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Innovation at the Art Science Interface

Plenary / Panel
english language

This panel discussion will explore how creativity and innovation come into play when artists and scientists or engineers are placed together in unfamiliar environments. Particular attention will be given to the intersection of art, science and technology in the Silicon Valley as well as in Cambridge, England.


Writer, Curator and Researcher, Creative Exchange Programme, Royal College of Art, London Abstract
For this short presentation I will draw on experiences as a curator of interdisciplinary processes in England, particularly in Cambridge a place renowned for its world-leading academic and commercial research and development activities, primarily within science and technological areas. With its collegiate system it was the locus of debates in the 1950s and which still apply now about the need for artists, engineers and scientists to more closely listen to and learn from each other. For a recent book I commissioned texts from designers, researchers, business people, engineers, artists and others who described different ways in which they collaborated at the interface between arts, science and technology, academia and business. There are many challenges involved in stimulating effective interdisciplinary work and turning this into something of value beyond seed-bed initiatives. Artist-in-residence initiatives can be a crucial catalyst to bring ideas and work from the lab into the public domain. Curation and facilitation of exchange (of discipline and specialism) and negotiation of adequate time to allow the fermentation of new collaborative processes are also vital factors. What can we learn from existing and earlier models for creating and sustaining innovation? How might we begin to grapple with notions of success in these interstitial fields?
Scientist and Author; Head, Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) Program, San Francisco Abstract
There is general consensus that today (year 2014) the San Francisco Bay Area represents one of the hubs of creativity in the world, both in technology and in science. From a humble beginning as the "Far West" in less than a century it went on to boast an impressive number of Nobel Prize winners and arguably the most vibrant I.T. industry in the world. However, if we just go back in time 60 years, there was little in the Bay Area that would lead an observer to predict "in just two generations this will become the site of the most influential industry of the 21st century". The great inventors, the famous scientists, the big investors, the big electronic research labs, the great universities, the big military spending and so forth were all on the East Coast and in Western Europe. You cannot explain why it happened in the Bay Area if you only consider the contributions of technology, science, money, and government. If you go back two or three generations, ask yourself "what was the Bay Area famous for?" Not much, but one thing for sure: a refuge for crazy artists, whether painters who liked to live in communes or beat poets. What was truly unique about the Bay Area was an alternative (counter)culture. The first mass immigration of young educated middle-class people to the Bay Area took place not because of Silicon Valley (which didn't exist yet) but because of the "Summer of Love" (the hippy movement of 1966-67). The Bay Area invented neither the computer nor the smartphone (nor the transistor, nor the Internet) but it did invent the rock festival (Monterey, 1967), the environmental movement ("Earth Day", 1970), new-age spirituality, etc. In fact, the inventions that are truly unique of the Bay Area tend to be those that go "against" technology. Nonetheless, that is precisely the reason why the Bay Area (and not New York or London or Paris or Berlin or Wien) became the world's leader in technological innovation. Technology does not happen in a vacuum.
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs, W.M. Keck Senior Professor in Engineering, Stanford School of Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford Chair


Writer, Curator and Researcher, Creative Exchange Programme, Royal College of Art, London

 Until 2007 Director of Interdisciplinary Arts, Arts Council England
 Served on international media arts prize juries including Ars Electronica, Linz 2010 and 2011, and Transmediale, Berlin 2009
 Visiting Research Associate at Darwin College Cambridge
since 2007 Director of, an independent research and development agency


Scientist and Author; Head, Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) Program, San Francisco

 Studies of Mathematics, University of Torino
1983 Relocated to California to work on Arpanet/Internet and object-oriented technologies, Olivetti Advanced Technology Center (ATC), Cupertino
1983 Developed an e-mail system for a Unix-like operating system
1984 Worked on the first implementation of Smalltalk for a PC
 lectured on Artificial Intelligence in Italy, South America and the USA; visiting scholar at Harvard and Stanford University
1985 Founded Olivetti's Artificial Intelligence Center
2008 Start of the the Leonardo Art Science Evenings (LASERs)

Ph.D. Curtis FRANK

Senior Associate Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs, W.M. Keck Senior Professor in Engineering, Stanford School of Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford

 Academic Appointments:
 -Professor, Chemical Engineering
 -Professor (By courtesy), Materials Science and Engineering
 -Professor (By courtesy), Chemistry
 -Member, Bio-X
1972 PhD, University of Illinois

Technology Symposium

show timetable


10:00 - 12:30Technology BrunchSocial
13:00 - 13:10Opening of the Alpbach Technology Symposium 2014Plenary
13:10 - 14:00RTI Policy at the CrossroadsPlenary
14:00 - 15:45Industry 4.0 - The Next Industrial Revolution?Plenary
16:15 - 17:45Stanford, this Year's Special Guest at the Technology Symposium: Innovation and the Culture of FailurePlenary
20:00 - 21:30Us and Our Brains - Neuroscience at the CrossroadsPlenary
21:45 - 23:00Career LoungeSocial
21:45 - 23:00Evening ReceptionSocial


09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 01: Technology - Global Market: Austrian Technologies for the Global MarketBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 02: Future Technology-Hotspots - Does Europe Stand a Chance?Breakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 03: The Challenge of Disruptive Innovation: Strategies for Successful CopingBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 04: Agile and Robust Supply Chains - How to Manage Volatility Across Your BusinessBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 05: Bioenergy - The Way to the Future or a Dead End?Breakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 06: The Cost of the City of the Future - Socio-Economic Aspects of Smart CitiesBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 07: Smart Energy: Challenges of an Interdisciplinary Energy TransitionBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 08: Science in Society - How to Overcome a DisjunctureBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 09: IP Strategies in Enterprises: Challenges for IP Management and Innovation PolicyBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 10: How to Finance Research - Publicly or Privately? New Models for a Globalised WorldBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Breakout Session 11: Innovations in Acoustics: Future Trends in Industry and Modern LifeBreakout
09:00 - 18:00Junior Alpbach - Science and Technology for Young PeopleBreakout
09:00 - 15:00Ö1 Children's University Alpbach - Science and Technology for KidsBreakout
16:00 - 16:45Digital UniversityPlenary
16:45 - 18:15Open Science - The Place of and for People in Our KnowledgePlenary
18:30 - 20:00Cities at the CrossroadsPlenary
20:00 - 22:00Urban Innovators Challenge - The Future of CitiesPartner


09:00 - 10:30Complexity Science - IPlenary
10:30 - 11:15Complexity Science - IIPlenary
11:45 - 13:15Innovation at the Art Science InterfacePlenary
13:15 - 13:30Closing Statement of the Alpbach Technology SymposiumPlenary
13:30 - 14:00Snack ReceptionSocial