Monday, June 6, 2016

Event 4

Event 4

Poster for the event on the door leading inside.

        This week I went to the CNSI Presentation Room for the Art & Brain and MORPHO catalogue launch. This event was much more intimate than past ones I had been to for this class. The room was a little small and there were about 40 people in total which included Professor Vesna herself, other DESMA 9 students, and the artists, and scientists involved in the project. I actually had a chance to chat with Professor Vesna for a little before the introduction started and it was nice to finally meet the woman who I have been watching on video for the entire quarter! 

Me holding a sample copy of the book.

Professor Vesna providing an introduction for each the authors who collaborated for the book.

What is cool about the book that the event revolved around is that it is a complete collaboration of art and science. Artists and scientists joined forces in order to create this book and you could tell that it was a complete labor of love on all ends. There was even a first edition copy of the book that was put together by hand. Each person who had a part in the publishing of the book said a few words. One of the men who spoke was a neuro scientist who had been collaborating with artists for many years. He talked about how working with artists was an eye opening experience for him with what he could do in science. Art is a vehicle to communicate how science affects people and it is a good metaphor for a new way of thinking. He told us of how the federal budget for science keeps shrinking and how working with art could help find a new approach of science to make it more appealing and more understandable to people. I thought that this was a great perspective to think of art and science and how both branches can benefit from each other. To me the creation of this book is a great example of what amazing things science and art can do when they work together. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Event 3

Event 3

My friend Jake (who is also in DESMA 9) and I outside of the Broad Art Center.

This past week I went to an event at the Broad Art Center called Staring in the Age of Destruction (S.A.D.). Walking around the event was really cool because it was a showcase of all the senior’s final art projects. I am a political science major so I would never have an assignment like the ones that these art students had and I enjoyed seeing all of the different projects. You could tell that each student put an incredible amount of time and labor into their project and that each work had a very personal meaning to its creator. The showcase really did a great job of fusing art and science together. Every work was very unique but had some technological twist to tie it all together. 

Title slide for Danielle's piece.

Although all of the works were fantastic I was immediately drawn to a piece titled “I Just Want to Feel Like Myself Again” by Danielle Hollander. The work itself is a large projection of an image of a mask of a girl’s face with a wig of black hair. It actually had and entire wall so the girl’s face seemed to look over the entire exhibit. The projection was a loop of film of a face looking out hauntingly into an unknown space as her hair is being brushed. The face starts out completely normal and then distorts over time as acts of a daily beauty routine are carried out on it. The more the girl’s hair is brushed the more distorted her face gets and she looks as though she is suffocating. The large image of the distorted face overlooking the entire event was quite unsettling to me but I couldn’t look away. The inclusion of the video loop and the evolution of the girl’s face from normal to a suffocated plastic mask is a great example of how technology can be used to make art. I think that the video loop had a profound affect on how the piece was received by its audience. A single picture or painting wouldn’t have had the same emotional impact.

The piece as it first appears on the projection.

The piece at then end of the time loop appearing severely harmed after all of the beautification.

The preface to the art work.

The brief description of the work really stuck with me. The description title read “An exploration of rituals I perform in order to maintain body image. Over time, these rituals feel compulsive, suffocating, and monotonous. The more they are performed, the more detached I feel from myself and my image” (Danielle Hollander). This short preface from the artist is very relatable to me in my everyday life and to countless others. As I watched the face of the girl slowly become distorted over time as it went through its beauty routine I felt sad. Today’s society puts so much pressure on having the perfect appearance no matter the cost and often times the image we are seeking is unattainable. I felt that through this piece Danielle was trying to show us that seeking these unrealistic images will only lead to unfulfilled expectations and a lost sense of self. This work asks us to contemplate society’s values of beauty and to look to ourselves for what we think should be deemed beautiful. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Event 2 Blog

Event 2 Blog 

Me outside of the classroom that the lecture took place in.

Last week I attended Sam Wolk’s lecture on synthetic life. This lecture was really interesting to learn about because it demonstrates that powers of technology and how one can essentially create a whole new world with a computer program. He created an entire universe on his computer, complete with nutrients and organisms that can reproduce and emit waste.
Sam is a sound and visual artist and works in a wide variety of fields such as four track tape recording, sound installation and non-fiction film making. Initially the project started out as a failure of another project. This first project was a film that, according to him failed, and he decided to go into the synthetic world. The synthetic world that he created contains a detailed ecosystem that begins with a nutrient system, plants and works its way up to different creatures that live in this universe and how they interact with one another. The entire ecosystem that he has created exists in a program on his computer and was shown to us on a large computer screen. Sam had essentially made an alternate universe that existed in a program on his computer. The lecture was broken into different parts. The beginning broke down the nutrient system that was the foundation for the system, then he went into the plant life in his system and lastly he broke down the creatures that live in this little universe.
Like any other system this one’s foundation is nutrients. There are three nutrients in total: red, blue and green. On the screen you can see the intensity of the nutrients by the intensity of the color. When plants die in this system they go back into the nutrient field from which they originated. Sam then broke down the DNA strips of the plants in his system. These strips are various shades of black and white that form columns across the screen. Each row is an individual plant, each column is a gene and the color each gene has represents how far the gene value is from the original species.

                                                                      Sam showing a strip of a plant's DNA.

                 Sam showing us lots of different plants genetic makeup in relation to one another.

       After a heavy explanation of the nutrients and plants Sam went on to explain the creature world. He generates his creature populations the same way he generated his plant populations. However, each creature has significantly more genes than a plant, which has only 27 or 28. Each creature has a nose radius that shows how far it can smell, similar to how each plant has a fragrant radius for how far away it can be smelled. The creatures also have a vision cone for how far and wide their vision is. There are multiple biological sexes that the creature can have and they can all bear children. When the creatures are socializing a line is drawn between them, the more they socialize the darker the line gets. 

The creatures socializing with one another.

A creature looking for food and emitting waste (the brown square).

Near the end of the lecture Sam explained to us how if the program crashes everything is save to his computer. If you restart the program no time has passed for the creatures. Even if it has been years since you turned on the program the creature would have no indication of this. He then asked us to contemplate that if we were in a synthesized world like the one he created we would have no way of knowing. I thought that this was a very interesting point to make because, to me, it created the possibility that we could be a part of a program in someone’s computer and have no idea. For all we know we could be a synthetic life program in someone like Sam’s computer. 

Week 9 Blog

Week 10 Blog

This week’s lectures focused on nano technology and science. Jim Gimzewski guest lectured for us this week and I believe that these lectures are some of the most detailed and informative that we have received all quarter. Nano is the greek word for dwarf and nano technology itself is science that is conducted on the nanoscale. The nanoscale is 1 to 100 nanometers. We credit Richard Feynman with discovering nanometers although at the time of his discovery he did not call them nanometers. His book “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” detailed about how one day scientists would be able to manipulate objects on an atomic level, meaning atom by atom. He delivered a lecture titled “Maneuvering Things Atom by Atom” which defined the basic idea of nanotechnology of moving things on an atomic level.
Although Feynman proposed nanotechnology in the 1950s it was not until the 1980s it was put on the map. During this time a new form of carbon was discovered and the ability to see atoms in real space and manipulate them was conceived. The buckyball, which contains carbon atoms arranged in hexagons and pentagons, was the new form that was discovered. The creation of the scanning tunneling microscope granted the ability to feel the surface of the sample it was examining. These two events were significant in furthering nanotechnology. 

Today there is a huge market for nano products. There are about 1000 products on the market with nanotechnology. A wide array of products have nanotechnology: hotdogs, sunscreen, food and agriculture products. L’Oreal is a huge corporation that uses nanotechnology in many of its products. There is a serious debate on the health and safety of nanotechnology. Scientists are working a pesticide that does not interact with food and only attracts and kills bugs and nano edible wrappers that would reduce waste. These are examples of two positive affects of nanotechnology. This type of technology does not come without dangers. There is a product on the market called Chocolate Slim Shake that is low calorie because it contains nano particles. These particles are silicon coated in chocolate. You think that you are having a chocolate shake but you are essentially intaking silicon. Nano technology is a great discovery but like many other discoveries it does not come without its own set of dangers

Works Cited:

"Art in the Age of Nanotechnology." Art.Base. Web. 29 May 2016.

"A University for the Coming Singularity." Ray Kurzweil:. Web. 29 May 2016.

"DNA Folding, in Detail." Paul Rothemund:. Web. 29 May 2016.

"What Is Nanotechnology?" Nano. Web. 29 May 2016.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 8 Blog

Week 8 Blog

This week’s lectures focused on space and how it relates to everything we have learned in class thus far. It was cool to see how space is the place where math, art, science come together. Space technology and even knowledge of the vast mystery of space has grown immensely throughout time. All of the planets are named after different Ancient Roman gods which is very interesting. 
The ground braking discovery that Nicolaus Copernicus made about the earth revolving around the sun and not the other way around was highly influential for the time. His mathematical calculations for this system set precedent for many other discoveries that would be made later. During the time Copernicus lived science was dominated by the church and his ideas were considered unlawful because they didn’t support the faith. 
He had to wait to publish his discoveries because he feared persecution. It is interesting to 
learn about this struggle that he endured in particular because back then science and faith were strongly connect but today they are not. In fact many people consider them to not go together at all. Had Copernicus made his discoveries today he probably wouldn’t have had to worry about persecution from the church.

When I think of outer space my first thought is of Star Wars. For me this film series is a great embodiment of the fusion between art and science. What better way to meld these two branches together than by creating a wonderful space opera film series? The films include robots, space ships, carefully written scripts and beautifully shot scenes.

Many people that aren’t fans of the science fiction genre still love these movies and they are a fun way for people to broaden their horizons into the fictional galaxies that are far, far away. Star Wars has inspired many people to go into professions of math, science, astronomy, film and art and I think that that is what is so great about the series. It is appealing to all different types of people no matter the interests and provokes deep thought about a wide variety of topics including the bonds of family, humanity, and ethics. May the force be with you. 

Works Cited:

"Basic Plasma Science Facility at UCLA." BaPSF. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

CarlSaganPortal. "Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot." YouTube. YouTube, 24 Mar. 2009. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Cultural Space Programme." KSEVT. N.p., 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Dancing on the Ceiling: Art & Zero Gravity Curated by Kathleen Forde : EMPAC Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center : Troy, NY USA." Dancing on the Ceiling: Art & Zero Gravity Curated by Kathleen Forde : EMPAC Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center : Troy, NY USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

OfficialDavidBowie. "David Bowie – Space Oddity [OFFICIAL VIDEO]." YouTube. YouTube, 09 July 2015. Web. 22 May 2016.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week 7 Blog

Week 7 Blog

This week in DESMA 9 we focused on neuroscience and art. This field has been exploding and artists have always been fascinated with the mind. The mind is a very interesting and mysterious thing. Throughout time we have seen new discoveries about it functions. Aristotle believed that the brain was used as a cooling mechanism for blood and that all thinking was done in the heart. It was not until Franz Joseph Gall that it was discovered that the brain had different parts that controlled different bodily functions. These ideas were highly controversial at the time but are now widely accpeted. 

We also talked about different types of drugs and there affects on the brain. LSD or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is one hallucinogen that was specifically covered. Back in the day it was legal and many scientists and even professors at distinguished schools experimented with it. During its prime years of use many labeled it as a cure for many different diseases, even alcholism. There were many who took the drug that said there experience while under its influence was like nothing that they have ever felt, hear or seen before. Many famous musical artists were under the influence of LSD when they created many of their finest works.


               My favorite band, the Beatles, are a great example of the use of LSD in the music industry. The music to one of their most famous and successful albums, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was written while they were under the influence of LSD. One of the album’s more popular songs, Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds, can be abbreviated to LSD. They claimed that this drug helped spark creativity and pushed them to write some of the greatest works. When listening to Sgt. Pepper’s it is interesting to see the different sound affects they input into all of the songs. The album cover itself is visually stimulating as well, there are lots of bright colors and a wide array of images. This is one of their greatest albums but you can clearly see how LSD was a heavy influence on the type of music they were writing and the image of the band that they were going for at this time. 

Work Cited:

"Art, Mind, And Brain: A Cognitive Approach To Creativity." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2016.

"How to Build a Bigger Brain." UCLA Newsroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2016.

NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 15 May 2016.

"Swann’s Hypothesis." The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Nov. 2007. Web. 15 May 2016.

"The Third Culture - Chapter 14." The Third Culture - Chapter 14. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2016.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6 Blog

Week 6 Blog

This week’s lectures and readings focus on biotechnology and art. This has been a very controversial area and relates to GMO in food, experimenting with animals and artists working in laboratories with live cells. There are a wide range of topics that could be considered under the branch of biotechnology and art and what that comes to mind for me immediately is IVF.

        For those of you who don’t know, IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. IVF is the scientific process by which a baby is formed outside of the mother’s womb. The phrase “in vitro” means “in glass” which refers to how a female egg is fertilized by a male sperm in a glass test tube. I went to a Catholic high school where an ethics class was mandatory for all students and one of the topics that was discussed in depth was IVF. With IVF technology parents can essentially pick the sex of their child and what physical traits they want them to have. This is a very interesting because IVF makes having a child a more personalized experience. You pick what you want, the doctors construct an egg that has those characteristics and then after the egg is fertilized it is placed in the mother’s uterus.,18321

        In vitro fertilization has helped many families conceive children that otherwise would not have been able to do so. IVF benefits many but it also has a cost. Only one fertilized egg is placed in the mother’s uterus while many other embryos are not an eventually perish. This has caused a heated debate in the medical community of whether or not IVF is ethical. To me IVF is a great example of biotechnology and art and how controversial it is. There are many benefits of IVF but those benefits do not come without a high cost. 

Works Cited:

"Revival Field – Mel Chin." Revival Field – Mel Chin. Web. 04 May2016.

"" N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

"Seed Magazineabout." This Is Your Brain on Food § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

"Seed Magazineabout." Wanted: GM Seeds for Study § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

"Growing New Organs." Anthony Atala:. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.