New Head of US NEA Jane Chu Advocates STEM to STEAM


our STEM to STEAM discussion on YASMIN

has been hot and heavy but has been dominated so far by practioners

in north american where the STEM to STEAM discourse has gone viral

of note is that Jane Chu has been appointed chair of the US National
Endowment for the Arts

She has been widely quoted as advocating stem to steam such as in this visit
to rhode island

in her opening remarks

she states
Arts education is critical to raising America’s next generations of
Creative, Innovative thinkers. The other area we will further delve
into lies at the intersection of art, science, and technology. We
believe that synthesizing these differing perspectives can foster
those Creative and Innovative thinkers to help us solve problems,
think out of the box, and provide new insights. We want to turn the
focus from STEM education to STEAM education, and integrate Science,
Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math into our nation’s classrooms.
– See more at:

a very similar discourse is occurring  in europe -for instance the Ars
Electronica concept this year was

The Concept

“Creativity is the art of finding the right questions, Innovation is
the ability to respond to them”

This year, the AE Festival’s mission is to confront the question of
“what it takes to change” and to call for answers from all directions
from different disciplines as well as different places all over the
world. But it’s not the usual question about what the future will look
like but rather how we get there and, most important, who are the
people who can scout these new ways. For this reason, Ars Electronica
has teamed up with Hakuhodo and ITU (International Telecommunication
Union) to organize the Future Innovators Summit.

At this summit, experienced professionals as well as young
entrepreneurs and social activists, technicians and scientists and, of
course, artists and designers will meet each other at the Ars
Electronica Festival for mutual inspiration and for the exchange of
ideas and know-how. The lineup will also include opportunities for
participants to engage in dialog among each other and with the public
audience. Besides a broad range of lectures, presentations and
exhibitions, we want to build a “special taskforce”—24 catalysts of
change, innovators and creators of tomorrow from places all over the
world who will present their ideas and projects and spend four days
together to come up with answers to the question of what it takes to

Why is this a unique opportunity? At the moment, one can find a
growing lineup of events and gatherings for young entrepreneurs and
start-ups, as well as a lot of hackathons, game jams etc. where the
young community of programmers and developers can interact. The same
goes for festivals of young artists and conferences of young social
activists. What they all have in common is an exciting and virulently
inspiring atmosphere, but they often also share a certain flavor of
elitist exclusivity, and it’s usually pretty difficult to access them
as an outsider. Even more surprising is that you can hardly find
anevent at which these inspiring talents, creators and innovators can
convene, and do so across the borders of their communities and
disciplines. But this crossover is exactly what we’re looking for!

Read more about the “Future Innovators Summit” in an interview with
Hideaki Ogawa, member of the Ars Electronica Futurelab, on the Ars
Electronica Blog.

It would be great to have comments in this discussions from yasminers
in europe and the mediterranean !

What does STEAM have to do with it ?

Announcing a Leonardo-Yasmin Discussion:   WHAT DOES STEAM HAVE TO DO WITH IT ?

Is too much STEM or the wrong STEM a bad thing ?

You can follow YASMIN discussions at:

You can join the discussion at:

We are pleased to announce a Leonardo –  YASMIN discussion about the current hot topic of whether we need more scientists and engineers, or whether we need different kinds of scientists and engineers that have grounding in the arts, design and humanities. The discussion will be conducted during September 2014 with a number of invited respondents.

Many professionals are arguing that government and funding agencies need to increase funding and recruit more young people into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
But after decades of STEM funding= the result is that only 17% of engineers in the USA are women, and the statistics for inclusion of ethnic and other minories in western countries are also dismal. It is particularly problematical in the computer sciences and engineering, but professionals are more diverse in the biological and life sciences.

And in the USA 70 % of students in the USA who get a degree in a STEM field- do not work in STEM professions – why are STEM careers so unattractive that most students who get a degree do not go on to work in STEM fields ?:

These statistics can be found in the recent US Census Bureau on STEM :

In recent years there has been a movement of STEM TO STEAM- or integrating the arts, design and humanities – into STEM teaching. I recently wrote a discussion that highlights some of the issues:

One of the arguments of STEM to STEAM is that STEM needs fundamental rethinking- with one argument that many STEM careers are now in the arts, design and entertainment,and more broadly the creative industries; secondly that STEAM approaches are more succesful at interesting more diverse students

Discussants will include:

Roger Malina, Art-Science Researcher and Executive Editor of the Leonardo Publications at MIT Press:

Nettrice Gaskins: Who is launching a STEAM Lab in an urban art school  in Boston and led the National Science Foundation funded project on Culturally Situated STEM

Her web site is at     :

Celia Pearce:   who is a game designer, author, researcher, teacher, curator and artist, specializing in multiplayer gaming and virtual worlds, independent, art, and alternative game genres, as well as games and gender  her web site is at:

William Joel: Dr. Joel received his PhD in Computer & Information Sciences from Syracuse University in 1995. Currently he is Professor of Computer Science at Western Connecticut State University, and Director for their Graphics Research Group. (


You can follow YASMIN discussions at:

You can join the discussion at:

Data Dramatisation in Paris

Andrew Blanton and I, as part of our ArtSciLab collaborations will be presenting and performing the data from two of the projects
= Connected Brain Dramatisation= with Gagan Wig, Scot Gresham Lancaster, Tim Perkis, Max Schich all of University of Texas at Dallas
- Antractic Night, with Ruth West, Lifan Wang, Scot Gresham Lancaster
and also
- Nanotubes speak: with Mikhail Koslov and Brian Merlo a demo of thermoaccoustic sound emitted by carbon nano tube sheets
“Data dramatization:
Art, Science, Design et data visualization”


Deux duos de chercheurs et d’artistes échangeront leurs points de vue et expériences sur ces questions:


  • Roger Malina, astrophysicien et fondateur du ArtSciLab de l’Université du Texas (Dallas) et Andrew Blanton, artiste compositeur
  • Tommaso Venturini, professeur associé au MediaLab de Sciences Po
  • Isabelle Arvers, auteur, critique, commissaire d’expositions


Attention, le nombre de places est très limité, si vous souhaitez participer à la conférence, merci d’enregistrer votre inscription via ce formulaire .


Lab de L’Institut culturel de Google, 8 rue de Londres, 75009, Paris


On The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite



Here is a draft review for comment of

The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite

by Edgar Martins

Roger Malina


Reflections on the Space Age and Space Culture in reaction to Edgar Martin’s project : The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite.

Roger F Malina


The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite

Edgar Martins , May 2014, ISBN 978-84-15691-68-6, 184 pages. Essays by Leonor Nazare, John Gribbin, João Seixas, Sérgio Mah. La Fabrica publisher. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Madrid.


Portuguese born, London based, photographer and artist Edgar Martins  ( ) presents in this book a series of photographs taken at facilities of the European Space Agency over the past few years  from Holland, France, Germany, Spain, to Russia, Kazakhstan, and French Guiana .In 2014 The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation/Modern Art Centre hosted the official launch of “The Rehearsal of Space & The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite”, a project developed in partnership with ESA.


The project has been documented through a number of venues on line, in galleries and in this excellently produced book, which forms the basis for this review. As we celebrate a series  of fiftieth anniversaries for key events in the birth of the ‘space age”, this book is a great example of cultural appropriating and re contextualisation. I have argued that we are now not only in the anthropocene, but also in what will be seen as the start of the age of a ‘space age” as distinctive as the stone, bronze, or iron ages. My argument is that today’s civilisation depends critically on space data, space systems and space technology to such an extent that if you stopped launching rockets today, our civilisation would regress irreversibly. From disaster relief, to communications, to GPS navigation, we have built space technologies in many of the key infrastuctures that allow our modern societies to function.


The opening essay by Leonor Nazare begins with a discussion of the Mayan civilisation and their astronical calendar achievements. This perpective grounds the book in an interesting question; if four thousand years from now ( after the collapse of our current civilisation and the loss of all archives stored on line and in the cloud) how would we interpret the space age from the artifacts and objects ( like this book) which might still survive ? How to interpret the space age in the same way as we interpret the stone, bronze and iron ages or the Mayans ?


Among other things, we would discover that access to space facilities was as restricted as in our time access was to the Mayan temples and many of the key technical artifacts have vanished, as have the Mayan ones. She notes “ front of the helmet of a SCAPE suit and the astronaut’s wardrobe; they are containers which are empty but highly indexical”.  We are provoked to read Edgar Martin’s photographs as index entries to the space age; why the choice of particular colours in space facilities (pastel and primary colours – often blue or yellow), the use of highly simplified geometrical shapes ( eg the sound baffles in an anechoic chamber), the obsession with cleanliness (clean rooms where the major source of contamination is exfoliation from human skin). We see no humans just as we see no Mayans, just space suits and space habitats and fragments of objects; we would interpret these in terms of the human values they embody.


In the second essay curator Sergio Mah notes that it was in 1967, in the midsts of key events of the birth of the space age, that Michel Foucault developed his concept of ‘heteropias’ or places that function as counter-sites or realised utopias; these spaces have more layers of meaning or define or trigger relations to other places. Space facilities, with their restricted access, function as heteropias and Martin’s photographs ‘seem to exist in a gap, in a space-time that is as real as it is virtual and mental” and through their suggestive ambiguity function ‘like a space in which somthing is about to happen” connecting back to Martin’s term of ‘rehearsal spaces’.


In the third essay science writer John Gribbin, describing himself as a child of the space age, talks about the translation of science fiction to science fact in his own lifetime. He notes that less than 100 years since Einstein’s development of special and general relativity we now routinely use those calculations to use our smartphones. He describes our current understanding of cosmology and the search for extra-terrestial planets and life. In the essay he develops the idea that simulation has now become an integral component of modern science whether simulating the history of the milky way galaxy or the training facilities for astronauts. He notes that “by the time an astronaut gets into space, he or she is literally able to find their way around the actual spacecraft blindfold’. And of course many of Martin’s photographs document the incredible variety of simulated environments the European Space Agency builds on earth that mimic space conditions, to test and prove technological ideas for space travel and space activities. We can then read the photographs as documents of theatrical performances, again in in reference to  rehearsal spaces in Martin’s words, that play out the human story in an unknown cosmic environment, in much the same way that Mayan priests enacted their own relations to the cosmos.


In the fourth essay, physicist Joao Seixas ( a member of a CERN Large Hadron Collider consortium) writes a fascinating discussion of how scientists manipulate, and bound, concepts of infinity to explore the nature of the world. He states “ Most of this has changed over the past 100 years, for we have discovered that in many ways what we have considered infinite was only due to an illusion resulting from our limited knowledge of Nature” leading to ‘ the beginning of a bounded vision of nature’. He describes how the Michelson-Morley experiments led to Einstein’s insight that the velocity of light is not infinite ( and thus velocities are not additive). He explains how within theromodynamics the hard boundary of ‘absolute zero’  and ‘zero point energy” were discovered leading to a temperature scale bounded from below ( and that this lower limit was unattainable). In quantum mechanics it was discovered that it is not possible to measure infinitely precisely because of the uncertainty principle. The big bang model tells us that time does not go back infinitely into the past. Through quantum mechanics also we know that the vacuum cannot be infinitely empty and describes the physics of the last fifty years as “ the ultimate study of the properties of the vacuum”, with the current discoveries of dark energy and dark matter as ultimate puzzles. He argues that we face the same kind of scientific uncertainty as a hundred years ago when relativity and quantum mechanics bounded some infinities in revolutionary ways. he quotes Lord Kelvin who stated “ we see the clouds  gathering on the horizon but we still have still have no idea which storm they bring’. Seixas argues  that ‘infinity is in fact the one and only motivation for discovery’.


Seixas interprets Martin’s photographs as ‘bearing witness to the landmarks we leave on the road to the infinite’. Edgar Martin’s project is subtitled “The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite” and forces the question whether there are limits to the extra-terrestial environments that humans can inhabit. Maybe four thousand years from now,  these photographs will be interpreted as documentation of human exploration of the limits of  human colonisation of space. Just as Mayan civilisation was finely tuned to their own environmental and social context, so human life is finely tuned to the near earth environment from our genetic history and social nature. The endless debate between human and robotic colonisation of space may take several centuries to explore, but still I am convinced that we are irreversibly a ‘space culture’ and that our civilisation is now a space age vitally dependent on space data, space systems and space technology. As argued by proponents of  the ‘Space Option”

( and  ) ,

space activities are essential to a sustainable human civilisation on earth. But there may be limits to how far off the surface of the earth humans can sustainably live. Edgar Martin’s project “The rehearsal of space and the poetic impossibility to manage the infinite” is a fascinating cultural document on these fundamentally cultural, not scientific or technical, questions.

Recommending Leonardo’s Brain

dear colleagues

Leonard Shlain (author of a number of key art -science books

died before he could complete his book


Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius


We are pleased to hear from his daughter Tiffany that the book is now published posthumously


I just ordered my copy- Leonard Shlain’s work is important to the art science technology

Roger Malina


Dear Friends,

It is with great joy and gratitude that we can announce the posthumous publishing of my father’s last book, Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius, which he completed days before he passed away five years ago from brain cancer.

The official release date of the new book is Oct. 7 and it is available for pre-order now.

We will be hosting events to celebrate the book’s release throughout the country starting with a public event in San Francisco on Oct 12th, 2014. Save the date. Details to follow.

Leonardo’s Brain is not only one of his grand intellectual journeys akin to his books Art & PhysicsThe Alphabet vs The Goddess, and Sex, Time and Power, but in many ways, represents a synthesis of so many of his ideas connecting neurology, history, philosophy, art, science, creativity and ourselves. He believed Da Vinci offered a glimpse into the future of our species. I explore him finishing this book, his ideas and losing him in my feature documentary Connected. He would be so happy to know his book was finally being published.
We want to thank our publisher Jon Sternfeld at Lyon’s Press (Globe Pequot), Robert Stricker, his long-time literary agent, and particularly Andy Ross, the literary agent forLeonardo’s Brain who seized the opportunity to bring this book to market with a zeal our father would have loved.  We also want to thank editor Ann Patty (The Life of Pi), with whom we worked to edit the book.

Conversing with my father’s ideas in my mind as my siblings and I navigated the different stages of the editing and publication process was one of the greatest gifts of all.

Our father loved to share  more than anything. Now we are honored to share this book with you. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how we can get the word out, we would appreciate it immensely. If you would like to host an event yourself and invite your friends we would love that too.

Warmest Regards,

Tiffany Shlain,
ps. we will be tweeting and doing facebook posts with gems from his book in the upcoming months using the handles the below.

Leonardo Thinks: Herbert W. Franke on the Future of Art Theory




Leonardo Journal editorial board member and art and technology pioneer Herbert W. Franke has submitted this reflection on the

future of Leonardo- he has agreed that we can share and discuss it here. This discussion is part of the Leonardo

Pioneers and Pathbreakers project where we are soliciting memoirs and thinking from those in our community

who worked in the 1960s and 70s to lay the groundwork for today;s art-science-technology movement.

Roger Malina


The Future of Art Theory: A Contribution to the Leonardo Discussion


Herbert Franke



The journal Leonardo, founded in 1965 by Frank Malina, is dedicated to the connections between art, science and technology. Thus it is located in one of those border areas which are characterized by a high creative potential of which both sides benefit: scientists can develop new means of expression, as for example, the use of visual displays for the visualization of mathematical, scientific and technical processes; artists can extend their methods of design. The invention of tonal musical instruments led to polyphonic orchestral music, and the use of technical equipment such as the camera and the computer helps art to new means of expression, such as in media art.



As a typical example of innovative interactions between art, science and technology, this is a central topic of the Leonardo magazine. But there is another important kind of connections between these activities, namely the rational theory of art. It raises the question of how art is defined and whether there is a common base of rules for each of its ways of expression. Early attempts to clarify this question came were made by the Gestalt psychology, which took a promising start, but soon hit the limits which existed at that time. It was not until the middle of the last century that a more far-reaching path was opened by cybernetics and information theory. For both of these disciplines it was typical that they brought scientific thought into contact with the life sciences. It started with the ‘information aesthetics’ of Abraham Moles and Max Bense and led up to the current discipline of neuro-aesthetics.



All of these schools of thought have in common that they are no longer trying to decipher the phenomenon of art from the artist’s view, (who is the “emitter”), but from that of the public, the „receiver“. Looking at the work of art as an object that triggers perceptual and cognitive processes, you will find not only those rules that apply to all the senses, and therefore necessarily to the reception mechanisms of all kinds of artistic information which, by these theories, have become describable quantitatively and algorithmically. Art processes are now even accessible to experiments and allow statements that are measurable and verifiable by scientific methods. And they draw the focus of interest away from the studios towards the social field and they help answer questions about, for example, the origin of art in the evolution of man and the benefits of art in society.


What are the consequences of all this for a magazine like Leonardo? Surely, it would be too easy to simply ask for a more frequent consideration of issues of the exact aesthetics. It is true that innovations in the field of media aesthetics can be described easily and intelligibly for the common reader, so that Leonardo is well suited for first publications of new findings. But unfortunately, this does not hold for articles concerning information theory or neuro-aesthetics, where the content is mainly expressed in the technical language of science, as well as by mathematical formulas and diagrams. Should the editors risk that parts of their magazine are incomprehensible to many readers? Or should we simply leave out the exact theory of art and thus withhold from the reader the progress that allows him to think and to speak about art in ways based on science?


I do not think that this problem can be solved quickly and satisfactorily for all persons involved. The least thing to be done would be to introduce a permanent section where experts make efforts to translate specialized publications into generally understandable language. It would be even more desirable to persuade the authors themselves of such technical articles to write summaries for Leonardo. It seems important to me that the readers of Leonardo are continually kept informed about the main findings in the field of art theory.



Herbert W. Franke



Dear Roger,


The discussion about Leonardo reminds me of the old days when Frank, your father, told me about his plan to found an art journal. It was meant to deal specifically with Science Art, and so it did. Its main focus was on the exchange between facts and methods from both areas as well as their mutual influences.


Meanwhile, however, the situation has changed considerably, and one of the points of contact (which had in the founding years of the magazine been hardly visible) has gained importance. It is the exact description of all those scientifically describable processes during the perception of art, especially from the viewpoint of cybernetics and information theory. The insights gained in this way permit, among other things, an understanding of the impact of art in the areas of society and education.


Within the thematic range of Leonardo, the topic of “Art as a subject for Science” has so far been touched upon only seldom. Justifiably, for in the early days nobody could tell whether the first researches would lead to useful results.In the meantime, we know better, e.g. by the findings in neuro-aesthetics, and so the question arises, to which extent this area of knowledge should in the future be represented in Leonardo. I would suggest to try to solve this problem within the context of the discussions about the planned general re-shaping of the magazine.


Herbert Franke



James L. Johnson receives NASA fellowship for study of “Rockets and the Red Scare: Frank Malina and American Rocketry, 1936-1946

NASA Fellowship in the History of Space Technology

The NASA Fellowship in the History of Space Technology, offered by SHOT and supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) History Division, funds either a predoctoral or postdoctoral fellow for up to one academic year to undertake a research project related to the history of space technology. The fellowship supports advanced research related to all aspects of space history, leading to publications on the history of space technology broadly considered, including cultural and intellectual history, institutional history, economic history, history of law and public policy, and history of engineering and management. The 2010 NASA Fellowship was awarded to James L. Johnson. The citation:

The awards committee for the 2010-2011 NASA Fellowship is pleased to announce that the fellowship for the academic year will go to James L. Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate Program in the History of Science and Technology at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Johnson is completing his dissertation under the direction of Miriam Levin on “Rockets and the Red Scare: Frank Malina and American Rocketry, 1936-1946.” This study promises to make a significant contribution to the historiography of rocketry in the United States by focusing attention on the work of Frank Malina and a group of important rocketeers at Caltech during the 1930s and 1940s. This project is especially pathbreaking because it reflects significant issues in post-World War II America and the origins of the cold war. Like many intellectuals, Malina flirted with Marxist ideology in the interwar years and this led to his being forced out of high-technology military programs. He also, as Johnson makes clear, showed a strong entrepreneurial bent and appreciation for the creative potential of relatively open research environments that went against trends in American industry, academe, and the military after 1947. Thus, Malina’s career offers an opportunity for Johnson to elucidate the degree to which individuals were aware that they were not only changing technology but also the very structures through which American scientific research was being conducted—not to mention the ramifications those structural changes may have held for shifting control of research and development decisions away from practitioners during a crucial period in the rise of the United States as a world power.


For a recent post by Johnson see



support this project on artists for water and peace

Dear Colleague I supporting this project on artists for water and peace

Support artists for water and peace by contributing to our crowd funding campaign.

This is for SCANZ 2015: water*peace. There are links for more info at the url below. Rather than pay artists a fee we are trying to cover their costs.

Every bit helps, so waltz over to the page and think about make a pledge.


Ian Clothier
Executive Director
For other projects in this area see the Leonardo e-book


Water Is in the Air: Physics, Politics, and Poetics of Water in the Arts 


This ebook explores the ways that artists, from all over the world, working at the cutting edge of science and engineering, create work that addresses critical issues of water in culture and society. Drawing on thirty years of work documented in the Leonardo journal at MIT Press, the authors explore art and climate change and pollution, artificially seeded clouds, water fountains, the physics and poetics of waves, using all types of media (videos, performances, installations, sound art). 

Published in collaboration with the STUDIOLAB consortium, a Europe-wide initiative that merges the studio with the research lab. Funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme ( 


Sherryl Ryan also brings this project to our attention:



You might like to hear about our Water and Art project that was run this year about water in the air with primary school students and art and science.
Cheers Sherryl



How to embed science and technology more gracefully in society ?

Open Call for Project Stories

Send us your story before August 18 2014

iMinds and Artshare are running the ICT ART CNECT study for DG CONNECT
- European Commission. The study aims at characterizing and connecting
artistic communities of ICT researchers at all levels. From this
analysis, recommendations will be drawn for a DG CONNECT strategy to
engage more broadly with the arts in Horizon 2020 – the EU Framework
Programme for Research and Innovation.

Therefore we need your input on our website !!

Please support our study and your future by telling us your story of a
project that involved Art practice with ICT.

You just have to answer a few questions, send us a video or images. If
selected, you will present your story and the related prototype at the
Bozar Electronics Art Festival, September 25-28 2014. We will cover
your expenses, including the ones related with the exhibition of your

We are looking for fresh or ongoing or unfinished projects that can be
an example of activities in the field of ICT and ART.




Past activities on the contributions of artistic practices to innovative ICT developments, namely ICT&Art 2012, FET-ART and ICT ART CONNECT 2013 demonstrated the worldwide emergence of communities of hybrid researchers. These researchers develop new technological applications responding to specificities of their artistic creativity, creating however potential for innovation outside their original scope.

The recognition of these emergences by the Commission led to the launching of the ICT ART CNECT study, in order to characterize and connect artistic communities of ICT researchers at all levels, including institutions, companies and individuals. The study is creating a map of individuals and institutions engaged in artistic practices within ICT research projects in Europe and world-wide. It will analyse best practices to enhance interaction between artists-researchers and other IT experts and to increase the impact of these interactions on innovation and creativity in Europe. It will not only analyse success stories but also it will identify where are the main needs and demands.

From this analysis, recommendations will be drawn for a DG CONNECT strategy to engage more broadly with the arts in H2020.

The aim is to thereby contribute to enhancing creativity and innovation in society, technology, science, education, and business and to more gracefully better embedding science and technology in society.

ICT ART CNECT is organizing a number of round-tables in the most relevant conferences in the field happening this year: 4th Computer Art Congress, 1-3 September, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Ars Electronica, 4-8 September, Linz, Austria and ArtsIT – Fourth International Conference on Arts and Technology, 10-12 November, Istambul, Turkey.

The main event of the study will be ICT ART CONNECT 2014, at BOZAR in the context of BEAF, where results will be presented.