restricted access Scientific Delirium Madness 3.0
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Scientific Delirium Madness 3.0
Margot H. Knight, Executive Director, Djerassi Resident Artists Program

Scientific Delirium Madness (SDM) is a collaborative initiative of Leonardo/ISAST and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. At the heart of SDM is a monthlong residency that brings together artists and scientists at the Djerassi 585-acre retreat in the coastal Santa Cruz Mountains in California to explore and transform the boundaries of art and science. This Leonardo Gallery features a selection of Artist's Statements stemming from the 2016 SDM residency, 3 July–3 August.

There is never enough gratitude for the people and organizations that understand and take risks. Society's progress depends on it. For science and art, it is an indispensable part of the discovery process.

The Djerassi Resident Artists Program—30 days creating art in a wild and remote environment—has been a crucible for self-discovery and risk-taking for nearly 40 years. Scientific Delirium Madness, now entering its fifth year [1], has added another dimension to the risk-taking ventured here by 2,400 artists so far.

Four years ago, our organization deepened that crucible for risk by leaping into the unknown with Leonardo and artists and scientists who were immersing themselves in disciplinary practices beyond their training. This kind of "discipline boundary-bending" is part of our institutional DNA, in no small part because of our location in Silicon Valley and the artistic interests of our late founder, the eminent biochemist Carl Djerassi. Others, including the National Endowment for the Arts [2], the National Academies Future Keck Initiatives and private donors, also joined us.

Selected from more than 200 applicants and nominees, 11 artists and scientists [3] arrived here in July 2016. A biotechnologist, two biologists, a physicist and a geologist plunged themselves into the work of a visual artist, a media artist, a composer, a choreographer, a playwright and a poet. And vice versa. The boundaries between them ebbed and flowed. They wrote together, danced together and biohacked together. They ate together, shared living spaces, blogged about their experiences and offered their work to the public during our annual Open House/Open Studios. Ultimately, they created—together—new ways to think and talk about their practices. They left as lifelong friends and colleagues. They will change the world—we just don't know exactly how yet.

Please enjoy this glimpse into Scientific Delirium Madness 3.0. And whether you are an artist, a scientist, a teacher, a museum director, a philanthropist or a student, I hope you are inspired to create and support the kind of creative, unexpected collaborative thinking that catapults society forward.

Margot H. Knight, Executive Director, Djerassi Resident Artists Program


Dozens of people are responsible for the creation and sustenance of this initiative. I thank the Djerassi trustees, our colleagues at Leonardo/ISAST, the National Endowment for the Arts, Piero Scaruffi, Robert Buelteman, Roger Malina and the late Carl Djerassi for their steadfast support.

References and Notes

1. A list of the confirmed participants for SDM 2017, along with their biographies and those of past SDM residency participants, can be found at <>.

2. The project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which allows us to document and create presentations about the residency. To view the resulting Leonardo blog, visit <> or see <> for a PDF of the complete SDM blog postings, along with other documentation of the residency. A video created by Martin Meyer captures the spirit of the 2016 residency and can be seen at <>.

3. The participating artists and scientists were Laura Boudou, contemporary dancer and choreographer (Marseille, France); David Bowen, media artist (Duluth, MN); Asa Calow, creative technologist (Manchester, U.K.); Matteo Farinella, neuroscientist (New York, NY); John MacCallum, composer (Oakland, CA); Christine Metzger, geologist (San Francisco, CA); Teoma Naccarato, choreographer and interdisciplinary arts researcher (Montreal, Canada/London, U.K.); Juanita Rockwell, writer (Baltimore, MD); Hannah Star Rogers, poet and educator (Charlottesville, VA); Maja Spasova, visual artist (London, U.K./Berlin, Germany); Weidong Yang, physicist...