California Institute of the Arts
Critical Studies




The Tonal Ligand

Sid Samberg, John Pisaro, Greta Melcher, Nick Stahl, Christopher Vincent

Recent research suggests that complex interplay between ligands and receptors modulates behavioral changes in cells. The Tonal Ligand simulates this intercellular communication with musical concepts such as consonance and dissonance, rhythmic expression, and the majesty of jazz.

By demonstrating this biological phenomenon using sound, The Tonal Ligand can help simplify the learning process and at the same time provide new and exciting ways of understanding ligand molecules on a surface level.

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Douglas Goodwin

Douglas Goodwin is an interdisciplinary artist working in technology, artificial intelligence, and language systems. He makes videos, writings, performances, and machines that comment on media fidelity, convenience, and human desire. Notable works include “Kerouac Machine,” a Teletype that delivers occasional communications from Jack Kerouac and “Nonsense nor Sensibility,” a new novel by Jane Austen. Goodwin also works in film and video, notably a dreamy remix of the 1968 film “Bullitt” titled “Artifact #1 (Ford vs. Chevy)” and the “Lossless” series with Rebecca Baron. Lately, he has been collecting interviews on labor issues surrounding the production of color. See for more.




Michael Elowitz

Michael Elowitz is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering and Applied Physics at Caltech. Dr. Elowitz's laboratory has introduced synthetic biology approaches to build and understand genetic circuits in living cells and tissues. Elowitz developed the Repressilator, an artificial genetic clock that generates gene expression oscillations in individual E. coli cells, and since then has continued to design and build other synthetic genetic circuits for programming or rewiring cellular functions. Elowitz received his PhD in Physics from Princeton University, and did postdoctoral research at Rockefeller University. Honors include the HFSP Nakasone Award, MacArthur Fellowship, Presidential Early Career Award, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.