Saturday, May 28, 2016

Week 9: Space + Art

For the final unit of DESMA 9, Dr. Vesna dedicated her lecture to cover the intersection between space and art. While the last several units regarded the relationship between the field of medicine and art, which is minuscule in size, space provides yet another example of the connection between science and art.

Laika, the Soviet space dog
The powers of ten blog and video put into perspective how small not only humans are but also Earth is in respect to the universe. As a result, human fascination with infinitely large universe and its unknown contents has led to numerous works of art. During the Russians' early attempts to survey the practicality of space travel for living creatures, they sent a dog, Laika, to monitor the effects space has. Soon after, there was a song dedicated to the dog and its travel into space. Not only were there songs influenced by space travel, but entertainment companies eventually took notice in society's interest in space that led to numerous works including Planet Stories, The Jetsons, Lost in Space, Star Trek, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Star Wars.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens eclipsed the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office
In The Jetsons, in addition to space, there is a robot maid, Rosie, that plays a supporting role in the series. Consequently, the show gains its major influences from space exploration and robotics. Star Wars is a prime example of the human population's continuous interest in space as well as space-inspired art. With the first film debuting in 1977 and the most recent in 2015, the fan base has not diminished instead continues to grow. Star Wars is also a great example of the topics covered in DESMA 9 as the culmination of mathematics to create aesthetically pleasing landscapes and vehicles, humanoids, and the setting of a far away galaxy with extra-terrestrial life connects mathematics, robotics, and space to produce an exceptional work of art. On the other hand, the space elevator is a concept theorized by novelists that scientists are constantly exploring, which is an example of art-inspired science.

With the galaxy being 1021 meters, 100,000 lights years, big, the possibilities are endless,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/kpw9s01csvccut7vnugy.jpg
The Continental Drift suggests, "moving away from the creation of recognizable works, art becomes an experimental territory for producing subjectivities." Likewise, Roger Molina from the Leonardo Space Art Project says, "the space age was possible because for centuries the cultural imagination was fed by artists, writers and musicians who dreamed of human activities in space." Truly, the uncertainty of what lies beyond Earth provides artists the opportunity to use their imaginations to create possible outcomes. And with endless possibilities that results, scientists become indefatigable in their efforts to find out the truth.

Works Cited
"CODED UTOPIA." Continental Drift. N.p., 27 Mar. 2007. Web. 27 May 2016.
EamesOffice. "Powers of Ten™ (1977)." YouTube. YouTube, 26 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 May 2016.
"Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers." Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2016.
Marlow. "An Eames Office Website." Powers of Ten Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Space Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4, Pt5, Pt6." YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2012. Web. 27
May 2016.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Week 8: Nanotechnology + Art

This week we had a guest lecture from Dr. Jim Gimzewski. As a former employee of IBM's Zurich research laboratory, he was kind enough to share some of his knowledge regarding nanotechnology. In addition to his previous experience with IBM, Dr. Gimzewski is a professor at UCLA and has collaborated with Dr. Vesna on a project that extends a video onto a disk of sand. As the individual touches the sand, images of a single grain of sand are attained.

One of the first inventions, Dr. Gimzewski mentioned in his lecture was Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer’s scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Unlike other microscopes that cannot operate without a source of light, the scanning tunneling microscope uses a Tungsten needle to map out the surface of the object that is under inspection. Afterward, a computer processes the data to produce an image that is ultimately translated into a contour map. With the scanning tunneling microscope, scientists are able to review an artwork that provides much more information regarding the object’s depth and precision, which are some aspects a regular microscope and the human eye may not be able to distinguish.

Lycurgus Cup on display at British Museum
Whereas the scanning tunneling microscope is a machine that analyzes an object to the nanoscale, nanosized particles have also been widespread to add unique features to works of art. One example is the Lycurgus Cup that appears to be green in daylight, but a red color emerges when illuminated from its inside. This is due to the special properties of nanosized gold particles that were used during its creation. Pottery glazes from the 15th and 16th centuries are some other examples of objects containing nanosized particles as they used originally opaque material that ultimately becomes transparent at the nanoscale. While downsizing materials to the nanoscale produces unique properties, there are opponents who elucidate how sometimes the nanoparticles of certain material have detrimental effects on the ecosystem.

Some of the variety of colors made possible by quantum dots
In addition to artworks, nanotechnology has advanced art in the fashion realm and may continue to make an immense impact. Inspired by the lotus leaf’s nanostructured surface that allows it to maintain its cleanness and prevent it from being contaminated by outside influences, corporations have taken steps to create similar surfaces on pants, furniture, and other easily contaminated objects to clean itself. Quantum dots are another interesting topic as one can manipulate their color to any color in the visible light spectrum by adjusting their sizes. By doing so, manufacturers of cosmetic products would not only have a viable alternative to their production of color but also use a procedure and ingredient that do not have harmful effects on their users.

Works Cited
"Art in the Age of Nanotechnology." Art.Base. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.
Gimzewski, Jim, and Victoria Vesna. "The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact & Fiction in the Construction of a New Science." The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact & Fiction in the Construction of a New Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.
"Lotus Effect." Lotus Effect. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.
"The Lycurgus Cup." British Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.
"The Scanning Tunneling Microscope." The Scanning Tunneling Microscope. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Nanotech Jim Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4, Pt5." YouTube. YouTube, 21 May 2012. Web. 21 May 2016.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Week 7: Neuroscience + Art

Human fascination with the brain has been existent for thousands of years. While access to the brain was limited at first then became available through dissection, the evolution of technology and art has allowed scientists to readily study it. With this technology, people have gained a better understanding of the activities in the brain. As a result, there have been numerous works done regarding it and its processes.

Students experience the effects of inversion goggles
Some of the recent developments to better understand it have been inversion goggles. Inspired by the fact that the eyes originally project the world upside down for the brain to then analyze, the inversion goggles create an upside down world. Although the brain has to adjust to the new conditions, MRI scans suggest nothing abnormal. Instead, it is quite surprising that such adjustments do not convey a change in its operations. Furthermore, Christopher deCharms, from TED TALKS, suggests that humans will soon be able to see their own brain's activities allowing them to react accordingly. Consequently, we will ultimately be able to not only adjust to changes in our surroundings but also have control in how our brain does so.

As our knowledge regarding the brain continues to grow, there are endless possibilities to portray it in works of art. One example is The Amygdaloids' "Fearing," which is a song inspired by the concept of fear as humans have studied and learned how fear works. Another example is the game Brain Age that deals with the brain's aging process and is one I have experience playing in the past. It analyzes the age of the player's brain through wide-ranging activities. One work both Dr. Vesna and the article discussed is Suzanne Anker's MRI Butterfly. It creates illusions of various forms of butterflies although the same image of the butterfly is projected on to the MRI scans of the same brain.

Speaking of illusions and the brain, LSD was one of many drugs Vesna discussed during her lecture. Using Albert Hofmann's recorded experiences, she describes the effects of LSD as creating fantastic pictures of extraordinary shapes with an intense kaleidoscope of colors. She also mentions how he believed acoustic perceptions transformed into optical perceptions. Despite its classification as hallucinogenic, one might advocate the mind is creating art. With the unpredictable translation of sounds and images into new sights, art may be created in the mind of its users every time LSD is used.

Works Cited
Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Suzanne Anker. "Neuroculture." Nature Reviews Neuroscience Nat Rev Neurosci 10.11 (2009): 815-21. Web.
TED. "Christopher deCharms: A look inside the brain in real time." YouTube. YouTube, 27 Mar. 2008. Web. 13 May 2016.
Theamygdaloids. "Fearing - The Amygdaloids." YouTube. YouTube, 14 July 2010. Web. 13 May 2016.
Ucdesma. "Neuroscience-Mark" YouTube. YouTube, 12 May 2012. Web. 13 May 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Neuroscience Pt1, Pt2, Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 13 May 2016.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Event 3: AIX Scent Fair

From May 6 to 8, there was an exhibition designated for the display of independent fragrance makers' perfumes. As I was not familiar with what exactly the AIX Scent Fair was going to present, I was undoubtedly surprised by the variety and types of fragrances that were on display. It truly was interesting to see and hear about their ideas behind their creations as well as to ultimately smell them.

Each artist who was present seemed to have his or her own unique background and experience. However, a commonality among them is that they were inspired by objects or concepts that surrounded them and applied them to generate their product. For the two pictures above, these individuals were influenced by the existing scent of landscapes and nature. Reading about the concept behind each creation, I could easily envision myself in their vision as I smelled each perfume. While imagination through words is something people do on a regular basis and have done since they learned a language, the perfumes added a third dimension, which appeared to be the goal of many individuals.

Regarding the third dimension, the pictures above show some of my favorite perfumes, not necessarily due to their aroma but their concept. Each of these artists created fragrances to place the audience in place of another person's artistic creation, including artworks, movies, and music. As the original artists were not able to include an olfactory component to their works, the works of these fragrance makers not only helped to fully appreciate the influential work but also went hand-in-hand to the point that the original became the extra component, not the basis.

As their works relates chemistry to art, the AIX Scent Fair is an example and extension of DESMA 9 as it elucidates how science influences art. By combining certain chemical structures, these artists are able to create the specific fragrances they desire to supply the public similar to the BioTech + Art unit, which included genes. Regarding the event outside the scope of this class, I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the variety of scents that are able to be artificially created. Although I was not able to attend the Scent Lab portion of the exhibition, being able to take part in the exhibit makes me wonder to what extent that would have also helped me see the process of reaching the final product. I would absolutely recommend attending scent fair such as this one and the lab to see another intersection of art and science.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6: Biotechnology + Art

Alba, the GFP bunny
With ever-evolving technology, research institutes have also been innovating, constantly. And now, there are also collaborations between these research institutes and artists for the purposes of creating art. One of the early examples of the collaboration between researchers and artists is Eduardo Kac’s GFP bunny, Alba.
Alba is an example of transgenic art, which is “a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering techniques to transfer synthetic genes to an organism or to transfer natural genetic material from one species into another, to create unique living beings.” By modifying the genes of Alba, using microinjection of fluorescent jellyfish's genes, Kac hybridized a form of life in the rabbit to a form of art, which changed its purpose to now be a live display of art.

An example of hybridizing flowers
Another example of hybridization is Edward Steichen's and George Gessert's works with flowers. Similar to Kac, Steichen and Gessert were able to achieve this phenomenon by altering the genes, chemical structures, of the flowers. However, unlike Alba, the flowers' appearances were much more hybridized as they resembled the physical appearance of the original flowers whereas Alba was only made to glow.

Marta de Menezes' alteration of butterfly's wing patterns
Despite the new intersection and development of art between researchers and artists, there are many opponents of this art. An issue opponents argue is the harmful effects of genetic modification of live objects. This can be seen in Marta de Menezes' attempts to alter the wing patterns of live butterflies, which resulted in the creation of holes in their wings. Another potential issue is Orlan's Harlequin Coat, which is made of various people's skin pieces. When profit is made from body parts, the question of ownership and compensation arises as people who influenced the project in any way should benefit from its success. A well-known instance of this issue can be traced back to Henrietta Lacks, whose genes were unknowingly used, and are still being used, to make advancements in medicine. However, because ownership of the cells is in question, Lacks' family has yet to benefit from the use of her live cells.

While I believe life itself can be a valid medium for art, the issue of ownership must be settled in order to compensate all parties that allow for the projects to happen. Until then, art on life should be performed either on objects that exists in nature or on oneself, like Stelarc did with his Extra Ear.

Works Cited
Doucleff, Michaeleen. "Decades After Henrietta Lacks' Death, Family Gets A Say On Her Cells." NPR. NPR, 07 Aug. 2013. Web. 08 May 2016.
"'Henrietta Lacks': A Donor's Immortal Legacy." NPR. NPR, 02 Feb. 2010. Web. 07 May 2016.
Kelty, Chris. Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology?.
Levy, Ellen K. Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classification.
PBS. "POV | Food, Inc. | Interview with Michael Pollan | PBS." YouTube. YouTube, 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 07 May 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "5 BioArt Pt1, P2, Pt3, Pt4, P5." YouTube. YouTube, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 May 2016.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Event 2: Anne Niemetz's Lecture

Annie Niemetz is a director and professor at Victoria University of Wellington. While she does spend time educating and sharing her insights with her students, she also devotes her time to be a media artist as well as a designer. Prior to attaining her position at Victoria University, she was a former student of Dr. Vesna when she was working on her MFA in the Department of Design | Media Arts at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). On May 3, 2016, she was generous enough to give a lecture regarding her career and projects thus far. Her primary focus, she said, is wearable technology, which is a field where art converges with science.

The first work she mentioned were pairs of suspenders influenced by Larry King. Although they may appear to be regular suspenders, they were developed to feature sound bites of King. The video in her lecture showed four people creating a composition. This was one of her many examples of the intersection between science and art. With the implementation of technology into the suspenders, science connects with art through not only fashion but also music.

Niemetz continued to provide numerous other examples of wearable technology. As seen in the picture on the right and other slides, light was a motif. In the picture, she displays the work of one of her students who integrated the use of light into designing a dress that also incorporates her culture (seen on the head). Other uses of light technology on fashion design included a wedding dress that lights up as well as rings with lights to assist ASL speakers in low-light conditions.

In addition to the intersection of art and science, intersection of math and art was apparent, specifically in the attire shown on the right. One can assume that math was essential in its creation as unlike parallelograms and inaccurate measurements would have produced a disproportionate design. As a result, the shape of identical parallelograms and the number of those parts to produce the whole needed extensive planning and calculations to precisely design the dress.

Wearable technology is a field that has interested me ever since smart watches began to be mass-produced. Therefore, Anne Niemetz's lecture, specifically regarding her and her students' works on wearable technology, was most definitely interesting to listen to and to view. In addition to recommending other people who are interested in the intersection of art and science to her lecture, I would encourage them to attend her exhibit on May 5, 2016.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Event 1: Leap Before You Look

This afternoon I visited Hammer Museum to view the Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 exhibit. When I initially entered, I was greeted with a piano piece that closely resembled a song from a dystopian movie. As a result, I began to assume that the exhibit would perhaps portray the college's predictions of a robot-ruled future. Instead, I soon became aware that the gallery was one of its history and influences of Black Mountain College on artists.

While the history of Black Mountain College and its artists were intriguing, what truly caught my eyes were the artworks influenced by cubism. The reason why these artworks were eye-catching is I had previously written in my Math + Art blog that cubism is a clear example of the connection between mathematics and art. On the left, there are multiple artworks that uses lines and sharpness to portray the artist's vision. By incorporating such qualities within their works, the artists primarily utilize geometric shapes, including angles and lengths of lines, which highlights the intersection between math and art. Likewise, as seen in A Group of Houses and Figures by Lyonel Feninger on the right, his style of crisp, angular-edged miniature sculptures with the assistance of art through colors and drawings enhances his objective to depict the "imaginative, playful, and childlike" qualities of Black Mountain College's atmosphere.

While geometric shapes as previously mentioned had a purpose to their use, there were also abstract art throughout the exhibit. In the picture above are two of Elaine de Kooning's paintings both called Untitled Drawing. The combination of her titles as well as the ambiguous meaning of the geometric shapes leaves the audience to form their own conclusion of her art.

Overall, despite the initial feeling of eeriness I experienced upon entering the gallery, I was fascinated by Black Mountain College, a college I never knew had existed before, and how its culture can be explicitly seen through its students' and faculty's artworks. Since the exhibit includes not only paintings but also literature, music, and sculptures to name a few, I would most definitely recommend any student to visit the museum and learn about this previously existent institution.

*I was informed that the policies of Hammer Museum prohibit employees from taking pictures with observers. As a result, one employee suggested that I obtain a ticket of my visit as proof in addition to taking "selfies" with some artworks.*

Works Cited
De Kooning, Elaine. Untitled Drawing. 1948. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
De Kooning, Elaine. Untitled Drawing. 1948. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
Feninger, Lyonel. A Group of Houses And Figures. 1949. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
"In-Gallery Performances." The Hammer Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016. <>.
"Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957." Hammer Museum. 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024. 03 May 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "" YouTube. YouTube, 09 Apr. 2012. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.