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Review of the conference lectures

The 2nd International Conference on the Relations between Science, Technology and Art (STAR 2014), held at the Beit Ha’mehandes in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Artistic Sciences and Scientific Art.

By Eli Tavor

Forty two lectures during a 2 day period, given by 18 guest lecturers from 12 countries from around the world and another 24 lectures given by Israeli scientists, engineers and artists - this was the harvest of the 2nd International Conference on the Relations between Science, Technology and Art (STAR), held on November 19-20 at Tel Aviv’s Beit Hamehandes. The conference was sponsored by the Association of Engineers, Architects and Graduates in Technological Sciences in Israel, in cooperation with the Israel Chemical Society and the International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry.

What made this 2nd conference unique (the first was held in 2011 at the Ort Braude College in Karmiel) is that 18 guest lecturers from countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Belgium, France, Portugal, Brazil, Hungary, Greece, the Ukraine, etc. all attended the conference at their own expense, simply because the conference’s subject was dear to their hearts and of interest to them. In actuality, this fascinating international conference, which featured a wide spectrum of lectures on subjects related to fields as engineering, technology and the sciences and their interface with the various art fields, was the initiative of one man - Dr. Alec Groysman, Chairman of the Israeli Society of Chemical Engineering and Chemists at the Association of Engineers in Israel.  Groysman, who is also a lecturer at the Technion in Haifa, holds a doctorate in Physical Chemistry from the Chemical Engineering University of Moscow (named after Mendeleev) and is a world renowned specialist in the field of Corrosion. Two years ago, he was awarded an international prize for the scientific book - Corrosion for Everybody, in which, for the first time, he connected corrosion engineering and science with the arts and other humanitarian aspects (such as philosophy). Additionally, he is a renaissance man and polymath, who is interested in almost all fields of art. This interface led him to cooperate with Dr.Tatiana Kravchuk, laboratory director and researcher at the Technion’s Chemistry Faculty and his professional partner. Together they organized the international meetings on the subject of science, technology and art. They were assisted by the international organizational committee that was comprised of professors and scientists from Taiwan, Japan, Hungary, Belgium,  France, Russia, the Ukraine, Greece, Brazil, Portugal and the U.S.
In the photo on the left: Dr. Alec Groysma, Chairman of the Israeli Society of Chemical Engineering and Chemists at the Association of Engineers in Israel and Dr.Tatiana Kravchuk, Chairman of the Israeli Society of Chemical Engineering and Chemists at the Association of Engineers in Israel

“At first glance”, says Alec Groysman, “there is no common language between science, engineering, technology and art.  These are three different cultures.  But as it turns out, the contact between these cultures encourages creativity in each of them. Since we aim to educate scientists and engineers to be creative and not be ‘square’, we must enable them to use artistic tools.  We want to show that it’s advantageous to use artistic tools to develop a new generation of broad-minded scientists and engineers.  I know that I am ‘crazy’ about this idea, but it appears that there are many ‘crazy’ people around the world, who think like I do.  We must find them and introduce them to one another in order to encourage the interface between science, technology and art.”
In the photo on the left:Tamir Ashman, Israeli Lecturer for Social Work
In the photo on the right: 
Paper Polyhedron models, created by Tamir Ashman, as a game tool for teaching geometry, presented at the exhibition. 


For almost three years, since the first international conference, Groysman and Tatiana Kravchuk have been working to seek out and locate world renowned scientists, engineers and artists, who integrate the various cultures - engineers and scientists who are engaged in art and artists who are inspired by engineering, science and technology. The next step, which was more difficult, was to convince them to attend the international conference, with ‘crazy people’ like themselves, and to share their ideas, researches, studies and achievements with one another. Moreover, they were asked to attend this conference at their own expense. Their efforts were not in vain. Eighteen people from the three cultures accepted their invitation and attended the conference in Tel Aviv, in the midst of a turbulent period, when visitors were hesitant to travel to Israel.

Shared Roots and Similar Goals
The conference, which was scheduled to be headed by Nobel Prize Laureate for Chemistry, Prof. Dan Shechtman, who spoke at the first conference in 2011 on the subject of “The Beauty of Soap Bubbles”, was held without him. It was dedicated to the memory of two distinguished Israeli scientists, who were also involved in artistic fields. One is the late Prof. Dror Sadeh, a world renowned physicist, nuclear physics lecturer at Tel Aviv University, who was the director of Israel’s Space Agency, who died in 1993. Sadeh, who was also a publicist who wrote articles in Israeli newspapers, was a poetic soul, who integrated art with technology on a practical basis, when he combined plants and flowers in the sculpture that he designed from Plexiglas. At the beginning of the conference, his widow, Haya Sadeh, said that he was inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote - Imagination is more important than knowledge. 
The second person is the late Michael (Mike) Radnor, a professor of Management and Organization, founder and director of the Northwestern University’s Center for Technology and Innovation in Chicago. He was a member in the committee that organized the conference and was scheduled to participate; however, he passed away two months before the conference. Born in London, the 81-year old Radnor, an expert in organizational management, integrated science and art in the research studies he conducted in the field of artistic management.

Alec Groysman, who opened the conference, said in his opening statement: “The idea at the basis of this conference is that science, technology and art have common roots and on occasion, similar goals and problems. Despite the conference’s title, it is clear to me that we would not immediately find all the answers to the questions we set for ourselves at the outset.  I beg of each of the participants not only to present your work, but also to explain how and where they see the interrelations between science, technology and art.”

The first lecture was given by Prof. of Chemistry, Jin Bih-Yaw, of the Chemistry Department at the National Taiwan University.  Among his fields of expertise is the field of quantum chemistry, where he is engaged in the planning and design of sculptures of molecular models using colorful beads connected using mathematical formulas.  His lecture was on the subject of “Where Science Meets Art” or “The Wonderful Journey to the World of Molecular Beads.” After he briefly introduced the conference participants to the academic world of Taiwan, Prof. Jin reviewed the history of molecular models, starting with the first beaded model of the methane molecule built by Dutch chemist, Jacobs van ‘t Hoff, using beads and rods in 1874. Today, models are made of complex molecular structures using hundreds of beads and 3-dimensional printing, where the beads represent the molecule’s electrons.  The creative artistic models of molecules also serve as models for building structures with amazing forms, such as the Art Tower in the city of Mito, in Japan. Professor Jin Bih-Yaw presented the conference participants some complex beaded molecular models that he built with his students and ended his lecture with a tip:  “Study the Science of Art!  Study the Art of Science !”
In the photo on the right: Prof. Jin Bih-Yaw of the Taiwan National University’s Chemistry Department, presents molecular models that he built using colorful beads connected using mathematical formulas.

Mathematicians’ Jokes
The funniest lecture at the conference was given by Prof. Dirk  Huylebrouck, from Belgium. Huylebrouck, a mathematician and member of the Architecture Faculty at Brussels Sint Lukas University, who worked for 12 years as a mathematics lecturer at universities in Bukavu and Kinshasa in the Congo, is also a musician.  He uses music and modern technological methods, and even food, in order to teach mathematics.  At the conference he spoke on the question:  “Is Mathematics Funny?” - Judging by his lecture, mathematics can bring on huge waves of laughter.  After he expanded on what he would not cover in his lecture, in a humoristic fashion, he illustrated how he was destined to become a mathematician from birth, since the mathematical constant π = 3.14, which represents the constant ratio between the circumference of a circle to its diameter, has taken over his entire life and everything related to him.  The numerical value of his name equals 3.1415926535, the number of his car starts with the numbers 314, when he stays in a hotel in a foreign city he is assigned room number 314 and even on his Facebook page he has 314 friends.  Huylebrouck also explained how his life was saved in the Congo thanks to mathematics:  One day he was captured by a gang of rebels and after they checked out his identity, their leader said “He’s not dangerous!  He’s a mathematician!” and let him go.  Huylebrouck ended his lecture with a list of jokes about mathematicians: “Two zeros went on a walk and saw the number 8 on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street.  One of the zeros says to the other: “Look what a tight belt he has!” His friend answered: “How are they not embarrassed to do that on the street?”  Then the first loser said: “They are Siamese twins!”  When the world was created there were only two number ones. When they had a baby, one number one said to the other:  “It’s impossible!  We’re already 3!”  “In short,” summarized Huylebrouck, “the goal of mathematics is to enable its students to pass the test!” 
In the photo on the left: Prof. Dirk  Huylebrouck, from Belgium

The subject of Dr. Aleck Groysman’s lecture on the second day of the conference was also “Humor in Science, Engineering and Art.”  He analyzed humor on a macro level in these fields, its origin and gave examples of its use in teaching science, engineering and art.

One of the famous women in the World, Sofia Polgar, teacher and artist from Tel Aviv has an amazing life story. During her childhood, she was one of three Jewish-Hungarian child prodigies, who became chess champions, thanks to the acting methods taught to them by their parents when they were children. Her father, Laszlo  Polgar, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, wrote a book called “Bringing Up Genius!” in his twenties, and he implemented it when raising three chess genius daughters who won world championships.  Sofia, the middle daughter, won the women’s chess Olympic gold medal twice.  She is the only sister of the three to move to Israel and she studied design and graphics at the Tel Hai College.  She currently is an illustrator and artist. Together with her sister, Judit, she wrote the book “Chess Castle”, designed to teach children the principles of chess through a fairytale, and to encourage creative thought. At the conference, Sofia lectured on this book as a platform for teaching chess to children. She wrapped up her lecture by saying: “Scientists and chess artists have the same basic fundamentals - curiosity - information gathering, analytic abilities, complex situations, problem solving ability, motivation, ability for abstract thought, and drawing conclusions.”
In the photo on the right: Sofia Polgar, teacher and artist from Tel Aviv.  

A Culture of Order Amidst a Lack of Order
Prof.Vladimir Petrov, graduate of the Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics (MESI), editor of the Experimental Aesthetics journal, is currently retired and living in Moscow.  At the conference, he lectured on theoretical research he conducted on the subject of integrating art and science: Blind Alchemist Search or Systemic Informational Strategy?   The study’s conclusion, which included mathematical formulas - is that it is possible to bridge the unbridgeable gap between the two cultures - science and art.
In the photo on the left: Prof.Vladimir Petrov

Mathematician, Akio Hizume of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Informatics, Ryukoku University, Shiga, Japan, describes himself as a ‘Geometric Artist’,  whose work is based primarily on the Fibonacci Series, a series in which the first two numbers are 1 and 1, or 0 and 1, depending on the chosen starting point of the sequence, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two; on the Gold Ratio, which is a mathematical constant, an irrational number that is of interest to both science and art for hundreds of years, and on the Penrose Sequence, which is tiling created by a non-cyclical set of tiles, i.e. tiles of different shapes or measurements. Akio Hizume, who studied technology at the Kyoto Handcrafts and Textile College, is currently an architect who plans buildings primarily made of bamboo sticks. He considers the Golden Ratio to be more than just aesthetic symmetry or celestial proportion, and he searches for the scientific function in the existence of nature. During the past 20 years, he has created and built ‘woven baskets’ or ‘Starcages’ using bamboo sticks and composes music for them using the Golden Ratio. In his lecture, accompanied by the monument models that he designed, which are on display at almost every important museum in Eastern Asia, Hizume explained that he considers his monuments to be artistic creations based on the geometry of crystals, including the quasi-cyclical geometry of crystals discovered by Prof. Dan Shechtman. He explained that the complex models he designs are the result of mathematical calculations based on the music beat of the Golden Ratio. The miniature models of his creations, which he presented to the conference participants, were received with great enthusiasm. 
In the photo on the left: Mathematician, Akio Hizume of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Informatics, Ryukoku University, Shiga, Japan

Organizational Management as a profession is perhaps not defined as art, but in the opinion of mechanical and aeronautic engineer, Giora Shalgi, it is no less important than any other art form. Shalgi worked at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., in different management positions for 45 years. He was the director of the company’s Missile Division; and subsequently from 1998-2004, he served as the CEO, bringing the company to record achievements.  For this he was awarded two Israel Defense Prizes and the Bergman Prize for Technological Infrastructure.  During his lecture at the conference, entitled: Art and Technology Relations - Rafael's Case Study, Shalgi described the history of Rafael from its inception in 1948 to the period in which he served as CEO. He explained his management philosophy, aimed at encouraging creative innovation in order to serve an organization that needed to operate as a well-oiled machine. There is seemingly a contradiction here.  So how  is it done?  “Through a culture of order amidst a lack of order”, explained Shalgi. “Creative organization must implement a culture, which offers room for revolutionary innovation that will serve the future of the organization. A considerable number of Rafael engineers are creative engineers, who by nature are artists, who have brought artistic values to the organization such as passion and the courage to swim against the tide,” says Shalgi. “Most of Rafael’s success was created by these engineers. In order to manage them, there was a need for three organizational tools - ambitious goals, aiming toward organizational excellence and organizing patterns of creative people with courageous innovation. It took us ten years of hard work to turn a good organization into an excellent organization; but it was well worth the effort. We encouraged all the organization’s managers to encourage innovation, to be patient with those who swam against the tide, and to be aware that courage also necessitates failures, which can be used as opportunities for learning.”
In the photo on the right:mechanical and aeronautic engineer, Giora Shalgi

Eva Gyarmathy, is a psychotherapist, senior researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology of the Hungarian Academy in Budapest. Most of her research focuses on multiple exceptional gifted individuals with learning disabilities such  as ADhD, autism and dyslexia. She lectures on these subjects at the Budensis University in Budapest and at the Szeged University.  Her lecture at the conference dealt with “ Science, Art and Critical Thinking in the Digital Age.” “The world in which we live changes quickly, and together with the changes, the human brain changes as well,” she said. “The telephone is ‘smart’ and the information is held in one’s hand more than in the brain.  It appears that machines can think like people, and successfully pass the Turing Test (a test that measures machine’s artificial intelligence), while approximately one third of children are diagnosed with neurological disabilities.  We are at the threshold of a cultural change. The age of ignorance is finished and the digital age has begun, presenting us with new challenges.” In this age, critical thinking is in control, claims Eva Gyarmathy. “Critical thinking is the combination of creative and strategic thinking. However, while the environment and culture are changing, education continues to remain as it was in the 14th century. The use of art, board games, and social situations are necessary in order to develop critical thinking. Only the cooperation between science, art and an innovative approach can release human thinking from the burden of the previous era and protect our children from psychiatric disabilities.”
In the photo on the right: Eva Gyarmathy,a psychotherapist, senior researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology of the Hungarian Academy in Budapest 

Exhibition - “Art in the Eyes of Scientists and Engineers - Science and Technology in the Eyes of Artists”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




At the exhibition that was held at the same time as the lectures at the conference, Dr. Eran Gilat’s surreal photographs attracted most of the attention.  These were staged photographs of various devices and tools alongside human organs, such as brains, hearts and livers, or bodies of animals such as octopi, fish, ibexes and birds.  Eran Gilat is a scientist engaged in neurobiology and imaging.  In addition, he is a photographic artist, who expresses his scientific work in impressive artistic photographs.His lecture at the conference was entitled: “What Does Novel Research of the Brain Tell Us About The Mysteries of Our Visual Aesthetic Experience? The Animal Reminder Genre in the Visual Arts as a Point of Reference.” In his lecture, Dr. Gilat explained that as a scientist who has been engaged for many years in the study of the human brain, and as an artist, he is trying to examine using his photography, the significance of recent brain research on our visual experience, when viewing and evaluating art.
In the photo on the left: Dr. Eran Gilat, a scientist who studies the brain and an artist, expresses both in his photography.
In the photo above: A picture of Dr. Eran Gilat, presented at the exhibition.

The lithography pictures by Antal Vásárhely from Hungary “The game with symmetry and asymmetry”, different models by Bih-Yaw Jin from Taiwan, Akio Hizume from Japan and, Tamir Ashman, Israel, attracted many attendees for interest and discussion. 



 

 








 

 



The Police Inspector General who became an Artist

There is not enough time to review all the amazing lectures of the scientists, engineers and artists who took part in the conference.  They ranged from the lecture given by the French Jewish Artist - Jean-Paul Courchia on - “The Painter’s Doubts: from Balzac to Ramachandran” (an important Indian scientist engaged in the fields of biology, physics and biochemistry), and a lecture by Rafi Peled, the 11th Inspector General of the Israel Police Forces, and later the CEO of the Israel Electric Company, who became an artist and sculptor who exhibits his artistic creations at many exhibitions in Israel and overseas. At the conference he spoke on “The Color of Rust is the Swan Song of the Material”.  They and dozens of other lecturers indicated in their lectures that the connections between sciences, technology and art are very close, and they should be demonstrated, cultivated and reinforced as educational, cultural and social methods.
In the photo on the left: Rafi Peled, the 11th Inspector General of the Israel Police Forces, and later the CEO of the Israel Electric Company, who became an artist/

It is important to note that no other Israeli institution or academic, technological or artist organization agreed to take on the organization and hosting of such a unique international conference, which would have such an important impact on the development of creativity among the next generation of scientists, engineers, architects and artists.The Association of Engineers, Architects and Graduates in Technological Sciences in Israel is the only Israeli organization that agreed to meet this challenge and organize and host this important and fascinating international event, under its sponsorship.
   

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