An October 16, 2023 notice (received via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon makes this performance announcement,
PATTERNS FROM NATURE Saturday, November 4th, 2023 Isabel Bader Theatre 93 Charles St West Toronto 8pm Free admission
An ambitious new project is set to captivate audiences with a mesmerizing fusion of physics, film, and music.
Physicist Stephen Morris, filmmakers Udo Prinsen, Gita Blak, Lee Hutzulak, Tina de Groot, and composer/saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff are joining forces to explore Morris’ area of research Emergent Patterns in Nature through a captivating multimedia experience.
The centerpiece of this innovative project is a four-movement, 40-minute work. Each filmmaker will delve into a specific research area within Emergent Patterns in Nature, exploring Branches, Flow, Cracks, and Ripples. Collaborating closely, the team will draw inspiration from one another’s progress into the composition and filmmaking processes. These areas were inspired, in part, by the books about Patterns in Nature by Philip Ball.
Blending jazz and classical elements, the composition will be performed by a chamber ensemble featuring woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, string quartet, bass, drum set, and conductor. Renowned soloists, including clarinetist François Houle, the Molinari String Quartet, pianists Matt Mitchell and Santiago Leibson, bassist Carlo De Rosa, drummer Satoshi Takeishi, trombonist Ryan Keberle, and saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, will contribute their virtuosity to the performance.
This groundbreaking collaboration promises to transport audiences on an immersive journey through the wonders of Emergent Patterns in Nature. The result will be an unforgettable multimedia experience that pushes the boundaries of creativity and innovation.
Toronto ensemble: Camille Watts (flute), François Houle (clarinet), Quinsin Nachoff (tenor saxophone), Peter Lutek (bassoon), Jason Logue (trumpet), David Quackenbush (french horn), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Mark Duggan (percussion), Santiago Leibson (piano), Carlo De Rosa (bass), Satoshi Takeishi (drums), Molinari String Quartet (Olga Ranzenhofer – violin I, Antoine Bareil – violin II, Frédéric Lambert – viola, Pierre-Alain Bouvrette – cello), JC Sanford (conductor)
In co-presentation with Art-Sci Salon at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the University of Toronto Department of Physics
Made possible, in part, through the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts, the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec
Just Register here and/or there’s a roundtable discussion scheduled for the next day,
Let’s talk it up
An October 20, 2023 notice (received via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon makes this related event announcement,
Patterns from Nature is a new project intersecting physics, film, and music. Physicist Stephen Morris, filmmakers Udo Prinsen, Gita Blak, Lee Hutzulak, Tina de Groot, and composer/saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff joined forces to explore Morris’ area of research Emergent Patterns in Nature through a captivating multimedia experience.
The transdisciplinary collaborations that led to this complex multimedia and multidimensional work raises many questions:
Why and in what way did science, film and music come to converge in this work?
What role did each participant play?
How did they interpret the scientific findings informing the project?
What were the inspirations, the concerns, the questions that each participant brought into this work?
Come with your questions and curiosity, share your experience and feedback with the protagonists
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
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,  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
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  of 5-megabyte films Aug. 10 – 20. As the organizers say, movies don’t have to be big to be binge-worthy.
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.
Join us Friday, October 20  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 smallfile.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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for inquires.
Sept 26, 2023 Vance Williams, Chemistry
Title: (Un)Natural Beauty: Art, Science and Technology
Description: While art is often described in opposition to science and technology, in reality, these disciplines are mutually supporting and reinforcing explorations of the natural and constructed world. In this presentation, I will examine the intersection of art and science and the often blurry distinction between the scientist and the artist.
Title: Who, What, Where, When, and Why: the power of genomics in public health
Description: Within days of first being identified the full genome sequence of SARS Cov-2 was published online. Here we discuss the extraordinary power and limitations of genomics for understanding disease spread and for designing effective public health interventions.
November 28, 2023 Dustin King, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Title: Decoding how life senses and responds to carbon dioxide gas.
Description: Dustin King’s Indigenous background is central to his work and relationship with the biochemical research he conducts. He brings Indigenous ways of knowing and a two-eye seeing approach to critical questions about humanity’s impact upon the natural world.
Join Dr. King on a microscopic journey into intricate cellular systems, which make use of CO2 in incredible ways. The presence of CO2 on Earth has given rise to a diverse evolutionary tree, with plants and animals developing ingenious methods for harnessing and using CO2 in their unique habitats. We travel from the depths of the ocean floor to the air we breathe, to understand the implications of increasing CO2 levels in nature and in daily human life.
I wouldn’t have thought art/science or, as it sometimes called, sciart was a particularly obscure concept these days but it’s a good reminder that much depends on the community from which you draw your audience.
Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool? Sept. 20  6:00-8:00 @Fields
This event is a collaboration between ArtSci Salon and the Quantified Self Meet up Group led by Eric Boyd. Join us for a thought-provoking exploration into the world of “Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool?”.
While the era of the Quantified Self isn’t over, new tools have emerged which make the idea of JUST quantifying yourself (for personal growth or insight) seem outdated. The widespread assumptions is that ChatGPT and other Generative AI tools can do at least some of your thinking FOR YOU. Similarly, MidJourney can churn out passable images from just a prompt (that ChatGPT wrote for you), even if you aren’t an artist. This ability has raised many red flags and concerns regarding intellectual property and copyright infringement. And hundreds more such tools are arriving like a tsunami as venture capitalists pour billions into Generative AI startups. How do we navigate Generative AI for personal growth and creativity? What are its ethical uses? How do we use it for personal growth and creativity, for education or accessibility? What is it’s impact on our sense of self and on the conditions of our employment?
6:00-6:30pm. Reception and Networking
6:30-7:15pm. Panel Discussion (see below)
7:15-7:45pm. Q&A with the audience
8pm – option – retiring to a nearby pub for discussions
Engage with a diverse panel of experts, each offering a nuanced perspective on the integration of AI into personal development:
Techie Viewpoint:Eric Boyd, will talk in general about the “Augmented Self” idea, and relate his experiences working with these tools on an unusual creative project – a solarpunk tarot deck. It’s a gigantic project, and “orchestrating artificial cognition” is the weird “augmented” experience at the heart of it.
Other Viewpoints: Seeking project show & tell, brief opinions and constructive criticism!
This event will be recorded. If you wish to join us on Zoom, please, head to the Facebook event page here a few days before the event to get the link.
Audience Participation: We invite your participation! If you’d like to speak on the panel, we are still looking to flesh it out. Ideally we’re looking for an educator who is grappling seriously with the impact of e.g. ChatGPT on their students and the process and goals of education in general. And we’re open to other ideas and viewpoints! Please contact the organizer (Eric Boyd) via meetup message with a brief description of your background and what you might share/say in 5+ minutes. It doesn’t need to be formal, these are the frontiers!
And everyone, please bring your curiosity and your questions! We welcome all input, especially critical or out-of-frame input. We don’t even know what kind of language we should be using to discuss this!
If you are intrigued by the intersection of technology, self-improvement, and personal expression and seek a nuanced perspective on the augmented self, this event is designed for you.
Join us for an evening of generative AI collaboration stories (in the usual manner of QS “what did you do”), candid exploration, and thought-provoking dialogue. Chart your course through the potential and complexities of the Augmented Self with the guidance of insightful experts and a community of like-minded explorers.
This event description began from a series of prompts to ChatGPT. Can you spot the unedited sections? Does it matter if you can or can’t? It feels very new and different to make things this way. Let’s talk about it. see full description by organizer Eric Boyd.
“Migrations Without Borders” is a modular piece of art that explores the potential of AI to mimic and remix cultural styles and elements [emphasis mine]. Incorporating eight distinct musical styles and corresponding visual elements, the piece allows for the dynamic composition of linked music themes and visuals.
But “Migrations” is more than just a showcase of AI’s abilities. It is a deliberate mixture of themes, including immigration, remix culture, AI bias, and the interplay of language and imagery. Drawing from Dhaivat’s personal experience and Toronto’s diverse cultural landscape, the piece creates a universe of cross-pollination that encourages reflection on the ways in which technology is changing our relationship to culture, identity, and acceptable thought.
The art invites us to consider the consequences of AI’s powers of mimicry and integration. What does it mean for likenesses and cultures to collide and mix so easily? How do we navigate the borrowing of styles and representations that may not be our own? What responsibilities and freedoms do we have in this rapidly evolving landscape?
I wouldn’t ordinarily post about an art exhibition closing or finale event but this it a good companion event in Toronto and gives people in the Vancouver area an opportunity for something that’s more avant garde than I realized when the exhibition was announced in May 2023,, from the Phase Shifting Index Closing Celebration event page on the Polygon Art Gallery website,
Jeremy Shaw: Phase Shifting Index
Sunday, September 24 5:00pm
[Location: The Polygon Gallery at 101 Carrie Cates Court in North Vancouver, BC, Canada]
Artist in attendance
Final day to see Phase Shifting Index—for the full experience of the seven-channel work please come at least 35 minutes before the exhibition closes at 5:00 pm.
Doors at 5:00pm Screening of Jeremy Shaw’s short film Quickeners at 5:15pm Conversation between Jeremy Shaw and The Polygon’s Audain Chief Curator Monika Szewczyk at 5:45pm Reception at 6:15pm
About Quickeners Quickeners: They live about 500 years after us and belong to the entirely rational- thinking species of Quantum Human, who are immortal and connected to each other through an abstract entity called “The Hive”. However, Quickeners have a developed a rare disorder named “Human Atavism Syndrome” – or H.A.S.- that prompts them to unexplainably desire to engage in long-forgotten behavioural patterns of humans. Detached from Hive, the Quickeners fall into an ecstatic state in which they sing, clap, cry, scream, dance and handle poisonous snakes [emphasis mine].
About Phase Shifting Index Through a seven-channel video, sound, and light installation—the most ambitious use to date of Jeremy Shaw’s signature, evolving ‘post-documentary’ approach—visitors experience seven distinct subcultures that believe they can fundamentally alter reality.
About Jeremy Shaw Born in North Vancouver and now based in Berlin, Jeremy Shaw works in a variety of media to explore altered states and the cultural and scientific practices that aspire to map transcendental experience. His films, installations and sculptures have gained worldwide acclaim with solo exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA PS1, New York, and Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin as well international surveys including the 57th Venice Biennale, 16th Lyon Biennale and Manifesta 11, Zurich.
From June 23 to Sept. 24, 2023, The Polygon Gallery presents the North American premiere of Phase Shifting Index by North Vancouver-born, Berlin-based artist Jeremy Shaw. The immersive installation combines film, sound, and light to tell a story about an imagined future in which human beliefs and survival are at stake.
Phase Shifting Index is a seven-channel video, sound, and light installation that functions as a science-fiction pseudo-documentary about seven distinct subcultures that believe they can fundamentally alter reality. Each screen shows a group engaging in ritualistic movements while dressed in clothing that places them in periods ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s. Shaw uses outdated modes of 20th-century video technology (such as 16mm film and Hi-8 video tape), while interviews in indecipherable languages are subtitled in English. All seven channels are tied together by an overarching narrator who describes their belief systems and the significance of their movements: body-mind centering, robotic popping-and-locking, modern and postmodern dance, jump-style, hardcore punk skanking, and trust exercises, amongst others.
As the work progresses, the audiovisual elements of each screen draws the viewer into a dramatic narrative arc. At the climax, the seven autonomous subcultural groups align in a trans-temporal dance routine, with all subjects on all screens engaged in the same cathartic, synchronized movements, before disintegrating into abstraction and chaos. Sounds and sights collide on screen and then meld into a synaptic colour field. The result is a suspension of time and space, as the seven parallel realities fuse into one psychedelic art installation.
It was the ‘psychedelic’ in the last line along with references to the 1960s that dampened my enthusiasm for this ‘mind blowing’ experience. However, Ryan Kelln’s Transmigrations and proposed talk at Art Science Salon/Quantified Self Toronto’s event “Augmented Self: Can Generative AI be more than just a tool?” broadened my thinking on the matter.
I have one upcoming art/science event being held on the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vancouver campus. At the very end of this post, there’s a brief mention of two art/climate events to be held at the Peter Wall Institute on campus.
Ars Scientia draws to a close?
Ars Scientia was initially announced in 2021 as a two year initiative between Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI), the Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery (the Belkin) and UBC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy (UBC PHAS). In other words, physicists and artists collaborating to do something over a two-year period.
There’ve been a number of Ars Scientia talks (use the search term “Ars Scientia” to find them on this blog) and now there’s going to be second (presumably final) symposium, “encou(n)ters.” From a May 9, 2023 Belkin Gallery notice (received via email),
Monday, May 15  from 2-6 pm at UBC Botanical Garden 
The Ars Scientia research cluster launched a collaborative residency program in 2021, bringing together artists and physicists to interrogate the intersections of art and science. Join us at UBC Botanical Garden for our second annual research symposium, _encou(n)ters_, to learn more about residency experiences and engage in interdisciplinary discussions with our participating artist and physicist investigators. Alongside presentations from Ars Scientia collaborators, we are honoured to invite Kavita Philip for a keynote lecture. UBC’s Research Excellence Cluster program seeded Ars Scientia with the objective of creating programming that fuses the practices of art and science in the emerging [emphasis mine] field of interdisciplinary research.
Although “interdisciplinary” and “interdisciplinarity” are frequently viewed as twentieth century terms, the concept has historical antecedents, most notably Greek philosophy. Julie Thompson Klein attests that “the roots of the concepts lie in a number of ideas that resonate through modern discourse—the ideas of a unified science, general knowledge, synthesis and the integration of knowledge”, while Giles Gunn says that Greek historians and dramatists took elements from other realms of knowledge (such as medicine or philosophy) to further understand their own material.
For an example of art and science from ancient times, “De rerum natura” or on the “Nature of Things” is a six book poem devoted to physics according to its Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,
De rerum natura (Latin: [deː ˈreːrʊn naːˈtuːraː]; On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through poetic language and metaphors. Namely, Lucretius explores the principles of atomism [emphases mine]; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna (“chance”), and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities.
In 2011, the historian and literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt wrote a popular history book about the poem, entitled The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. In the work, Greenblatt argues that Poggio Bracciolini’s discovery of De rerum natura reintroduced important ideas that sparked the modern age. The book was well-received, and later earned the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
More recently than Lucretius, Richard Holmes’ 2008 book “The Age of Wonder; How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science” explores the relationship 19th century English romantic poets had with science.
Monday, May 15  from 2-6 pm at UBC Botanical Garden
The symposium is free and open to the public, but space is limited; RSVP here.
Building Momentum, 2-3 pm
Opening remarks by Ars Scientia research leads Shelly Rosenblum, Jeremy Heyl and Andrea Damascelli; Artist talks by jg mair with Alannah Hallas and Timothy Taylor
Experiments in Real Space, 3:15-4:30 pm
Introduction and audience participation experience by James Day; Artist talks by Josephine Lee, Kelly Lycan and Justine Chambers, and Scott Billings
Keynote Address: Kavita Philip, 5-6 pm
Introduction by Susan Sechrist; Keynote address by Kavita Philip
Please join us for a reception following the panels to continue the conversation and enjoy the garden
The keynote speaker, Kavita Philip, joined the University of British Columbia in 2020 according to an October 1, 2020 UBC announcement, Note: Links have been removed,
Dr. Kavita Philip has commenced her appointment as the President’s Excellence Chair in Network Cultures, joining UBC as Professor of English with the UBC Department of English Language and Literatures.
Dr. Philip received her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 1996. Her research and teaching in Global South histories and sociologies of science, computational technologies, environment, network cultures, media, and politics crosses geographic boundaries and ranges across scholarly disciplines. For 25 years, Dr. Philip has been engaged not only in the intellectual task of forging methods to connect techno-scientific, social scientific, and humanistic inquiry, but also in the institutional task of building these collaborative spaces. She seeks to develop public humanities research that acknowledges the intertwined material and social contexts of cultural production. These networked commitments make her the ideal candidate for this chair.
Dr. Philip most recently taught in the History department at the University of California, Irvine. In addition, she has taught in Literature programs as well as Media and Communication Studies, beginning her career at Georgia Tech’s School of Literature, Communication, and Culture (formerly an English Department). There, she participated in the creation of a Bachelor of Science degree in Science, Technology and Culture. Dr. Philip expanded and bridged legacy English department curricula from the 1980s with approaches from STS, eco-criticism, speculative fiction, and media studies. In addition, she founded and ran the “Science, Technology, and Race” project, which was heralded for its exemplary pedagogy and outreach. At Georgia Tech, she received the E. Roe Stamps award for excellence in teaching.
At UC Irvine, in addition to her role as a Professor in History, Dr. Philip was also an affiliated Faculty in Informatics, and the Director and co-founder (with Du Bois scholar Dr. Nahum Chandler) of the research group in Science, Technology and Race at the University of California, Irvine. During her time at UC Irvine, she also served as the Director of the Critical Theory Institute, Director of the Graduate Feminist Emphasis, and Director of Graduate Studies in History.
Susan Sechrist, the scholar, who is introducing Dr. Philip, has this to say about herself on her eponymous blog, Note: Links have been removed,
I write literary and speculative fiction as well as critical essays at the intersection of fiction, science, and mathematics. My feature, Go Figure, is a column about mathematical metaphor in fiction, for the online literary blog Bloom. My math-curious short story, A Desirable Middle, was published by the eclectic Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.
I live in Vancouver, Canada, on the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). I’m a Creative Writing MFA student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Public Scholar, awarded when I was working on a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. Before returning to graduate school, I worked as a technical writer and editor for over 20 years, freelancing for clients as varied as high-tech research organizations, academic institutions, software and hardware companies, and technology start-ups.
At a Society for Technical Communication (STC) conference in Las Vegas, I presented a paper on an idea that would become the core of my scholarly research: what if technical writers used figurative and metaphorical language to explicate difficult, complex, scientific ideas? What if technical documentation was actually… interesting? That question led to a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Skidmore College, where my thesis was about the connections between literature and mathematical breakthroughs.
There are two other upcoming research events (art and climate change) that you can check out on this Belkin Gallery page (just scroll down past the symposium).
Is there some sort of misunderstanding between Toronto’s ArtSci Salon and the Onsite Gallery at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) University)?
Previously, I featured a series organized around the ‘more-than’human’ exhibition at the Onsite Gallery which included events being held by the ArtSci Salon in my February 1, 2023 posting. This morning (April 3, 2023), I received, via email, an April 2, 2023 ArtSci Salon announcement about some upcoming events for the ‘Re-situating: more-than-human’ event series (sigh), Note 1: They’ve added a poet to the Poetry Night, added more detail to the May 2023 excursion, and added a call for projects; Note 2: The Onsite Gallery continues call to it the ‘more-than-human’ exhibition,
Poetry Night Wednesday, April 5  – 7:30-9:30
An immersive poetry performance that involves three poets reading poems and a site-specific live projection mapping response created by artist Ilze Briede (Kavi). Come to this in-depth and unique event of deep listening and embodied experience!
Dr. Madhur Anand, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph Dr. Karen Houle, College of arts, University of Guelph
Liz Howard, Department of English, Concordia University
Projection mapping by Ilze Briede (Kavi) PhD student, York University
Don’t forget next event of the Re-Situating series:
The rare Charitable Research Reserve is an urban land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region/Wellington, protecting over 1,200 acres of highly sensitive lands.
This event follows and concludes several interdisciplinary dialogues on ethics of care, ecology, symbiosis, and human-plant relations. We weave together embodied discovery and sensory experience ; listening and thinking about the ethical and material implications of recognizing non-human individuals as valuable ; as well as different disciplines, epistemologies, positionalities. Our goal is to acquire better awareness of the ecological community to which we belong, with the intention of rethinking and resituating the human within a diverse, complex, and multifaceted ecosystem of other-than-human lifeforms.
The day will begin with a panel between artists and scientists investigating the social, economic, and natural complexities affecting both human and plant-life. The afternoon events will include a 30-minute walk through the wetlands at rare (wetland as carbon sinks), a Master Class led by Dr. Alice Jarry (the design of plant-based air filtration), and a rare led walk following the ecological lichen monitoring.
IMPORTANT! Bus will leave for rare at 9 am and will return to Toronto at 5:30 pm.
Please, note: Tickets are limited. Should you not be able to attend, please let us know so we can free up the space for someone else.
We require a nominal registration fee of $5 which will be refunded on the day of the event.
Sunday, May 7  – 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Meeting place: Onsite gallery, 199 Richmond Street West.
11:00 am-12:30 pm: Panel
Sumia Ali, McMaster University
Grace Grothaus, PhD candidate, York University
Dr. Alice Jarry, Speculative Life BioLab, Concordia University
Dr. Marissa Davis, University of Waterloo
12:30-1:30pm: lunch – catered
1:30-2:15 Wetlands walk
Dr. Alice Jarry, Speculative Life BioLab, Concordia University – Plant based filtration systems
4:30-5:15 The lichen monitoring walk. This program at rare is one of several long-term ecological monitoring programs yielding valuable baseline data and can help to identify critical changes in ecosystem dynamics.
5:30 – return to Toronto
For more information and for media inquiries please contact Roberta Buiani – ArtSci Salon, The Fields Institute email@example.com Jane Tingley – Slolab, York University firstname.lastname@example.org
From the April 2, 2023 ArtSci Salon announcement (received via email),
call for GLAM Incubator projects for 2023 – 2024
For more information about the Call for Projects please visit the GLAM Incubator’s website For specific questions about the Incubator or this year’s call, please email me directly at email@example.com. I am happy to answer any questions you or any potential partner organizations might have.
The GLAM Incubator is a research and support hub that connects galleries, libraries, archives, and museums with industry partners, researchers, and students to advance the development of seedling projects that benefit cultural institutions, industry, and the research and teaching goals of universities worldwide. The overarching goal of the Incubator is to provide support to experimental projects that benefit the GLAM industries and engages students. It provides the broader context and overarching structure for an ongoing series of responsive, finite, cross-sector action research collaborations. A collaboration between the Faculty of Information and the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto, the GLAM Incubator provides space, administrative assistance, research expertise, equipment, event facilitation, limited funding, and knowledge mobilization.
Each year, the GLAM Incubator puts out a Call for Projects from GLAM institutions for small-scale projects that experiment or incubate new programming, service models, interactive experiences, technical services, knowledge media, and user interfaces that will have an impact on GLAM institutions or professions more broadly. Please consult our Call for Projects page for more information.
The GLAM Incubator is a theory and innovation lab dedicated to launching and supporting small-scale projects focused on the development of cutting-edge programming, service models, interactive experiences, knowledge media, and user interfaces that address a specific issue or opportunity associated with emerging technologies within the GLAM sector. The themes and contents of the projects supported by the Incubator evolve in keeping with shifting technological developments and in response to the fluctuating needs and concerns of the various stakeholders involved in the cultural industry sectors (professionals, patrons, funders).
The Incubator will use its resources and infrastructure to run multiple projects concurrently. In addition to meeting the above criteria, projects will demonstrate a capacity to engage a diversity of stakeholders, as well as new and existing community partners. Projects will be “small-scale,” with a well-bounded research design (e.g. a study addressing a specific issue or timed opportunity faced by a community or industry partner) and short-term (1-3 years) duration. Active projects will be set up in a “doored lab,” either dedicated or shared. The Incubator will purchase or assist with the purchase of technological equipment and software required for the research. It will assist with administrative tasks and knowledge mobilization activities, as described in more detail below. It will provide in-kind support to help project leads secure external grants to fund other costs associated with the research (including research assistant salaries, conference travel, etc.). In exchange, project leads and their teams will ensure that a significant proportion of the research activities occur within that space.
Project teams must participate in an annual Symposium and engage their research and results in Incubator-supported knowledge mobilization activities, public or community outreach activities, and student engagement opportunities, where applicable.
Incubator projects will be selected through an application process.
Two-page description of the project that includes an explanation of the project’s purpose and impact on a GLAM industry or profession;
Resume(s) of the lead applicant(s);
A list of collaborators including brief biographies or descriptive information
Sustainability for continuing the project after incubation
A list of potential equipment, space, administrative, and funding needs.
We also welcome inquiries from potential applicants.
Enjoy the events and good luck with your submission to GLAM.
Should you be interested in an ArtSci Salon event (and part of whatever this series and exhibition is being called), titled ‘On Ethics of Care’, held in late March 2023, there’s an embedded two hour video on their ‘Re-situating: more-than-human’ webpage,
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.
Artist Talk with JG Mair, Tuesday, 21 February  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.]
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.
I’m sorry to be late. Thankfully this show extends into July 2023, so, there’s still plenty of time to get to Chicago’s The Block Museum of Art (at Northwestern University) art/science exhibition. I found this on the museum’s exhibition page for “The Heart’s Knowledge: Science and Empathy in the Art of Dario Robleto” show,
What do we owe to the memories of one another’s hearts?
For American artist Dario Robleto (b. 1972), artists and scientists share a common aspiration: to increase the sensitivity of their observations. Throughout the history of scientific invention, instruments like the cardiograph and the telescope have extended the reach of perception from the tiniest stirrings of the human body to the farthest reaches of space. In his prints, sculptures, and video and sound installations, Robleto contemplates the emotional significance of these technologies, bringing us closer to the latent traces of life buried in the scientific record.
The Heart’s Knowledge concentrates on the most recent decade of Robleto’s creative practice, a period of deepening engagement with histories of medicine, biomedical engineering, sound recording, and space exploration. The exhibition organizes the artist’s conceptually ambitious, elegantly wrought artworks as a series of multisensory encounters between art and science. Each work seeks to attune viewers to the material traces of life at scales ranging from the intimate to the universal, returning always to the question: Does empathy extend beyond the boundaries of time and space?
Here’s more from a January 27, 2023 Northwestern University news release (received via email),
Exhibition searches for meaning at the limits of science and perception
“The Heart’s Knowledge: Science and Empathy in the Art of Dario Robleto” is on view Jan. 27 to July 9  at The Block Museum of Art
Works are informed by dialogue with Northwestern Engineering researchers during five-year residency
Exhibition a tribute to NASA Golden Record creator, ‘whose heart has left the solar system’
Opening conversation with the artist will take place at 2 p.m. on [Saturday] Feb. 4 
American artist Dario Robleto (b. 1972) believes artists and scientists share a common aspiration: to increase the sensitivity of their observations.
From understanding the human body’s pulses and brainwaves to viewing the faintest glimmers of light from the edge of the observable universe, groundbreaking science pushes the limits of perception. Similarly, the perceptive work of artists can extend the boundaries of empathy and understanding.
Since 2018, Robleto served as an artist-at-large at the McCormick School of Engineering. This unique partnership between The Block Museum and McCormick gave the artist an open “hall pass” to learn from, collaborate with and question scientists, engineers and experts from across the University.
A free opening conversation with the artist will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 , in Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium, 1999 Campus Drive in Evanston.
About the Exhibition: “The Heart’s Knowledge”
Throughout the history of scientific invention, instruments like the cardiograph and the telescope have extended the reach of perception from the tiniest stirrings of the human body to the farthest reaches of space.
Robleto’s prints, sculptures and video and sound installations contemplate the emotional significance of these technologies, bringing viewers closer to the latent traces of life buried in the scientific record.
“The Heart’s Knowledge” represents a decade of Robleto’s creative practice, from 2012 to 2022, a period marked by a deepening engagement with science, including astronomy, synthetic biology and exobiology, and a widening embrace of new materials and creative forms, from 3D-printed objects to film.
Robleto dedicates the exhibition to Ann Druyan, the creative director of NASA’s Golden Record for the Voyager 1 and 2 projects. The record includes Druyan’s brainwaves and heartbeats, recorded as she reflected on her secret love for famed astronomer and future husband Carl Sagan. The act of sneaking “love on board the Voyager” inspired Robleto to compose a love letter to the only human whose “heart has left the solar system.”
Robleto sees Druyan’s act to include her emotions on the record as the central inspiration of his work. “I consider it the greatest work of subversive, avant-garde art not yet given its due,” Robleto said. “The Golden Record and Ann’s radical act brought us all together to think about what it means to be human — to one another and to unknown beings on other worlds.”
The exhibition organizes the artist’s conceptually ambitious, elegantly wrought artworks as a series of multisensory encounters between art and science. Each asks viewers to seek out the material traces of life in scales ranging from the intimate to the universal, and to question: Does empathy extend beyond the boundaries of time and space?
“Whether he’s addressing the most minute phenomena of the body or the horizons of the known universe, Robleto binds the rigor of scientific inquiry with artistic expression,” said exhibition curator Michael Metzger, The Block’s Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts.
“Straining at the bounds of observation, Robleto discovers unity at the limits; the common endeavor of art and science to achieve a form of knowledge that language alone cannot speak,” Metzger said.
The exhibition includes three sections:
“Heartbeats“ Rooted in the artist’s longstanding fascination with the clinical and cultural history of the human heart, “Heartbeats” draws inspiration from 19th-century pioneers of cardiography, whose instruments graphically measured heart activity for the first time, leaving behind poignant records of human subjectivity. In “The First Time, the Heart (A Portrait of Life 1854-1913)” (2017), Robleto transforms early measurements of heartbeats into photolithographs executed on paper hand-sooted with candle flames. For the installation “The Pulse Armed with a Pen (An Unknown History of the Human Heartbeat)” (2014), Robleto collaborated with sound historian Patrick Feaster to digitally resurrect these heartbeats in audio form, giving visitors access to intimate pulses of life recorded before the invention of sound playback.
“Wavelengths“ Robleto has recently embraced digital video to create works that narrate transformational episodes in the recording and study of wave phenomena. “Wavelengths” comprises two hour-long immersive video installations. “The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed” (2019) is inspired by NASA’s Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated phonographic disc launched into space onboard the Voyager I and II space probes in 1977. In “The Aorta of an Archivist” (2020-2021), Robleto investigates three breakthroughs in the history of recording: the first recording of a choral performance made with an Edison wax cylinder, the first heartbeat captured while listening to music and the first effort to transcribe the brain wave activity of a dreaming subject.
“Horizons“ In the final section, “Horizons,” Robleto evokes the spirit of the Hubble telescope and the search for extraterrestrial life, gazing out at the boundaries of the observable universe. Inspired by his time as an artist-in-residence at the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and as artistic consultant to the Breakthrough Initiatives, his intricate sculptures, such as “Small Crafts on Sisyphean Seas” (2018), give shape to the speculative search for intelligent life in the universe. Other works like “The Computer of Jupiter” (2019) are framed as “gifts for extraterrestrials” offering an alternative view of the best way to begin a dialogue with alien intelligences.
The Artist-at-Large Program at Northwestern
Lisa Corrin, the Ellen Philips Katz Executive Director of The Block Museum of Art, and Julio M. Ottino, dean of McCormick School of Engineering, envisioned the possibilities of this unconventional partnership between scientist and artist when they launched the artist-at-large initiative together. The work is part of an ongoing Art + Engineering initiative and a part of the whole-brain engineering philosophy at Northwestern Engineering.
“Here, a university’s school of engineering and its art museum come together in the shared belief that transformative innovation can happen at the intersections of usually distinct academic disciplines and modes of creativity and inquiry,” Corrin said. “We had faith that something meaningful would emerge organically if we merely provided structures in which informal interactions might take place.”
“We wanted to model for young engineers the value of embracing uncertainty as part of the journey that leads to innovation and opens pathways within the imagination — as artists do,” Ottino said. “We are grateful to Dario Robleto for accepting our invitation to come to Northwestern and to enter the unknown with us. He has taught us that our shared future resides in our capacity for compassion and for empathy, the ethos at the heart of his work that holds the most promise for those at the forefront of science in the interest of humankind.”
“The Heart’s Knowledge” will include six months of events and dialogues that will illuminate the intersections in Robleto’s practice. All events are free and open to the public. For current program information, visit The Block Museum website.
Program highlights for February and March include:
The Block Museum hosts a discussion that reaches across boundaries to examine the shared pursuit that binds artists and scientists. The conversation features artist Dario Robleto; Jennifer Roberts, professor of the humanities at Harvard University; Lucianne Walkowicz, astronomer and co-founder of the JustSpace Alliance; and Michael Metzger, Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts and curator of “The Heart’s Knowledge.”
Joining artist Dario Robleto in conversation are Elizabeth Kessler, exhibition publication contributor and a lecturer in American Studies at Stanford University, and Shane Larson, research professor of physics and astronomy and associate director of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics) at Northwestern.
Ann Druyan, creative director for NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Messaging Project and writer and producer of the PBS television series “Cosmos,” joins Robleto and art historian Jennifer Roberts for a conversation about the Golden Record and the heart’s memory.
The publication is edited by Michael Metzger with contributions by Metzger, Robert M. Brain, Daniel K. L. Chua, Patrick Feaster, Stefan Helmreich, Elizabeth A. Kessler ,Julius B. Lucks, Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, Alexander Rehding, Jennifer L. Roberts, Claire Isabel Webb and Dario Robleto.
About Dario Robleto
Dario Robleto was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1972 and received his BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1997. He lives and works in Houston, Texas. The artist has had numerous solo exhibitions since 1997, most recently at the Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas (2021); the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2019); the McNay Museum, San Antonio, Texas (2018); Menil Collection, Houston, Texas (2014); the Baltimore Museum of Art (2014); the New Orleans Museum of Art (2012); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2011).
He is currently working on his first book, “Life Signs: The Tender Science of the Pulsewave,” co-authored with art historian Jennifer Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities at Harvard (University of Chicago Press).
“The Heart’s Knowledge: Science and Empathy in the Art of Dario Robleto” exhibition is made possible through a partnership with the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University. Major support also was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is contributed by the Dorothy J. Speidel Fund; the Bernstein Family Contemporary Art Fund; the Barry and Mary Ann MacLean Fund for Art and Engineering; the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the Alumnae of Northwestern University. The exhibition publication is made possible in part by the Sandra L. Riggs Publications Fund.
Should you be in the Chicago area and interested in the exhibit, you can find all the information for your visit here.
Who is an artist? What is an artist? Can everyone be an artist? These are the kinds of questions you can expect with the rise of artificially intelligent artists/collaborators. Of course, these same questions have been asked many times before the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) agents/programs in the field of visual art. Each time the questions are raised is an opportunity to examine our beliefs from a different perspective. And, not to be forgotten, there are questions about money.
First, the ‘art’,
Shanti Escalante-De Mattei’s September 1, 2022 article for ArtNews.com provides an overview of the latest AI art controversy (Note: A link has been removed),
The debate around AI art went viral once again when a man won first place at the Colorado State Fair’s art competition in the digital category with a work he made using text-to-image AI generator Midjourney.
Twitter user and digital artist Genel Jumalon tweeted out a screenshot from a Discord channel in which user Sincarnate, aka game designer Jason Allen, celebrated his win at the fair. Jumalon wrote, “Someone entered an art competition with an AI-generated piece and won the first prize. Yeah that’s pretty fucking shitty.”
The comments on the post range from despair and anger as artists, both digital and traditional, worry that their livelihoods might be at stake after years of believing that creative work would be safe from AI-driven automation. [emphasis mine]
Rachel Metz’s September 3, 2022 article for CNN provides more details about how the work was generated (Note: Links have been removed),
Jason M. Allen was almost too nervous to enter his first art competition. Now, his award-winning image is sparking controversy about whether art can be generated by a computer, and what, exactly, it means to be an artist.
In August , Allen, a game designer who lives in Pueblo West, Colorado, won first place in the emerging artist division’s “digital arts/digitally-manipulated photography” category at the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Competition. His winning image, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” (French for “Space Opera Theater”), was made with Midjourney — an artificial intelligence system that can produce detailed images when fed written prompts. A $300 prize accompanied his win.
Allen’s winning image looks like a bright, surreal cross between a Renaissance and steampunk painting. It’s one of three such images he entered in the competition. In total, 11 people entered 18 pieces of art in the same category in the emerging artist division.
The definition for the category in which Allen competed states that digital art refers to works that use “digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process.” Allen stated that Midjourney was used to create his image when he entered the contest, he said.
The newness of these tools, how they’re used to produce images, and, in some cases, the gatekeeping for access to some of the most powerful ones has led to debates about whether they can truly make art or assist humans in making art.
This came into sharp focus for Allen not long after his win. Allen had posted excitedly about his win on Midjourney’s Discord server on August 25 , along with pictures of his three entries; it went viral on Twitter days later, with many artists angered by Allen’s win because of his use of AI to create the image, as a story by Vice’s Motherboard reported earlier this week.
“This sucks for the exact same reason we don’t let robots participate in the Olympics,” one Twitter user wrote.
“This is the literal definition of ‘pressed a few buttons to make a digital art piece’,” another Tweeted. “AI artwork is the ‘banana taped to the wall’ of the digital world now.”
Yet while Allen didn’t use a paintbrush to create his winning piece, there was plenty of work involved, he said.
“It’s not like you’re just smashing words together and winning competitions,” he said.
You can feed a phrase like “an oil painting of an angry strawberry” to Midjourney and receive several images from the AI system within seconds, but Allen’s process wasn’t that simple. To get the final three images he entered in the competition, he said, took more than 80 hours.
First, he said, he played around with phrasing that led Midjourney to generate images of women in frilly dresses and space helmets — he was trying to mash up Victorian-style costuming with space themes, he said. Over time, with many slight tweaks to his written prompt (such as to adjust lighting and color harmony), he created 900 iterations of what led to his final three images. He cleaned up those three images in Photoshop, such as by giving one of the female figures in his winning image a head with wavy, dark hair after Midjourney had rendered her headless. Then he ran the images through another software program called Gigapixel AI that can improve resolution and had the images printed on canvas at a local print shop.
Ars Technica has run a number of articles on the subject of Art and AI, Benj Edwards in an August 31, 2022 article seems to have been one of the first to comment on Jason Allen’s win (Note 1: Links have been removed; Note 2: Look at how Edwards identifies Jason Allen as an artist),
A synthetic media artist named Jason Allen entered AI-generated artwork into the Colorado State Fair fine arts competition and announced last week that he won first place in the Digital Arts/Digitally Manipulated Photography category, Vice reported Wednesday [August 31, 2022?] based on a viral tweet.
Allen’s victory prompted lively discussions on Twitter, Reddit, and the Midjourney Discord server about the nature of art and what it means to be an artist. Some commenters think human artistry is doomed thanks to AI and that all artists are destined to be replaced by machines. Others think art will evolve and adapt with new technologies that come along, citing synthesizers in music. It’s a hot debate that Wired covered in July .
It’s worth noting that the invention of the camera in the 1800s prompted similar criticism related to the medium of photography, since the camera seemingly did all the work compared to an artist that labored to craft an artwork by hand with a brush or pencil. Some feared that painters would forever become obsolete with the advent of color photography. In some applications, photography replaced more laborious illustration methods (such as engraving), but human fine art painters are still around today.
Benj Edwards in a September 12, 2022 article for Ars Technica examines how some art communities are responding (Note: Links have been removed),
Confronted with an overwhelming amount of artificial-intelligence-generated artwork flooding in, some online art communities have taken dramatic steps to ban or curb its presence on their sites, including Newgrounds, Inkblot Art, and Fur Affinity, according to Andy Baio of Waxy.org.
Baio, who has been following AI art ethics closely on his blog, first noticed the bans and reported about them on Friday [Sept. 9, 2022?]. …
The arrival of widely available image synthesis models such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion has provoked an intense online battle between artists who view AI-assisted artwork as a form of theft (more on that below) and artists who enthusiastically embrace the new creative tools.
… a quickly evolving debate about how art communities (and art professionals) can adapt to software that can potentially produce unlimited works of beautiful art at a rate that no human working without the tools could match.
A few weeks ago, some artists began discovering their artwork in the Stable Diffusion data set, and they weren’t happy about it. Charlie Warzel wrote a detailed report about these reactions for The Atlantic last week [September 7, 2022]. With battle lines being drawn firmly in the sand and new AI creativity tools coming out steadily, this debate will likely continue for some time to come.
Filthy lucre becomes more prominent in the conversation
Lizzie O’Leary in a September 12, 2022 article for Fast Company presents a transcript of an interview (from the TBD podcast) she conducted with Drew Harwell, tech reporter covering A.I. for Washington Post) about the ‘Jason Allen’ win,
I’m struck by how quickly these art A.I.s are advancing. DALL-E was released in January of last year and there were some pretty basic images. And then, a year later, DALL-E 2 is using complex, faster methods. Midjourney, the one Jason Allen used, has a feature that allows you to upscale and downscale images. Where is this sudden supply and demand for A.I. art coming from?
You could look back to five years ago when they had these text-to-image generators and the output would be really crude. You could sort of see what the A.I. was trying to get at, but we’ve only really been able to cross that photorealistic uncanny valley in the last year or so. And I think the things that have contributed to that are, one, better data. You’re seeing people invest a lot of money and brainpower and resources into adding more stuff into bigger data sets. We have whole groups that are taking every image they can get on the internet. Billions, billions of images from Pinterest and Amazon and Facebook. You have bigger data sets, so the A.I. is learning more. You also have better computing power, and those are the two ingredients to any good piece of A.I. So now you have A.I. that is not only trained to understand the world a little bit better, but it can now really quickly spit out a very finely detailed generated image.
Is there any way to know, when you look at a piece of A.I. art, what images it referenced to create what it’s doing? Or is it just so vast that you can’t kind of unspool it backward?
When you’re doing an image that’s totally generated out of nowhere, it’s taking bits of information from billions of images. It’s creating it in a much more sophisticated way so that it’s really hard to unspool.
Art generated by A.I. isn’t just a gee-whiz phenomenon, something that wins prizes, or even a fascinating subject for debate—it has valuable commercial uses, too. Some that are a little frightening if you’re, say, a graphic designer.
You’re already starting to see some of these images illustrating news articles, being used as logos for companies, being used in the form of stock art for small businesses and websites. Anything where somebody would’ve gone and paid an illustrator or graphic designer or artist to make something, they can now go to this A.I. and create something in a few seconds that is maybe not perfect, maybe would be beaten by a human in a head-to-head, but is good enough. From a commercial perspective, that’s scary, because we have an industry of people whose whole job is to create images, now running up against A.I.
And the A.I., again, in the last five years, the A.I. has gotten better and better. It’s still not perfect. I don’t think it’ll ever be perfect, whatever that looks like. It processes information in a different, maybe more literal, way than a human. I think human artists will still sort of have the upper hand in being able to imagine things a little more outside of the box. And yet, if you’re just looking for three people in a classroom or a pretty simple logo, you’re going to go to A.I. and you’re going to take potentially a job away from a freelancer whom you would’ve given it to 10 years ago.
I can see a use case here in marketing, in advertising. The A.I. doesn’t need health insurance, it doesn’t need paid vacation days, and I really do wonder about this idea that the A.I. could replace the jobs of visual artists. Do you think that is a legitimate fear, or is that overwrought at this moment?
I think it is a legitimate fear. When something can mirror your skill set, not 100 percent of the way, but enough of the way that it could replace you, that’s an issue. Do these A.I. creators have any kind of moral responsibility to not create it because it could put people out of jobs? I think that’s a debate, but I don’t think they see it that way. They see it like they’re just creating the new generation of digital camera, the new generation of Photoshop. But I think it is worth worrying about because even compared with cameras and Photoshop, the A.I. is a little bit more of the full package and it is so accessible and so hard to match in terms. It’s really going to be up to human artists to find some way to differentiate themselves from the A.I.
This is making me wonder about the humans underneath the data sets that the A.I. is trained on. The criticism is, of course, that these businesses are making money off thousands of artists’ work without their consent or knowledge and it undermines their work. Some people looked at the Stable Diffusion and they didn’t have access to its whole data set, but they found that Thomas Kinkade, the landscape painter, was the most referenced artist in the data set. Is the A.I. just piggybacking? And if it’s not Thomas Kinkade, if it’s someone who’s alive, are they piggybacking on that person’s work without that person getting paid?
Here’s a bit more on the topic of money and art in a September 19, 2022 article by John Herrman for New York Magazine. First, he starts with the literary arts, Note: Links have been removed,
Artificial-intelligence experts are excited about the progress of the past few years. You can tell! They’ve been telling reporters things like “Everything’s in bloom,” “Billions of lives will be affected,” and “I know a person when I talk to it — it doesn’t matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head.”
We don’t have to take their word for it, though. Recently, AI-powered tools have been making themselves known directly to the public, flooding our social feeds with bizarre and shocking and often very funny machine-generated content. OpenAI’s GPT-3 took simple text prompts — to write a news article about AI or to imagine a rose ceremony from The Bachelor in Middle English — and produced convincing results.
Deepfakes graduated from a looming threat to something an enterprising teenager can put together for a TikTok, and chatbots are occasionally sending their creators into crisis.
More widespread, and probably most evocative of a creative artificial intelligence, is the new crop of image-creation tools, including DALL-E, Imagen, Craiyon, and Midjourney, which all do versions of the same thing. You ask them to render something. Then, with models trained on vast sets of images gathered from around the web and elsewhere, they try — “Bart Simpson in the style of Soviet statuary”; “goldendoodle megafauna in the streets of Chelsea”; “a spaghetti dinner in hell”; “a logo for a carpet-cleaning company, blue and red, round”; “the meaning of life.”
This flood of machine-generated media has already altered the discourse around AI for the better, probably, though it couldn’t have been much worse. In contrast with the glib intra-VC debate about avoiding human enslavement by a future superintelligence, discussions about image-generation technology have been driven by users and artists and focus on labor, intellectual property, AI bias, and the ethics of artistic borrowing and reproduction [emphasis mine]. Early controversies have cut to the chase: Is the guy who entered generated art into a fine-art contest in Colorado (and won!) an asshole? Artists and designers who already feel underappreciated or exploited in their industries — from concept artists in gaming and film and TV to freelance logo designers — are understandably concerned about automation. Some art communities and marketplaces have banned AI-generated images entirely.
Requests are effectively thrown into “a giant swirling whirlpool” of “10,000 graphics cards,” Holz [David Holz, Midjourney founder] said, after which users gradually watch them take shape, gaining sharpness but also changing form as Midjourney refines its work.
This hints at an externality beyond the worlds of art and design. “Almost all the money goes to paying for those machines,” Holz said. New users are given a small number of free image generations before they’re cut off and asked to pay; each request initiates a massive computational task, which means using a lot of electricity.
High compute costs [emphasis mine] — which are largely energy costs — are why other services have been cautious about adding new users. …
Another Midjourney user, Gila von Meissner, is a graphic designer and children’s-book author-illustrator from “the boondocks in north Germany.” Her agent is currently shopping around a book that combines generated images with her own art and characters. Like Pluckebaum [Brian Pluckebaum who works in automotive-semiconductor marketing and designs board games], she brought up the balance of power with publishers. “Picture books pay peanuts,” she said. “Most illustrators struggle financially.” Why not make the work easier and faster? “It’s my character, my edits on the AI backgrounds, my voice, and my story.” A process that took months now takes a week, she said. “Does that make it less original?”
User MoeHong, a graphic designer and typographer for the state of California, has been using Midjourney to make what he called generic illustrations (“backgrounds, people at work, kids at school, etc.”) for government websites, pamphlets, and literature: “I get some of the benefits of using custom art — not that we have a budget for commissions! — without the paying-an-artist part.” He said he has mostly replaced stock art, but he’s not entirely comfortable with the situation. “I have a number of friends who are commercial illustrators, and I’ve been very careful not to show them what I’ve made,” he said. He’s convinced that tools like this could eventually put people in his trade out of work. “But I’m already in my 50s,” he said, “and I hope I’ll be gone by the time that happens.”
The last article I’m featuring here is a September 15, 2021 piece by Agnieszka Cichocka for DailyArt, which provides good, brief descriptions of algorithms, generative creative networks, machine learning, artificial neural networks, and more. She is an enthusiast (Note: Links have been removed),
I keep wondering if Leonardo da Vinci, who, in my opinion, was the most forward thinking artist of all time, would have ever imagined that art would one day be created by AI. He worked on numerous ideas and was constantly experimenting, and, although some were failures, he persistently tried new products, helping to move our world forward. Without such people, progress would not be possible.
As humans, we learn by acquiring knowledge through observations, senses, experiences, etc. This is similar to computers. Machine learning is a process in which a computer system learns how to perform a task better in two ways—either through exposure to environments that provide punishments and rewards (reinforcement learning) or by training with specific data sets (the system learns automatically and improves from previous experiences). Both methods help the systems improve their accuracy. Machines then use patterns and attempt to make an accurate analysis of things they have not seen before. To give an example, let’s say we feed the computer with thousands of photos of a dog. Consequently, it can learn what a dog looks like based on those. Later, even when faced with a picture it has never seen before, it can tell that the photo shows a dog.
If you want to see some creative machine learning experiments in art, check out ML x ART. This is a website with hundreds of artworks created using AI tools.
As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words” and, now, It seems that pictures will be made from words or so suggests the example of Jason M. Allen feeding prompts to the AI system Midjourney.
I suspect (as others have suggested) that in the end, artists who use AI systems will be absorbed into the art world in much the same way as artists who use photography, or are considered performance artists and/or conceptual artists, and/or use video have been absorbed. There will be some displacements and discomfort as the questions I opened this posting with (Who is an artist? What is an artist? Can everyone be an artist?) are passionately discussed and considered. Underlying many of these questions is the issue of money.
The impact on people’s livelihoods is cheering or concerning depending on how the AI system is being used. Herrman’s September 19, 2022 article highlights two examples that focus on graphic designers. Gila von Meissner, the illustrator and designer, who uses her own art to illustrate her children’s books in a faster, more cost effective way with an AI system and MoeHong, a graphic designer for the state of California, who uses an AI system to make ‘customized generic art’ for which the state government doesn’t have to pay.
So far, the focus has been on Midjourney and other AI agents that have been created by developers for use by visual artists and writers. What happens when the visual artist or the writer is the developer? A September 12, 2022 article by Brandon Scott Roye for Cool Hunting approaches the question (Note: Links have been removed),
Mario Klingemann and Sasha Stiles on Semi-Autonomous AI Artists
An artist and engineer at the forefront of generating AI artwork, Mario Klingemann and first-generation Kalmyk-American poet, artist and researcher Sasha Stiles both approach AI from a more human, personal angle. Creators of semi-autonomous systems, both Klingemann and Stiles are the minds behind Botto and Technelegy, respectively. They are both artists in their own right, but their creations are too. Within web3, the identity of the “artist” who creates with visuals and the “writer” who creates with words is enjoying a foundational shift and expansion. Many have fashioned themselves a new title as “engineer.”
Based on their primary identities as an artist and poet, Klingemann and Stiles face the conundrum of becoming engineers who design the tools, rather than artists responsible for the final piece. They now have the ability to remove themselves from influencing inputs and outputs.
If you have time, I suggest reading Roye’s September 12, 2022 article as it provides some very interesting ideas although I don’t necessarily agree with them, e.g., “They now have the ability to remove themselves from influencing inputs and outputs.” Anyone who’s following the ethics discussion around AI knows that biases are built into the algorithms whether we like it or not. As for artists and writers calling themselves ‘engineers’, they may get a little resistance from the engineering community.
As users of open source software, Klingemann and Stiles should not have to worry too much about intellectual property. However, it seems copyright for the actual works and patents for the software could raise some interesting issues especially since money is involved.
Who gets the patent and/or the copyright? Assuming you and I are employing machine learning to train our AI agents separately, could there be an argument that if my version of the AI is different than yours and proves more popular with other content creators/ artists that I should own/share the patent to the software and rights to whatever the software produces?
Getting back to Herrman’s comment about high compute costs and energy, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for energy and that is not only a high cost financially but also environmentally.
Here’s more about Klingemann’s artist exhibition by Botto (from an October 6, 2022 announcement received via email),
Mario Klingemann is a pioneering figurehead in the field of AI art, working deep in the field of Machine Learning. Governed by a community of 5,000 people, Klingemann developed Botto around an idea of creating an autonomous entity that is able to be creative and co-creative. Inspired by Goethe’s artificial man in Faust, Botto is a genderless AI entity that is guided by an international community and art historical trends. Botto creates 350 art pieces per week that are presented to its community. Members of the community give feedback on these art fragments by voting, expressing their individual preferences on what is aesthetically pleasing to them. Then collectively the votes are used as feedback for Botto’s generative algorithm, dictating what direction Botto should take in its next series of art pieces.
The creative capacity of its algorithm is far beyond the capacities of an individual to combine and find relationships within all the information available to the AI. Botto faces similar issues as a human artist, and it is programmed to self-reflect and ask, “I’ve created this type of work before. What can I show them that’s different this week?”
Once a week, Botto auctions the art fragment with the most votes on SuperRare. All proceeds from the auction go back to the community. The AI artist auctioned its first three pieces, Asymmetrical Liberation, Scene Precede, and Trickery Contagion for more than $900,000 dollars, the most successful AI artist premiere. Today, Botto has produced upwards of 22 artworks and current sales have generated over $2 million in total [emphasis mine].
From March 2022 when Botto had made $1M to October 2022 where it’s made over $2M. It seems Botto is a very financially successful artist.
This exhibition (October 26 – 30, 2022) is being held in London, England at this location:
The Department Store, Brixton 248 Ferndale Road London SW9 8FR United Kingdom
It’s like the flood gates have opened and I am being inundated with event notices. The latest is from Toronto’s (Canada) ArtSci Salon (again). From a September 21, 2022 notice (received via email),
Basic Necessities Connectivity and cultural creativity in Cuba
A public lecture by Nestor Siré With online participation by Steffen Köhn
Join me in welcoming Nestor Siré. Nestor Siré is a multimedia artist based in Cuba. His projects and collaborations explore unofficial methods for circulating information and goods, such as alternative forms of economic production, and phenomena resulting from social creativity and recycling, piracy, as well as a-legal activities benefitting from loopholes. Siré will discuss some of his recent creative works in the Cuban context. His “Paquete Semanal” is an offline digital media circulation system based on in person file sharing to provide a solution to connectivity and infrastructure failure in Cuba. “Basic Necessities”, a recent collaboration with Steffen Köhln, portraits the dynamics of the informal economy in Cuba as it unfolds in Telegram groups and analyses the eclectic and creative uses of product photography within this digital context. Köhln will join him in conversation via zoom.
October 3, 2022 4:30-6:00 pm [ET] Room YH 245 Glendon Campus [York University] 2275 Bayview Ave North York, ON M4N 3M6 Directions
Nestor Siré (*1988), lives and works in Havana, Cuba. www.nestorsire.com Nestor Siré’s artistic practice intervenes directly in social contexts in order to analyze specific cultural phenomena, often engaging with the particular idiosyncrasies of digital culture in the Cuban context. His works have been shown in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Havana), Queens Museum (New York), Rhizome (New York), New Museum (New York), Hong-Gah Museum (Taipei), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santa Fe (Argentina), The Photographers’ Gallery (London), among other places. He has participated in events such as the Manifesta 13 Biennial (France), Gwangju Biennale (South Korea), Curitiba Biennial (Brazil), the Havana Biennial (Cuba) and the Asunción International Biennale (Paraguay), the Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Cuba and the Oberhausen International Festival of Short Film (Germany).
Steffen Köhn is a filmmaker, anthropologist and video artist who uses ethnography to understand contemporary sociotechnical landscapes. For his video and installation works he engages in local collaborations with gig workers, software developers, or science fiction writers to explore viable alternatives to current distributions of technological access and arrangements of power. His works have been shown at the Academy of the Arts Berlin, Kunsthaus Graz, Vienna Art Week, Hong Gah Museum Taipei, Lulea Biennial, The Photographers’ Gallery and the ethnographic museums of Copenhagen and Dresden. His films have been screened (among others) at the Berlinale, Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Word Film Festival Montreal.
I tried to find out if this event will be webcast or streamed but was unsuccessful. You can check the ArtSci Salon website, perhaps they’ll post something closer to the event date.