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.
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.
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.
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.