Panel – Sensory Evolutions and Medial Transformations

The panel Sensory Evolutions and Medial Transformations consists of three different talks: Aesthetics and Evolution of Structural-Color Producing or Biophotonic Nanostructures in Birds, From Chiaroscuro to the Collapse of the Wave Function: Light as the Quintessential Trans Sensorial Phenomenon and Revisioning Chinese Antiquity

Aesthetics and Evolution of Structural-Color Producing or Biophotonic Nanostructures in Birds

Vivid ultra-violet (invisible to humans but visible to birds), violet, blue and green colors seen on bird feathers are generally produced by the scattering of light by sub-surface nano structures. This class of fade-proof colors called structural colors forms an important part of the appearance of many birds as they are frequently used in inter-sexual mate-choice, or sexual selection. Interestingly, these biophotonic nanostructures in the bird feathers are not diet-acquired as in pigments, but areself-assembled, i.e., produced spontaneously by the physical phenomenon of unmixing of feather proteins (beta-keratins) from the cellular soup of developing feathers. These nanostructures have analogs inmaterials science. Curiously, certain species have evolved gemlike crystal structures in feathers and skin as a result of intense sexual selection. In my talk, I will review the current mainstream consensus and the alternative aesthetic viewpoints in the evolution of such colorful plumages in birds.

DR. VINOD SARANATHAN received his bachelors in Physics with a minor in Philosophy cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University. He obtained his M.S. and PhD from Yale University, in the Departmentof Ecology and Evolutionary Biology under Professor Richard Prum. Subsequently, Vinod was a Royal Society Newton Fellow a tthe Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology,University of Oxford. At Oxford, he was also elected to an Edward P. Abraham Cephalosporin Junior Research Fellowship at Linacre College. Just prior to joining Yale-NUS as an assistant professor, Vinod was a Research Fellow in the Division of Physics and Applied Physics at Nanyang Technological University.



From Chiaroscuro to the Collapse of the Wave Function: Light as the Quintessential Trans Sensorial Phenomenon

Sometime at the turn of the 16th century, two artistic-scientific events opened up a whole new era in the human representation of reality, while working in almost two opposite directions: the chiaroscuro pictorial technique that uses the representation of light’s contrast to develop a realistic 3D representation of the world; and the camera obscura, which affords a realistic representation of reality while leading toa brand new medium that can turn the world into a virtual image. Camera obscura made the world look more real, butit also made fiction look real. Photography is based on the pinhole phenomenon that makes the world visually real for us. However, photography also initiated the development of what we know today as the Infocom Society. Most significantly, it has changed the human perception of time and space, and perception of the self. But was photography truly an invention? Or, rather, a discovery? Many aspects of the history of the medium suggest that the world may have wanted photography to ‘exist’ inorder to ‘record’ its own existence, a process I have, since 2004, been referringto as “the Constant Self-recording Mode”. As I progressed in my explorations of photography’s history, I began to notice cross-overs, parallels, and direct connections between the history of photography and that of quantum mechanics. To begin with, they both share the same “mother”: Light. I believe that they could, or even should be regarded as “sisters”. This talk will present an updated version of this research.

GILLES MASSOT’s multidisciplinary process looks beyond disciplines to establish links between narratives, occurrences and parts of the world.Based in Singapore since 1981, his book Bintan, Phoenix of the Malay Archipelago (2003) deeply influenced his artistic work, which now often deals with history and ethnology while conceptually concerned with the theory of photography and the phenomenon of “recording”. He recently completed a research on Jules Itier and the first photographs of Asia done in the 1840s, and is currently exploring the relations between the history of photography and that of quantum mechanics. A recipient of the French award Chevalierdes Arts et des Lettres, Gilles’s work has been presented in over 50 exhibitions in France and Asia.



Revisioning Chinese Antiquity

The ongoing development of digital technology has impacted almost every aspect of time-based art forms.These advanced technologies have expanded and pushed the boundaries of aesthetics, artistic processes, analysis,pedagogy, and archiving of musical traditions. In turn, musical traditions inform and inspire the development of sound and music computing, and the discovery of new musical interaction modalities. To this end, some questions are raised: What are the new creative outputs afforded by these new technologies? How do they push the envelope of artistic expression? What are the implications of preservation, outreach, and inheritance in musical traditions? To answer these questions, this paper presents two works: g.qin, a gestural hand controller developed to capture the characteristic range and nuance of Chinese guqin performance gestures; and, serra, a mechatronic scraper-classpercussion inspired by the ancient Chinese yu percussion.The paper also presents a discussion of the new human-mechatronic interaction(s) and amalgamation of ancient and modern sonic territories that emerged.

DR. JINGYIN (JON) HE is an experimental sound and integrated media artist, researcher and
educator. He works within a hybridised culture of art and technology, exploring the frontiers of computational creativity in contemporary sonic and visual arts practices. His works have been published at major international academic conferences/ journals and performed at specialised events in US, Europe, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Currently, Jon is a postdoctoral fellow (Sonic arts) at Yale-NUS college.