Carlos Antonio Leite Brandao
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte

Transdisciplinarity, Yesterday and Today

In the first part, this paper intends to show some symptoms and reasons for the advent of transdisciplinarity as a strategy of knowledge in the XXI Century. In the second part, it develops the basis for a transdisciplinary attitude required to solve complex and contemporary problems and to promote a new articulation between science, art, technology and culture.

Paul Brown
Artist and Writer

Art and Global Agenda

In recent decades, the mainstream art world has promoted work based on ideas of novelty and shock that first came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s and were aptly named "The Shock of the New" by Robert Hughes. Reiteration of this aesthetic led to a contemporary agenda that doesn't doubt itself, is profoundly conservative, and actively resists alternative paradigms. The art world has rejected tradition, denied history, and discarded skill.

This paper proposes that today's computational and generative arts are legitimate inheritors of 20th-century traditions like constructivism, systems, conceptual and process art, and art language. Often formed from close collaborations among art, science, and technology, this field of work exhibits important aspects of contemporary culture and thought, including: emergence, non-linearity, hyper-mediation, interaction, networking, heterarchy, self-similarity, and self regulation. They are one historical root of the contemporary science of artificial life. However, the computational and generative arts have a hard time surviving in a hostile and unsympathetic art world. They are maintained by a global underground whose emergence was aligned with events such as the founding of Leonardo in 1967 by Frank Malina, and later sustained by organizations like Ars Electronica (1979-) and the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery (1981-).

Heitor Capuzzo Filho
MidiaArte Laboratory, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais Belo Horizonte

Building Possible Dreams

Never before has media had such a strong effect on life as in the XXI Century. Looking at the history of moving images in the previous century, the vision and agendas of filmmakers, corporations, and governments we find evidence of the potential for humanistic inclusion and exclusion. Does digital media increase our understanding of life and cultures? Is there the potential to know ourselves better by recreating life in an artificial environment? Is the fascination with artificial worlds proof of our limited understanding of the 'analog' human experience? It is possible to control and destroy cultures. When it happens, human heritage is impoverished resulting in less diversity and less focus. The corporate digital media revolution is a kind of involution, a return to the type of destruction of colonial eras that exploited continents. With the current level of destruction at its highest level, our life experience is disconnected from the physical world.Digital media can be a negative game, entertaining young people with virtual destruction, preparing them for analog wars, and a multifaceted system of economic domination. Misinformation, decreased plurality of viewpoints, increased disconnection with life, and the spectacularization of human experience are only some of the symptoms of the strategies used by the corporate media world. Our analog lives need analog values connected to nature, respect for our planet and its fragile resources. This must inform our digital world.

Richard L. Loveless
Global Connections, Arizona State University

Identifying New Myths for Convergence and Creative Collaboration in the Age of Digitalia

To assume that it is possible to predict the future of technological innovation beyond the next week, month, or year is sheer folly. To believe that our participation in endless think tanks, conferences, or seminars will shape a consensual vision, one that we all agree may be worth perpetuating, is merely an elitist group exercise in courage.

This paper proposes another scenario: that business, educational, and cultural institutions exist as the sum total of the myths they believe about themselves. In this context, myths are not only about who we are, they are essential to the development of all human understanding and belief systems. This practice is not to be confused with acquired situational narcissism, a self-bestowed sense of ingratiation, but a shared belief that the invention of new myths is an on-going design and discovery process unique to all sensing and feeling human beings. Such an enterprise evolves into the creation of enlightened and expressive forms through continuous real-time simulation of living and learning in the stacking of moments. The challenge is to prepare individuals to adapt to rapid changes, ones we can't even imagine: to prepare to be comfortable living through one's imagination; and to trust and embrace the inevitable transformations that will challenge future participatory energies.

Barbaro Martino-Ruiz
Stanford University

Graphic Writing Systems of Central Africa, Dikenga Cosmograms, and the Mobility of Visual Meaning

This paper addresses the modes of visual expression used among the Bakongo people in Central Africa and their descendents in Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil, and argues that together these constitute identifiable graphic writing systems. After providing a brief overview of the forms of graphic expression in use within Kongo and Kongo Atlantic cultures, the paper focuses on the most central of the traditional cosmograms, Dikenga. By mapping the meanings and forms of Dikenga, the paper attempts to demonstrate its continuity throughout the Kongo diaspora. Finally, the paper highlights the rich cosmology, cosmogony, and moral philosophy that have consistently informed the use and meaning of Dikenga in its central role in religious narratives, moral philosophy, and religious education among the Bakongo.

Lisa Parks
Department of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Around the Antenna Tree: The Politics of Infrastructural Visibility

With the globalization of mobile telephony during the past two decades, cell towers have sprouted up across the world. The "unsightliness" of these towers has generated responses ranging from neighborhood protests to manufacturers' concealment strategies.

This paper explores the installation of towers in a variety of locations, from urban spaces to national parks, and considers how their emergence relates to a set of concerns about technology, knowledge, and power. In addition to examining cell towers in different environments, the paper describes various "concealment strategies," including covering towers in tree camouflages and hiding equipment in mosque minarets, flagpoles, birds' nests, and other hiding places. It explores what is at stake in hiding infrastructure and how such practices end up trading technological awareness for a highly synthetic version of "nature." By disguising infrastructure as part of the natural and/or built environment, concealment strategies keep citizens naive and uninformed about the network technologies they subsidize and use. Finally, the paper considers whether it might be possible to develop modes of effective engagement with infrastructure sites such as cell towers by discussing the work of artists such as Robert Voit (Enchanted Wood) and Marijetica Potrc (Permanently Unfinished House with Cell Phone Tree).


Sheldon Brown
La Jolla, California

Local Concerns - Global Art

Marsha Kinder
University of Southern California,Div. of Critical Studies
Los Angeles California

Database Documentaries

Database Documentaries and Global Knowledge Production: Transnational City Symphonies, Interactive Science, and Constructivist Courseware on Russian Modernism From The Labyrinth Project

Database documentaries from USC's Labyrinth Project: Tracing the Decay of Fiction, a transnational city symphony; Einstein in California, a contradictory portrait; Russian Modernism, constructivist courseware

This panel presents database documentary as a form of knowledge production that provides access to rival narratives (both truth and fiction) and to the underlying archive out of which they are spun. It explores what?s at stake ideologically in the distinction between database (a dominant form in digital discourse whose politics are disavowed) and narrative (the traditional form it supposedly displaces whose ideological baggage is well known); and argues for their combination, which exposes the ideological workings of both. It illustrates this combination in three database documentaries from The Labyrinth Project (a research initiative at USC), which has been producing award-winning works in collaboration with international artists, scholars, scientists, and other cultural institutions. ?Tracing the Decay of Fiction,? a collaboration with filmmaker Pat O?Neill, is a digital city symphony on Los Angeles that explores the Hotel Ambassador as a repository of cultural memories, both local and international. Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein in California? focuses on the famed scientist?s three years in California, pitting his contradictions against his quest for a unified theory. "Russian Modernism and Its International Dimensions" is on-line constructivist courseware, whose archive, interactive pathways, and role-playing game "Montage," recuperate the historic roots of digital aesthetic practices.


Marsha Kinder, The Labyrinth Project, Director of The Labyrinth Project, mkinder(at), University of Southern California, Div. of Critical Studies

Rosemary Comella, Creative Director, comella(at), Labyrinth Project, USC, School of Cinematic Arts

Kristy H.A. Kang, Creative Director, khkang(at), Labyrinth Project, USC, DADA (Div. of Animation & Digital Arts)

Scott Mahoy, Creative Director, smahoy(at), Labyrinth Project, USC, School of Cinematic Arts

Roger Malina
Oakland, California

ISAST Leonardo Session I: The Planet has changed: Art, Science and Sustainable Development

Our societies face a number of important issues around the problems of sustainable development, environmental and climate change. Many artists have been involved in these issues over the last decades within the environmental and green movements. A new generation of artists, scientifically and technically literate, are engaging in new ways. The new planetary IT infrastructures and new media technologies provide different approaches than were possible forty years ago.


Roger Malina, rmalina(at), Leonardo, France

Sheila Pinkel, spinkel(at), Pamona College

Andrea Polli, andrea(at), Director Integrated Media Arts, Hunter College

Mike Phillips, mike.phillips(at) University of Plymouth

Roger Malina
Oakland, California

ISAST Leonardo Session II: Artists Have Changed: Art-Science-Technology Interaction

When Leonardo was founded 40 years ago, the theoretical context was the two cultures' debate of C.P.Snow. Few artists were trained within science or engineering contexts, and access to new technologies drove a number of initiatives such as the E.A.T. programs and the MIT Center for Advances Visual Studies. A new generation of artists, born digital, is now radically altering the way these issues will be addressed in the future. In this panel we will provide a forty year context on how the work of artists and institutions have evolved and future directions.


Roger Malina, rmalina(at), Leonardo, France

Steven Wilson, swilson(at), San Francisco State University

Michael Naimark, michael(at), University of Southern California

Anna Ursyn, anna.ursyn(at), University of North Colorado

Edward Shanken, eshanken(at), Savannah College of Art

Lisa Parks
Department of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California

Alternative Networks

This panel features lectures by artists and scholars who work on the visualization of networks and infrastructures in different parts of the world.

Despite Thomas Friedman's contention in The World is Flat that digital technologies have equalized or "flattened" differences in the world. The members of this panel are convinced that many variations and disparities remain to be described and analyzed. Networks and infrastructures are certainly not the same all over the world: they are amalgams of old and new systems, relics of various stages of capitalism and/or socialism, involve both bodies and machines, and have different histories and uses. They are embedded in different patches of earth, operate at various scales and speeds, and serve different populations. This panel will feature lectures by artists and scholars who work on the visualization of networks and infrastructures in different parts of the world. Panelists will explore the social, cultural and economic effects of network technologies, the visualization of different systems, and the tactical appropriation of them by disenfranchised groups. The goal of the session is to provoke discussion of the variation and difference within categories such as "network" and "infrastructure" and to develop new modes of aesthetic and critical engagement with them.


Lisa Parks, parks(at), UC Santa Barbara

Lisa Jevbratt, inter(c/s)e(p/c)ting networks, jevbratt(at),Dept. of Art, UC Santa Barbara

Rita Raley, Black Shoals and the Visualization of Financial Networks, raley(at), Dept. of English, UC Santa Barbara

Warren Sack, Aesthetics, Politics and Networks, wsack(at), Dept.of Film and Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz

Cristina Venegas ,Digital Communities and the Pleasures of Technology in Cuba, venegas(at), Dept.of Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Lisa Parks, Horses, Cell Phones, Masks: Wireless Infrastructure in Mongolia, parks(at), Dept.of Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Cedar Sherbert
Los Angeles, California

Indigenous People and Digital Media

An exploration of the role of digital media-making in indigenous communities: its uses, forms, issues, and intentions. Representing several unique and varied cultural groups from across the globe, these esteemed aboriginal filmmakers, photographers, and multimedia artists discuss how contemporary technologies allow them to simultaneously work with their respective cultural and ancestral iconographies while creating new ones and how issues of identity, sexuality, cultural/political sovereignty, and land are played out through their art, not only in their respective post-colonial contexts, but also in this era of intense globalization.


Cedar Sherbert, Santa Ysabel Band, Kumeyaay Nation

Rea, Artist, New South Wales, Australia, Gamilaroi and Wailan Nations

Damian Lopez Castillo, Filmmaker, Teacher, Artist, Zapotec, Oaxaca, Mexico

LiQin Tan
Rutgers University
Camden, New Jersey

Bejing - New York: Chinese Media Art Preview

This panel will focus on significant historical predecessors of media art since the 1990s and the extensive development of media art in China since 2000.

Chinese economic and institutional reforms have helped create a new media art scene in China that is accomplished and deserving of international recognition. This panel will focus on significant historical predecessors of media art since the 1990s and the extensive development of media art in China since 2000. In addition, topics such as cultural and social issues, art form changes, and technological advancements involved with Chinese modern media art creation will be addressed. Finally, Chinese media artists in the US will be highlighted and compared to media artists in China.


LiQin Tan, Associate Professor, ltan(at), Rutgers University

Robert Wang, Associate Chair, robert(at), Peking University

Xiang Zhong, Liao, Associate Dean, liaolapo(at), Communication University of China

Bill Tomlinson
University of California, Irvine

Irvine, California



Global Environment and Digital Media

This panel of experts in interactive art, visualization, and socially responsible media explores the use of graphical and interactive technology for art relating to global environmental issues.


Bill Tomlinson, Assistant Professor, wmt(at), University of California, Irvine

William Brent, University of California, San Diego

Heiter Capuzzo, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Natalie Jeremijenko, University of California, San Diego

Michael Moshell, University of Central Florida

Vibeke Sorensen, dorritsorensen(at), Arizona State University

Shahrokh Yadegari, University of California, San Diego