08 APRIL 2009

Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) is a monthly series of lectures and presentations on art, science and technology organized by Piero Scaruffi on behalf of Leonardo/ISAST. LASER events take place in downtown San Francisco and Mountain View, CA. Events are free, but space is limited.

6:30pm-7:00pm: Socializing/networking

7:00-7:30: Warren Sack (UC Santa Cruz) on “Software Studies, Software Art, Software Design”

Since software design is a process of writing, the “computer revolution” can be understood as the rewriting of the world. One can identify a minor literature, within computer science, that has been premised on an understanding of software designers as writers, as essayists, as those who articulate ideas in code to communicate with other people.

In other words, within this minor literature, computers are understood not just as tools but also as media that connect and separate people. Software studies is an emerging area in which code is examined as a digital medium.

7:30-8:00: Hasan Elahi, San Jose State University’s CADRE Lab for New Media, on “Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project”

Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project builds on a series of installations, performances, and websites that use Elahi’s self-surveillance to critique contemporary investigative techniques. Aspects of Tracking Transience include: a self-tracking device that constantly transmits and maps his exact location alongside his financial data, communication records and transportation logs; a database of thousands of images of airports Elahi travels through and sometimes sleeps in, food he consumes in transit, and public toilets he uses while traveling. Elahi has protected himself from unwanted scrutiny by making his entire life and whereabouts publicly accessible.

8:00-8:30: BREAK

8:30-9:00: Chris McKay (NASA AMES) on “The Phoenix Mission to Mars and Mars-like places in Antarctica”

Phoenix landed at 68§N in the ice-rich ground on Mars and investigated the chemistry and geology of a polar site on Mars for the first time. Studies in the high elevation dry permafrost in Antarctica provides a basis for considering the possibilities for life at the Phoenix site on Mars.

9:00-9:30: Marty Banks (UC Berkeley) on “Some Interesting Phenomena in Picture Perception”

Pictures are very widely used to convey 3D information on a 2D surface. I will discuss how the picture viewer is able to perceive the 3D layout of the depicted scene despite frequently viewing the picture from an incorrect position. The results have implications for our understanding of picture viewing, for perceptual distortions with wide fields of view, and for the effectiveness of various photographic and cinematographic tricks.

9:30pm-10:00pm: Discussions, more socializing