Was Marcus Vitruvius Pollio right ?: what’s possible in the 21st century in transdisciplinary collaboration that wasnt possible in Rome ?


We are living in an interesting time of unstable vocabularies, sometimes an indicator of a growing successful community of practice .This is true of only because new terminologies are the bread and butter of funding agencies and reputation management strategies of emerging professionals. Electronic Art, Digital Art, new Media Art, Art and Technology, STEM to STEAM, STARTS, ArtScience, Sci Art the list goes on. Joao Silveira,  member of our ArtSciLab at UT Dallas will be defending next week in Rio de Janeiro his PhD thesis on art science practices today in Brazil, the US and elsewhere.

This contemporary dichotomy in western, and other, academic and industry circles is often articulated between science-engineering and art-humanities. At the time of the founding of Leonardo Journal, this was very much within the framing provided by C.P.Snow’s articulation of the ‘two cultures’ problem.The problem persists today, although I argue that the two cultures framing is a false dichotomy and I think C.P.Snow did a disservice and was wrong in many ways. This false dichotomy can take different forms; for example, hard and soft, quantitative and qualitative, logical and creative, objective and subjective, and so on. Many of these are false, or oversimplifying, dichotomies or reductionist thinking that have lessened our human ability to solve complex problems. These dichotomies are not new. As pointed out by Joe Davis (Leonardo Journal, 2018 in press), the roman polymath Marcus Vitruvius Pollio advocated many of the holistic approaches being debated today. Joe Davis is a pioneering art and biology artist, currently using CRISPR and other genetic engineering techniques to create artificial life art forms. Joe Davis notes that Leonardo Da Vinci himself read and was influenced by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.

So what’s new under the sun ?

In this talk at IBM Almaden research labs we will try to take stock, talk about our own work and articulate what we think is usefully developing:

Preliminary Announcement for talk by Malina at Blanton at IBM Almaden research labs March 8 2018

IBM Accelerated Discovery Lab Distinguished Speaker Forum.  

  • Date:March 8, 2018

  • Venue: Accelerated Discovery Lab, IBM Research – Almaden

  • Time: 10.00 – 11.30 AM PST

Building at the Confluence of Disciplines; How does the 21st century context enable new approaches?

Abstract: Roger F. Malina and Andrew Blanton will discuss and present jointly a series of works created through transdisciplinary methodologies bridging the worlds of Arts, Design and Science. Through this lecture-performance they will discuss some of their past collaborations as well as some of their current thoughts on the process of collaborating with teams of people from extremely diverse backgrounds. Their research methodology involves both science/engineering development as well as use of the same processes in artistic settings. These methods feed into what is sometimes called STEM to STEAM initiatives in this country or STARTS in Europe ( Science, Technology and the Arts). They will present a series of works including a performance of M0DULATOR for realtime audio processing on the iPad, their ‘ Data Stethoscope’ work in sonifying and visualizing the human connectome, funded by DARPA. WAVEGUIDE, a performance that uses the audiences cellphones for a distributed array of speakers. SWITCH, a publication featuring student led research into contemporary topics, most recently using blockchain technology. And finally, Roger Malina, Executive Editor of Leonardo Publications at MIT Press will discuss the new experimental publishing platform arteca.mit.edu which publishes multi-lingually and multi-media, and will develop new forms of peer review for grey literature.

Dr. Roger F. Malina

TITLE: Distinguished Professor of Arts and Technology and Professor of Physics, UT Dallas and Executive Editor, Leonardo Publications MIT Press


Roger Malina is an art-science researcher, astronomer and editor. His UTD ArtSciLab focuses on research that involves close collaboration between scientists and artists, in particular developing data exploration and data performance. The lab also carries out research in experimental publishing in collaboration with MIT Press and Leonardo/ISAST and OLATS. two non profits which he founded. He was Principal Investigator of the NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite at UC Berkeley, and former director of the Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence (OAMP) in Marseille. He is the Executive Editor of the Leonardo Publications at MIT Press, including the new arteca.mit.edu art science technology platform. Roger Malina obtained his BS in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972, and his PhD in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1979. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Art and Science.

Andrew Blanton

TITLE: Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator CADRE Media Labs, San Jose State University


Andrew Blanton is a media artist and percussionist. He received his Bachelors of Music in Music Performance from The University of Denver (2008) and a Masters of Fine Arts in New Media Art at the University of North Texas (2013). He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Media Art at San Jose State University in San Jose California teaching data visualization. His current work focuses on the emergent potential between cross-disciplinary arts and technology, building sound and visual environments through software development, and building scientifically accurate representations complex data sets as visual and sound compositions. Andrew has advanced expertise in percussion, creative software development, and developing projects in the confluence of art and science. http://andrewblanton.com