Saturday, May 21, 2016

Event Blog #4 - Extra Credit

Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous

Two days ago I attended another LASER event at the CNSI building on campus. This time it focused on Nonlinear Perspectives and the Fourth State of Matter featuring talks by Walter Gekelman, Ana Jofre and Megan Lindeman. Each artist/scientist was introduced by Professor Vesna herself and presented their ideas and research using pictures and videos, and even an interactive model. Prior to the LASER event there was an art exhibition set up featuring very unique and interesting pieces. 

(Me in front of paintings with aliens)

(A wire frame with light shining on it to display a face on the wall)

(What appears to be tiny construction paper arrows all moving in different directions)

The first speaker of the night was Ana Jofre, a physicist turned artist. She received a PhD in physics but has now transitioned her career towards the arts. She is currently a fellow at the Visual Analytics Lab at OCAD University. Jofre explained how she wants to contribute to culture, therefore she lives as a bridge builder between the sciences and arts. Her presentation was an intro to magnetism. She discussed electric fields, magnetic fields, electric currents and much more. She ended off with making an interactive model of a motor, using simply a copper wire and a battery. Jofre is a prime example of the collaboration of the two cultures, art and science. 


(Motor made of a battery and copper wire)

The next speaker was Megan Lindeman, a visual artist who incorporates neurochemistry into her work.  An example of this is one of her paintings called "Love and Its Case; Flowers and Oxycontin". Lindeman uses oxycontin and water paint to create a beautiful painting. The significance of this is that oxycontin is a drug that involves complex brain activity and trusting. Lindeman explained that she likes to have emotion and reason communicate in her art. As we learned in week 4, artists are often fascinated with the medical feild. Lindeman's incorporation of medicine and science into her art is a great collaboration of art and science. 


The final speaker of the night was a UCLA plasma physicist named Walter Gekelman. Some people consider plasma the fourth state of matter. The work that Walter Gekelman does is create conditions for plasma and conduct experiments that are relevant to what happens on the suns surface. The plasma is heated at 300 million degrees, therefore humans can't be in the room with the machine or else their internal organs will begin to disintegrate. Robotic technologies operate it instead. This reminds me of Professor Vesna's lectures on Robotics in week three. New technologies are allowing for the development of robots to perform tasks that humans cannot do.


I really enjoyed attending the LASER event. It is very interesting to listen to all of the different artists  and science who have so much experience in their fields. I enjoyed hearing about their research and relating it back to what I have learned throughout the course of desma 9. I would definitely recommend that my classmates attend one of these events.


Jofre, Ana. "Biography". Ana Jofre., n.d. Web. 24 May. 2016. 

Lindeman, Megan. "Love and Its Case; Flowers and Oxycontin". Megan Lindeman. Megan Lindeman, n.d. Web. 24 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine pt1." Youtube. Uconlineprogram. 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Robotics pt.2." Youtube. Uconlineprogram. 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 May. 2016

Vesna, Victoria. "TwoCultures part1." Youtube. Uconlineprogram, 30 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 May. 2016.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Space & Art

Space, the final topic of this course, is something that ties together a lot of the concepts that we have covered. From nanotechnology to biotechnology to math to robots, they are all seen and used in space. Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, writes a book called "The Pale Blue Dot" which describes humans place in this universe and visions of the future. In the "Pale Blue Dot" video, Sagan notes that everything that we have ever known takes place on this 'pale blue dot' while the video portrays the size of the earth in the vastness of the universe. This begins to put in perspective how minuscule we, and our so called problems are in relation to the universe. 


In the renaissance age, science was flourishing. Copernicus, renaissance mathematician and astronomer, suggested that the earth was the centre of the universe and he created a model proposing this idea. He was hesitant to go public with this in fear of being deemed 'heretic' by the Catholic church, as at this time there was a clear divide between the church and science. It was published after his death, and changed the way that people think scientifically as well as religiously. Copernicus was a significant and impactful figure who contributed to astronomical history and the future of space exploration. 


Like we have learned throughout the course, technological advancements have astronomical effects on art and science. They also have large effects on space exploration. A major technological advancement in the course of history is the invention of robots. R2's are the first humanoid robots that are currently being tested at the International Space Station. These robots have been invented to look and operate like humans, and to aid in current and future space explorations. 


The concept of space fascinates me. The idea that there could be millions of other universes out there and we have no idea. Astronomers and scientists are constantly trying to learn more about this unknown, and without technology, none of this would be possible. 


A lot of artists are also fascinated by space, and use it as inspiration for their work. An example of this is Katherine Forde's exhibition "Dancing on the Ceiling: Art & Zero Gravity". This is an exhibition where contemporary artists explore the condition of weightlessness on earth. 



Forde, Katherine. "Dancing on the Ceiling: Art & Zero Gravity". Dancing on the Ceiling. Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre, n.d. Web. 19 May. 2016.

Sagan, Carl. "Pale Blue Dot." Youtube. Youtube, 2 Apr. 2007. Web. 19 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "Space Intro". Uconline. Youtube. Youtube, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 19 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "8 space pt 1". Uconline. Youtube. Youtube, 29 Jul. 2013. Web. 19 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "8 space pt 2". Uconline. Youtube. Youtube, 29 Jul. 2013. Web. 19 May. 2016. 

"What is Robonaut?" Nasa. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 May. 2016. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

NanoTech & Art

In it's simplest definition, nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. Professor Vesna describes nanotechnology as something beyond everything we have known, and causes the need to reinvent science. Nanotechnology has the potential to change the world. Dr. Gimzewski, a professor at UCLA, explains that one nanometer is the equivalent of 10^-9, an unimaginably small number. It is difficult to conceptualize or visualize how small one nanometer actually is. 



There were two experimental developments that really put nanotechnology on the map. The first is the development of the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope. Prior to the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope, we had never been able to truly see/image individual atoms, manipulate them. The second experimental discovery was and the discovery of the Bucky Ball. Buckyballs are composed of carbon atoms linked to three other carbon atoms by covalent bonds. This was a form of carbon unknown to man.  



Scientists nowadays use this scale, as nanometer structures are found in nature, specifically in the human body. Physicist Richard Feynman, in his talk "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" suggests that on the atomic scale we have so much room for tiny things, that this could be a new technology that could change the world. Nanotechnology has an impact on energy, agriculture, electronics and countless other scientific fields. 


Art in relation to nanotechnology operates at the intersection of art, science and technology. "Art in the Age of Nanotechnology", an exhibition at the Perth International Arts Festival, consists of unique works that challenge, explore and critique our understanding of the material world. The picture below is called the "transjuicer". This is a project designed to make the bone vibrate to produce audible sound. This is an example of how nanotechnology is used at the intersection of art and science. Nanotechnology brings together artists and scientists from all over the world to better understand and appreciate matter that is minuscule and abstract. 



"Art in the Age of Nanotechnology." John Curtin Gallery. Art.Base. art.base, 11 Mar. 2010. Web. 17 May. 2016. 

"What is Nanotechnology?" Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology. World Care, n.d. Web. 17 May. 2016. 

"What is a Buckyball?" Understanding Nano. Hawks Perch Technical Writing, n.d. Web. 17 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "Nanotech intro." Uconline. Youtube. Youtube, 17 May. 2012. Web. 17 May. 2016. 

Gimzewski, Dr. "Nanotech Jim pt1" Uconline. Youtube. Youtube, 21 May. 2012. Web. 17 May. 2016. 

Gimzewski, Dr. "Nanotech Jim pt2" Uconline. Youtube. Youtube, 21 May. 2012. Web. 17 May. 2016. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Neuroscience & Art

The brain is a fascinating organ that is endlessly studied. It is the control centre of our body that indicates human behavior. Great emphasis is placed on the consciousness of the brain. Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the brain into different sections. As we have been learning about constantly throughout this course, technological advancements have astronomical effects, whether it be the printing press, robotics, or neuroscience. Technological advancements have allowed doctors to further research and understand the human brain. 




The complexity of the brain has fascinated many artists over time. Many people describe the brain as a beautiful work of art, a masterpiece even. Santiago Ramon, the father of neuroscience, described neurons as "the mysterious butterflies of the soul. Many artists have used the brain in their works. Suzanne Anker and Giovanni Frazzetto created the Neuroculture Project, which examines how the human brain has penetrated popular culture. Anker and Frazzetto specifically study the interaction of art and neuroscience, and believe that the assimilation of neuroscience into everyday life impacts social values and commercial practices. 



The concept of memory is something that really fascinates me about the human brain. How you can so easily remember your favourite songs lyrics, but not what you read in a textbook the night before a final exam. It is fascinating how some people suffer from short term memory loss or long term memory loss, while others are blessed with photographic memory. The brain is so complex and difficult to fully understand. Scientists and artists are always working to gain a better understanding of the human brain. 



Buchman, Daniel. "Are We Living In a Neuro-culture?" Neuroethics at the Core. WordPress Blog, 3 June. 2010. Web. 16 May. 2016. 

Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Suzanne Anker. "Neuroculture." n.d. 16 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt.1" Uconline. Youtube, 17 May 2012. Web. 16 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. “Neuroscience-pt.2” Uconline. Youtube, 13 May 2016. Web. 16 May. 2015.

Vesna, Victoria. "Mind Intro." Uconline. Youtube, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 May. 2015. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

BioTech & Art

Week 6 we learned about the relation between biotechnology and art. Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to develop and produce technologies that can improve human life. As we have previously learned, artists have always been fascinated by science and technology, and have began incorporating them into their works. In an age where biotechnology is expanding, artists have started to enter into laboratories to work directly with biologists and other scientists on a cellular tissue level.


Joe Davis, an artist and research fellow, was a pioneer for biotechnology and art. He set the precedent for other bio artists, even though his ideas, some scientists would consider absurd and crazy. Davis had the idea that genes and genomes can be a new palette for artists, and he set out to create an info gene. 


Along with biotechnology comes some controversy. Not many galleries are willing to risk publicly displaying genetically engineered bacteria. There was especially a lot of controversy surrounding GFP and transgenic art. GFP is glowing green fluorescent protein that is one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience. GFP was first observed in jelly fish but was then later used on mice. Many people believed that this was abuse and unprecedented manipulation of animals. Artist Eduardo Kac created a trangenic art project called the "GFP Bunny" project. He created a GFP Bunny, an albino bunny with red eyes that does not exist in nature. 


(The GFP Bunny, Alba, is a transgenic artwork by Eduardo Kac)

Orlan, an artist who we learned about in the Medicine & Art section, created something called the Harlequin Coat. She created a composite organic coat made out of an assemblage of skin pieces from different colours that are made in petri dishes in the lab. Different skin colour samples were taken, which raised the idea of cultural cross breeding, and cross breeding beauty. 



Ruth West raised some important questions. She asks, is life itself an expressive medium? Oron Catts, an artist and biological art researcher explains that "our cultural understanding of life is compatible with what we see in the lab." 


West also asked if biotechnology is evaluated differently than other technologies. I believe that the answer is yes. Technological innovations including the printing press and digital media were all groundbreaking innovations that changed the course of history for artists, scientists and humans in general. Biotechnology however, according to Joe Davis, brings "changes on the horizon that are so dramatic and sweeping that all of the revolutions of the so-called digital age will shrink by comparison."


Kac, Eduardo. "GFP Bunny." Kac., n.d. Web. 3 May. 2016. 

Miranda, Carolina A. "Weird Science: Biotechnology as Art Form." Art News. Artnews, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 3 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. “5 bioart pt1" Lecture. YouTube. Uconlineprogram, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 3 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. “5 BioArt pt4” Lecture. YouTube. Uconlineprogram, 17 May. 2015. Web. 3 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. “Biotech intro NEW” Lecture. YouTube. Uconlineprogram, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 3 May. 2016. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Event Blog #3

In Focus: Electric!

Today I went to the Getty to look at an exhibition relating to this desma course called "In Focus: Electric!" It was my first time visiting the Getty and I was so impressed. It is such a beautiful and well kept museum with a lot of fascinating art. Up in the hills, it also has great view points where you can see the whole city of LA!

The exhibition that I visited was called "In Focus: Electric!" The event focused on electrical innovations including lightbulbs, and how they influenced photographers. Lightbulbs often symbolize new inventions or ideas, like the phrase "a light bulb going off in someones head." Nowadays it is difficult to imagine a time without electricity. It is especially difficult for photographers to imagine art without electricity.

Photographers in the twentieth century documented light that they unexpectedly encountered. They have always been observant of the effects of electricity. Nowadays, many artists and photographers use images of light in their works to represent the electricity that plays such a crucial role in their professions.


The concept of electrical innovations in relation to art reminds me of what we learned about in Vesna's lectures about technology and art. We learned about how technological innovations in that time period influenced artists and our perception of the human body. This gives me the impression that as things are evolving culturally, or in the scientific field, the art world changes and adapts as well. 


When I think of electricity and art, I think of my experience in Nanjing, China two years ago. I went to China to play in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games for Beach Volleyball. China is a country that always seems to be up to date technologically. They went above and beyond to decorate the entire city in colourful lights that illuminated to create beautiful images. The closing ceremonies was the most amazing show with countless sculptures and routines put on with colourful lights. Without those electrical innovations so many years ago, they would have been unable to create these images and make my experience there so unique.  




I would definitely recommend this exhibition to my classmates. The Getty is beautiful and close to UCLA. The exhibition was interesting and had many great images to look at. I was able to tie a lot of the concepts there to materials that we have learned so far in this course. 


"In Focus: Electric!" The J Paul Getty Museum. J Paul Getty Trust, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "Medicine pt1." Youtube. Uconlineprogram. 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.