25 Mar 2021 18:00 - 20:00 Online


The Cambridge LASER talks (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendez-vous) questions the separation and propagation of art and science as distinct categories of knowing and being. We ask, ‘What is creativity in science and the arts? What is experimental practice in art, science, or philosophy? Where do scientific and artistic attitudes, inquiries, methods overlap? How do they differ and complement each other? Can such understanding help shape our technological, urban, economic, and environmental futures for an ecologically and socially sustainable life and wellbeing.

The known world

Chaired by Satinder Gill, Chrysi Nanou and Prerona Prasad

In this Cambridge LASER, we bring together musicians, scientists, and data scientists to discuss the processes of creativity and discovery and analysis of environmental data. It is the first in a series that will address the concept of data: how we collect, perceive, analyse, construct, make sense of and translate data, in various thematic contexts.

This Cambridge LASER responds to a concert curated by musician and music psychologist Chrysi Nanou, entitled ‘The Known World’. It features works for piano, celetto and mixed media created using environmental data sets and sounds.

Four composers bring their distinct voices to raise awareness to ongoing environmental changes through sound and music, in particular, of three distinct locations unfolding their ecosystem: underneath the Arctic ice on the Alaskan coast, Svalbard coastline, and San Francisco’s Crissy Field. These pieces together create an instantly compelling palette, one that simultaneously combines current technologies with ideas, materials and traditions inspired by the natural world.

Electronic sounds mixed with water, ice crackling, animal cries, hand-made instruments and sonic objects along with a technologically reimagined piano and cello, create a kind of harmony with contrasting lyrical improvisations and the overhead whine, purr and rumble of the nearby urban environment.

Playlist: The Known Worlds


Satinder P. Gill
Cambridge LASER Chair
Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge, and Managing
Editor of AI & Society Journal

Welcome to the Cambridge LASER Series – Why the Art & Science of data?

Prerona Prasad
Cambridge LASER Co-Chair
Curator of the Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge

Introduction to the Heong Gallery

Chrysi Nanou – Cambridge LASER Co-Chair
Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge, and Centre for Music Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) Stanford University.
Nanou is a Performer, curator, lecturer and teacher of piano performance. Her work gives special emphasis to performance practices for today’s acoustic and electro-acoustic contemporary music.

Introducing The New World project and performing Iceprints, composed by Matthew Burtner

Matthew Burtner – Eleanor Shea Professor of Music in Composition and Computer Technologies, University of Virginia.
Co-director of Coastal Futures Conservatory, Director of the Alaska-based EcoSono non-profit organisation.

Composing Iceprints

The Metered Tide by Chris Chafe for celetto and tidal data

Chris Chafe – Director of Centre for Music Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), Duca Family Professor of Humanities and Science, University of Stanford.
Chafe’s works include gallery and museum music installations which are now into their second decade with “musifications” resulting from collaborations with artists, scientists and MD’s. Recent work includes the Earth Symphony, the Brain Stethoscope project (Gnosisong), PolarTide for the 2013 Venice Biennale, Tomato Quintet for the transLife:media.
Festival at the National Art Museum of China.
Composing The Metred TideTidal Mix — The Metered Tide

frostbYte – music by Daniel Blinkhorn

Aaron O’Connor – Director of the Arctic Circle Foundation (established in 2009), an artist and scientist-led annual expeditionary residency programme.

The Arctic Circle Foundation

Victoria Vesna – Artist and Professor in Design Media Arts, UCLA, Director of the Art|Sci Centre in the School of Arts and California NanoSystems Institute.
Vesna’s work involves long-term collaborations with composers, nano-scientists, neuroscientists, and evolutionary biologists. With her installations she investigates how communication technologies affect collective behaviour and perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation.

Noise Aquarium 

Richard Wolfson – Benjamin F. Wissler Emeritus Professor of Physics, Middlebury College, where he also taught in the Environmental Studies Program and at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey.
Wolfson’s research involves the Sun, climate change, and solar energy. Author of numerous books and textbooks including Energy, Environment, and Climate.

A conversation – Jonathan Impett and Chrysi Nanou reflect on the processes of composing and performing to data.

Jonathan Impett – Director of Research, Orpheus Institute, Gent, and Associate Professor at Middlesex University, London. Impett’s professional and research activities cover many aspects of contemporary musical practice, as trumpet player, composer and theorist.

Closing words: Prerona Prasad

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk