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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Event 1 Blog

Event 1 Blog

For my first event requirement for DESMA 9 I decided to go the the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I had never been to LACMA before so I was really excited to see what all the hype was about and take some fun photos. All of the exhibits were very intriguing and appealing. Each one is very unique. Throughout the grounds of LACMA there were lots of works of art that were great examples of the fusion of art and science. It was cool to see how this merging of the two cultures was embedded into the very foundation of LACMA.

One of the exhibits that was showing was the Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015. This was a cool exhibit to see because it documents different types of menswear throughout time. It was interesting to see how men dress has evolved so much. The pieces that were the oldest seemed to be the most embellished and used a lot of colorful, fancy fabrics. I also noticed the menswear was much more formal in the past. There were a lot of elaborately decorated suits and no shirts and jeans. As the pieces in the exhibit got closer to the present the clothing got much more casual, light weight and less coverage. One of my favorite pieces was the Naval Uniform Ensemble. The suit itself looked like a prop out of a American Revolution film. It was more simple in comparison to some of the other pieces but held its own amongst them. There was a lot of beauty in the simplicity of it. There was an Italian suit that was beautiful as well.  This suit was one of the more flashy and detailed suits, much more so than the Naval Suit and you could see that whoever wore this suit was someone of wealth and prominence. This exhibit was very interesting because it made me think of how one dresses as an artful process. I think that this relates back to what we have been studying in this class because with this exhibit we see how throughout time people have dressed themselves in such a way to look like an art piece on display in a museum. In each outfit shown you see how much time and care people put into how they looked everyday with the intention of appearing as more than simply a man in a suit.
Walking around LACMA was really fun. I enjoyed walking through the grounds and looking at all of the interesting works. I saw the Urban Light sculpture which was very beautiful. Even though I had never been to LACMA I knew about this sculpture specifically because of how popular it is. This sculpture is also a great example of the merging of art and science because it is a sculpture composed of street lamps. Without the technology of electricity this sculpture would not exist. I want to go back to see it at night when all of the sculpture is lit up.
The Sculpture Garden and the Levitated Mass sculpture were also high points of my visit. The sculpture garden was fun to walk through because some of the poses they were in were very interesting. I tried to mimic a couple of the poses in a few pictures but the sculptures definitely won in a posing war. The Levitated Mass was also really cool because it is a giant bolder that is held by a couple steel platforms over an open space that you can walk through. This is an example of math and art coming together to make a sculpture. Without proper calculations of how the bolder should be placed or how strong the steel harnesses needed to be this sculpture would have collapsed. Going to LACMA was a great experience for me and I hope to go back soon to see more exhibits.