Tag Archives: Suzanne Anker

A Café Scientifique Vancouver (Canada) March 26, 2019 talk on Shifting the plastic landscape: bio-plastics, circular economy and sustainable material management and Superorganism ciy and Evolution in Toronto

I recently received three email announcements that might be of interest to people looking for science and/or art/science events.Of course, they are taking place thousands of kilometers apart.

March 26, 2019 Café Scientifique event in Vancouver

Café Scientifique sent out a March 7, 2019 email announcement about,

Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, MARCH 26TH at 7:30PM in the back
room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the
evening will be DR. LOVE-ESE CHILE, founder of Grey to Green Sustainable
Solutions.

SHIFTING THE PLASTIC LANDSCAPE: BIO-PLASTICS, CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND
SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL MANAGEMENT

Growing public and scientific opinion are driving businesses and
policy-makers to change the way plastics circulate through our
communities. Moving away from a linear supply chain that allows a
multitude of plastic to seep out into the environment, this talk will
discuss new ideas and technology being implemented to move plastics into
a circular supply loop.

Dr. Love-Ese Chile is a sustainable plastic researcher based in
Vancouver, BC. Arriving from New Zealand, Ese completed her doctoral
thesis on biodegradable plastics at the University of British Columbia
in 2017. During her studies, Ese became a vocal supporter of
sustainability, green chemistry and community-driven science. In 2018,
Dr. Chile started a research consulting company, Grey to Green
Sustainable Solutions, that works with local businesses, not-for-profit
groups and policy-makers to increase understanding of the sustainable
plastic supply chain and develop new technologies that will allow
plastics to transition into a circular economy.

We hope to see you there!

I love her name and I couldn’t find too much information other than her LinkedIn page and her page on Research Gate. Her first name reminds of flower names and her last name does not signify her country of origin, which is New Zealand. Enjoy!

Superorganism city on March 27 and 28, 2019 in Toronto

Toronto’s Art/Sci Salon’s email announcement was also received on March 7, 2019 ( Note: The formatting has been changed),

Superorganism city

A LECTURE, A WORKSHOP AND A COLLECTIVE EXPERIMENT EXPLORING ART, BIOLOGY AND URBANIS

We are pleased to invite you to a series of events featuring interdisciplinary artist Heather Barnett and Physarum polycephalum: during her visit, Barnett will present her recent research, will conduct a workshop, and will explore the city of Toronto, inspired by the nonhuman perspective of this organism, also known as slime mould.


The slime mould (Physarum polycephalum) is a bright yellow amoeba that possesses primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and memory. It is highly efficient at forming networks between given points and has been used to map the worlds’ transport networks, migration routes and desire paths. Most notably, in 2010 it accurately replicated the Tokyo suburban rail network. The slime mould is also quite beautiful, the branching patterns reminiscent of forms seen at varying scales within nature, from blood vessels to tree branches, from river deltas to lightning flashes. It can learn about its environment, remember where it’s been and navigate through complex territories – all without any sensory organs and not a single neuron to its name.

Join us to these events:
 
RESEARCH TALK
March 27 2:00-3:00 PM 

Sensorium (YORK U) *
 
WORKSHOP (by invitation)
March 28 1:00-4:00 PM
Wilson Hall (UofT) *

 
COLLECTIVE EXPERIMENT
March 30 1:00-5:00 PM
Wilson Hall (UofT)
 

*  Sensorium Research Loft
Level 4
Joan & Martin Goldfarb
Centre for Fine Arts
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3
https://sensorium.ampd.yorku.ca/research-loft/

**  Wilson Hall
Student Lounge
(2nd floor)
University of Toronto
40 Willcocks street
Toronto, ON
M5S 1C6

Biography:
Heather Barnett’s art practice engages with natural phenomena and complex systems. Working with live organisms, imaging technologies and playful pedagogies, her work explores how we observe, influence and understand the world around us. Recent work centres around nonhuman intelligence, collective behaviour and knowledge systems, including The Physarum Experiments, an ongoing ‘collaboration’ with an intelligent slime mould; Animal Collectives collaborative research with SHOAL Group at Swansea University; and a series of publicly sited collective interdisciplinary bio/social experiments, including Crowd Control and Nodes and Networks.

This event has been possible thanks to the support of the School of Cities and New College (UofT), and is a collaboration between ArtSci Salon, Sensorium, the Research Centre for Creative inquiry and Experimentation, the Departments of Computational Art and Visual Art & Art History at York University
 
Research for this event was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
 
ArtSci Salon is an interdisciplinary program hosted by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. LASER – Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous is a project of Leonardo® /ISAST

For anyone who’d like to see the poster in its original format, go here. I don’t believe you have to register for either of the two public events.

Evolution – Exhibition and Panel Discussion on March 29, 2019 in Toronto

On March 9, 2019 I received another Art/Sci Salon email announcement (Note: The formatting has been changed),

Evolution – Exhibition and Panel Discussion March 29, 2019
What is nature and the evolution of living beings is an inevitable issue. While searching for the answer to this and other questions around Nature and its variations, we find what we are and how we stand among all organisms and in the world. Charles Darwin offered the world a simple scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth: evolution by natural selection. Countless scientists have found that Darwin’s work is fundamental to their own.

Contemporary scientists can now answer questions about the natural world in ways Darwin never could. New tools and technologies, such as DNA analyses, can reveal unexpected relationships between seemingly dissimilar groups.

This event consists of an exhibition (part of FACTT-TO) and a panel discussion. Together, they interrogate the meaning, the relevance and the implications of evolution from different vantage points, including perspectives from a range of scientific disciplines, technological approaches, and artistic practices. We wish to reflect on the condition of co-habitation and co-existence of human and non-humans in this world (and beyond?) and pose questions about transformation; forced or elective mutation and survival; agency and decision making; conservation and intervention.
 
Text by Marta de Menezes and Roberta Buiani

Join us March 29 for the opening and tour of FACTT, followed by a panel discussion

5:00 pm Opening Tour

Meet us in Sidney Smith (University of Toronto), 100 St George street (enter from Huron street)

Stop#1 – Sidney Smith Commons (Huron Street side)

Stop#2 – McLennan Physics Labs (60 St. George street)

Artists: André Sier; Elaine Whittaker; Felipe Shibuya & Pedro Cruz; Gunes-Helene Isitan; Jenifer Wightman; Jennifer Willet; Jude Abu-Zaineh; Kathy High; Maria Francisca Abreu-Afonso; Maria Manuela Lopez; Nicole Clouston; Nigel Helyer; Suzanne Anker; Tarah Roda; Tosca Teràn

6:00-8:00 pm Panel Discussion

The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
Rm 23

Guests:

Marta DeMenezes – Artistic Director, Ectopia; Director, Cultivamos Cultura

Gary Smith – Artist and landscape architect, Visiting Artist at Santa Clara University

Boris Steipe – Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Department of Molecular Genetics

Jenifer Wightman – Research Associate (Cornell) and Lecturer (New School/Parsons)

Biographies

Marta DeMenezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, and a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford. She has been exploring the interaction between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies, DNA, proteins and live organisms can be used as an art medium. Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is since 2005 artistic director of Ectopia – Experimental Art Laboratory and from 2009 director of Cultivamos Cultura – Association. http://martademenezes.com

Gary Smith lectures frequently at botanical gardens, art museums, and professional conferences. In his work he examines the basic patterns in nature, finding ways they form a visual vocabulary for human cultural expression. Formerly an Associate Professor of Landscape Design at the University of Delaware, Smith has also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas. In 2012, Smith was the Nadine Carter Russell Chair in the School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University. He is currently Visiting Artist in the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University, in Santa Clara, California. www.wgarysmithdesign.com

Boris Steipe is Director of the Specialist Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Molecular Genetics. He is interested in recurring patterns in molecular structure: the computational methods of pattern discovery, their characterization regarding features, context and distribution, their association with function in proteins, and their utility for protein engineering and design. http://biochemistry.utoronto.ca/person/boris-steipe/
Trained as a Toxicologist,

Jenifer Wightman is a research scientist specializing in greenhouse gas inventories and life cycle analysis of agriculture, forestry, waste, and bioenergy systems at Cornell University, funded by DoE, USDA, NYS DA&M, and NYSERDA. Her art practice began in 2002 and employs scientific tropes to incite curiosity of biological phenomena and inform an ecological rationality. Her art has been commissioned by NYC parks, featured at the Lincoln Center, BAM, and Imagine Science Festival, and is held in collections such as the Morgan Library, Library of Congress, Gutenberg Museum, Bodmer Museum, and the Danish Royal Library http://www.audiblewink.com/

ArtSci Salon thanks the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, Art and Science and the Physics Department at the University of Toronto for their support.
ArtSci Salon is an interdisciplinary program hosted by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. LASER – Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous is a project of Leonardo® /ISAST [International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology ]

You can signup for the ‘Evolution’ event here.

This ‘Evolution’ event is part of the 2019 FACTT festival; there was also a 2018 FACCT festival in Toronto. I have a bit more about FACTT and last year’s event in a January 29, 2018 posting (scroll down to Toronto) and a brief reference to it in a January 10, 2018 posting (scroll down to Do CRISPR monsters dream of synthetic futures?).

Art/Sci: Survival of the beautiful

Peafowl flaring its feathers. Credit: Jebulon

Thanks to Wikipedia and Jebulon for this image to illustrate this story about a special event in New York titled, Survival of the Beautiful, Feb. 25, 2012.  (I took my inspiration from the event poster.) From the event’s home page,

Why did the peacock’s tail so trouble Charles Darwin?  Natural selection could not explain it, so he had to contrive a whole new theory of sexual selection, which posited that certain astonishingly beautiful traits became preferred even when not exactly useful, simply because they appealed to the opposite sex, and specifically so in each case.  And yet the parallels in what gets preferred at different levels of life suggest that nature may in fact favor certain kinds of patterns over others.  Visually, the symmetrical; colorwise, the contrasting and gaudy; displaywise, the gallant and extreme.  Soundwise, the strong contrast between low note and high, between fast rhythm and the long clear tone. For that matter, plenty of beauty in nature would seem to arise for reasons other than mere sexual selection: for example, the mysterious inscriptions on the backs of seashells, or the compounding geometric symmetries of microscopic diatoms, or the live patterns pulsating across the bodies of octopus and squid.

Humans see such things and find them astonishingly beautiful: are we wrong to experience Nature in such terms?  Far greater than our grandest edifices and epic tales, Nature itself nevertheless seems entirely without purposeful self-consciousness or self-awareness.  Meanwhile, though we ourselves are as nothing compared to it, we still seem possessed of a parallel need to create.  So: can we in fact create our way into better understanding of the role of beauty in the vast natural world?  David Rothenberg recently published a book on these themes, Survival of the Beautiful (Bloomsbury, 2011), and many of the protagonists he encountered on his quest will join him on stage at the Cantor Film Center to debate the question of whether nature’s beauty is actual, imaginary, useful, excessive, or perhaps even entirely beside the point.

What a great event to publicize a book! The schedule reveals some very interesting guests, including Vancouver-based rapper, Baba Brinkman,

PROGRAM SCHEDULE

SESSION I

10:45 am
DAVID ROTHENBERG and JARON LANIER offer a musical and conceptual introduction.

11:00 am
GAIL PATRICELLI on building a fembot bowerbird to study how male bowerbirds woo females through elaborate dancing and decorating rituals; drawing on her example, RICHARD PRUM explains why everyone misses the point of sexual selection except him.

12:00 pm
OFER TCHERNICHOVSKI responds to Prum’s claim by way of introducing
CHRISTINE ROESKE, a postdoc in his lab, who, veritably haunted
by the beauty of the nightingale’s song, nevertheless tries to subject it to scientific analysis.

12:45 pm
ANNA LINDEMANN, Prum alum turned performance artist, enacts her Theory of Flight.

(1:00 – 1:30 pm:  Break)

SESSION II

2:00 pm
PHILIP BALL shows how chemistry and physics might trump biology in their ability to account for formal natural beauty.  TYLER VOLK deploys his concept of metapatterns to explain how 3 realms and 13 steps (from quarks to culture) make us who we are.

3:00 pm
We know how Science is regularly said to influence Art, but SUZANNE ANKER
explores the flow in the other direction.  DAVID SOLDIER and VITALY KOMAR revisit
their classic elephant art experiment, asking whether we can learn anything about art by
teaching animals to make it.

4:00 pm
Composer DAVID DUNN details his proposal to use music to
save the forests of the American West from destruction by pine bark beetles.
DAVID ABRAM on how synaesthesia (the blending of the senses) might help us
feel our way into the experience of another animal.

(5:00 – 5:30 pm:  Break)

SESSION III

5:30 pm
Digital artist SCOTT SNIBBE recounts how he helped morph
Björk’s love of science into the Biophilia app.

6:15 pm
BABA BRINKMAN, direct from off-Broadway, performs
a special version of The Rap Guide to Evolution.

7:00 pm
JARON LANIER explains why if squid only had childhoods,
they would rule the world.
LAURIE ANDERSON evokes some of her journeys along
the borderlands of nature and culture.
Closing music by JARON LANIER and DAVID ROTHENBERG.

(Times listed above are approximate at best.)

The event is being hosted by the New York Institute for the Humanities and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The event, which is open and free to the public (due to funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation), will be held at New York University.

Here’s more information about the presenters, from the (sigh) undated news release,

Jaron Lanier is one of the pioneers in virtual reality. His book You Are Not a Gadget is an international bestseller and he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2010.

Gail Patricelli is associate professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California Davis.  She specializes in the study of acoustic communication in birds, and is the inventor of the fembot bowerbird.

Richard Prum is professor of evolutionary biology at Yale, and a specialist on the evolution of feathers and the role of beauty in sexual selection.  He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.

Ofer Tchernichovski is associate professor of animal behavior at CUNY, where he studies songbird learning by recording every single sounds baby birds make when learning to sing.

Christina Roeske is postdoctoral associate in biology at the CUNY laboratory for animal behaviour, where she is focusing on the structure of complex birdsongs.

Anna Lindemann is visiting assistant professor of art at Colgate University.  She is a multimedia artist and composer whose works are based on evolutionary/developmental (Evo Devo) biology.

Philip Ball is a science writer and formerly an editor at Nature.  His many books include Natures Patterns: Shape- FlowBranches; The Music Instinct; and Critical Mass.

Tyler Volk is professor of biology and science director of environmental studies at NYU and author of Metapatterns, CO2 Rising, and other books.

Suzanne Anker is chair of the Fine Arts Department at the School of Visual Arts, and the co-author with Dorothy Nelkin of The Molecular Gaze: Art in the Genetic Age.  She recently built a bio-art lab at SVA, just opened for the spring 2012 semester.

David Soldier is a composer who has collaborated with elephants, zebra finches, and, together with Komar and Melamid, written the best and worst songs in the world.  In his other life as David Sulzer he is professor of neuroscience at Columbia.

Vitaly Komar, together with Alex Melamid, is known for trying to paint the best and worst paintings in the world, and for his work with with elephants in Thailand.  He was one of the first Russian-exile artists to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

David Dunn is a composer, sound artist, and theorist, who has lately discovered a new way to listen inside of trees that may radically change the way we manage the forest destruction wrought by the pine bark beetle.

David Abram, cultural ecologist and philosopher, is the award-winning author of Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous. Described as as “daring” and “truly original” by Science, his work has helped catalyze the burgeoning field of ecopsychology.

Scott Snibbe is a media artist and researcher into interactivity.  His works are in the permanent collection of the Whitney and MOMA, and he has collaborated with James Cameron and Björk.

Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist, writer, actor, and tree planter. He is best known for his award-winning shows The Rap Canterbury Tales and The Rap Guide to Evolution, which interpret the works of Chaucer and Darwin for a modern audience.

Laurie Anderson is one of the most celebrated performance artists in the world.  She is the inventor of the tape-bow violin and sometimes alters her voice to a low baritone to perform as Fenway Bergamot.  She was awarded the Gish Prize in 2007, and is a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU.

David Rothenberg is the author of Survival of the Beautiful, Thousand Mile Song, Why Birds Sing, and a recording artist with ECM Records.  He is professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU.

Between this and the events at the New York Academy of Sciences, it all makes me wish I lived in New York.