot Fried. PNAS Nexus, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2024, pgae059 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae059 Published: 08 February 2024

This paper is open access.

FrogHeart’s 2023 comes to an end as 2024 comes into view

My personal theme for this last year (2023) and for the coming year was and is: catching up. On the plus side, my 2023 backlog (roughly six months) to be published was whittled down considerably. On the minus side, I start 2024 with a backlog of two to three months.

2023 on this blog had a lot in common with 2022 (see my December 31, 2022 posting), which may be due to what’s going on in the world of emerging science and technology or to my personal interests or possibly a bit of both. On to 2023 and a further blurring of boundaries:

Energy, computing and the environment

The argument against paper is that it uses up resources, it’s polluting, it’s affecting the environment, etc. Somehow the part where electricity which underpins so much of our ‘smart’ society does the same thing is left out of the discussion.

Neuromorphic (brainlike) computing and lower energy

Before launching into the stories about lowering energy usage, here’s an October 16, 2023 posting “The cost of building ChatGPT” that gives you some idea of the consequences of our insatiable desire for more computing and more ‘smart’ devices,

In its latest environmental report, Microsoft disclosed that its global water consumption spiked 34% from 2021 to 2022 (to nearly 1.7 billion gallons , or more than 2,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools), a sharp increase compared to previous years that outside researchers tie to its AI research. [emphases mine]

“It’s fair to say the majority of the growth is due to AI,” including “its heavy investment in generative AI and partnership with OpenAI,” said Shaolei Ren, [emphasis mine] a researcher at the University of California, Riverside who has been trying to calculate the environmental impact of generative AI products such as ChatGPT.

Why it matters: Microsoft’s five WDM [West Des Moines in Iowa] data centers — the “epicenter for advancing AI” — represent more than $5 billion in investments in the last 15 years.

Yes, but: They consumed as much as 11.5 million gallons of water a month for cooling, or about 6% of WDM’s total usage during peak summer usage during the last two years, according to information from West Des Moines Water Works.

The focus is AI but it doesn’t take long to realize that all computing has energy and environmental costs. I have more about Ren’s work and about water shortages in the “The cost of building ChatGPT” posting.

This next posting would usually be included with my other art/sci postings but it touches on the issues. My October 13, 2023 posting about Toronto’s Art/Sci Salon events, in particular, there’s the Streaming Carbon Footprint event (just scroll down to the appropriate subhead). For the interested, I also found this 2022 paper “The Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media:; Problems, Calculations, Solutions” co-authored by one of the artist/researchers (Laura U. Marks, philosopher and scholar of new media and film at Simon Fraser University) who presented at the Toronto event.

I’m late to the party; Thomas Daigle posted a January 2, 2020 article about energy use and our appetite for computing and ‘smart’ devices for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s online news,

For those of us binge-watching TV shows, installing new smartphone apps or sharing family photos on social media over the holidays, it may seem like an abstract predicament.

The gigabytes of data we’re using — although invisible — come at a significant cost to the environment. Some experts say it rivals that of the airline industry. 

And as more smart devices rely on data to operate (think internet-connected refrigerators or self-driving cars), their electricity demands are set to skyrocket.

“We are using an immense amount of energy to drive this data revolution,” said Jane Kearns, an environment and technology expert at MaRS Discovery District, an innovation hub in Toronto.

“It has real implications for our climate.”

Some good news

Researchers are working on ways to lower the energy and environmental costs, here’s a sampling of 2023 posts with an emphasis on brainlike computing that attest to it,

If there’s an industry that can make neuromorphic computing and energy savings sexy, it’s the automotive indusry,

On the energy front,

Most people are familiar with nuclear fission and some its attendant issues. There is an alternative nuclear energy, fusion, which is considered ‘green’ or greener anyway. General Fusion is a local (Vancouver area) company focused on developing fusion energy, alongside competitors from all over the planet.

Part of what makes fusion energy attractive is that salt water or sea water can be used in its production and, according to that December posting, there are other applications for salt water power,

More encouraging developments in environmental science

Again, this is a selection. You’ll find a number of nano cellulose research projects and a couple of seaweed projects (seaweed research seems to be of increasing interest).

All by myself (neuromorphic engineering)

Neuromorphic computing is a subset of neuromorphic engineering and I stumbled across an article that outlines the similarities and differences. My ‘summary’ of the main points and a link to the original article can be found here,

Oops! I did it again. More AI panic

I included an overview of the various ‘recent’ panics (in my May 25, 2023 posting below) along with a few other posts about concerning developments but it’s not all doom and gloom..

Governments have realized that regulation might be a good idea. The European Union has a n AI act, the UK held an AI Safety Summit in November 2023, the US has been discussing AI regulation with its various hearings, and there’s impending legislation in Canada (see professor and lawyer Michael Geist’s blog for more).

A long time coming, a nanomedicine comeuppance

Paolo Macchiarini is now infamous for his untested, dangerous approach to medicine. Like a lot of people, I was fooled too as you can see in my August 2, 2011 posting, “Body parts nano style,”

In early July 2011, there were reports of a new kind of transplant involving a body part made of a biocomposite. Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene underwent a trachea transplant that required an artificial windpipe crafted by UK experts then flown to Sweden where Beyene’s stem cells were used to coat the windpipe before being transplanted into his body.

It is an extraordinary story not least because Beyene, a patient in a Swedish hospital planning to return to Eritrea after his PhD studies in Iceland, illustrates the international cooperation that made the transplant possible.

The scaffolding material for the artificial windpipe was developed by Professor Alex Seifalian at the University College London in a landmark piece of nanotechnology-enabled tissue engineering. …

Five years later I stumbled across problems with Macchiarini’s work as outlined in my April 19, 2016 posting, “Macchiarini controversy and synthetic trachea transplants (part 1 of 2)” and my other April 19, 2016 posting, “Macchiarini controversy and synthetic trachea transplants (part 2 of 2)“.

This year, Gretchen Vogel (whose work was featured in my 2016 posts) has written a June 21, 2023 update about the Macchiarini affair for Science magazine, Note: Links have been removed,

Surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who was once hailed as a pioneer of stem cell medicine, was found guilty of gross assault against three of his patients today and sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison by an appeals court in Stockholm. The ruling comes a year after a Swedish district court found Macchiarini guilty of bodily harm in two of the cases and gave him a suspended sentence. After both the prosecution and Macchiarini appealed that ruling, the Svea Court of Appeal heard the case in April and May. Today’s ruling from the five-judge panel is largely a win for the prosecution—it had asked for a 5-year sentence whereas Macchiarini’s lawyer urged the appeals court to acquit him of all charges.

Macchiarini performed experimental surgeries on the three patients in 2011 and 2012 while working at the renowned Karolinska Institute. He implanted synthetic windpipes seeded with stem cells from the patients’ own bone marrow, with the hope the cells would multiply over time and provide an enduring replacement. All three patients died when the implants failed. One patient died suddenly when the implant caused massive bleeding just 4 months after it was implanted; the two others survived for 2.5 and nearly 5 years, respectively, but suffered painful and debilitating complications before their deaths.

In the ruling released today, the appeals judges disagreed with the district court’s decision that the first two patients were treated under “emergency” conditions. Both patients could have survived for a significant length of time without the surgeries, they said. The third case was an “emergency,” the court ruled, but the treatment was still indefensible because by then Macchiarini was well aware of the problems with the technique. (One patient had already died and the other had suffered severe complications.)

A fictionalized tv series ( part of the Dr. Death anthology series) based on Macchiarini’s deceptions and a Dr. Death documentary are being broadcast/streamed in the US during January 2024. These come on the heels of a November 2023 Macchiarini documentary also broadcast/streamed on US television.

Dr. Death (anthology), based on the previews I’ve seen, is heavily US-centric, which is to be expected since Adam Ciralsky is involved in the production. Ciralsky wrote an exposé about Macchiarini for Vanity Fair published in 2016 (also featured in my 2016 postings). From a December 20, 2023 article by Julie Miller for Vanity Fair, Note: A link has been removed,

Seven years ago [2016], world-renowned surgeon Paolo Macchiarini was the subject of an ongoing Vanity Fair investigation. He had seduced award-winning NBC producer Benita Alexander while she was making a special about him, proposed, and promised her a wedding officiated by Pope Francis and attended by political A-listers. It was only after her designer wedding gown was made that Alexander learned Macchiarini was still married to his wife, and seemingly had no association with the famous names on their guest list.

Vanity Fair contributor Adam Ciralsky was in the midst of reporting the story for this magazine in the fall of 2015 when he turned to Dr. Ronald Schouten, a Harvard psychiatry professor. Ciralsky sought expert insight into the kind of fabulist who would invent and engage in such an audacious lie.

“I laid out the story to him, and he said, ‘Anybody who does this in their private life engages in the same conduct in their professional life,” recalls Ciralsky, in a phone call with Vanity Fair. “I think you ought to take a hard look at his CVs.”

That was the turning point in the story for Ciralsky, a former CIA lawyer who soon learned that Macchiarini was more dangerous as a surgeon than a suitor. …

Here’s a link to Ciralsky’s original article, which I described this way, from my April 19, 2016 posting (part 2 of the Macchiarini controversy),

For some bizarre frosting on this disturbing cake (see part 1 of the Macchiarini controversy and synthetic trachea transplants for the medical science aspects), a January 5, 2016 Vanity Fair article by Adam Ciralsky documents Macchiarini’s courtship of an NBC ([US] National Broadcasting Corporation) news producer who was preparing a documentary about him and his work.

[from Ciralsky’s article]

“Macchiarini, 57, is a magnet for superlatives. He is commonly referred to as “world-renowned” and a “super-surgeon.” He is credited with medical miracles, including the world’s first synthetic organ transplant, which involved fashioning a trachea, or windpipe, out of plastic and then coating it with a patient’s own stem cells. That feat, in 2011, appeared to solve two of medicine’s more intractable problems—organ rejection and the lack of donor organs—and brought with it major media exposure for Macchiarini and his employer, Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, home of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Macchiarini was now planning another first: a synthetic-trachea transplant on a child, a two-year-old Korean-Canadian girl named Hannah Warren, who had spent her entire life in a Seoul hospital. … “

Other players in the Macchiarini story

Pierre Delaere, a trachea expert and professor of head and neck surgery at KU Leuven (a university in Belgium) was one of the first to draw attention to Macchiarini’s dangerous and unethical practices. To give you an idea of how difficult it was to get attention for this issue, there’s a September 1, 2017 article by John Rasko and Carl Power for the Guardian illustrating the issue. Here’s what they had to say about Delaere and other early critics of the work, Note: Links have been removed,

Delaere was one of the earliest and harshest critics of Macchiarini’s engineered airways. Reports of their success always seemed like “hot air” to him. He could see no real evidence that the windpipe scaffolds were becoming living, functioning airways – in which case, they were destined to fail. The only question was how long it would take – weeks, months or a few years.

Delaere’s damning criticisms appeared in major medical journals, including the Lancet, but weren’t taken seriously by Karolinska’s leadership. Nor did they impress the institute’s ethics council when Delaere lodged a formal complaint. [emphases mine]

Support for Macchiarini remained strong, even as his patients began to die. In part, this is because the field of windpipe repair is a niche area. Few people at Karolinska, especially among those in power, knew enough about it to appreciate Delaere’s claims. Also, in such a highly competitive environment, people are keen to show allegiance to their superiors and wary of criticising them. The official report into the matter dubbed this the “bandwagon effect”.

With Macchiarini’s exploits endorsed by management and breathlessly reported in the media, it was all too easy to jump on that bandwagon.

And difficult to jump off. In early 2014, four Karolinska doctors defied the reigning culture of silence [emphasis mine] by complaining about Macchiarini. In their view, he was grossly misrepresenting his results and the health of his patients. An independent investigator agreed. But the vice-chancellor of Karolinska Institute, Anders Hamsten, wasn’t bound by this judgement. He officially cleared Macchiarini of scientific misconduct, allowing merely that he’d sometimes acted “without due care”.

For their efforts, the whistleblowers were punished. [emphasis mine] When Macchiarini accused one of them, Karl-Henrik Grinnemo, of stealing his work in a grant application, Hamsten found him guilty. As Grinnemo recalls, it nearly destroyed his career: “I didn’t receive any new grants. No one wanted to collaborate with me. We were doing good research, but it didn’t matter … I thought I was going to lose my lab, my staff – everything.”

This went on for three years until, just recently [2017], Grinnemo was cleared of all wrongdoing.

It is fitting that Macchiarini’s career unravelled at the Karolinska Institute. As the home of the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, one of its ambitions is to create scientific celebrities. Every year, it gives science a show-business makeover, picking out from the mass of medical researchers those individuals deserving of superstardom. The idea is that scientific progress is driven by the genius of a few.

It’s a problematic idea with unfortunate side effects. A genius is a revolutionary by definition, a risk-taker and a law-breaker. Wasn’t something of this idea behind the special treatment Karolinska gave Macchiarini? Surely, he got away with so much because he was considered an exception to the rules with more than a whiff of the Nobel about him. At any rate, some of his most powerful friends were themselves Nobel judges until, with his fall from grace, they fell too.

The September 1, 2017 article by Rasko and Power is worth the read if you have the interest and the time. And, Delaere has written up a comprehensive analysis, which includes basic information about tracheas and more, “The Biggest Lie in Medical History” 2020, PDF, 164 pp., Creative Commons Licence).

I also want to mention Leonid Schneider, science journalist and molecular cell biologist, whose work the Macchiarini scandal on his ‘For Better Science’ website was also featured in my 2016 pieces. Schneider’s site has a page titled, ‘Macchiarini’s trachea transplant patients: the full list‘ started in 2017 and which he continues to update with new information about the patients. The latest update was made on December 20, 2023.

Promising nanomedicine research but no promises and a caveat

Most of the research mentioned here is still in the laboratory. i don’t often come across work that has made its way to clinical trials since the focus of this blog is emerging science and technology,

*If you’re interested in the business of neurotechnology, the July 17, 2023 posting highlights a very good UNESCO report on the topic.

Funky music (sound and noise)

I have couple of stories about using sound for wound healing, bioinspiration for soundproofing applications, detecting seismic activity, more data sonification, etc.

Same old, same old CRISPR

2023 was relatively quiet (no panics) where CRISPR developments are concerned but still quite active.

Art/Sci: a pretty active year

I didn’t realize how active the year was art/sciwise including events and other projects until I reviewed this year’s postings. This is a selection from 2023 but there’s a lot more on the blog, just use the search term, “art/sci,” or “art/science,” or “sciart.”

While I often feature events and projects from these groups (e.g., June 2, 2023 posting, “Metacreation Lab’s greatest hits of Summer 2023“), it’s possible for me to miss a few. So, you can check out Toronto’s Art/Sci Salon’s website (strong focus on visual art) and Simon Fraser University’s Metacreation Lab for Creative Artificial Intelligence website (strong focus on music).

My selection of this year’s postings is more heavily weighted to the ‘writing’ end of things.

Boundaries: life/nonlife

Last year I subtitled this section, ‘Aliens on earth: machinic biology and/or biological machinery?” Here’s this year’s selection,

Canada’s 2023 budget … military

2023 featured an unusual budget where military expenditures were going to be increased, something which could have implications for our science and technology research.

Then things changed as Murray Brewster’s November 21, 2023 article for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) news online website comments, Note: A link has been removed,

There was a revelatory moment on the weekend as Defence Minister Bill Blair attempted to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality in the Liberal government’s spending plans for his department and the Canadian military.

Asked about an anticipated (and long overdue) update to the country’s defence policy (supposedly made urgent two years ago by Russia’s full-on invasion of Ukraine), Blair acknowledged that the reset is now being viewed through a fiscal lens.

“We said we’re going to bring forward a new defence policy update. We’ve been working through that,” Blair told CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.

“The current fiscal environment that the country faces itself does require (that) that defence policy update … recognize (the) fiscal challenges. And so it’ll be part of … our future budget processes.”

One policy goal of the existing defence plan, Strong, Secure and Engaged, was to require that the military be able to concurrently deliver “two sustained deployments of 500 [to] 1,500 personnel in two different theaters of operation, including one as a lead nation.”

In a footnote, the recent estimates said the Canadian military is “currently unable to conduct multiple operations concurrently per the requirements laid out in the 2017 Defence Policy. Readiness of CAF force elements has continued to decrease over the course of the last year, aggravated by decreasing number of personnel and issues with equipment and vehicles.”

Some analysts say they believe that even if the federal government hits its overall budget reduction targets, what has been taken away from defence — and what’s about to be taken away — won’t be coming back, the minister’s public assurances notwithstanding.

10 years: Graphene Flagship Project and Human Brain Project

Graphene and Human Brain Project win biggest research award in history (& this is the 2000th post)” on January 28, 2013 was how I announced the results of what had been a a European Union (EU) competition that stretched out over several years and many stages as projects were evaluated and fell to the wayside or were allowed onto the next stage. The two finalists received €1B each to be paid out over ten years.

Future or not

As you can see, there was plenty of interesting stuff going on in 2023 but no watershed moments in the areas I follow. (Please do let me know in the Comments should you disagree with this or any other part of this posting.) Nanotechnology seems less and less an emerging science/technology in itself and more like a foundational element of our science and technology sectors. On that note, you may find my upcoming (in 2024) post about a report concerning the economic impact of its National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) from 2002 to 2022 of interest.

Following on the commercialization theme, I have noticed an increase of interest in commercializing brain and brainlike engineering technologies, as well as, more discussion about ethics.

Colonizing the brain?

UNESCO held events such as, this noted in my July 17, 2023 posting, “Unveiling the Neurotechnology Landscape: Scientific Advancements, Innovations and Major Trends—a UNESCO report” and this noted in my July 7, 2023 posting “Global dialogue on the ethics of neurotechnology on July 13, 2023 led by UNESCO.” An August 21, 2023 posting, “Ethical nanobiotechnology” adds to the discussion.

Meanwhile, Australia has been producing some very interesting mind/robot research, my June 13, 2023 posting, “Mind-controlled robots based on graphene: an Australian research story.” I have more of this kind of research (mind control or mind reading) from Australia to be published in early 2024. The Australians are not alone, there’s also this April 12, 2023 posting, “Mind-reading prosthetic limbs” from Germany.

My May 12, 2023 posting, “Virtual panel discussion: Canadian Strategies for Responsible Neurotechnology Innovation on May 16, 2023” shows Canada is entering the discussion. Unfortunately, the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC), which held the event, has not posted a video online even though they have a youtube channel featuring other of their events.

As for neurmorphic engineering, China has produced a roadmap for its research in this area as noted in my March 20, 2023 posting, “A nontraditional artificial synaptic device and roadmap for Chinese research into neuromorphic devices.”

Quantum anybody?

I haven’t singled it out in this end-of-year posting but there is a great deal of interest in quantum computer both here in Canada and elsewhere. There is a 2023 report from the Council of Canadian Academies on the topic of quantum computing in Canada, which I hope to comment on soon.

Final words

I have a shout out for the Canadian Science Policy Centre, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2023. Congratulations!

For everyone, I wish peace on earth and all the best for you and yours in 2024!

Toronto’s ArtSci Salon hosts October 16, 2023 and October 27, 2023 events and the Fourth Annual Small File Media Festival in Vancouver (Canada) Oct. 20 – 21, 2023

An October 5, 2023 announcement (received via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon lists two events coming up in October 2023,

These two Events are part of the international Leonardo LASER series
LASER Toronto is hosted by Nina Czegledy and Roberta Buiani

The Anthropocene Cookbook on October 16, 2023

[downloaded from: https://artscisalon.com/coms4208/]

From the Toronto ArtSci Salon October 5, 2023 announcement,

Oct 16 [2023], 3:30 PM [ET] 
The Anthropocene cookbook

with authors 
Zane Cerpina & Stahl Stenslie
Cerpina and Stenslie are the authors of
The Anthropocene Cookbook. How to survive in the age of catastrophes 

Join us to welcome Cerpina and Stenslie as they introduce us to their
book and discuss the future cuisine of humanity. To sustain the
soon-to-be 9 billion global population we cannot count on Mother
Earth’s resources anymore. The project explores innovative and
speculative ideas about new foods in the field of arts, design, science
& technology, rethinking eating traditions and food taboos, and
proposing new recipes for survival in times of ecological catastrophes.

To match the topic of their talk, attendees will be presented with
“anthropocene snacks” and will be encouraged to discuss food
alternatives and new networks of solidarity to fight food deserts,
waste, and unsustainable consumption.

This is a Hybrid event: our guests will join us virtually on zoom.
Join us in person at Glendon Campus, rm YH190 (the studio next to the
Glendon Theatre) for a more intimate community experience and some
anthropocene snacks. If you wish to join us on Zoom, please

register here

This event is part of a series on Emergent Practices in Communication,
featuring explorations on interspecies communication and digital
networks; land-based justice and collective care. The full program can be found here

This initiative is supported by York University’s Teaching Commons Academic Innovation Fund

Zane Cerpina is a multicultural and interdisciplinary female author,
curator, artist, and designer working with the complexity of
socio-political and environmental issues in contemporary society and in
the age of the Anthropocene. Cerpina earned her master’s degree in
design from AHO – The Oslo School of Architecture and Design and a
bachelor’s degree in Art and Technology from Aalborg University. She
resides in Oslo and is a project manager/curator at TEKS (Trondheim
Electronic Arts Centre). She is also a co-founder and editor of EE:
Experimental Emerging Art Journal. From 2015 to 2019, Cerpina was a
creative manager and editor at PNEK (Production Network for Electronic
Art, Norway).

Stahl Stenslie works as an artist, curator and researcher specializing
in experimental media art and interaction experiences. His aesthetic
focus is on art and artistic expressions that challenge ordinary ways of
perceiving the world. Through his practice he asks the questions we tend
to avoid – or where the answers lie in the shadows of existence.
Keywords of his practice are somaesthetics, unstable media,
transgression and numinousness. The technological focus in his works is
on the art of the recently possible – such as i) panhaptic
communication on Smartphones, ii) somatic and immersive soundspaces, and
iii) design of functional and lethal artguns, 3D printed in low-cost
plastic material.He has a PhD on Touch and Technologies from The School
of Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway. Currently he heads the R&D
department at Arts for Young Audiences Norway.

If you’re interested in the book, there’s the anthropocenecookbook.com, which has more about the book and purchase information,

The Anthropocene Cookbook is by far the most comprehensive collection of ideas about future food from the perspective of art, design, and science. It is a thought-provoking book about art, food, and eating in the Anthropocene –The Age of Man– and the age of catastrophes.

Published by The MIT Press [MIT = Massachusetts Institute of Technology]
| mitpress.mit.edu

Supported by TEKS
Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre
| www.teks.no

*Date changed* Streaming Carbon Footprint on October 27, 2023

Keep scrolling down to Date & location changed for Streaming Carbon Footprint subhead.

From the Toronto ArtSci Salon October 5, 2023 announcement,

Oct 27, [2023] 5:00-7:00 PM  [ET]
Streaming Carbon Footprint

with 
Laura U. Marks
and
David Rokeby

Room 230
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
222 College Street, Toronto

We are thrilled to announce this dialogue between media Theorist Laura U. Marks and Media Artist David Rokeby. Together, they will discuss a well known elephant in the room of media and digital technologies: their carbon footprint. As social media and streaming media usage increases exponentially, what can be done to mitigate their impact? are there alternatives?

This is a live event: our guests will join us in person.

if you wish to join us on Zoom instead, a link will be circulated on our website and on social media a few days before the event. The event will be recorded

Laura U. Marks works on media art and philosophy with an intercultural focus, and on small-footprint media. She programs experimental media for venues around the world. As Grant Strate University Professor, she teaches in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Her upcoming book The Fold: From Your Body to the Cosmos will be published I March 2024 by Duke University Press. 

David Rokeby is an installation artist based in Toronto, Canada. He has been creating and exhibiting since 1982. For the first part of his career he focussed on interactive pieces that directly engage the human body, or that involve artificial perception systems. In the last decade, his practice has expanded to included video, kinetic and static sculpture. His work has been performed / exhibited in shows across Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

Awards include the first BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for Interactive Art in 2000, a 2002 Governor General’s award in Visual and Media Arts and the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Interactive Art 2002. He was awarded the first Petro-Canada Award for Media Arts in 1988, the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art (Austria) in 1991 and 1997.

I haven’t been able to dig up any information about registration but it will be added here should I stumble across any in the next few weeks. I did, however, find more information about Marks’s work and a festival in Vancouver (Canada).

Fourth Annual Small File Media Festival (October 20 -21, 2023) and the Streaming Carbon Footprint

First, let’s flip back in time to a July 27, 2021 Simon Fraser University (SFU) news release (also published as a July 27, 2021 news item on phys.org) by Tessa Perkins Deneault,

When was the last time you watched a DVD? If you’re like most people, your DVD collection has been gathering dust as you stream movies and TV from a variety of on-demand services. But have you ever considered the impact of streaming video on the environment?

School for the Contemporary Arts professor Laura Marks and engineering professor Stephen Makonin, with engineering student Alejandro Rodriguez-Silva and media scholar Radek Przedpełski, worked together for over a year to investigate the carbon footprint of streaming media supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

“Stephen and Alejandro were there to give us a reality check and to increase our engineering literacy, and Radek and I brought the critical reading to it,” says Marks. “It was really a beautiful meeting of critical media studies and engineering.”

After combing through studies on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and making their own calculations, they confirmed that streaming media (including video on demand, YouTube, video embedded in social media and websites, video conferences, video calls and games) is responsible for more than one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. And this number is only projected to rise as video conferencing and streaming proliferate.

“One per cent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s significant if you think that the airline industry is estimated to be 1.9 per cent,” says Marks. “ICT’s carbon footprint is growing fast, and I’m concerned that because we’re all turning our energy to other obvious carbon polluters, like fossil fuels, cars, the airline industry, people are not going to pay attention to this silent, invisible carbon polluter.”

One thing that Marks found surprising during their research is how politicized this topic is.

Their full report includes a section detailing the International Energy Association’s attack on French think tank The Shift Project after they published a report on streaming media’s carbon footprint in 2019. They found that some ICT engineers state that the carbon footprint of streaming is not a concern because data centres and networks are very efficient, while others say the fast-rising footprint is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Their report includes comparisons of the divergent figures in engineering studies in order to get a better understanding of the scope of this problem.

The No. 1 thing Marks and Makonin recommend to reduce streaming’s carbon footprint is to ensure that our electricity comes from renewable sources. At an individual level, they offer a list of recommendations to reduce energy consumption and demand for new ICT infrastructure including: stream less, watch physical media including DVDs, decrease video resolution, use audio-only mode when possible, and keep your devices longer—since production of devices is very carbon-intensive.    

Promoting small files and low resolution, Marks founded the Small File Media Festival [link leads to 2023 programme], which will present its second annual program [2021] of 5-megabyte films Aug. 10 – 20. As the organizers say, movies don’t have to be big to be binge-worthy.

Learn more about Marks’ research and the Small File Media Festival: https://www.sfu.ca/sca/projects—activities/streaming-carbon-footprint.html

And now for 2023, here’s a video promoting the upcoming fourth annual festival,

The Streaming Carbon Footprint webpage on the SFU website includes information about the final report and the latest Small File Media Festival. Although I found the Small File Media Festival website also included a link for purchasing tickets,

The Small File Media Festival returns for its fourth iteration! We are delighted to partner with The Cinematheque to present over sixty jewel-like works from across the globe. These movies are small in file size, but huge in impact: by embracing the aesthetics of compression and low resolution (glitchiness, noise, pixelation), they lay the groundwork for a new experimental film movement in the digital age. This year, six lovingly curated programs traverse brooding pixelated landscapes, textural paradises, and crystalline infinities.

TICKETS AND FESTIVAL INFO

Join us Friday, October 20 [2023] for the opening-night program followed by a drinks reception in the lobby and a dance party in the cinema, featuring music by Vancouver electronic artist SAN. We’ll announce the winner of the coveted Small-File Golden Mini Bear during Saturday’s [October 21, 2023] award ceremony! As always, the festival will stream online at small​file​.ca after the live events.

We’re most grateful to our future-forward friends at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, and SFU Contemporary Arts. Thanks to VIVO Media Arts, Cairo Video Festival, and The Hmm for generous distribution and exhibition awards, and to UKRAïNATV, a partner in small-file activism.

Cosmically healthy, community-building, and punk AF, small-file ecomedia will heal the world, one pixel at a time.

TICKETS

There we have it. And then, we didn’t

*Date & location change* for Streaming Carbon Footprint event

From an October 27, 2023 ArtSci Salon notice,

Nov 7, [2023] 5:00-7:00 PM 
Streaming Carbon Footprint

with 
Laura U. Marks
and
David Rokeby
 

Tuesday, November 7 [2023]
5:00-7:00 pm
The BMO Lab
15 King’s College Circle, room H-12
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H7

Good luck to the organizers. It must have been nervewracking to change the date so late in the game.

Simon Fraser University’s (SFU; Canada) Café Scientifique Fall 2023 events: first event is Sept. 26, 2023

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 cafe_scientifique@sfu.ca 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.

[Register here for September 26, 2023 event]

October 24, 2023 Ailene MacPherson, Mathematics

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.

[Register here for October 24, 2023 event]

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.

[Register here for November 28, 2023 event]

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.

Toronto’s ArtSci Salon’s Sept 20, 2023 event: Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool? and North Vancouver’s Polygon Gallery hosts Sept. 24, 2023 Phase Shifting finale event

Toronto

I stumbled across this while checking out Toronto’s ArtSci Salon website, from their Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool? event page,

Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool? Sept. 20 [2023] 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?

Event Schedule:

6:00-6:30pm. Reception and Networking

6:30-7:15pm. Panel Discussion (see below)

7:15-7:45pm. Q&A with the audience

7:45-8:00pm. Networking

8pm – option – retiring to a nearby pub for discussions

Panel Discussion:

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.
  • Artist Viewpoint: Ryan Kelln, a software artist, has been using text-to-image tools to explore remixing, appropriation, and representation in his latest concert (https://www.ryankelln.com/project/transmigrations/). His exploration didn’t answer all his questions but left him changed for the better.
  • 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.

If you have time, do take a look at Ryan Kelln’s Transmigrations June 2023 blog posting, https://www.ryankelln.com/project/transmigrations/, where you’ll see this and much more,

Migrations Without Borders

  • Composer: Dhaivat Jani
  • Visuals: Ryan Kelln & Stable Diffusion v1.5

Related: Atomised Migrations visuals remix

“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?

North Vancouver

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

Closing Celebration

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

[RSVP here]

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. 

For anyone who does decide on the full experience, here’s more about Phase Shifting Index from the May 17, 2023 Polygon news release,

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.

encou(n)ters and more at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) on May 15, 2023

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),

SYMPOSIUM: ENCOU(N)TERS

Monday, May 15 [2023] from 2-6 pm at UBC Botanical Garden [2]

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.

Interdisciplinary research is emerging? From the Interdisciplinarity Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,

Although “interdisciplinary” and “interdisciplinarity” are frequently viewed as twentieth century terms, the concept has historical antecedents, most notably Greek philosophy.[2] 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”,[3] 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.[4]

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.[1] 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”),[2] 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.[98][99][100] The book was well-received, and later earned the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction.[101][102]

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.

Getting back to “encou(n)ters,” here are some details from the Belkin Gallery’s event page,

[second annual research symposium, encou(n)ters]

Monday, May 15 [2023] from 2-6 pm at UBC Botanical Garden

The symposium is free and open to the public, but space is limited; RSVP here.

Symposium Program

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).

Ars Scientia talks at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in February, March, and April 2023

The University of British Columbia (UBC; Vancouver, Canada) partnership between its Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI), its Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery (the Belkin), and its Department of Physics and Astronomy (UBC PHAS) is known as Ars Scientia. (See my September 6, 2021 posting for more; scroll down to the Ars Scientia subhead.)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen any notices about Ars Scientia events but the Belkin Gallery announced three in a February 15, 2023 notice (received via email),

Ars Scientia Artist Talks

Room 311, Brimacombe Building, 2355 East Mall, UBC

Join us for a series of artist talks hosted at UBC’s Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI). Our current cohort of Ars Scientia artists-in-residence have formed collaborative partnerships with scientists and engineers while embedded at Blusson QMI.

Tuesday, February 21 [2023] at 2 pm

JG Mair

Tuesday, March 28 [2023] at 1 pm

Scott Billings

Tuesday, April 2 [2023] at 2 pm

Timothy Taylor

IMAGE (ABOVE): AN ARS SCIENTIA COLLABORATION BETWEEN VISUAL ARTIST JG MAIR AND PHYSICIST ALANNAH HALLAS AT BLUSSON QMI; THE TWO WORKED TOGETHER IN HALLAS’S LAB TO TURN “INSIGHTFUL FAILURES” OF HIGH-ENTROPY OXIDES (A TYPE OF QUANTUM MATERIAL) INTO AN ARTIST’S MEDIUM – PAINT. PHOTO: RACHEL TOPHAM PHOTOGRAPHY.

I have found more details about the upcoming talk here on the Belkin Gallery’s Artist Talks: JG Mair, Scott Billings and Timothy Taylor events page,

Artist Talk with JG Mair, Tuesday, 21 February [2023] at 2 pm

Please join visual and media artist JG Mair for a discussion about his art practice and experiences as a collaborative participant in the Ars Scientia residency. As part of his talk, Mair will present one of his major works, Chroma Chamber, a web-based new media art installation that investigates human expectations of vision and machine algorithms by programmatically collating real-time Google image results to surround the viewer with the distilled colour of the words they speak. Visit Blusson QMI for more details. [Note 1: On the Blusson QMI page, the talk is titled: Algorithmic allegories by JG Mair; Note 2: You’ll find a map showing the Brimacombe building location.]

I wasn’t able to find out more about the other talks but I did get more information about the three artists, Belkin Gallery’s Artist Talks: JG Mair, Scott Billings and Timothy Taylor events page.

JG Mair is a Vancouver-based multidisciplinary artist and media designer specializing in mixed media, web and audio. He has a BFA from the University of Victoria and a BEd from the University of British Columbia. Mair has been working in the areas of both traditional and digital contemporary art and as a sound designer for various game studios developing titles for publishers including Apple, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Netflix. Mair has had exhibitions and residencies in Canada, USA, South Korea and Japan.

Scott Billings is a visual artist, industrial designer and engineer based in Vancouver. His sculptures and video installations have been described as existing somewhere between cinema and automata. Centering on issues of animality, mobility and spectatorship, Billings’s work examines the mimetic relationship between the physical apparatus and the virtual motion it delivers. In what ways does the apparatus itself reveal both the mechanisms of causality and its own dormant animal quality? Billings addresses this question under the pursuit of the technological conundrum and a preoccupation with precise geometry and logic. Billings holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia, a BFA from Emily Carr University and a BASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. He teaches at UBC and Emily Carr as a sessional instructor. Billings is represented by Wil Aballe Art Projects.

Timothy Taylor is an Associate Professor and Graduate Advisor at the School of Creative Writing. He is also a bestselling and award-winning author of eight book-length works of fiction and nonfiction, a prolific journalist, and creative nonfiction writer. In addition to his writing and teaching at UBC, Taylor travels widely, having in recent years spent time on assignment in China, Tibet, Japan, Dubai, Brazil, the Canadian arctic and other places. He lives in Point Grey Vancouver with his wife, his son, and a pair of Brittany Spaniels named Keaton and Murphy.

Hopefully, the talk is a little more accessible than its description.