Monday, May 30, 2016

Event #3 Masa Jazbec

(Masa presenting a singing robot performance,
popular in Japan)
Robots! Masa's lecture and her field of work is all about robotic technology. She has been all over the world to study robotics and has encountered some of the most technologically advanced robots the world has ever seen. Expanding on many of the topics Machiko Kusahara discussed in the week 3, Masa talked in great detail about robotics in Japan and the social normality of having robots in every aspect of Japanese daily life. From dancing and singing robots in Japanese pop performances to robotic replicas of traditional Japanese folk story tellers, robots are becoming an integral part of entertainment in Japan. Jazbec also discussed Professor Ishiguro and his "gemonoid" robots that are meant to look just like humans. Ishiguro's gemonoids require a lot of artistic talent to craft, as Jazbec has seen the robots in person and insists that they are so life- like they are almost indistinguishable from the human.

(Masa shows the artistic details of Ishiguro's gemonoid, she
points out the extremely lifelike skin, hair, and eyes)
The portion of Jazbec's lecture that I found the most interesting was her description of Professor Ishiguro's psychological tests performed on his daughter with his gemonoid twin robot. Bridging into more social, psychological studies rather than tech engineering, Ishiguro put his young daughter in a room with his look- alike gemonoid and analyzed her reaction to the robot. Although the Japanese are very comfortable with robots, his daughter did not like interacting with the gemonoid and refused to talk to it or touch it. I interpreted this result as a possible problem with the near- future's incorporation of robots into daily life. Although we may benefit from the gemonoid's in the future, their unnatural existence may cause many people to reject or resent the presence of robots among us. However, Masa's lecture also focused on non- lifelike robots that are being made all around the world to aid industry, construction, and disaster relief that have already proven to be very valuable and useful.
( Masa Jazbec and I after the lecture, photo creds: Professor
I was really intrigued by Masa's lecture, although I would have preferred to hear more about her personal work rather than her experiences with other artist's and engineer's work. She briefly disclosed that her project in progress deals with human interaction with robots, much like Ishiguro's gemonoid. Jazbec claims that her work will allow people with digitally engineered glasses to see what a robot can see and the subject will be able to control the robot's eye movements so that the subject will feel as if they are one with the robot.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Event #2 Anne Niemetz Lecture

(Niemetz and I after her lecture (not pictured: her
curly brunette pony tail))
For my second event I attended a lecture by artist Anne Niemetz. A former student of Professor Vesna, Niemetz is an artist who incorporates different aspects of technology and science into her work. Niemetz began her lecture with a presentation of "wearable technology", a fashion project that consists of intricately structured silhouettes that light up and move. The artist's wearable technology line is engineered and designed specifically for on stage performances.
(Forks in Sockets installation, performance piece)
Not only is technology incorporated into the art form of fashion, Niemetz's work also contributes to the art form of theater.
She then discussed her installation, " Forks in Sockets". Forks in Sockets is an installation performance piece that involves a tesla coil playing a musical number while synced to a mobile of lights. I found this piece particularly interesting because it provides an embodied representation of electricity, in that, the tesla coil creates a visual bolt of electricity as well as an auditory sound by striking the metal conductor.
(Drone Sweet Drone, cross- stitch embroidery
of drones)
Lastly, Niemetz presented her "Drone Sweet Drone" exhibition. My favorite piece of her's, "Drone Sweet Drone" is a collection of cross-stitch needlepoint hoops that depict pictures of drones. I found this collection the most intriguing because it was the only piece of Niemetz's to offer social commentary. A play on the phrase "home sweet home" and an ironic use of  old-timey cross-stitch as a medium, "Drone Sweet Drone" juxtaposes aspects of home and comfort with the starkly modern and invasive existence of drones. Becoming more and more commonplace, drones were once only available for military use and are largely associated with war and murder. All in all, I really enjoyed Anne's lecture and am glad I had the opportunity to learn about such interesting and thought- provoking works of art. I think Niemetz's work is a perfect representation of the interplay between science and art, and I would highly recommend checking out her work to others.
(Niemetz and I, including her ponytail)

Week 10 Space and Art

A subject of interest since the dawn of civilization, space, or "the final frontier", has always been at the center of scientific, artistic, and religious study. Since the naming of constellations after Roman gods, the idea of a heaven located in the sky by the Christians, and ancient deity worship of the sun, human civilization has wondered what lay among the stars. Through international policy, technological advancement and the occasional aid of artistic imagination, human civilization has decoded an astonishing portion of the vast unknown. Given space's infinite reach, humanity may never know its deepest secrets. Even still, human civilization has made leaps and bounds in the realm  of cosmic discovery and much of our success is due to the inspiration of sci-fi writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and his idea of a space elevator in The Fountains of Paradise.
(A simplification of the mechanical
blueprint of the once only theorized to be possible,
space elevator)
The genre of science fiction has had a profound influence on the development of space technology throughout history. For example, sci- fi film "Destination Moon"(1950) by George Pal helped to convince the taxpaying public that space flight and lunar expedition was not only possible but economically and politically significant.
(The first living animal to be sent into space, Laika the dog provided
scientists with the first data on living organisms reaction to a space flight environment)
Encompassing many of the previous subjects we've covered in class, the relation between space and art includes the studies of biology, robotics, mathematics, and nanotechnology. From sending live animals into space by rocket and postulating the existence of extraterrestrial life on Mars, the study of biology plays a key role in answering some of the questions we have about the cosmic environment and the possible ability for moon colonization.
Just as sci-fi has benefitted real- world space exploration, the findings of real- world space expeditions have inspired many pieces of work in the literature, film, and television industries. The tendency for space- based films to dominate box office ticket sales, achieve nominations for major awards, and become instant classics point to humanity's inherent wonder and fascination with space and final frontier. A subject of infinite possibility and wonder, the cosmos' ability to inspire creativity and spark humanity's imagination will never cease to exist.

 ('The Martian', 'Star Wars','Interstellar', and 'Apollo 13', a few of the many major films to be based off of or inspired by space exploration and the outer unknown)

Works Cited
"Box Office Performance of Space Based Movies." The Numbers, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>. 
"The Sad Story of Laika, the First Dog Launched Into Orbit." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>. 
"Science Fiction Barely Ahead of Space Exploration Reality." N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>. 
Vesna, Victoria. Space and Art Lecture. Video. 29 May 2016.
"60,000 Miles Up: Space Elevator Could Be Built by 2035, Says New Study | ExtremeTech." ExtremeTech. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.

Photo Links,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Nanotechnology and Art

(The symbol for Disney World's Epcot Center is a geodesic dome
inspired by the design by Buckminster Fuller)
Although seemingly an unrelated subject, the study of art influences and holds presence in almost all aspects of the field of nanotechnology. At first a theoretical field of study, nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on the nanoscale, was not realized as a science until the discovery of buckminsterfullerine and the creation of the scanning tunneling microscope. Discovered with the aid of artistic inspiration, the buckyball, or buckminsterfullerine, was named after the author and architect Buckminster Fuller. After realizing the newly discovered carbon allotrope shared a similar design to Fuller's geodesic domes, synthesizers Kroto, Curl, and Smally named the compound after the architect. Although design is the major contribution art has on nanotechnology, nanotechnology has contributed to art with the other founding aspect of nanotech, the scanning tunneling microscope. The first of its kind to produce digital images through physical touch rather than light reflection, the invention of the scanning electron microscope allows scientists to visualize, otherwise invisible, nano particles and molecules. Similar to how painters and photographers capture the world around them, the scanning electron microscope has added a new dimension to art in that it can capture the microscopic nano-world.
(Box Office hit Big Hero 6 includes a theoretical application of nanotechnology in which micro robots can self assemble themselves into larger ordered structures)
Although a relatively new field of study, the list of possible applications of nanotechnology is endless. In fact, creative theories about the possible uses for nanotechnology have already shown up in art and pop culture. In Disney's Big Hero 6 the main character and boy genius Hiro Hamada invents microscopic robots called microbots that can self assemble themselves into any structure the controller desires. The microscopic size and idea of self- assembly are both ideas that originate from the real world study of nanotechnology.
(picture of the compound molybdenum disulfide, my TA's
samples (not pictured) have artistic designs on the triangular
face, created by nanotechnology)
With regard to my own experience, during fall quarter I was given the opportunity to tour my chemistry TA's research lab in which he specializes in hetero- integrated nanostructures. Specifically, my Jonathan was synthesizing a conducting compound of molybdenum disulfide to replace the silicon computer chip. Jonathan explained that silicon's large atomic size presents limitations to silicon computer chip speeds. Further, Jonathan designed his molybdenum disulfide compounds to look like the zelda triforce symbol from the popular video game. Unknowingly, Jonathan was demonstrating the integration of nanotechnology and art in his research.

Works Cited
"Buckminsterfullerene: Molecule of the Month." Buckminsterfullerene: Molecule of the Month. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

"Duan Research Group." Duan Research Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

"The Story of Buckminster Fuller's Radical Geodesic Dome." BBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.
Gimzewski,James narr. “Nanotech and Art Lectures 1-6” N.p., . web. 5 Nov 2012.

"Self-assembly." Nanotechnology. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

"The Story of Buckminster Fuller's Radical Geodesic Dome." BBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week 8 Neuroscience and Art

Being the only biological field of study that requires the inspection of intangible concepts like emotion, behavior, perception, and consciousness, neuroscience is closely linked to the study of art, creativity, and expression. Scientifically, the existence of consciousness and thought can be explained by the firing of millions of neurons connected through intricate pathways in specific portions of the brain. However, the study of the brain and consciousness is still somewhat of a mystery to the medical world and the mere firing of neurons and release of neurotransmitters onto the post-synaptic receptors of cells can not, and may never, be able to quantifiably describe how humans experience life and consciousness.
I believe that this is where art comes in. While phrenology and psychoanalysis have both been scientifically disproved, they offer artistically meaningful insight and explanations on the human experience and personality. Carl Jung's theory of archetypes, universal character- types that can be used to define the personalities and perceptions of humans, attempt to provide a scientific basis to the seemingly unscientific existence of personality. Although Jung is not considered an artist, artists act in a similar way by producing art that inexplicably captures different aspects of the human experience, with the purpose to not only express themselves but also relate to others. 
On another note, there have been recent studies that show a correlative link between mental disorders and artists. Praised for their remarkable creativity, intelligence, and talent, a significant number of the most famous artists in history had mental disorders. Described as abnormalities in behavior and perception, mental disorder's link to creativity provide scientific and neurological basis to the intangible concepts of creativity and, thus, further add to the correlation between the study of art and neuroscience. For example, the most famous composer of all time, Beethoven suffered from severe depression and bipolar disorder. Starry Night, Van Gogh's most famous painting, was painted during his manic period and Munch's most famous painting, The Scream, was inspired by the artists turbulent experience with depression, anxiety, and hysteria. 

Works Cited
"The 12 Common Archetypes." The 12 Common Archetypes. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <>. 

Berman, Ali. "8 Artists Who Suffered from Mental Illness." MNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <>. 

Lodish, Harvey. Overview of Neuron Structure and Function. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <>.

  Vesna, Victoria. “Conscious / Memory (Part 1).” Lecture. 16 Nov 2012. <>

 Vesna, Victoria. Lecture. “Conscious / Memory (Part 2).” 16 Nov 2012. <>

Photo sources

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6 Biotechnology and Art

(Eduardo Kac's GFP Bunny, a fluorescent green bunny made by inserting
 the genes from glowing jellyfish into the embryo of an albino bunny)
Subject to widespread public scrutiny and ethical controversy, the study and practice of genetic manipulation has come to be considered both a science and an art. Recognizing the controversial nature of this type of experimentation, artists have entered laboratories in order to create pieces of both scientific and artistic significance. While the use of life as a medium can yield artistically and socially powerful results, such as the societal commentary achieved by the GFP Bunny, there exists an inherent ethical issue to this practice, namely, animal rights and the possible detrimental implications of our scientific hubris. 
(Scene from blockbuster film, Jurassic Park, Park scientists use frog DNA
 and extracted dinosaur DNA from mosquito's
 to create a dinosaur, the dangers of scientific hubris are seen later
in the film when the dinosaurs run wild)
An aspiring doctor and scientist myself, I focus more on the possible benefits of genetic experimentation than the possible detrimental effects of this revolutionary field. Although I think there exists a public fear of this type of experimental science, seen in films like Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, so far, advances in genetic experimentation have been mainly beneficial to society. For example, the genetic modification of plants and crops has allowed for the mass production of food and, thus, the alleviation of world hunger. 
Going back to the topic of Jurassic Park, I particularly find the study of genetic manipulation in zygotes to produce hybrid animals or prokarya fascinating. Professor Vesna's mention of Eduardo Kac's GFP Bunny and Joe Davis's Microvenus, reminded me of a similar revolutionary genetic experiment done to a sheep embryo, producing the first ever scientifically created animal clone.
(The process in which the first animal clone,
Dolly the sheep was made)
(Time magazine cover touching on
one of the many societal implications that
come from this sort of extreme
Dolly the sheep was created by inserting the genetic material of a pre-existing sheep into another sheep mother's embryo, producing a perfect clone of the pre- existing sheep. While Kac's bunny was produced for solely artistic purposes, I think that this method of zygotic manipulation has many theoretical application's such as the creation of hybrid animals that cannot be produced in nature, along the line of the dinosaurs created from extraction of ancient blood from mosquito's and frog DNA.

Works Cited
"Cloning Dolly the Sheep." Cloning Dolly the Sheep. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2016. <>. 
"GFP BUNNY." GFP BUNNY. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2016. <>. 
HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 08 May 2016. <>. 
"Microvenus: Joe Davis : Genetics and Culture." Microvenus: Joe Davis : Genetics and Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2016. <>.
Vesna, Victoria, narr. “BioTech Art Lectures I-V.” N.p., . web. 5 Nov 2012.

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