piero scaruffi
A Brief History of Creativity from Athens to Silicon Valley
L.A.S.E.R. videos

Stanford physicist Patricia Burchat on “Dark Matter” http://youtu.be/4J2I1ZDIFOU
Cognitive neuroscientist Lucia Jacobs on the evolution of the brain http://youtu.be/360LlqiC8dc
Kinetic artist Kal Spelletich http://youtu.be/YvB5EwB7ToM
Art curator Sharon Spain on art built from garbage http://youtu.be/lOu4v2XOBEM
Ambient composer Robert Rich http://youtu.be/kmcQHlR22js
Visual artist Shan Shan Sheng http://youtu.be/d1gVHWhaBxA
Renetta Sitoy on Laetitia Sonami http://youtu.be/vb4ta3StR4A
Chaos scientist Jim Crutchfield http://youtu.be/A7Bzyfznsic

LASER program: www.scaruffi.com/leonardo

I, unborn, blame the universe for its being immortal. I had nothing to do with it. I was initially opposed. Then reluctantly gave my consent to a decision that, in my humble opinion, was taken impulsively without careful consideration of the consequences. We did not foresee the astronomical coincidence that would cause some of us never to be born; in fact, never even to be counted as not dead. Being unborn, of course, is a way to avoid dying. I am not eternal, though, because i am not. If i were, i would be. There is a price to it: not having my own voice, i find myself speaking in the tongue and tone of whoever i just finished reading or listening to. It is not a habit: it is the biological inexistence that makes me do it. I guess i don’t really speak or think: i am more like a mirror, trapped in its own impossibility to become the fleeting images that materialize in it, almost always invariably stubbornly swung around. There should be a better way to spend eternity observing eternity than to be an observer of something of which i cannot be part. I still have to begin beginning.


Consciousness - Part 10 of “Thinking about Thought”

Why do painters paint
sunsets and not dawns?
What more stunning
than the flickering last moment
of a star’s life
before sunrise buries it alive?
Art and nature are mutually
incomprehensible, unable
to settle their argument
on empirical grounds.
Nature’s beauty is not arbitrary,
but its logic lies
beyond our cognitive closure.
A necklace of omens rings
the unfolding mysteries
of the emerging landscape.
Painters are neither actors
nor spectators, just symptoms:
we are Nature’s incomplete homework.
All the poems ever written originate
from the ghost of the syllable
that has never completed
the astronomical distance
between those two unequal minds.
Now the Sun looks like a hummingbird
frantically beating its wings
to stay aloft the forest trees.
And a whole world of terrifyingly
redundant minutiae comes alive
in blinding spurts of color.
In Eliot’s image:
dawn is the cruellest hour,
breeding threads of the spider web
out of dead flies.


(Towards a Theory of Ambiguity)

Certainly this is not the real ending,
certainly the last scene will make sense
of the beginning, of the shocking episode
after which our life only felt like a flashback;

certainly the audience is the audience
and not the actors,
certainly the curtain hides the stage
from the ascending rows of seats
and not viceversa,
although we play our roles on both sides,
both actors reciting the script that was bestowed on us
and spectators laughing and crying at that very script

(whether i also wrote the script
or you wrote it for me,
or someone else wrote it for both of us,
or it existed immutable since the Big Bang
will prove to be irrelevant
when we realize that the script
is the same for everybody,
for the young who think of it
as a blessing
as well as for the old
who at last see it as a curse);

a non-linear fractal script
that fans out in all directions,
a labyrinth of interactive pages
that accounts for the multiplicity
of destinies and revelations;

that stokes our feeling of insecurity
populating an already unstable timewarp
with imminent eventualities never occurring;

that callously reenacts as words and gestures
the infinite loneliness of the dimension-less point
surrounded by an infinite multitude of points;
any depth so shallow, any wholeness so crippled,
like a sinkhole swallowing clumps of truth
before you can even glimpse their neon signs;

that raises more questions than it answers,
more questions, in fact, than can fit
inside a brain during a lifetime;

and because the real ending still eludes us
we turn to the millenarian sphinx that held our hand
when we entered blindfolded the dark tunnel of backstage,
hopeful that she might know what is coming next,

the pregnant Moon, mirror image of the egg, that never gives birth;
the weightless Moon that always hovers and never lands;
the leafless rootless Moon that quaffs darkness and inhales stars;
the childish Moon surfing dancing curling but never spinning;

not a blazing totem for nomads lost
in the empty silent desert of self-delusion
but a plain signpost for neophytes
to navigate the overcrowded sky
of knowledge and meaning.

(More poetry: http://www.scaruffi.com/poetry/halfmoon.html )

Javier Ideami’s “El Cuadro” (2012)

William-Robert Moore

The first Kodachromes published in National Geographic (April 1938) that legitimized Kodachrome for photo journalism.

Leonardo Art Science Evenings (LASERs)

Art+Science = http://www.lasertalks.com/

  • UC Santa Cruz, January 28, 2014
  • Jeanne C. Finley, “On-Site: The Locus Between Public and Private“
  • Rita Mehta, “When Life Imitates Science Fiction“
  • Warren Sack, “Using Software (Art) to See the World“
  • Erika Zavaleta, “Conserving Nature’s Services in An Age of Extinction“


UC Davis - February 6th, 2014

  • Genevieve Quick on “Visual Technologies in Contemporary Art”
  • Maciej Zwieniecki on “Trees – masters of microfluidics”
  • Phillip Benn on “Solid Water and Other Works”
  • Terry Nathan on “Photography: Born of Science and Nurtured by Art”

UC Berkeley, February 11, 2014

  • Curt Frank (Stanford Univ) on “Historical Pigments: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
  • Bernie Lubell (Kinetic Artist) on “Intimacy and Entanglement”
  • Katherine Sherwood (Visual Artist) on “How a Cerebral Hemorrhage Altered my Art”
  • Eric Paulos (UC Berkeley/ Living Environment Lab) on “Hybrid Assemblages, Environments, and Happenings”

Stanford, February 12, 2014

  • Dave Deamer (UC Santa Cruz) on “Meteorites, soap bubbles and the origin of cellular life”
  • Mark Applebaum (Stanford CCRMA) on “Visual Music”
  • Margot Gerritsen (Stanford) “Linear Algebra: the incredible beauty of a branch of math with a bad reputation”
  • Adrian David Cheok (Mixed Reality Lab, Singapore) on ” Everysense Everywhere Human Communication”

London, February 18, 2014


USF, March 10, 2014

  • Katherine Worel (Visual Artist) on “Touch me now”
  • Dawn Sumner (UC Davis scientist) on “On the CAVE, Creativity and Curiosity”
  • Jeremy Mende (Designer) on “Confrontational Strategies - The Social Mirror”.
  • Ellen Fullman (Musician) on “A Compositional Approach Derived from Material and Ephemeral Elements”

UC Berkeley, April 2, 2014

  • Shan Shan Sheng on “Reinterpreting the Great Wall of China for the age of globalization”
  • Ceci Moss (writer, musician, DJ, and curator) on “Expanded Internet Art”
  • Jim Crutchfield (Chaos Scientist at UC Davis)
  • Johanna Drucker (Cultural Historian at UCLA)

Stanford, April 3, 2014

  • Robert Rich (Composer) on “Slow Music in a Manic World”
  • Patricia Burchat (Stanford Physics Dept)
  • Jennifer Gonzalez (UC Santa Cruz Art Historian)
  • Kal Spelletich (Kinetic Artist) on “Interactive art as a catalyst towards an engaged life”

UC Davis, April 7, 2014

  • Christina Cogdell (UC Davis)
  • Jesse Drew (UC Davis)
  • Michael Neff (UC Davis)
  • Wendy Silk (UC Davis)

USF, May 5, 2014

  • Chhoti Rao (USF) on “India’s contemporary art scene”
  • Terry Johnson (UC Berkeley) on synthetic biology
  • Marcy Darnovsky (Center for Genetics and Society) on “The Case for a New Biopolitics”
  • Ashley Bellouin (Musician)

UC Davis, June 2, 2014

  • Joe Dumit (UC Davis)
  • Evan Clayburg (Performance/Visual Artist)
  • Danielle Svehla Christianson (Fiber artist)

Berkeley, June 11, 2014

  • Tania Lombrozo (UC Berkeley Psychologist) on “What makes an explanation beautfiful?”
  • Allison Leigh Holt (Visual Artist) on “The Beginning Was The End: Hybrid Reality in Javanese Culture”
  • TBA

Stanford, June 12, 2014

  • Stacey Bent (Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy)
  • Soraya Murray (UC Santa Cruz/ Film & Digital Media)
  • Danielle Tullman-Ercek (UC Berkeley/ Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) on “Synthetic Biology: The Challenges and Potential of Engineering Living Systems”
  • Kiri Rong (Curator) on “The State of the Arts in China”

Full program: www.lasertalks.com

Videos of recent LASER talks (see www.lasertalks.com ):

 Ellen Fullman (Musician) on “A Compositional Approach Derived from Material and Ephemeral Elements” http://youtu.be/_QibOuVrzpU
Sasha Leitman (Inventor and Composer) on “Research in Computer Music at Stanford’s CCRMA” http://youtu.be/q7MIljHx5OU
Wayne Vitale on his gamelan opera “Makrokosma Bali” http://youtu.be/TrjaMoiQ98Y

 Paula Birnbaum (USF Art History) on “Contemporary Feminist Art and Globalization” http://youtu.be/VgiYT87C1Lo
 Danielle Siembieda (Visual Artist and Curator) on “The Future of Eco Art/Tech” http://youtu.be/O4q9b_DY-7k
 Kiri Rong (Curator) on “The State of the Arts in China”  http://youtu.be/5ODgAziHWIk
 Sita Bhaumik (Visual Artist) on “The Edible Body: Food as Political Strategy in a Contemporary Art Practice” http://youtu.be/IwrLjQ6axxw
 Laura Richard (UC Berkeley Art Historian) on “An interdisciplinary introduction to artist Maria Nordman” http://youtu.be/TvAjzOXbZ9U

 Marcy Darnovsky (Center for Genetics and Society) on “The Case for a New Biopolitics” http://youtu.be/NA0scZ5MaiQ

 John Cumbers (SynBioBeta & NASA) on “The Synthetic Biology Startup Ecosystem” http://youtu.be/Uk0UXzzh-x4
 David Stork (Rambus Labs) on “Computer image analysis of Parmigianino’s Self portrait in a convex mirror” http://youtu.be/FoZR5OnCd8w
 Uwe Bergmann (Stanford/ Linear Accelerator) on “The science and applications of X-Rays” http://youtu.be/hU7qKaWBTdA
 Alison Gopnik (UC Berkeley/ Psychology) on “The Philosophical Baby” http://youtu.be/BAr-7_CHiTc
 Chris McKay (NASA) on the NASA missions that search for life http://youtu.be/2z7vq_U7T2g
 David Salesin (Adobe Creative Lab) on “How to use the Power of the Computer to Bring Aesthetics and Good Design into our Lives” http://youtu.be/h2-tmfhcRkk
 Tania Lombrozo (UC Berkeley Psychologist) on “What makes an explanation beautiful?” http://youtu.be/1z9jhlqZKhY

More videos: http://www.scaruffi.com/videos.html