Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Event Blog 3: LASER

On Thursday, May 19th, I attended a LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) event at the CNSI building at UCLA. The theme of the discussion of the panelists was Fourth State of Matter. Additionally, a group of students from the UCLA Art Science Undergraduate Society showcased their artwork for Nonlinear Perspectives (pictured below).
I recognized two main ideas that we have discussed during DESMA 9 that were also discussed during the LASER panel. I recognized combinations of neuroscience and art, as well as space and art. For example, speaker Megan Lindeman presented her artwork that incorporates neurochemistry into each art piece. She explained that she wishes to combine neurochemistry with poetic dark matter and cause her audience to think about dark issues. Lindeman mixed a neurotransmitter present in the human brain, oxytocin, with paint. This idea blends neuroscience and art - scientists are not able to see dark matter, so they have to map everything around it in order to find where it hides. The use of oxytocin in artwork symbolizes the use of both emotion and reason in art, which creates feelings of ambiguity. In week 7, it was discussed how the rise of a "neuroculture" as a melding of neuroscience and art can reveal the underpinnings of our individuality, emotions, consciousness, and psychosocial interactions.

Additionally, Walter Gekelman discussed his scientific work with plasma. Although I'll admit I did not understand exactly how his scientific research works and what kinds of experiments he runs, I did find it fascinating. He explained that he needs to create temperatures of 300 million degrees or higher in order to induce fusion of molecules to create plasma. Through this process, he creates magnetic ropes which he can then display digitally. These digital images are beautiful, and display magnetic fields in ways that the human mind can process. Because plasma is directly linked to our solar system's Sun, Walter Gekelman's topic directly relates to our discussion of Space and Art. Perhaps through his research and experimentation, we can begin to understand processes in space and create new avenues of artwork.


"The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man." Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 10: Civilization in Transition. Web.
"LASER [Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous]." Home Page. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
Vesna, Victoria. “Conscious / Memory (Part 1).” Lecture. 16 Nov 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DLVQIwOn7o8>
Vesna, Victoria. Lecture. “Conscious / Memory (Part 2).” 16 Nov 2012.
Vesna , Victoria, dir. Space Part 1. 2012. Film. 30 Nov 2012.

Week 9: Space + Art

Human exploration of space has been revolutionary for societies all over the world. It has opened people's imaginations, causing artists to expand their horizons and fueled more scientific innovations to push the boundaries of space exploration. In her lectures, Professor Vesna discusses Copernicus' initial mathematical calculation of our universe, in which the sun was the center. It is amazing to think that we used to believe we were the center of our own universe and everything revolved around our own planet, when in reality we are part of a space that is unfathomably vast. The video "Powers of 10" visually describes this concept very well - as the camera zooms out from the earth, we realize just how small we are. Then as the camera zooms in by powers of 10 on the man's hand, we realize just how complex we are through our makeup of billions of atoms.

In another lecture, Professor Vesna discussed how the Space Race between the USA and Russia during the Cold War fueled major innovations in space exploration. From the first Russian spaceship Sputnik, to sending the first animal into space, to the first American to set foot on the moon, these big steps in space exploration only fueled our entire species' interest in what lies beyond our Earth. Professor Vesna also discusses that space exploration is moving into the private domain. Big multi-billion dollar companies are taking on space projects of their own. It seems to me that space exploration does not excite society nearly as much as it did in the past - perhaps as a society, we expect all of our technological advancements and innovations to become realities, almost making them less exciting.

I believe that space exploration can be an incredible platform for artistic creativity - this is because space is so mysterious. Due to the fact that the majority of us have never traveled past our earth's atmosphere and never experienced outer space with our own senses, our understanding of it is left up to scientific images provided by telescopes and our own imaginations. Annick Bureaud, a member of the Leonardo Space Art Project Working Group, states that artists have been the fuel for space exploration, embodying in their art the dreams of humankind, and making these dreams desirable for engineers to achieve. This a beautiful example of collaboration between art and science, and I hope we can keep taking steps to explore outer space and the opportunities it holds.

"An Eames Office Website." Powers of Ten Blog. Web. 25 May 2016."Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers." Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers. Web. 25 May 2016.
Vesna , Victoria, dir. Space Part 1. 2012. Film. 30 Nov 2012. 
Vesna , Victoria, dir. Space Part 2. 2012. Film. 30 Nov 2012. 
Vesna , Victoria, dir. Space Part 3. 2012. Film. 30 Nov 2012. 
Vesna , Victoria, dir. Space Part 4. 2012. Film. 30 Nov 2012. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week 8: Nanotechnology and Art

Nanotechnology is a very prevalent subject because it is the blending of many disciplines. Nanotechnology is a combination of chemistry, biology, mechanical and electrical engineering, and physics… the blending of all these disciplines in and of itself is an art. In her introduction to this week’s lectures, Professor Vesna mentioned that nanotechnology is a reinvention of how science works, because it is an amazing combination of so many different subsections of science! She says nanotechnology is what’s going to “push us to the edge into the 21st century.” I believe that we have many technological advancements and discoveries to look forward to due to nanotechnology. 

Dr. Gimzewski gave me new insight into just how different the realm of nanotechnology is than the realms of other sciences that I have been exposed to. For example, it works on an infinitely smaller scale than we can imagine. The scale is not linear, but based on powers of 10 to describe the microscopic nature of nanotechnology that allows it to manipulate things on an atomic scale. Nanotechnology goes beyond the powers of human perception - 25,000 pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica was written on a pinhead! This would not be possible with simply the work of human hands, let alone perceptible to the human eye. If nanotechnology allows us to complete feats like this, it seems that there are almost no boundaries to what this expertise could accomplish, both scientifically and artistically. 

I believe that nanotechnology will become part of our everyday lives, and enhance our artistic experiences. In this week’s reading, it was discussed that the blue coloring on a Blue Morpho butterfly is not a pigment, but rather a protein structure that manipulates the light reflected off of it so that we see blue instead of black. Upon learning this, I now wonder if manipulations of proteins through nanotechnology will allow us to see different colors or combine them in new artistic ways that we have not yet experienced. As far as everyday life goes, nanotechnology has already made its way into food preservatives, athletic wear, and even self-cleaning glass. I hope that these technological advancements will continue to be used for the betterment of society and enhance our overall health rather than cause further problems. I’m sure it will be an ongoing process for us as a species by trial and error to explore this amazing technology and ensure its positive use. 

Gimzewski, James K. "Lecture: Nanotech for Artists Part 1." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.
Gimzewski, James K. "Lecture: Nanotech for Artists Part 2." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.

Gimzewski, James K. "Lecture: Nanotech for Artists Part 3." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.

Gimzewski, James K. "Lecture: Nanotech for Artists Part 4." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.

Gimzewski, James K. "Lecture: Nanotech for Artists Part 6." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Nanotech Intro." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 15 May 2016.

Image links:




Thursday, May 12, 2016

Week 7: Neuroscience and Art

The human brain is a truly fascinating topic. It is a part of our bodies that is somewhat elusive and misunderstood, and a society we are constantly learning and discovering new ways in which the brain works. For example, we have come a long way from Ramon y Cajal’s view of the compartmentalized brain - Professor Vesna discussed how Ramon y Cajal thought the brain had 19 separate “organs” that served a specific function, but we now know that many parts of the brain communicate and collaborate in order to function properly. I have a feeling that as long as humans are in existence, we will be constantly discovering new layers of how our brains function and we will never truly know the depth of its capabilities.  

Because of our limited understanding of the brain, it is a perfect medium for the subject of art, as many people interpret functions and capacities of the brain in their own ways. I love Suzanne Anker’s artistic Brain Butterflies - this is a perfect example of how science and art have collaborated. Science allows us to take a picture of the brain and view it in a way that we would not be able to see otherwise, and the artwork of combining butterfly images with brain images allows our imagination to run wild about the symbolism of the butterfly within the brain. This seems to coincide with the idea of “neuroaesthetics” - how the conception, execution, and appreciation of visual arts influences our understanding of the brain.

In two of her lectures, Professor Vesna also discusses the powerful influences of the brain with regards to dreams and psychedelic drugs. Both dreams and hallucinogens are powerful mediums for artwork because each person has a separate experience. With both, people seem to be able to escape from reality, or enter an alternate reality. It seems that this escape to an alternate reality is something that people crave and seek out, so people project their ideal alternate realities through their artwork. Additionally, Carl Jung discusses that in order for modern man to fully experience life, he must be fully present and fully conscious. He claims we should direct our attention to the life that we currently experience instead of seeking out an alternate reality. In some ways, our brain allows us to do both. We may experience both the present as well as create our own worlds through our imaginations and express it through artwork.


Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Suzanne Anker. "Neuroculture." Nature Reviews Neuroscience Nat Rev Neurosci 10.11 (2009): 815-21. Web.
"The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man." Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 10: Civilization in Transition. Web.
Vesna, Victoria. “Conscious / Memory (Part 1).” Lecture. 16 Nov 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DLVQIwOn7o8>
Vesna, Victoria. Lecture. “Conscious / Memory (Part 2).” 16 Nov 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xlg5wXHWZNI>
Vesna, Victoria. Lecture. “Conscious / Memory (Part 3).” 16 Nov 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=E5EX75xoBJ0>



Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6: Biotechnology and Art

This week, I learned how art and science can come together through biotechnology in some very beautiful, yet also very scary ways. Professor Vesna discusses the topic of ways we harness the processes of life itself: reproduction and metabolism (even on a cellular scale), when manipulated by humans through biotechnology, is a very controversial topic that causes ethical concerns. For example, professor Vesna discusses the process of micro-injection. Using biotechnology, scientists and artists were able to genetically engineer a green fluorescent protein and combine it with the genetics of animals, so that the pets would glow on certain parts of their bodies. 
This topic is also discussed in Defining LIfe: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications. While a glowing pet would certainly be entertaining, exciting, and seemingly innovative, many ethical concerns arise. For example, if released into the wild, this pet could disrupt the natural gene pool and possibly cause unforeseen damage to a species. This process of changing genetics also imposes our human culture on natural processes. Do we as humans have the right to disrupt natural evolutionary processes through bioengineering? I think that we as humans are part of natural evolution, but we should not tamper with genetics as if it were something to be taken lightly.
There is another way to look at biotechnology and art, however. In Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology? It was discussed that Professor Vesna represents an appropriation of Big Bio when it comes to biotechnology and art. There has been an impressive growth of bio-art over the last decade, and those scientists who want to express themselves through biology are eager to collaborate with scientists and learn as much as they can about biology. This could be positive for our society and bridge the Two Cultures gap between the art and science divide. Moreover, these artists wish to use biological art to provoke, transgress, or re-design our understandings of life. Through these art forms, we may come to new revelations about how our world works, and we may come to new understandings about the wonder of how living organisms operate. By bridging the gap between math and science, we may even come to greater understandings of each other, person to person. 

Sources: Levy, Ellen K.. “Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications.” DESMA 9. Web. 8 May 2016 Kelty, Chris. “Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology?”. Web. 8 May 2016 "Primary Menu." Chris Combs. Web. 09 May 2016. "On the Fast Track: Do the Evolution! - The Isha Blog." The Isha Blog. 2016. Web. 09 May 2016. The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Web. 09 May 2016. Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures I.” N.p., . web. 8 May 2016 Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures II.” N.p., . web. 8 May 2016 Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures IV.” N.p., . web. 8 May 2016