Monday, July 25, 2016

Event 3: The Griffith Observatory

               In complete contrast to the Getty Center, the Griffith Observatory focused mainly on space science and physics rather than art. Even though this museum did not possess any traditional artworks, it did emphasize the natural beauty found within the universe and the technology capable of seeing these wonders.


A photograph showing me next to a model of a telescope at the observatory. 


               To begin with, there were several images of the sun and electromagnetic waves that were spectacular to look at in the museum. Against one wall, there was a huge array of pictures showing the range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The museum did an impressive job with the display by placing a starry backdrop behind each of the different waves of light. This display took an idea that can be found in any physics textbook and shaped it into a work of art. Similarly, there was a small gallery dedicated to sunspots. Images and videos lined the walls, creating another beautiful spectacle. In particular, there was one shot that created a mosaic of the ultraviolet waves found on the sun’s surface. The mix of different hues provided a new and stunning perspective of the sun.


  
The left picture shows the display with the electromagnetic waves, while the right picture is the mosaic image of the sun[1].


               Of course, being at the observatory meant that I had to go to one of the planetarium shows. The show was called Centered in the Universe, and it was amazing to see all of the stars and planets without any clouds or pollution blocking the view. The show even mentioned Galileo and Copernicus as having a major influence on modern astronomy, which was similar to what we learned in lecture[1]. The great part about this show was how it was able to seamlessly transport everyone to a world beyond our own.


  
The planetarium did not allow any photos so I took one of my ticket and another of a sign advertising the show.


               Out of all of the displays, the best one that served to bridge the gap between art and science had to be the camera obscura. In a dark room, the image of the area surrounding the Griffith was projected on to a round table. Apparently, these types of devices were used by astronomers to observe the sun and by artists to trace images. The dual nature of this instrument provided a link to both the art and science communities even though it was used for different purposes. When I saw this apparatus at work, it made me realize how much these two disciplines could gain by collaborating together.


A photograph of the camera obscura overlooking Los Angeles.


               This was my first time at the Griffith Observatory, and the place did not disappoint. The museum was smaller than expected, but it managed to cram so much beauty and technology into that single building. More importantly, though, it reinforced many of the concepts from the space lectures by being able to see close-up images and videos of the universe.



Sources:

1. Vesna, Victoria. "Space Exploration and Art: Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 29 July 2013. Web. 25 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZIqTR332l8>.

Photographs:

1. TRACE / Stanford Lockheed Institute for Space Research / NASA Small Explorer Program. Image of the Corona. N.d. Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Event 2: The Getty Center

               While my experience at the Getty Center was enjoyable, the exhibits that I saw did not reflect much science and technology. Primarily, the museum seemed to lean more towards traditional art, sculpture, and photography. Nevertheless, there were a few aspects about the Getty worth mentioning that combined art and science to a certain degree.


A picture showing the arrival of the tram at the Getty.


               Surprisingly, the most technological parts about the Getty were not inside the exhibits themselves. Upon arrival, the tram created an illusion that there was going to be some sort of technology integrated within the museum. Even though it was not technically art, the tram did provide a nice introduction to the museum along with a nice view of the surrounding area. At the tram’s arrival plaza, there was a sculpture known as Martin Puryear’s That Profile (1999). Although it was standing right in plain sight, it could be easily overlooked since it was not part of a specific exhibit. The wired metal structure reminded me of the tensegrity ones described in the readings[1]. It did not possess the same symmetry, but it seemed to be engineered in a way that played with the ideas of tension and compression.


This structure is That Profile made by Martin Puryear in 1999[1].


               A majority of the exhibits, though, showcased older European art. Despite the fact that these pieces did not focus on neither science nor technology, they did show concepts related to mathematics. Most notably, Gerrit van Honthorst had a strong sense of perspective in his ceiling painting A Musical Group on the Balcony (1622). To see it, my group and I had to crane our necks backwards to see a number of faces returning our gazes. Personally, I thought that this was an interesting take on the use of perspective. Instead of doing a general landscape, the artist used a vanishing point directed up towards the sky. By doing so, his painting left a lasting impression in my mind.


A photo of Gerrit van Honthorst's A Musical Group on the Balcony[2].


               Unfortunately, the one exhibit that did have the most relevance to this class restricted the use of videos and photographs. The exhibit was called Electric, and it displayed a number of photographs dealing with electronics. The Study on How Men Walk, Man Wired with Lights, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. (1946) by Gjon Mili seemed to touch upon the idea of cyborgs[2]. The frame-by-frame shots of the legs can even lend itself well in creating better electronic prosthetics and humanoid robots. On the other hand, Kunie Sugiura’s After Electric Dress A Positive 4 brilliantly showed the beauty of wearable electronics. The lights on the dress created a dazzling display against the black silhouette. Finally, Naoya Hatakeyama utilized the most technology in his work Maquettes/Light #5806 by placing a light box behind his portrait. This effect made these standard photos literally shine, which contributed to the realism of the piece. Altogether, this exhibit was the highlight of my visit with its deeper connection to art and technology (as well as my major).


No description of this image is available.    

    
The pictures of Mili's The Study on How Men Walk, Man Wired with Lights, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. (upper left)[3]Hatakeyama's Maquettes/Light #5806 (lower left)[4], and Sugiura’s After Electric Dress A Positive 4 (lower right)[5] are all taken from the internet. My proof of attendance next to the poster of the exhibit at the Getty is also shown (upper right).


               For the purpose of this class, there seemed to be less of a focus on the union between art and science at the Getty Center compared to other places like LACMA. This did not result in a bad experience, though. As a matter of fact, I quite liked the Getty’s aesthetic atmosphere, and I was still able to make several insights about the artworks. 



Sources:

1. Ingber, Donald E. "The Architecture of Life." Scientific American Jan. 1998: 48-57. Print.

2. Vesna, Victoria. "Robotics: Part 2." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAZ8bo9T_Pk>.


Artworks:

1. Puryear, Martin. That Profile. 1999. The Getty Center, Los Angeles.

2. Van Honthorst, Gerrit. A Musical Group on the Balcony. 1622. The Getty Center, Los Angeles.

3. Mili, Gjon. The Study on How Men Walk, Man Wired with Lights, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. 1946. The Getty Center, Los Angeles. The J. Paul Getty Museum. J. Paul Getty Trust. Web. 23 July 2016. <http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/248277/gjon-mili-study-on-how-men-walk-man-wired-with-lights-walter-reed-hospital-washington-dc-american-1946/>.

4.  Hatakeyama, Naoya. Maquettes/Light #5806. 1995. The Getty Center, Los Angeles. Taka Ishii Gallery. Taka Ishii Gallery. Web. 23 July 2016. <http://www.takaishiigallery.com/en/archives/1355/>.

5. Hatakeyama, Naoya.  After Electric Dress A Positive 4. 2002. The Getty Center, Los Angeles. The J. Paul Getty Museum. J. Paul Getty Trust. Web. 23 July 2016. <http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/focus_electric/>.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Week 5: Space + Art

               Whereas nanotechnology is too small to be seen, space is much too vast to be perceived entirely. To put it into perspective, astronomer Carl Sagan has mentioned that “our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark,”[1]. High-rise buildings and egos may be massive on Earth, but they are nothing in comparison to the ever-increasing boundaries of the universe.


Carl Sagan's analysis in his book A Pale Blue Dot shows how Earth is small in relation to the universe[1].

               Due to the sheer size of space, it has been a huge domain for artists and scientists to explore. The Hubble Space Telescope is one innovation that has brought distant galaxies to our doorsteps.  Created in 1990, this telescope has revealed many mysteries about the universe (age of the universe, discovery of dark energy, etc.) to scientists[2], but at the same time, it does so in an artistic way. Many of the images taken from the Hubble are surprisingly colorful against the black background of space. Moreover, they showcase the mystical beauty found within nature in the way that the interstellar clouds produce ghostly projections surrounded by bright lights. The Hubble’s work is not even done yet as it still continues to take pictures of distant galaxies to this very day[3].


A video of a 3D image taken from the Hubble Telescope[2].


               When scientists and artists are not looking at the sky for answers, they are writing and drawing their ideas about how mankind can further explore space. Science fiction has hugely popularized space exploration in shows such as Star Trek and movies like Star Wars. Books have also played an important role by inspiring many scientist to make these dreams into reality. For instance, Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountain of Paradise (1976) mentions the idea of a space elevator from Earth to the moon. This idea has inspired David Smitherman to start plans for this project in real life using nanotubes and robot climbers[4]. From these examples, it is possible to see the interconnection between art and science. Art is helping scientists to imagine the possibilities, while science is giving artists new insights to work with. Possibly, since space is so large, there is enough room for artists and scientists to collaborate together.


Conceptual art for what a space elevator might look like[3].


               Even though space can be looked at through a telescope or described in a novel, it still has ways to go before it can be reached by the general public. An astronaut alone needs either three years of professional experience or one thousand hours of piloting. This does not even include the other conditions, which include 20/20 vision and a blood pressure less than 140/90 in sitting position[5]. These requirements are strict because there have already been several casualties in space travel such as the Space Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Columbia incident in 2003[6]. These tragedies overall paint a grim picture of being trapped inside space shuttle, isolated from the rest of the world. One day, space travel might be safe enough for everyone, but until then, exploration needs to be left for satellites and dreams.


The tragedy of the Space Challenger continues to remind people about the dangers in space travel[4].


               In the end, Carl Sagan is right in saying that the universe is huge. However, with some technology and a little imagination, the vastness of space can be comprehended and observed by human beings. 



Sources:

1. Sagan, Carl. "Pale Blue Dot Quotes." Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., n.d. Web. 22 July 2016. <https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1816628-pale-blue-dot-a-vision-of-the-human-future-in-space>.

2.  "Hubble Essentials." Hubble SiteSpace Telescope Science Institute (STScI), n.d. Web. 22 July 2016. <http://hubblesite.org/about_us/>.

3. Jäger, Mathias. "Space... The Final Frontier." Hubble Space Telescope. ESA, 21 July 2016. Web. 22 July 2016. <http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1615/>.

4. Vesna, Victoria. "Space Exploration and Art: Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 29 July 2013. Web. 22 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZIqTR332l8>.

5. Howell, Elizabeth. "How To Become An Astronaut." Space.com. Purch, 7 May 2014. Web. 22 July 2016. <http://www.space.com/25786-how-to-become-an-astronaut.html>.

6. Vesna, Victoria. "Space Exploration and Art: Part 4." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 30 May 2012. Web. 22 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAZ8bo9T_Pk>.


Images/Videos:

1. Pale Blue Dot. N.d. Pale Blue Dot. Pale Blue Dot. Web. 22 July 2016. <http://palebluedotltd.com/about/>.

2. Flight to Star Cluster Westerlund 2YouTube. Hubble Space Telescope, 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5MwOCgzQ6M>.

3. Cain, Fraser. What Is a Space Elevator? Digital image. Universe Today. Fraser Cain, 23 Dec. 2015. Web. 22 July 2016. <http://www.universetoday.com/105441/what-is-a-space-elevator/>.

4. Challenger: The Science of a Space Shuttle Disaster. N.d. Time. Time Inc., 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 July 2016. <http://time.com/4196145/space-shuttle-challenger-disaster-science/>.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Week 5: NanoTech + Art

               Most of the time, the sciences and arts are categorized as visual experiences. Scientists need to see proof from their experiments, whereas artists have to interpret artworks and performances visually. However, this week’s lectures have shown that nanotechnology is changing this perception by introducing a new medium that cannot be seen with the naked eye.


 
A scanning tunneling microscope such as the one pictured gives people a look into the nanoscopic universe[1][2].


               Although the idea of nanotechnology may have been thought of by Richard Feyman in 1959[1], the real geniuses who brought this small world into reality are Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer. Their scanning tunneling microscope (STM) uses touch rather than sight in order to detect atomic structures[2]. In many ways, this duo can be credited for the revolution of nanotechnology. With this microscope alone, a new world opened up for scientists and artists alike. As Vesna and Gimzewski perfectly describe it, the STM is a “paradigm shift from seeing, in the sense of viewing, to tactile sensing[3].

               When hearing about the STM in lecture, I instantly remembered a movie called A Boy and His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie that my electrical engineering professor showed me last year. Before this time, I did not even realize that the experience of “seeing” atoms was possible. In this movie, though, real atoms are moved around using a STM to create fluid images of a boy doing various activities[4]. Even though the images are childish at best, the fact that art is being made out of atoms is truly remarkable. It is even more astounding when one realizes that these atoms are not being seen in the typical sense. This brings the experience to whole another level, giving an illusion that atoms can be easily manipulated by human beings. Similar to the boy in the movie being able to do just about anything, the real message from this movie is showing that there are endless possibilities when it comes to nanotechnology.


A team at IBM made this short video with atoms[3].


               Innovation with nanotechnology does not just stop with art. It can also be used in the field of medicine. From quantum dots that locate diseases to nanotubes that kill tumors[5][6], nanotechnology is a driving force behind better treatments for patients. However, like all nanotechnology, it cannot be seen in a physical sense. This might be actually more beneficial since it makes these type of instruments less intrusive. Rather than having a hulking machine harm the body, nanotechnologies can seamlessly blend in with the body’s natural composition of cells and proteins. This natural change associated with nanotechnology can be the key to curing all sorts of difficult diseases like cancer.


A digital image showing how nanotechnology can be used to treat diseases[4].


               In summary, the arrival of the STM in nanotechnology made it possible for new advancements in the arts and medicine. Despite the fact that these innovations may never be physically looked at, their impact can still resonate within a person’s body and mind. Sometimes, the true beauty of art and science lies in what is unseen rather than what is seen.  



Sources:

1. Gimzewski, James K. "Introduction to Nanotechnology for Artists: Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 21 May 2012. Web. 20 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7jM6-iqzzE>.

2. Gimzewski, James K. "Introduction to Nanotechnology for Artists: Part 2." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 21 May 2012. Web. 20 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEp6t0v-v9c>.

3. Gimzewski, Jim, and Victoria Vesna. "The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact & Fiction in the Construction of a New Science." Victoria Vesna. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2016. <http://vv.arts.ucla.edu/publications/publications/02-03/JV_nano/JV_nano_artF5VG.htm>.

4. A Boy And His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie. YouTube. IBM, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSCX78-8-q0>.

5. Gimzewski, James K. "Introduction to Nanotechnology for Artists: Part 4." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 21 May 2012. Web. 20 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHCuZetAIhk>.

6. "Nanotechnology in Medicine - Nanomedicine." Understandingnano.com. Hawk's Perch Technical Writing LLC, n.d. Web. 20 July 2016.


Images/Videos:

1. UTA NanoFab. The Scanning Tunneling Microscope. N.d. IBM 100. IBM. Web. 21 July 2016. <http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/microscope/>.

2. Schematic View of an STM. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scanning_tunneling_microscope>.

3. A Boy And His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie. YouTube. IBM, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSCX78-8-q0>.

4. Murray, James J. Nanoparticles to Cure - And to Kill! Digital image. Prescription for Murder. N.p., 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 July 2016. <https://jamesjmurray.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/nanoparticles-to-cure-and-to-kill/>.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Week 4: Neuroscience + Art

               The brain is associated with everything related to art and science. Looking back at previous topics, it is really the brain that creates unconscious stereotypes of others or acts as the model for artificial intelligence. Unlocking the many mysteries of the brain pushes the realm of art and science beyond one's wildest dreams.


Salvador Dali, Park West Gallery
Salvador Dali's Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944) is one of many works that has ties to Freudian theory[1].


               Speaking of dreams, the influence of Freud’s psychoanalysis does play a pivotal role in the study of the mind in art and culture. His methods are archaic by today’s standards. Jung is even right to say that Freud focused too much on sexuality with ideas such as the Oedipus complex[1][2]. However, Freud is the one who really popularized the dream and the mind in society. He has brought many scientists to look inward instead of outward, and he has inspired the works for many Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali[3]. Even nowadays, his presence can be found in the critically acclaimed movie Inception by Christopher Nolan. This movie largely plays around with the ideas of unconscious desires and symbolism in dreams. Despite his influence, Freud's ideas of dreams are merely interpretations of thoughts, which do not say much about the brain itself.  


The movie Inception was hugely based on Freudian ideas about the unconscious[2].


               Instead of dreams, there are some who believe that certain drugs are the key to liberating the mind. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) created by Albert Hofmann is a popular choice for its hallucinogenic effects[4]. Based on a 1950’s government experiment, one artist known as whatafinethrowaway took 0.2 milligrams of LSD to create beautiful, yet haunting self-portraits[5]. These results show how the drug can breed a new type of creativity in a person by altering the mind. While this might be considered a positive for the drug’s use, it is overall highly dangerous from the government level to the public one. The government’s MK Ultra Project attempted to experiment with mind control using LSD, which resulted in many suicides[4]. On the other hand, the 2012 horror of Rudy Eugene eating off another man’s face was also caused by LSD ingestion[6]. As these instances show, drugs like LSD are not the ideal ways to discover more about the brain due to their serious consequences.


A video of the women's self-portraits after taking LSD[3]. 


               If dreams and drugs are not the answers to unlocking the secrets of the brain, what is? The answer really lies in neuroscience. Neuroscience is leading the charge to create new mind-blowing projects for artists and scientist alike. A great example can be found in Brainbow, a project in which neurons are colored with various fluorescent proteins[7]. The images look breathtaking, and they are colorful forms of artistry. At the same time, they show the many inner-workings of the brain that cannot be seen through dreams or LSD. In the end, it is truly neuroscience that has the ability to benefit both art and science. 


A picture of the hippocampus and cortex using Brainbow technology[4]



Sources:

1. Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience and Art Part 2: Unconscious Mind/Dreams." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 17 May 2012. Web. 15 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFv4owX3MZo>.

2. Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Oedipus Complex." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., n.d. Web. 16 July 2016. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oedipus-complex>.

3. "Freud’s Influence on Dali’s Surreal “Dream” Painting." Park West Gallery. Park West Gallery, n.d. Web. 16 July 2016. <https://www.parkwestgallery.com/freuds-influence-on-dalis-surreal-dream-painting/8948>.

4. Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience and Art Part 3: NeuroChemicals." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 16 May 2012. Web. 15 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5EX75xoBJ0>.

5. James, Emily. "Art on Acid: Illustrator Takes LSD before Spending NINE HOURS Drawing a Series of Increasingly-abstract Self-portraits to Demonstrate the Drug's Effect on Her Brain." DailyMail.com. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3217307/Art-acid-Illustrator-takes-LSD-spending-NINE-HOURS-drawing-series-increasingly-abstract-self-portraits-demonstrate-drug-s-effect-brain.html>.

6. Show, Cristine, and Louise Boyle. "First Picture: The Naked Man Who Ate the Face off Victim in Horror Attack While High on LSD before Being Shot Dead by Police." DailyMail.com. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 28 May 2012. Web. 16 July 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151098/Rudy-Eugene-Naked-man-eats-face-victim-high-LSD-police-shoot-Miami.html>.

7. Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience and Art Part 1: Consciousness/Memory." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 17 May 2012. Web. 15 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzXjNbKDkYI>.


Images/Videos:

1. Dali, Salvador. Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening. 1944. Park West Gallery, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid. Park West Gallery. Park West Gallery. Web. 16 July 2016. <https://www.parkwestgallery.com/freuds-influence-on-dalis-surreal-dream-painting/8948>.

2. 7 Layers of Inception. Digital image. THiNC. THiNC, 10 July 2010. Web. 16 July 2016. <http://taylorholmes.com/2010/07/20/7-layers-of-inception/>.

3. A Woman's Self Portrait before and after LSD. Perf. Whatafinethrowaway. YouTube. Troplr, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76yemnRduCA>.

4. Lichtman, Jeff. Hippocampus and Cortex. 2007. Center for Brain Science. Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. Web. 16 July 2016. <http://cbs.fas.harvard.edu/science/connectome-project/brainbow#>.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Week 4: BioTech + Art

               Based on the lectures, there seems to be a large amount of controversy associated with bioart. In particular, genetic engineering poses a huge dilemma on whether tampering with life’s code is being taken too far.

               When looking at an artist such as Eduardo Kac, there is some legitimacy to the claims that his fluorescent bunny does not serve much purpose. Although he tries to validate his art by saying how it creates a dialogue between professionals and the public on genetic engineering[1], the work still borders on being unethical since he did it just for the sake of art without much consideration for the bunny’s well-being. Moreover, the idea was not anything new since Japanese researchers did the same process for lab rats several years earlier[1]. If anything, this work makes it seem acceptable for the public to use transgenic art on other pets and animals.


ALBA
A picture of Eduardo Kac and his "GFP" bunny Alba[1]


               Kac is not the only offender of using genetic engineering to create controversy. Many big corporations are putting genetically modified organisms in their crops, which are starting to show its negative effects in recent years. In fact, studies show that there are already 18 million Americans who suffer from gluten insensitivity due to wheat hybridization and GMOs[2]. When greed and selfishness enter into biology, the outcomes can be harmful to many people. The well-being of others is not worth the cost of a genetically modified piece of corn.


A cartoon illustrating the unnatural effects of GMOs in food[2].


               Conversely, there are those who are actually making a positive impact through bioart and bioengineering. Artist Kathy High took retired lab breeder rats in an effort to make them feel healthy again by playing with them, feeding them, and cleaning them[3][4]. Her use of empathy for the rats makes her art seem much more altruistic compared to that of Kac. This is the type of bioart that many artists should aspire to: one that can be beneficial to someone or something.


              
Photographs of the breeder rats (left and right) and the facility used to take care of them (center)[3].


               Furthermore, a positive display of bioengineering comes from Anthony Atala’s group that grows human organs by using cells in the person’s body[5]. These intricate structures are almost like art pieces because they are carefully designed and crafted with technology. On the other hand, their work is also helping and saving lives in the process. Overall, this group is using the power of bioengineering to do some actual good in the world. The only controversial part about their studies is that there are not enough of them around.


A picture of a bladder structure being coated with cells[4].


               In order to end controversy, one simple remedy might be to use bioart and bioengineering in a way that can be helpful to either humans or nature. This is the reason why the latter examples of High and Atala are surrounded with little to no controversy. They are the artists and scientists who understand that life in art and science must be done with a lot of care and consideration. 



Sources:

1. Vesna, Victoria. "Biotechnology Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 13 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaThVnA1kyg>.

2. Sarich, Cristina. "18 Million Americans Suffer from GMO and Gluten Intolerance." Natural Society. Natural Society, 8 July 2014. Web. 13 July 2016. <http://naturalsociety.com/18-million-americans-suffer-gmo-gluten-intolerance/>.

3. High, Kathy. "Rat Care Manual." Embracing Animal. N.d. Web. 13 July 2016. <http://www.embracinganimal.com/ratcare.html>.

4.  Vesna, Victoria. "Biotechnology Part 3." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 17 May. 2012. Web. 13 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EpD3np1S2g>.

5. Atala, Anthony. "Anthony Atala: Growing New Organs." TEDMED. TED. TEDMED, Oct. 2009. Web. 13 July 2016. <https://www.ted.com/talks/anthony_atala_growing_organs_engineering_tissue#t-6010>.

6. Pollan, Michael. "POV | Food, Inc. | Interview with Michael Pollan | PBS." Interview. YouTube. PBS, 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 13 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ty0eehT8Y4>.


Images:

1. Alba. N.d. Potopov. By Potopov. 5 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 July 2016. <http://potopov.com/blog/index.php?tag/references>.

2. "Best to Avoid GMO's and Go Organic..." Pinterest. Pinterest, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016. <https://www.pinterest.com/peace4meman/hell-no-gmos-and-all-that-other-nastiness/>.

3. Embracing Animal. N.d. Kathy High. By Kathy High. Web. 13 July 2016. <http://kathyhigh.com/project-embracing-animal.html>.

4. Anthony Atala: Growing New Organs. N.d. TED. By Anthony Atala. TEDMED, Oct. 2009. Web. 13 July 2016. <https://www.ted.com/talks/anthony_atala_growing_organs_engineering_tissue#t-6010>.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Event 1: LACMA

               This past week, I went to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for the first time. I was expecting to see mostly traditional art. However, LACMA surpassed my expectations by intertwining art and science together into one cohesive medium. This museum seemed to be the epitome of the third culture recognized by Snow in his essay The Two Cultures: A Second Look (1963)1.

               While there were many impressive pieces, the first one that stood out to me was The Egg (1963) in the featured gallery by Agnes Martin. The piece is pretty self-explanatory since it is just a drawing of an egg with lines cutting it horizontally. However, when looking at the sketch she made beforehand, there seemed to have golden ratio within the egg’s design. Possibly, it was my brain overreacting to what I have seen during lecture. Nevertheless, my friend and I did try to guess and calculate to see if my suspicions were true.  Although it was almost impossible to verify without a ruler, this work beautifully illustrated the ideas of math and geometry behind art that are usually overlooked.   


Images of the sketch (left) and the final draft (right) for The Egg by Agnes Martin1.


               Another remarkable work that I came across was Metropolis II (2011) by Chris Burden. The huge display of toy cars and buses swirling around this model city brought me back to my own childhood when I used to play with Hot Wheels. Moreover, though, it was reminiscent to Flippo Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto, which talked about speed and acceleration being products of beauty2. The motion of the cars and buses mixed with the motorized sounds was chaotic, yet at the same time, it was mesmerizing to watch. Every angle and glance brought something different and new. By implementing technology such as DC motors and magnets, this work really captured the essence of a city lifestyle.


video 
A video of Chris Burden's Metropolis II is on the left, while a picture of me next to the exhibit is on the right2.


               The final artwork to be discussed was Michael Eden’s Innovo Vase (2016). This one was interesting in the fact that it not only blended art and science together, but it also combined traditional and contemporary art as well. Basically, Eden’s design was based on the Stowe Vase that had been reconstructed in 1774. However, instead of copying the vase completely, Eden used 3D printing to etch the illustrations from the older version. Thus, he reinvented how the vase looked using modern technology. It reminded me of the lectures on robotics and industrialism in art. Unlike Walter Benjamin’s views of technology destroying the art’s “aura”3, though, this work has its own unique personality by being a culmination of traditional art forms and recent technological innovations.
  

             
                           
                
These are photographs showing the Innovo Vase (top left)3 and the Stowe Vase (top right)4. The bottom images showcase some of the process for creating the Innovo Vase.


               Looking back, this course seemed to enhance my experience at LACMA. It was really neat to physically see how science and math is being used to break new ground for art. It also allowed me to notice how the gap between art and science is diminishing drastically as the years go by. Overall, I was able to make connections to the art that I would have never made prior to taking this class. 



Sources:

1. Vesna, Victoria. “Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between.” Leonardo 34.2 (2001): 121-25. Web. 11 July 2016.

2. Vesna, Victoria. "Robotics Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 11 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRw9_v6w0ew>.

3. Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.


Artwork:

1. Martin, Agnes. The Egg. 1963. The Elkon Gallery, LACMA, Los Angeles.

2. Burden, Chris. Metropolis II. 2011. The Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation, LACMA, Los Angeles.

3. Eden, Michael. Innovo Vase. 2016. LACMA, Los Angeles.      

4. Stowe Vase. 1774. William Randolph Hearst Collection, LACMA, Los Angeles.    

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Week 2: MedTech + Art

               When mixed with medical technology, art seems to have a much more personal effect with the body and self. A person looking at an abstract painting may feel some connection to the shapes and lines being shown. However, the experience is substantially different when the art is affecting a person physically. 


The inside of a head from one of the Body World exhibits (4).


               In my own personal experience, I saw the exhibition of Body Worlds when it came to the Bay Area several years ago. The art was surreal since the gallery was using actual bodies through plastination. Even though it was not necessarily me surrounded by glass and watchful eyes, it made me reflect on my own body and what my internal self really looks like. In many ways, it was similar to Casini’s idea of looking into a mirror. Although he was talking about MRIs, the same concept can be applied here. In my mind, I was taking that image of the person and seeing my own self in that body. 


The process of the plastination technique used for the Body Worlds exhibit (1).


               This idea of the self in association to medical technology and art also explains why many people hid their faces during Orlan’s live surgeries during the 1990’s. A woman in the documentary comments on how the audience reacted with horror to the performance even though they see and hear about so much violence on television. The experience is different, though, because many people are imagining themselves in Orlan’s situation and reacting to her face being sliced open. This phenomena is typically known as pain empathy (3), and the effects can be found in many recent movies such as 127 Hours (5). Most likely, this feeling is found in art with medical technology due to the fact that the body is a commonly used medium in this art form.


This is a photograph of Orlan during one of her live surgeries (3).


               By bringing this type of self-reflection into art, medical technology can also be beneficial to a person. Diane Gromala uses virtual reality to treat pain by having the environments react to a person’s responses, while Virgil Wong creates apps to show one’s digital persona in the future in order to curb bad habits. In both cases, people are changing themselves for the better based on a visual stimulus. These technologies are again acting like mirrors for the users with the stimuli representing the people themselves. 


Virgil Wong is creating a digital persona to show a person's age based on health characteristics (2).


               Through these observations, medical technology appears to be bringing the art world closer to one’s own identity.



Sources:

1. Casini, Silvia. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as MIrror and Portrait: MRI Configurations between Science and the Arts. N.p.: Johns Hopkins UP and the Society for Literature and Science, 2011. Print.

2. Gromala, Diane. "TEDxAmericanRiviera - Diane Gromala - Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty." TEDxAmericanRiviera. YouTube. TEDx Talks, 7 Dec. 2011. Web. 1 July 2016.

3. Inglis-Arkell, Esther. "This Is How You Literally Feel Other People's Pain." io9. Gizmodo, 11 July 2014. Web. 2 July 2016. <http://io9.gizmodo.com/this-is-how-you-literally-feel-other-peoples-pain-1603076553>.

4. Orlan - Carnal Art (2001). Dir. Stephan Oriach. Perf. Orlan. YouTube. Myriapodus Films, 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 1 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no_66MGu0Oo>.

5. Rossen, Jake. "7 Movies That Sent People Running Out of Theaters." Mental Floss. Mental Floss Inc., 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 2 July 2016. <http://mentalfloss.com/article/69377/7-movies-sent-people-running-out-theaters>.

6. TEDxAmericanRiviera - Diane Gromala - Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty. Perf. Diane Gromala. YouTube. TEDx Talks, 7 Dec. 2011. Web. 1 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRdarMz--Pw>.

7. Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep0M2bOM9Tk>.

8. Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine Part 3." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIX-9mXd3Y4>.

9. Virgil. Virgil Wong, n.d. Web. 2 July 2016. < http://virgilwong.com/>.


Images/Videos:

1. BODY WORLDS - The Plastination Technique. YouTube. Body Worlds, 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 2 July 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_8ZEW2CGKo>.

2. Digital image. Virgil. Virgil Wong, n.d. Web. 2 July 2016. <http://virgilwong.com/research/>.

3. N.d. English 114EM: Women Writers, 1650-1760. By Denee Pescarmona. 2003. Web. 2 July 2016.
<http://oldsite.english.ucsb.edu/faculty/ecook/courses/eng114em/surgeries.htm>.

4. N.d. Pinterest. Pinterest. Web. 2 July 2016. <https://www.pinterest.com/valeanette/gunther-von-hagensbody-worlds/>.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Week 2: Robotics + Art

               It cannot be argued that industrialization has changed the way that art is viewed and formed. From computers to robots, the way art is viewed today is not like how it was viewed a hundred, fifty, or even ten years ago. However, there are those such as Walter Benjamin who believe that art is losing its so-called “aura”, tradition, and uniqueness from these new advances (1). Although mass production has caused the traditional aspect to decline somewhat, it does not mean that this new age of art has loss anything special. Instead, it is just evolving like everything else in life.


The changing paradigm of art from traditional to digital (1).


               Film is one way in which art has evolved. Duhamel has criticized movies as “a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence” (1), but he seems to forget one critical element of art: emotion. Art may want people to think; however, it really wants them to feel as well. There are even studies from functional MRIs that show art eliciting emotions (2). Whether it be through thought or emotion, art is supposed to be something impressionable that people can take with them. Films do that in their very own way.


Films can elicit emotions similar to that of traditional art (2). 


               A great example that mixes the concepts of emotion, art, robotics, and film together is Disney’s Big Hero 6 (2015). It has both a touching story along with an innovative robot design found in Baymax. In fact, people working on the movie mainly based Baymax’s design on a developing technology called soft robotics at Carnegie Mellon University (4). By showing these new technologies through animation, this film is bringing robots and art even closer together. Much akin to Professor Kusahara’s description of a friendly humanoid robot, Baymax also shows a positive side to robots that is typically found in Japanese culture. In many respects, this viewpoint is displaying the pros of industrialization and robotics rather than the cons found in earlier movies like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). Despite what critics say, Big Hero 6 is art by captivating the audience’s hearts with the story and their imaginations with the robots.


Baymax from Big Hero 6 was inspired by actual robot designs and concepts (3).


               Even though art is evolving, it is not replacing traditional art entirely. To this day, many people “still bid wildly at auctions and employ armies of scholars to find the ‘original’,” (3). Art tends to utilize computer-generated animations or robots nowadays, but it is still considered art as long as it can convey meaning to the audience. 



Sources:

1. Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. N.p.: n.p., 1936 Print.

2. Clark, Josh. "Why Do Music and Art Move Us?" How Stuff Works. InfoSpace LLC, 13 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 June 2016. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/music-and-art-move-us1.htm>.

3. Davis, Douglas. “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction (An Evolving Thesis: 1991-1995).” Leonardo 28.5 (1995): 381-386. Web. 29 June 2016.

4. Davis, Lauren. "How Disney Will Make You Cry Again With Big Hero 6." io9. Gizmodo, 3 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 June 2016. <http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-disney-will-make-you-cry-again-with-big-hero-6-1630115219>. 

5. Kusahara, Machiko. "Robotics Machiko Kusahara 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 June 2016. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQZ_sy-mdEU>.

6. Vesna, Victoria. "Robotics Part 2." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAZ8bo9T_Pk>.


Images:

1. Kevin. Traditional-art vs Digital-art. Digital image. Deviant Art. Deviant Art, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. < http://chukadrawer.deviantart.com/art/traditional-art-vs-digital-art-181779589>.

2. N.d. Today. By A. Pawlowski. NBC News, 2 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 June 2016. <http://www.today.com/health/your-brain-movies-why-films-make-us-cry-flinch-cheer-1D80258284>

3. Walker, Alissa. Robots that Inspired Big Hero 6. Digital image. Gizmodo. Gizmodo, 6 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 June 2016. <http://gizmodo.com/8-real-life-robots-that-inspired-big-hero-6-1643663925>.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week 1: Math + Art

               Although science is largely based off of mathematics, art is typically not associated with math in the same way. However, as this week has shown, math and art are much more connected than I had previously thought.

              Take the golden ratio for example. This mathematical concept has played a major role in architectural achievements such as the Parthenon and the pyramids of Giza. Moreover, it can be found in nature. Most notable examples include shells or plants, but it can also be seen in the small structures of DNA and in the vast spiral galaxies of the universe. With the discovery of this ratio, artists had the ability to use this harmony found from nature and math in their own works.


 
These are a few natural examples that illustrate the golden ratio. 
(http://memolition.com/2014/07/17/examples-of-the-golden-ratio-you-can-find-in-nature/)


            Often times, math helps to shape the way artists perceive their world. For instance, before al-Haytham’s Book of Optics, art was drawn flat without much depth. However, the introduction of the vanishing point caused a new renaissance of art being more realistic, three-dimensional, and detailed. Leonardo’s Da Vinci’s The Last Supper illustrates this point by making the painting feel lifelike. The use of vanishing point enhances the focus of Jesus at the center. The Last Supper is also an important piece for its use of golden ratio, creating the natural harmony as noted earlier. It is iconic as it is fundamental in showing how natural elements and mathematics can be used to improve what the artist wants to convey.


    Da Vinci Last Supper showing golden ratio or phi proportions
     Da Vinci's The Last Supper uses both the golden ratio and the vanishing point.
(http://www.artmumble.com/2012/02/single-vanishing-point-in-leonardo-da.html, http://www.goldennumber.net/art-composition-design/)


             Beyond 2D and 3D perspective, math has also helped to explain the fourth dimension. As Abbott’s Flatlands shows, the fourth dimension can be argued by “the Argument of Analogy of Figures”. Even if it cannot be seen in the real world, it can be imagined in a metaphysical one. This idea would eventually find a scientific answer in Einsteinian relativity to create “four-dimensional images of an intricacy and accuracy never dreamed of” (Henderson), but this by no means made the artists’ contribution insignificant. Just the thought of the fourth dimension helped to shape new forms of art like cubism.


An example of what the fourth dimension looks like using computers. 
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract)


            Alone, math is just a set of numbers and calculations. However, it has become an essential tool for the arts and the sciences. Without it, art and science would be stagnate and unchanging. In the end, I realize that math improves these two disciplines to constantly reach new heights by finding hidden meanings within the world. 



Sources:

Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. 1884. Print.

Da Vinci, Leonardo. The Last Supper. 1495-1498. ArtMumble.com. 13 Mar. 2012. Painting. 25 June 2016. <http://www.artmumble.com/2012/02/single-vanishing-point-in-leonardo-da.html>.

"Examples of the Golden Ratio You Can Find in Nature." Memolition. 2014. Web. 25 June 2016.                     <http://memolition.com/2014/07/17/examples-of-the-golden-ratio-you-can-find-in-nature/>.

Frantz, Marc. Lesson 3: Vanishing Points and Looking at Art. 2000. Print.

Henderson, Lynda. “The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art.” Leonardo            17.3 (1984): 205-210. Web. 25 June 2016.

Meisner, Gary. "Golden Ratio in Art Composition and Design." Phi 1.618: The Golden Number. 4       May 2014. Web. 24 June 2016. < http://www.goldennumber.net/art-composition-design/>. 

Tesseract. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 June 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract>.

Vesna, Victoria. "Mathematics: Zero, Perspective, Golden Mean." YouTube. uconlineprogram. Lecture. 24 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMmq5B1LKDg>

Friday, June 24, 2016

Week 1: Two Cultures

               According to C.P. Snow in his lecture The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, there exists two different groups: the literary intellectuals and the scientists. As C.P. Snow puts it, the reason for this divide is caused by “mutual incomprehension – sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding”.


"The Two Cultures" - Science & The Arts
An illustration showing the two cultures mentioned by Snow.
(https://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/storyality-14b-creativity-the-missing-link-between-the-two-cultures/)


               As an electrical engineering major, I do notice the gap between those who partake in the arts rather than those who study the sciences. For instance, the UCLA campus is structured in a way that places the arts and humanities in the North and the sciences and engineering in the South. Other than my GEs, communication with the other “culture” is sparse. This divide is further fueled by the fact that there is a drastic contrast in architectural design between the two parts of campus.


     
South campus is shown on the left, while north campus is on the right.
(http://www.bruinsnation.com/2014/4/20/5631762/ucla-campus-report-size-isnt-everything-when-it-comes-to-biosensors, http://english.cntv.cn/20110704/104639_1.shtml)


               However, I see the two cultures as being something that is perpetuated by the ways of old. There have been many new ideas and innovations since Snow’s lecture in 1959 and UCLA’s opening of its Westwood campus in 1929. Nowadays, the two intellectual groups are merging into the “third culture” as Snow had predicted in his book The Two Cultures: A Second Look. One example in my major is a microcontroller called Lilypad. This microcontroller not only resembles a flower, but it also uses conductive thread instead of wires, allowing the creation of new wearable and artistic products. This is just one of many examples showing how engineering and design are already intertwined.


dsc02958_2.jpg     etrace
The Lilypad fuses together engineering with design.
(http://clemenswinkler.com/skin/?tag=arduino-lillypad,
https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/11/05/e-traces-creates-visual-sensations-from-ballerinas/#more-10470)


Personally, I am interested in electrical engineering involved with biotechnology such as electronic prosthetics. These prosthetic body parts are another great example illustrating the emergence of a third culture. Even though the technical components to these products are important, the design and look are also necessary for the consumer’s self-confidence and overall interest.


   
Japanese engineers from exiii try to create cool and affordable prosthetic arms. (http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japanese-start-up-revolutionizing-electronic-prosthetic-arms)


               Like Vesna, I do not entirely agree with Brockman’s claim that scientists “are taking the place of the traditional intellectual”. Instead, with greater technological advancements, the roles of the two cultures are being redefined. The scientist may come up with the initial innovation, but the artists are the ones making the product marketable for the consumers. Thus, the relationship between science and arts is becoming more symbiotic than ever before. Although the divide still persists at places such as UCLA, I believe that upcoming generations will continue to bridge this gap of misunderstanding.



Sources:

Achilles. South Campus. SB Nation. Vox Media, 20 Apr. 2014. Photograph. 23 June 2016. <http://www.bruinsnation.com/2014/4/20/5631762/ucla-campus-report-size-isnt-everything-when-it-comes-to-biosensors>.

Arduino. By Zoe Romano. Arduino, 5 Nov. 2014. Photograph. 23 June 2016.
           <https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/11/05/e-traces-creates-visual-sensations-from-ballerinas/#more-             10470>

Brockman, John. "The Third Culture." Edge. Edge Foundation, 1991. Web. 23 June 2016.                               <https://www.edge.org/conversation/the-emerging>.

CCTV. CCTV, 4 July 2011. Photograph. 23 June 2016 <http://english.cntv.cn/20110704/104639_1.shtml>

Clemens Winkler. By Clemens Winkler. 28 Feb. 2008. Photograph. 23 June 2016.
            <http://clemenswinkler.com/skin/?tag=arduino-lillypad>

Graham-Rowe, Duncan. "John Brockman: Matchmaking with Art and Science." Wired. 3 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 June 2016. < http://www.wired.co.uk/article/matchmaking-with-science-and-art>.

"History." UCLA. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.ucla.edu/about/history>

Nikkei Asian Review. By Masahiro Kamijo. Nikkei Inc., 13 Oct. 2015. Photograph. 23 June 2016.                  <http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Japanese-start-up-revolutionizing-electronic-                     prosthetic-arms>

Snow, Charles P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Cambridge UP, 1959.                  Print.

StoryAlity. By JT Velikovsky. 11 Dec. 2012. Photograph. 23 June 2016. <https://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/storyality-14b-creativity-the-missing-link-between-the-two-cultures/>

Vesna, Victoria. "Two Cultures: Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram. Web. 23 June 2016.  <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNI7dF3DIAM>.

Vesna, Victoria. "Two Cultures: Part 3." YouTube. uconlineprogram. Web. 23 June 2016.                                  <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FOEuxrwxd0>.

Vesna, Victoria. “Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between.” Leonardo 34.2 (2001): 121-25. Web.  23 June 2016.