Monday, June 6, 2016

Event 3: X-Men Apocalypse

Keeping up with my unorthodox approach of going to events/places that are not necessarily recommended, I went to see the movie X-men: Apocalypse. You might ask, what exactly is so special about another typical action movie? Simple. The whole concept of X-men is based on biotechnology (genetic mutation) and medical technology (enhancements to the X-men's powers). How does the art factor in? Well, film itself is an art and the imagination of genetic mutations leading to superpowers is also attributed to a form of artistic expression.
To start, we can start with the biotechnology that was used to enhance Apocalypse's powers. In addition to amplifying his powers, Apocalypse's acquired biotechnology allowed him to transfer his "consciousness" between bodies. While it is not necessarily an "artistic" process, but I thought that concept of how this technology was conceived and portrayed film was quite intriguing as an artistic outlet. 
Mid-transfer Apocalypse
Consequently, medical technologies such as Cyclops's glasses allow him to see and not laser everything he looks at. Again, the actually technology is not particularly artistic to me, but as with the previous statement, I find the expression of the "idea" in film is rather artistic. 
Those are Ray-Bans too.
Since this is not a movie review or a synopsis, I will not get too much into the details regarding the movie. However, if students want to observe the imaginations of biotechnology or medical technology at its finest, then look no further. However, I do struggle quite a bit in terms of finding an additional artistic aspect of such a science-based film. For my peers that are just as science-y as I am, I would recommend you to watch this movie to see the connection between an artistic outlet and some of the best scientific concepts I have seen to date. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Event 2: UCLA Sculpture Garden

As in my last event post, I once again visited a location where artistic displays were free to access. This time around, I visited our own backyard, UCLA's sculpture garden. While not often visited by a majority of students, the sculptures in the garden are all important artistic pieces in their own right. In fact, the sculpture garden is an extension of Hammer museum, indicating the significance of the works displayed there.
Since my last post regarding my visit to LACMA's Urban Lights, I have been consistently intrigued by the mathematics behind my art. Since I didn't exactly iterate this last time, I must confess that I have always thought art to be "abstract" and perhaps even "formless". However, with concepts of ratios and calculations that were explained by Dr. Vesna, I can now only focus on the mathematical angles and lines in the artwork that I see.

For this particular artwork, T.E. UCLA, the way the steel pieces are bent seems almost as complex and beautiful as a calculus parabolic graph. Not only is the shape intriguingly beautiful, but the choice of material (weathered steel) shows the depth of artistic thought placed into the making of this project.

What makes this sculpture truly worthwhile is the "open space" that people can enter. When you are in the middle of the sculpture, it is as if you can feel the metallic embrace of the structure. Perhaps, I can even say I feel "at peace" or "protected".
Therefore, I feel like for students who haven't visited this particular structure, I highly encourage them to do so. It is an unique experience that all UCLA student should enjoy at least once. Perhaps after finals week or even during the hectic chaos of finals, students can come here to feel the same "peace" I felt. This sculpture definitely allowed me to enjoy the math behind art and I wish my peers could feel the same way as well.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week 9 "Space+ Art"

Space, the final frontier, has always been considered as a destination shrouded in mystery. With mystery comes the prospect of inspiration and creativity. In fact, images and topics relating to space have often been related with the concept of "art". From futuristic "space-age" drawings to the designs of space "invaders" such as the Alien (from Alien film series), space provides artists with an abundant source of niches in which to project their creativity and thoughts.
H.R. Giger's artistic concept of the "Space Jockeys" for the Alien film series
While artistic space-related drawings have often been definitive of the "art" associated with space, some actually consider images of space as rather artistic as well. For example, images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA-related images have been deemed as artistic, if not, art.
Nebulas such as this would seem like a creative piece from a modern artist
Of course, art itself is an age-old craft. Despite never having seen the stars with the clarity we do today, famous painters from the past have also used the cosmos as their inspiration to produce some of the most important paintings of this century.
Van Gogh's "Starry Night" is the paramount of space-inspried art from the past
Therefore, it can said that space/cosmos has been intertwined since long ago. Even without modern technologies such as the Hubble Space Telescope, artists have been using the stars as their inspiration for many years. Of course, now that we do have telescopes that can take high resolution images of the stars and beyond, we have started to appreciate the beauty of space.

"Space and Art." - NASA Watch. Web. 29 May 2016.
Foust, Jeff. "When Space and Art Intersect." The Space Review:. Web. 29 May 2016.
"Vincent Van Gogh Gallery." Vincent Van Gogh Gallery. Web. 29 May 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 8 "Nanotech + Art"

Before we focus on the "bigger" things such as space, we can also find artistic inspirations in the microscopic field. With nanotechnology going on the rise, not only are we able to observe microscopic images to great detail, we can also express our artistic creativity by engineering projects through nanotechnology.
Microscopic images such as these are often confused with contemporary designs 
By observing these microscopic structures, we can further apply these artistic concepts into normal scale designs,. Whether it's furniture or for understanding how to make better materials, microscopy such as the STM or TEM have served as an inspiration for many designers.

In addition to just viewing these images and getting inspiration, artists have also engineered their art into a microscopic form. With the advent of nanotechnology, it is without a doubt that engineers have tried to "nano-ize" daily items. For example, engineers have constructed a fully operational microscopic violin that is only a couple of microns long. Music itself is considered as an art form, and with that, engineers have crafted a micron length tool of art.
But who can play it?
Other than real-world application of nanotechnology, the term and concept of  "nanotechnology" have often been a hot topic for films. For example, the film GI Joe uses the concept of nanobots as a potential weapon of mass destruction. While the concept of how nanotechnology was used is not necessarily artistic, the use of "nanotechnology" as a futuristic tool was portrayed in an art form: film.

Based on this week's material, I would say that NOVA's videos and the lecture slides were the most useful in establishing the connection between art and nanotechnology. While the website were useful for understanding "nanotechnology", the lack of a connection with the artistic side did not help too much.

" ." STM Image Gallery. Web. 23 May 2016.
"'Nano Violin String' Made of Vibrating Carbon Nanotube (w/ Video)." 'Nano Violin String' Made of Vibrating Carbon Nanotube (w/ Video). Web. 23 May 2016.
"''Nano Violin String'' by Delft Researchers in Science." Delft University of Technology. Web. 23 May 2016.
Person, and Alasdair Wilkins. "Nano-violin Has Strings a Millionth of an Inch Thick...but You Can Hear It Play." Io9. 2010. Web. 23 May 2016.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week 7 "Neuroscience + Art"

Over this week's lecture, it was clear that the focus of the material was on the consciousness of an individual. In the discussion of consciousness, several points such as drug use, psyche, and biological basis. While consciousness can be interpreted as an amalgamation of non-computable components, the biological basis (chemicals, neurons, etc) all come together to form the single "entity" that is us. However, this consciousness, as discussed in the lectures, is shown to be a rather delicate process. For example, an irregular psyche can lead to destabilizing your consciousness, or even going as far as taking recreational drugs.
Extremely easy to affect the conscious
Of course, as the UCLA study (Luders) shows other activity that are not deemed detrimental may possibly enhance the biological matter that comprises our "consciousness". While different actions we perform may alter the way we think, it is undeniable that "exploring" recreational drugs such as cocaine may have a profound effect on the way humans think. For example, in the lecture, it is mentioned that Freud was an avid user of cocaine; however, Freud is primarily known for his theories of the id, ego, superego. So does that mean we should all do drugs and become famous thinkers? No.
While it is known that many thinkers have had their fair share of substance abuse, there are also ways to "expand your mind"- such as meditation
Picasso's Femme Au Cafe 
Just as many great thinkers have used drugs, there are also many famous painters who've turned to substances to expand their creative mind. Painters such as Van Gogh and Picasso were all avid users of absinthe, a strong alcoholic drink known for its peculiar effects. While substance abuse is usually not glorified, but in the painting above, it is noted by Picasso that the woman is actually enjoying a glass of absinthe. This goes to show how there can be a connection between neurological processes and how if we try to alter it, it can be related to arts.
TRIP HARD (not advertising getting high)
Overall, I feel like this week's material, despite supposedly being centered around neuroscience and art, it was actually best shown as a discussion regarding "what is consciousness" and also how substances have had profound effects on famous thinkers and even those who analyze the mind (Freud, Jung, and etc). To really understand this week's material, I'd have to say the lectures were the best sources. The readings included felt a little irrelevant (in regards to the lecture), but were informative nonetheless.



Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6 "Biotech + Art"

This week's topic, biotechnology and art was something that I never really thought could be connected. However, on the last segment of the lectures, I finally grasped the concept of how they can be hand-in-hand. For most life science majors, the majority of the students have known about genetic crossovers and how genetic technologies can be used to create  "hybrids" of certain flowers. In fact, flower color and species crossovers are the textbook examples of the various kinds of effects genetic engineering can have on flowers. On the other hand, these flowers can be viewed as a form of art, or perhaps, the mixing of genetics of the flowers to create the desired colors in a flower could be similar to mixing paint to create the perfect painting.
Gregor Mendel,  the father of genetics and the person who showed me how genetics can affect the color of flowers if you crossbreed them. 
While the genetic crossing over of flowers is the textbook example, there are also other cases where biotechnology can be used to create "art". I have to emphasize the word "art" because art comes in many forms and its appeal affects people differently. With flowers, most people can understand it's a romantic or sweet gesture, or even an beautiful orchard can be an artistic masterpiece. However, with genetic crossovers, hybrids of particular species, such as butterflies can create an incredibly beautiful hybrid butterfly.
See link:
As shown in the lectures, a completely 'unnatural" product of animal genetic engineering can result in fluorescent animals. While this might be considered bizarre by some individuals, others may perceive it as art. Inevitably, different expressions of science, through biotechnology, can show that science can be perceived as art.
As for the sources that best helped me understand the concept of biotechnology and art, I felt like movies such as Jurassic World and The Fly. Unfortunately, I'm may not be as artistic as my peers, so I found these sources as either scientifically interesting or weird. However, I can understand how some might find these sources as artistic in their own way. As I have said at the start of the post, I do feel that the true topic that made the connection of biotechnology and art was the concept of genetic engineering of flowers. 

  • "Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Is a Hybrid of Two Other Swallowtails, Scientists Find." Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Is a Hybrid of Two Other Swallowtails, Scientists Find. Web. 09 May 2016.
  • "Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Is a Hybrid of Two Other Swallowtails, Scientists Find." Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Is a Hybrid of Two Other Swallowtails, Scientists Find. Web. 09 May 2016.
  • D.L. ParsellNational Geographic News January 11, 2002. "Fluorescent Mice Herald Gene-Transfer Breakthrough." National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 09 May 2016.
  • "Generating Green Fluorescent Mice by Germline Transmission of Green Fluorescent ES Cells." Generating Green Fluorescent Mice by Germline Transmission of Green Fluorescent ES Cells. Web. 09 May 2016.
  • "GLOWING ANIMALS: Pictures of Beasts Shining for Science." National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 09 May 2016.
  • Hansen, Lauren. "7 Genetically Modified Animals That Glow in the Dark." 7 Genetically Modified Animals That Glow in the Dark. 2013. Web. 09 May 2016.