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.