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.


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. <>.

4. Orlan - Carnal Art (2001). Dir. Stephan Oriach. Perf. Orlan. YouTube. Myriapodus Films, 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 1 July 2016. <>.

5. Rossen, Jake. "7 Movies That Sent People Running Out of Theaters." Mental Floss. Mental Floss Inc., 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 2 July 2016. <>.

6. TEDxAmericanRiviera - Diane Gromala - Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty. Perf. Diane Gromala. YouTube. TEDx Talks, 7 Dec. 2011. Web. 1 July 2016. <>.

7. Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine Part 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 July 2016. <>.

8. Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine Part 3." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 July 2016. <>.

9. Virgil. Virgil Wong, n.d. Web. 2 July 2016. <>.


1. BODY WORLDS - The Plastination Technique. YouTube. Body Worlds, 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 2 July 2016. <>.

2. Digital image. Virgil. Virgil Wong, n.d. Web. 2 July 2016. <>.

3. N.d. English 114EM: Women Writers, 1650-1760. By Denee Pescarmona. 2003. Web. 2 July 2016.

4. N.d. Pinterest. Pinterest. Web. 2 July 2016. <>.

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. 


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. <>.

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. <>. 

5. Kusahara, Machiko. "Robotics Machiko Kusahara 1." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 June 2016. <>.

6. Vesna, Victoria. "Robotics Part 2." YouTube. uconlineprogram, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 June 2016. <>.


1. Kevin. Traditional-art vs Digital-art. Digital image. Deviant Art. Deviant Art, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

2. N.d. Today. By A. Pawlowski. NBC News, 2 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 June 2016. <>

3. Walker, Alissa. Robots that Inspired Big Hero 6. Digital image. Gizmodo. Gizmodo, 6 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

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. 

            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.

             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. 

            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. 


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

Da Vinci, Leonardo. The Last Supper. 1495-1498. 13 Mar. 2012. Painting. 25 June 2016. <>.

"Examples of the Golden Ratio You Can Find in Nature." Memolition. 2014. Web. 25 June 2016.                     <>.

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. <>. 

Tesseract. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 June 2016. <>.

Vesna, Victoria. "Mathematics: Zero, Perspective, Golden Mean." YouTube. uconlineprogram. Lecture. 24 June 2016. <>