Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 4 - Medicine, Technology, and Art

Body modification taken to the extreme
Medicine is an ever expanding field, and with the recent increase in body modifications, the realm of medical technology and art is continuing to grow. The particulars of body modification can range from implants, to injections, to removing sections of tissue, and everything in between. The human art modification I'll be looking into is the recent trend in physique modification; particularly with the use of drugs. Media has done a great job at promoting a pristine and statuesque model for what the perfect male and female body should look like. Aside from mental insecurities for anyone outside of this 1% of model humans, this often drives people to desperate measures to attain these glorified physiques.

Cartoon exhibiting body dysmorphia
From an artistic perspective, we can view someone trying to change their body as a type of art; with the person as the artist and the artwork at the same time. For example, we can look at a bodybuilder as a sculptor; with their body as their own living and ever changing sculpture. They are using their own body to represent the way they wish to be viewed by any given audience. In this sense, the person has changed their physiology to be interpreted by others in a brand new way. Sounds like art to me. However, the scary side to this type of body modification comes with the diseases and medicine associated with extreme cases of body modification.

Statistics on body dysmorphia

Diseases like bulimia, anorexia, and body dysmorphia are more prevalent than ever in children, teenagers, and young adults. During these critical periods in life, people learn how to form friendships and how to fit in with their respective crowds. However, social broadcasting hinders people from thinking of themselves with utmost confidence. This lack of self confidence or a sense of ones' self lacking value can push people to the extreme and experiment with drugs to help obtain results.

Drugs like metabolism boosters, fat burners, and hormonal therapies are coincidentally trending higher in usage along with the increase in dysmorphic diseases. Which shows that these people are seeking out extreme methods to "cure" themselves from originality to become another idolized extreme physique in society.

These drugs ruin a person's internal homeostasis, and can have serious long term effects on health. But despite the risk, there is still a huge draw to having one of these extreme body types, and people will stop at nothing to make it their reality.


 Brooks, Peter. "Pumping Iron Documentary - Arnold Schwarzenegger." YouTube. YouTube, 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Carvajal, Andres. "Body Dysmorphic Disorder." PositiveMed. 16 May 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

 Diaz, Jesus. "Woman With Most Extreme Body Modifications Just Got Even More Extreme." Gizmodo. Allure Media, 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Retina, Melinda, M.D. "Diet Pills, Prescription Weight Loss Drugs, Appetite Suppressants." WebMD. WebMD, 04 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. 

 University of California, Los Angeles. "Why the Mirror Lies: Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder See Their Own Faces Differently." 1 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

UConlineprogram. "Medicine Pt3." YouTube. 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Event 2 - Poetry: The Kinetics – Black Mountain College’s Literary Descendants

Black Mountain College in its minimalistic entirety
This past Thursday I stopped by the Hammer Museum to listen to a few students from Black Mountain College pay homage to their pride and joy. They are all acclaimed scholars in the field of literature and poetry, but their messages pervade art and science the same. The four speakers present were: Michael Davidson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Duncan McNaughton, and Michael Palmer. The one speaker that stood out the most to me was Michael Davidson. He was the first speaker, and gave a history on Black Mountain College. He explained how the pillars of the school included an interdisciplinary approach to studies, it furnished individual initiative, and required community service and engagement. These pillars were meant to mold Black Mountain students into a well-rounded and engaged member of society. He described a college where the faculty was hardly differentiated from the students, and there was no administration. The pay was minimal, and the students and teachers were expected to learn from one another in a holistic approach to education. The school mainly furnished studies in the overarching field of Humanities, but welcomed scholars from any field who wished to collaborate with the great young minds of this liberal arts college.

He read aloud two poems, one by Robert Duncan entitled, "Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow," and another by Robert Creeley entitled, "The Immortal Proposition." The first had to do with sensation, using provocative language to have the reader see, feel, smell, taste, and hear the happenings at this enchanted meadow. Nature is hailed as the immaculate setting in this work, and the sensation of nature is quantified through the poem. This type of physical reality is what many scientists work to improve on, but in this poem, nature is praised to have the utmost potential for us to explore and "return to" it's perfection whenever we'd like. Science tries to copy and then enhance these experiences to appease our over-expectant standards, such as taking a natural herbal remedy and and extracting a powerful drug from it, but this is unnecessary according to Duncan's view of nature. In stark contrast, "The Immoral Proposition" took an internal and more philosophical position on activity. It petitions everyone to set aside egos or predispositions in order to work toward a common goal. This seemed like an even more applicable topic when dealing with elitist scientists and exclusive artists. The possibilities when these two types scholars come together are boundless, and looking back, this was the exact message Black Mountain College longed to instill in their students; to inspire a subject expansive network of scholars collaborating for the common good.
Brochure and poem
handout at the event
Introduction to the panel of speakers taken at the event
Ticket stub at the event


Creeley, Robert, and René Laubiès. The Immoral Proposition. Karlsruhe-Durlach/Baden: Jargon, 1953. Print.

Davidson, Michael, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Duncan McNaughton, and Michael Palmer. "Poetry - The Kinetics." Black Mountain College's Literary Descendents. Hammer Museum, Westwood. 14 Apr. 2016. Reading.

Duncan, Robert. The Opening of the Field: Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow. New York: Grove, 1960. Print.

"Black Mountain College." State Archives of North Carolina: Natural and Cultural Resources. State Archives North Carolina. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Hammer Readings - Poetry: The Kinetics - Black Mountain College's Literary Descendants." The Hammer Museum. One Long House, 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Week 3 - Robotics&Art

A workshop in China for mass
producing various artwork

Society typically welcomes industrialization and the factory style commodification of goods. This lowers prices and makes products more accessible to the masses. But this can also lower the quality and intrinsic value of the product. With respect to art, industrialization is scorned for its devaluing effect, and the anonymity it gives to each piece of art that flies out of the soulless warehouses and into the commercial markets. Walter Benjamin said it best, "Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be" (Benjamin, Section 3). Art has always
Cartoon referencing Heraclitus' famous proverb
thrived on the qualitative value given to it by the artist. The substance of the piece is always in direct relation to the era's society and the artist's personal or emotional state. It reminds me of the old adage, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man" (Goodreads). Every brush stroke, every drop that hits the canvas, even if they were unintended, gives the piece meaning.
It's the artist's thoughts, intentions, and emotions being immortalized in a work of art that transcends the idea of a simple picture or work; and this expression of said intangibles in a timeless piece is what makes true art. By trying to recreate a timeless piece, we are actually destroying that piece's significance. It stands for much more than the visible image, so by simply copying the image onto another sheet of canvas, we are shedding the art's real significance.

Japanese robots are manufactured to look as real as possible
When we study a more joint field between art and technology, such as robotics, we realize that the societal view is different from culture to culture. Both east and west accept the use of robotics in subservient positions, but cringe at the thought of artificial intelligence. These feelings range from angry factory workers being replaced by robotics, to paranoia over personal assistant robots one day taking over the world such as in the acclaimed film I, Robot. The main difference and debate over new "humanoid" robots is how "human" a robot should look. China and Japan push for a human-looking robot to allow for warmer acceptance of robots in day-to-day life; while westerners believe a more distinct visual discrepancy is necessary to remind the public of the paramount differences robots have from humans. As time progresses, it seems likely that robotics will be playing a larger role in both art and our everyday lives, and I'm anxious to see how this technology is incorporated into society.


 Balfelt, Kenneth A. "What Happens When Art Is Sold and Enters Commodification? Art as Free Floating Signifiers." Art Projects by Kenneth A Balfelt. 16 May 2001. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Benjamin, Walter, and J. A. Underwood. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. London: Penguin, 2008. Print.

"A Quote by Heraclitus." Goodreads. Goodreads Inc. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Gurney, James. "Gurney Journey: The Art of Copying." Gurney Journey: The Art of Copying. 21 July 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Kasahara, Machiko. "Robotics MachikoKusahara 1." YouTube. 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Linshi, Jack. "These Human Robots Will Haunt Your Nightmares." Time. Time Inc. Network, 24 June 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

I, Robot. Dir. Alex Proyas. Perf. Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, and Bruce Greenwood. 20th Century Fox, 2004. DVD.

 Raczkowski, Marek. "Marek Raczkowski Cartoons." #1 Heraclitus' Policeman. 17 May 2009. Web. 16 Apr. 2016. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Event 1 - Pinar Yoldas' Guest Lecture

Pacific Trash Vortex
Attending this guest lecture was the first instance I was able to understand what a profound impact art and science can have in tandem. Yoldas spoke of her work into ecosystem creation, and the research into environmental conservation, artistic design, and bioengineering of organisms and systems that could reside in a habitat as inhospitable as the Pacific Trash Vortex.

Yoldas' project delved into this new anthropocenic status our world and biosphere is residing in, and how our waste has created a new ecosystem in our deep oceans which Yoldas calls the "Plastosphere" (Yoldas, 4/5/16 Lecture). She took note of the devastation this waste was causing to the natural wildlife, and took it upon herself to act. So she came up with an idea to introduce a new set of species to inhabit this ecosystem and utilize this trash. The long-term benefit would be a constant inhabitance of the various plastics trapped in the Pacific Ocean, and possibly even breaking down the trash until the introduced organisms are no longer needed. She didn't stop at just an idea, and went on to speak of her viable bioengineered organs that assimilate with plastic digesting bacterium and microbials, and how these organisms could reduce the impact of plastic waste on Earth.

Yoldas' bioengineered organs
Bird from the Plastic Vortex region that had
consumed so much plastic that its stomach
couldn't fit real food, therefore the animal
starved to death (from Yoldas' Lecture)

Next, Yoldas spoke of her despise for cage-fed chicken coops and elaborated on the horrendous conditions in which these chickens are kept for the entirety of their pitiful lives. She took it upon herself, once again, to come up with a solution to this atrociousness. After tons of research and development, she came up with the "Fool's Foal" (Yoldas, 4/5/16 Lecture). This work of living art and science is a living organism that was bioengineered with the necessary functioning organs to produce edible eggs, similar to a chicken, on a timely fashion. This type of science made me think that she's "playing God" and exercising her creative mind. But in actuality, she was accomplishing her solution to a terrible societal problem that most people had swept under the rug.

Cage fed chicken coops cramped conditions
Fool's Fowl design (from Yoldas' Lecture)
Fool's Fowl design - "zoomed" (from Yoldas' Lecture)

This type of science was mind blowing to me. It sounded like she was trying to play "God" at first, but the more I listened, it sounded more like an artist coming up with a very atypical solution to a problem. I love the not-so-straightforward creative aspect that is involved in wanting to make a stomach for plastics or a living egg factory. Something about the ingenuity and scientific application really makes me appreciate science and art so much more. Seeing the various applications of bio-art makes me want to get in on all the fun and I look forward to learning about more insightful ventures this quarter. 
sheet from Yoldas' lecture.
Aka extra proof I was actually there.


 "Meet Your Meat: Eggs." Powered By Produce. 23 Mar. 10. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. 

 Tang, Calvin. "The North Pacific Trash Vortex." CalvinTang. 28 Nov. 2006. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

 Yoldas, Pinar. "Pinar Yoldas: An Ecosystem of Excess | 2000m²." 2000m. Agricultural and Rural Convention, 24 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. 

 Yoldas, Pinar. "Pinar Yoldas." Pinar Yoldas. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. 

 Yoldas, Pinar. "Speculative Biology", UCLA Lecture. 05 Apr. 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week 2 - Art&Math

I found it incredible that so many ancient artists incorporated mathematics into their works such as Albrecht Durer. He pioneered a new era of perspective and shadowing using mathematics he learned while in Italy. He learned of ideal proportions such as the golden ratio, and coupled this calculated style of art with shadowing techniques to create aesthetically pleasing, ideal organic structure. 
"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"
by Albrecht Durer

Take Durer's famous painting, "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," where shadows, linear perspective, natural and artificial perspective, and horizontal lines are all used to convey depth, size, proportion, and overall natural realism. The degree of overlap between the different horses creates a line aimed towards a back-right point. Other parts of the artwork such as the sword, bow string, falling victims, and the backs of the horsemen all send parallel lines towards this same convergent spot, once again using geometric angles to create an optical perspective.

Infrastructure example of the "Golden Ratio" in the Parthenon
Biological examples of the "Golden Ratio"
Fractals, spirals, and the Fibonacci sequence all follow this same type of organic proportional increase, but it's truly fascinating how this golden ratio of Phi is noticeable in so many aspects of our natural and artificial lives. Anything from shells and hurricanes, to financial oscillations and infrastructure follow these sequences. Such aesthetically pleasing and common structures couldn't be a coincidence, and it turns out they aren't! The reason for these particular sets of proportions taking over our daily lives is because these are the most efficient patterns of growth and extension. Since the golden ratio happens to be the most efficient way for biological systems to operate, evolution has taken its course to express this golden proportion in many systems. Likewise, CEO's try to model their companies through this ever increasing series as best as they can to maintain this perfected system of growth. 

There really isn't as much juxtaposition between the fields of art, science, and math as I originally believed. In fact, they are actually very interrelated from a fundamental standpoint as shown by the golden ratio. As professor Vesna spoke of in her lecture, the juxtaposition comes from society's belief that art and science are two polar opposite fields of study, as well as society's subsequent decision to isolate these fields from one another while we are just starting our education. Which is why we are unfortunately never exposed to these two subjects in tandem at a young age.

 "Albrecht Durer - The Complete Works." Albrecht Durer - The Complete Works. Creative Commons License, Jan. 2002. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Banker, Teresa. "Biological Connection to Golden Ratio." Biological Connection to Golden Ratio. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Pierce, Rod. "Golden Ratio" Math Is Fun. Ed. Rod Pierce. 27 Dec 2015. 11 Apr 2016
 Rose, Vicky. "The Golden Ratio: A Brief Introduction." Totem Learning. 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "" YouTube. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week1 - TwoCultures

Tattoo Artist who created a word readable as "Art & Science" right-side up
and "Philosophy" upside-down to express his love for both fields of study.
In Snow's The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution, he brings up the polarizing fields of science and literature. He asserts that these two disparaging cultures lead to a "practical and intellectual and creative loss" for society (Snow 12). I acknowledge that fundamental differences exist between these two fields of study; but that doesn't necessarily mean that we lose out when learning about two polar opposite cultures.

I've been raised in two different ethnic cultures, and I've appreciated the disparity that I've been exposed to. It has shaped my mind to acknowledge multiple perspectives of similar issues, and look at "importance" as a relative and malleable term. On top of that, I know that there are always ideals that bridge the gap between any seemingly varied notions.

On one side of my parental family, there stands a classic white, republican, midwestern patriarch with strong ideals and an even firmer domestic presence. He was a part of a small, strict family and believes in traditional national ideals with overall looser family ties. Growing up in the mid-west he was never really exposed to multiple cultures, until coming to California for work after college.
Woman protests the active and often violent actions that
stem from immigration from Mexico into Arizona.

On the other side, I have my gentle migrant mother, one of seven, who didn't even know English until she was a pre-teen. She has always held family above all else, thinks with her heart, and keeps close ties to everyone who stayed behind in Mexico. She was picked on and discriminated against in her family's early years in California, and as she went through school, but grew from those experiences into a well-established member of society.

The crazy part of having parents from such different walks of life isn't having two Christmases or Easters, it's thinking about how impossible it is that these two completely opposing parties were able to come together and not only love each other, but choose to start a family and spend the rest of their lives together. They bonded on their strong dedication, work ethic, morals, religious ideals, love of children, and desire to start their own lives with someone who held common values.

Image signifying how two different shaped, different colored "pieces" can come together.
As we progress in this class, I look forward to picking up on the subtle, but well established, commonalities between art and science that somehow hold these two very different fields in proximity to one another.


Snow, C. P. “Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.” Reading. 1959. New York: Cambridge UP, 1961. Print.

Vesna, Victoria. “Toward a Third Culture: Being in Between.” Leonardo 34.2 (2001): 121-25. Web.

NBC Chicago. Chicago Protestors: Don't Deport Our Economy, Photograph Accessed April 3, 2016. <>

Cooter, Margaret. Scientist vs. artist?, Photograph, March 4, 2011.

Offshore Racing Association. Offshore Racing Association and US Sailing working together for handicap racing, Photograph, July 3, 2015.