Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[Event 2] DANCE

On a Friday mid morning I strolled towards the Hammer Museum to attend an in-gallery performance hosted by Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. I arrived a little early at the gallery and wandered around some elegant art pieces before I decided to settle. To my surprise, attendance to the event was very high. I was then politely asked to move because I had chosen a spot that obstructed the view of the pianist, who had to watch the dancers as he played. This sparked my curiosity as I began to wonder how the pianist interacts with the dancers.

The Experience

The performance was not what I had expected at all; perhaps it is because I had very little experience with contemporary dance. The first piece was a solo performance, featuring a man in a red leotard. The second was a group performance, featuring dancers from the L.A. dance project. The aforementioned live pianist accompanied both performances.

The dancers moved in rigid, contorted motions, expressionless. They moved in a way that was almost uncomfortable to watch, with a little bit of agitation. The accompaniment was exactly how one would imagine accompanying the choreography. It is like listening to an audio description of how the dancers moved. It was less like music, but more random pulses of clashing notes. The music didn’t follow measures or keys, and neither did the choreography. However, after a while, the performances had an indescribable draw. The chaotic nature of the pieces seems to inspire some sort of organic movement in the dancers. It feels as though I am watching an expression of raw forms of human movements. The two pieces, performed by different parties, had such similar expression that I felt the same artist had choreographed them.


I had a bit of trouble drawing a connection between what I had watched and our class at first. But then I took a step back and looked at some of the art displayed around the gallery. I thought to myself, if this dance choreography were a painting, what would it be? It would be a surrealist painting or an abstract painting. It absolutely pushes the boundaries of what people perceive, and believe. It challenges the way the human body moves, and challenges the definition of what it means to dance. What is dance?

The two performances, Changeling and excerpts of Springweather and People (1955), Suite for Five (1956), and Changeling (1957), were early works of American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham. He was at the forefront of contemporary dance for nearly 50 years, and often collaborated with artists from other practices, such as musicians, architects, visual artists, and designers. Cunningham was known for this passion for innovation and exploration. From using film in dance in the 70s to choreographing with computer programs in the 90s, he was one of the pioneers to incorporate technology into choreography.


Cunningham’s passion is reflected clearly in his choreography. The abstract and surrealist like dance pieces enraptures his drive to push boundaries and innovate. His work challenges the limitations and realities of dance, and promotes an interdisciplinary growth that very much correlates with the theme of our class, DESMA 9.

Works Cited 

A Lifetime of Dance. PBS. PBS, 2001. Web. 31 May 2016. 

Merce Cunningham Dance Company: Sounddance - Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2016. 

Merce Cunningham Trust. Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2016.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

[Week 9] How Art Influences Man's Race to Space

The Milky Way galaxy.
Artists and visionaries have driven space exploration more so than any other fields we have studied so far in this class. Achieving the impossible begins with imagining the impossible. Mankind has looked to the sky since the beginning of time. From ancient Chinese folklore to twenty first century novels, artists have been envisioning space and depicting it with words. Creativity gives birth to vision, which then propels the development of technology. Artists and scientists play distinct but equally important roles in the commencement and continuation of the age of space exploration.

Mankind’s first breakthrough into space, marked by Sputnik, was prompted by the cold war. Sputnik then sparked what was known as the space race between the United States and Russia, where outer space technology development served to advance military power, in this case specifically the inter-continental ballistic missiles. However, since end of the cold war and the last Apollo astronaut left the moon, there has been relatively less activity and funding in the space industry, until now. The rise of private companies in space technology marks a new era of growth without the impediment of politics and bureaucracy.

The Space Race between U.S. and Russia.
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, said “given that this is the first time in 4.5bn years where it's been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we'd be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time." And he’s absolutely right. Musk himself was influenced by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, a science fictional novel series that depicts the demise of a Galactic Empire. Musk, along with other visionaries such as Arthur Woods, member of the Leonardo Space Art Project, believe that Space is by far the most optimistic solution for the problems mankind will face in the following centuries.

SpaceX's rocket landing.
Rendering of a reusable rocket for Mars landing by SpaceX.

Space exploration now bears a completely different significance than it did during the cold war. It is no longer about the division between mankind, determining which nation is stronger, but about the survival and preservation of mankind as a whole.

From Television Series Star Trek: Space, the final frontier.

Works Cited

Carroll, Rory. Elon Musk's Mission to Mars. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2013. Web. 29 May 2016.

CODED UTOPIA. Continental Drift. N.p., 2007. Web. 29 May 2016.

Dissecting the Technology of 'The Martian' – NASA's Plan for Mars - Tested.com. Tested RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.

ISAAC ASIMOV (1982). Foundation's Edge. Halmstad: Spectra. p. 1.

Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers. Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.

Now Is the Time to Colonize Mars, Elon Musk Says. Space.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.

Pics about Space. Milky Way Galaxy Clip Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.

Sputnik. Sputnik. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

[Week 8] Nanoscience - The next revolution of the human race

Nanoscience revolutionizes the way we think in two major ways: Philosophically and Scientifically.


The philosophy of “Seeing”
We naturally develop the instinct of believing what they see. An image is often the first step in confirming the existence of any object. Now, we have reached a point where vision can no longer help us understand our subject of study, and this may be a good thing. We have been forced to innovate beyond using the eye to interpret the world, which may lead us to better understand it. 

In physics, we’ve learned about real and virtual images. Through deeper understanding, we know that images are simply light waves that are observed by the eye and interpreted by the mind. In other words, our brains tell us what we see. Therefore in a philosophical sense, how real are the things that we see?

A schematic 3D description of an atomic force microscope (AFM).
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology depend on sensory interpretation, because we are unable to see the things that are happening on an atomic level. In my opinion, when dealing in areas beyond our understanding, vision can be a liability. A perception based on touch is in many senses more real than that of seeing. However, a sensory perception still needs to be conveyed via visual representation, and this is where art becomes crucial, in interpreting and communicating what we perceive through touch.

The Science of treating the cause and not the symptom
In all of human history, we have studied everything in the collective: A plant, an animal, the human body…We were able to understand the world around us on the surface. We study the symptoms and thus treat the symptoms when needed.

Nanobots killing a virus.
Nanoscience opens up a door into an entirely new world in which the human race could venture into. Nanoscience deals with matters on an atomic level, which means we are manipulating the very building blocks of the universe itself. Comprehension of the building blocks itself versus the comprehension of systems as a collective in analogous to understanding the symptoms versus the cause in a patient. Manipulation of individual atoms has huge significance in terms of how we understand the world and how we go around solving problems. From medical sciences to sustainable energy, nanotechnology has the potential to reinvent the wheel itself in many disciplines.


Through the study and understanding of atomic level matter, Nanoscience will revolutionize the way we perceive and interact with the world. As physicist Richard Feynman lecture famously states: “There is plenty of room at the bottom.”

Works Cited 
"Can Art Make Nanotechnology Easier to Understand?" National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Compound Microscope." Compound Microscope. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

Gimzewski, Jim, and Victoria Vesna. "The Nanoneme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact and Fiction in the Construction of a New Science." Technoetic Arts Technoetic Arts 1.1 (2003): 7-24. Web.

"Images, Real and Virtual." Images, Real and Virtual. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Introduction to Nanotechnology – Images." Nanowerk. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Nanotechnology Now." Nanotechnology Art Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

"There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"(Richard Feynman, Pasadena, 29 December 1959)." Metamodern RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.

"Visualizing the Universe: Color - The Future of Human Evolution." The Future of Human Evolution. N.p., 2013. Web. 22 May 2016.

Monday, May 16, 2016

[week 7] Neuroscience and Art

What is a soul? What makes up the human subconscious? How do you express and define emotion in terms of science? Neuroscience is an emerging field that attempts to quantify the intangible qualities of the human mind.

“Science needs art to frame mystery, but art needs science so that not everything is a mystery.” This is by far my favorite quote from our readings. Written by Jonah Lehrer, and referenced by Frazzetto and Anker in Neuroculture, I think it articulately sums up the dynamic between art and neuroscience.

Only in recent decades has technology advanced to the point where it is beginning to be possible to for us explain some of the mysteries that shrouds the mind. Because neuroscience addresses subjects that are metaphysical, it is extremely difficult, and even inappropriate, to formulate the subject simply with equations and laboratories. This is where art complements neuroscience, because art shares so many inexplicable qualities with the mind. The mystery, vagueness, and creativity that is art more wholesomely captures the attributes of the mind.

The metaphysical exists, and humans have been aware of it since ancient times. Due to the lack of knowledge, these subjects are often framed in the context of religion, faith, and superstition. Not to say the religion does not have its place among men, I think it is very much necessary. But it does not serve the function of exploring and understanding the human mind.

From how an individual buyer behaves to how nations interact with one another, the study of neuroscience is significant in demystifying human behavior. Due to the philosophical and spiritual nature of the human mind, Art plays a remarkable role in helping better understand and communicate what we know as Neuroscience.

Works Cited 

Bell, Vaughan. "Marketing Has Discovered Neuroscience, but the Results Are More Glitter than Gold." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2015. Web. 16 May 2016.

Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Suzanne Anker. "Neuroculture." Nature Reviews | Neuroscience 10 (2009): 815-20. Web.

Henderson, Linda Dalrymple. "The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: Conclusion." Leonardo 17.3 (1984): 205. Web.

Karen Weintraub, Special for USA TODAY. "Brain a 'creativity Machine,' If You Use It Right." USA Today. Gannett, 2013. Web. 16 May 2016.

"Solutions ." Consumer Neuroscience. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. 

Ulanov, Ann Belford. Religion and the Spiritual in Carl Jung. New York: Paulist, 1999. Print. 

"What Neuroscience Tells Us About Consumer Desire." HBS Working Knowledge. N.p., 2012. Web. 16 May 2016.

Whitler, Kimberly A. "What Can CMOs Learn From Neuroscience?" Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.

Monday, May 9, 2016

[Week 6] Bio-Art

In the past weeks we have explored many characteristics of an artist. Surrealists reinterpreted the reality of the physical world. Cyborgs redefined the parameters between humans and robots. Artists often like to challenge boundaries and limitations of their own world, because innovation many times require the breakdown of the current order. However, as technology continually advances, creativity and innovations may come with consequences.

Mapping neurons in the retina, research supported by MIT and Princeton.

"Ear on Arm" by Stelarc.
As we explore the topic bio-art, we find ourselves in a muddle of ethical predicaments. In recent decades, artists began collaborating with biologist to pioneer in the new field of art, using living tissues, cells, and organisms as a medium for expression. Although using nature as a canvas creates art that is certainly profoundly provocative, ethical problems do arise along with dealing with living organisms.

Myoblasts attached to spherical microcarriers.
Due to its unique nature and its intimacy with us as the human species, biology is a field that is treated with its own set of moral and ethical standards. As discussed in the Outlaw Symposium essay, large corporations and universities have distinctly structured “Big Bio”, dominating the direction in which innovation flourishes. Therefore the involvement of  “outlaw” biologists and the public is crucial in order to preserve the kind of organic creativity that inspires true innovation.

Alba: Eduardo Kac's fluorescent rabbit.
Bio-artists certainly fall under the category of outlaw biologists. Using the very building blocks of nature itself for expression is arguably the most primal form of art. However, this dives into ethical areas in which our laws today do not accommodate. It is not to say that one should not challenge the confinements of society even when it comes to biology, but laws need to evolve to accommodate such innovation to protect human kind altogether.

"Bioart: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Using Living Tissue as a Medium." Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, n.d. Web. 09 May 2016.

Kelty, Christopher M. "Outlaw, Hackers, Victorian Amateurs: D Iagnosing Public Participation in the Life Sciences Today." Journal of Science Communication (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Levy, Ellen K. "Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications." (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Person, and George Dvorsky. "7 Bio-Artists Who Are Transforming the Fabric of Life Itself." Io9. N.p., 2013. Web. 09 May 2016.

Vaage, Nora S. "What Ethics for Bioart?" Nanoethics. Springer Netherlands, n.d. Web. 09 May 2016.

Vincent, Alice E. "Bioart: Science, Art Or Just Playing God?" The Huffington Post UK. N.p., 2012. Web. 09 May 2016.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

[Event 1] Toni Dove - Robotics in entertainment

As we touch on the topics of Robotics, we spend a lot of time examining robotics in fields of production, medicine, and military, because robots are often associated to technological innovation. But we often forget that innovation has its significance in art. In a way, entertainment pioneered robotics. I believe that artistic portrayals of robots help contribute to the evolution of robots. Imagination is key to advancement, and concepts of Robots, as we’ve seen in class, originated from plays and fiction.

Currently the most prevalent art form that robotics are present in are films. Movies such as I-robot, The Matrix, Terminator, all explore different philosophical natures of robotics, and often exaggerate the functionalities of robots, in a way foreshadowing technological advancements in certain directions. However, there is a form of entertainment where robotics are rarely seen and incorporated, and that is live performances.

Picture of Miss Dove and me
Toni Dove is a pioneer in such a field. On April 19th, I attended Toni Dove’s lecture on her work, and it was nothing short of fascinating. Room for creativity and innovation behind incorporating robotics for visual purposes is endless. What was most interesting to me, however, was her underlying theme through my interpretation, that is the interactions and blurring boundaries between humans and robots.I’d recommend her events for experience of visual interpretation of relationships between man and machine.

A scene from Miss Toni Dove's show.
Miss Dove's costume design sketch
Toni Doves work, from incredible lighting effects to intricately designed metal costumes, reflect this sort of intimate relationship between humans and robots. It is during her lecture that it strikes me how engineers and artists perceive robotics from a fundamentally different viewpoint. When I encounter robotics as an engineer we see the mechanical aspects of it, the programming, the coding, the wires. However, the theme of robotics in Toni Doves cinema explores how robots connect to humans. Two visual examples are her costume designs that incorporate large quantities of metals and robotic features, and her idea of using motion mimicking robots. To me, Toni Dove is challenging the current boundaries between a human and robot through visual stimulation. It is not just Dove, if one examines robotics in films, such as many of the blockbusters I’ve previously mentioned, it is clear that the focus is not on the technology itself. Every fiction or movie has its own interpretation of what being a robot means, and they often explore the kind of robot that develops characteristics that are human.

Sonny, from I-Robot.

As robotics continue to advance, it may reach a point where robots will develop more and more human characteristics that are beyond the physical. It is important for all of us (artist and engineers alike) to reflect upon the meaning and ethical implications that underlie this trend.