Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Event #3: Revealing Creation: The Science and Art of Ancient Maya Ceramics

(Wall description of the exhibition.)
When I was looking at the LACMA website to find current exhibitions to attend for my last event assignment, it was this exhibition that really caught my attention. The title itself not only fits perfectly with title of our course (DESMA 9: Science, Art & Technology), but also with all the topics we have discussed thus far. 

(Wall description of LACMA's scientific analysis of ceramic pieces.)

The exhibition embodied three of the core elements of our course: Science, Art, and Technology. The science element of the exhibition included two videos and various wall descriptions (see image above) describing LACMA's scientific analysis of the Ancient ceramic pieces. The videos and wall descriptions went in depth into how the Mayan's created these ceramics and the procedures they used to do so. The technology element of the exhibition was seen when the videos and wall descriptions demonstrated the various technologies they used to analyze the ceramics, such as x-rays supporting the fact that these vessels were created by stacking rings of rolled clay on top of one another. 

(Unknown Maker. Mold-Made Rattle with Royal Woman
and Bicephalic Serpent.
(Left to Right: Unknown Maker. Figurine Whistle
of a Young Woman and Baby.
600-900., Unknown Maker.
Figurine Whistle of an Old Woman and Baby. 600-900.,
Unknown Maker. Figurine Whistle of a Monkey and Baby. 600-900.)

The last element of the exhibition was the beautiful ceramic art itself. Unfortunately, the pictures I took do not do these pieces justice! Every single piece was absolutely gorgeous, and incredibly intricate and detailed. You could truly see the science behind every piece as well, the various techniques they used on the clay, and the techniques used to fire and set the clay after molding and painting. 

(Unknown Maker. Lidded Vessel with Modeled Macaw. 250-400)

Before this exhibition, when I thought about ceramic art, rarely did the concepts of science and technology come to mind. I just thought of ceramic art, as art. After attending this exhibition, I can see how wrong I was. Ceramics, and quite frankly all art, has science behind it. LACMA went above and beyond by providing us with videos that investigated the science behind all of the pieces, of which I found to be extremely interesting. This exhibition truly represented the intersection of science, art, and technology. I would definitely recommend this event to every single person, and encourage them all to attend! If you are interested in ceramics and want to know more about the science and technology behind it, attend this event! I can say with all honestly that this event was truly interesting and taught me so much about the rich history behind ceramic art. 

(Selfie with Lidded Wessel with Modeled Macaw.)

Nejat, Ashley. "LACMA Selfie." 2016. JPG file.

Nejat, Ashley. "Wall description of the exhibition." 2016. JPG file.

Nejat, Ashley. "Wall description of LACMA's scientific analysis of ceramic pieces." 2016. JPG file. 

Unknown Maker. Figurine Whistle of a Monkey and Baby. 600-900. Ceramic with post-fire pigment. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Unknown Maker. Figurine Whistle of an Old Woman and Baby. 600-900. Ceramic with post-fire pigment. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Unknown Maker. Figurine Whistle of a Young Woman and Baby. 600-900. Ceramic with post-fire pigment. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Unknown Maker. Lidded Vessel with Modeled Macaw. 250-400. Slip painted ceramic. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Unknown Maker. Mold-Made Rattle with Royal Woman and Bicephalic Serpent. 600-900. Ceramic. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Unit 9: Space + Art

(Inside the Orion Nebula by Reinhold Wittich.)
Wow, what a way to end the course! As Professor Vesna mentioned, this week's topic of Space + Art combines all of our previous science and art topics together to create one fascinating lesson that flawlessly sums up our entire course. This week we became aware of all aspects of this space and art topic; from the history of the solar system and Capernacus, to the history behind the space race and the atomic bomb, to space fantasy popular culture, and finally to various space and art projects. 

(Race to Space poster.)
The curiosity behind our Earth and the incredible universe it exists within has been around for many many years. As Carl Sagan explains, Earth is a "pale blue dot," a lonesome dot in the lonely surrounding dark of a vast universe. The curiosity and intrigue encompassing this relatively unknown space is the influence behind the creation of numerous works in popular culture, such as the movies E.T., Star Wars, and Alien. The space age, in a sense, paved the way for the public's captivation with space, and began the intertwining of scientific exploration and the film industry. Because so much of space is a mystery, artists and filmmakers alike are able to use their creativity to essentially fill in the gaps to produce amazing films, TV shows, and art. 
(John Alvin's original art for the poster for the film E.T.)
Aside from popular culture and mass media, scientists are using art to gain a further understanding of the science of space. The UCLA Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) studies the fundamental properties of plasma that advances the understanding of applications like fusion energy and space science. Research projects conducted at the BaPSF embody the combination of space, art, and nanotechnology. Operational procedures using facility tools, such as Laser Induced Fluorescence, encourage the exchange of information across divergent areas of research where the basic properties of plasmas are important. 
(Engineering project at the UCLA Basic Plasma Science Facility.)
This week's topic was by far the most fascinating, and I wish I could write more than the 400 word limit! The topic of space and art fused together produces limitless creative opportunities that helps both scientists and artists further understand space and the surrounding universe. The space age has promoted an abundance of imagination that has lead to some truly amazing works that have been very influential in space research. I am very excited to see what the future of space research has in store for us!

"A Pale Blue Dot." Big Sky Astro Club. Big Sky Astronomy Club, n.d. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://www.bigskyastroclub.org/pale_blue_dot.html>

Basic Plasma Science Facility at UCLA. University of California, Los Angeles, 2014. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://plasma.physics.ucla.edu/index.html>

Boucher, Marc. "Space and Art." NASA Watch. NASA Watch, 30 May 2013. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://nasawatch.com/archives/2013/05/space-and-art.html>

Vesna, Victoria. "8 space pt1." YouTube. UC online program, 29 Jul. 2013. Web. 29 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=86&v=6ZIqTR33218>

Vesna, Victoria. "Space intro." YouTube. UC online program, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=39&v=zzNo8A6UB00>

Vesna, Victoria. "Space pt6." YouTube. UC online program, 30 May 2012. Web. 29 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=VYmOtFjIjoM>

Alvin, John. Art for the poster for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Digital image. 1982. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://www.wired.com/2014/08/alvin-movie-poster-art/#slide-3>

Caton, Steven. UCLA Basic Plasma Science Facility engineering project. Digital image. N.d. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://www.online-geeks.com/steven-caton> 

Ultra Swank Flickr Group. Race to space. Digital image. N.d. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://www.ultraswank.net/kitsch/american-dream-1940s-1950s/>

Wittich, Reinhold. Inside the Orion Nebula. Digital image. 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130320.html>

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Event #2: In Focus: Electric!


The J. Paul Getty Museum right here in Los Angeles is quite possibly my favorite museum. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I have been to the Getty many many times and each time I find the experience to be more and more intriguing. I was beyond excited when I realized we could attend the exhibitions from the Getty for our event assignments, and knew I had to attend In Focus: Electric! 


The exhibition embodied many of the themes covered in our Unit 3 topic of Robotics + Art, especially the topics of industrialization and the invention of photography. In Unit 3 we discussed the large influence industrialization had on science and art, and how it was able to redefine the relationship between the two. Industrialization was and still is so incredibility important to the field of art, science, and technology. There were endless beneficial inventions created in the industrial age, like photography and moving images, that we still use and value so much today. Industrialization has shaped not only shaped the way we look at art, but the way we live our lives every single day. 


The In Focus: Electric! exhibition highlights 39 truly beautiful historic photographs, as well as more recent artworks, of artificial illumination. Like the topics discussed in Unit 3, this exhibition describes how electrical innovations and photography as a result of industrialization transformed our lives and our experience of light.  This exhibition focuses on how light and electricity have changed throughout the years, and how photographers used this changing idea of light to create amazing artworks. The exhibition also touches on the fact that electricity changed the way we look at darkness, and how the need for constant illumination gave rise to more industrial inventions. 


Overall, I was very happy I was able to attend this exhibition. The exhibition expanded my knowledge on industrialization, photography, and artificial light, and I found it also expanded my knowledge of our class topic of technology and art. I encourage everyone, students or not, to attend this event because quite frankly all the pieces are really awesome. If you cannot attend the exhibition, I believe everyone should still read its description on this site: (http://www.getty.edu/art/
exhibitions/focus_electric/electric_gallery_text.pdf). This exhibition will transform the way you look at light and darkness. 

(1) Morgan, Barbara. Pure Energy and Neurotic Man. 1940. Photograph. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

(2) Nejat, Tara. "Ashley at the In Focus: Electric exhibition." 2016. JPG file.

Sivak, Alexandria. "J. Paul Getty Museum Presents In Focus: Electric!" News.Getty. Getty. 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 26 May 2016. <http://news.getty.edu/press-materials/press-releases/getty-museum-exhibition-electric.htm>

(3) Sugiura, Kunie. After Electric Dress A Positive 4. 2001. Photograph. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. US News Express. Web. 26 May 2016. 

(4) Unknown Maker. Lightning Show. 1895. Photograph. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

(5) Xing, Danwen. disCONNEXION #a5. 2005. Photograph. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Unit 8: Nanotechnology + Art

Nanotechnology goes beyond everything we have ever known, it is an area where old scientific methodologies no longer work and the it is the beginning of a paradigm shift. As Dr. Gimzewski mentions, it has the potential to change the world based on both social and economic values. Because Nanotechnology involves studying materials at the nanoscale or on an atomic level, the popular expression "seeing is believing" does not apply to it, for there is nothing visible about it. 

(Medieval stained glass windows are a perfect example of the use of nanotechnology in the pre-modern period.) 

This week's lectures and readings were filled with various examples of the intersection of nanotechnology and art, of which I found to be immensely fascinating. Art allows us to use our senses, such as sound and touch, to better understand and in a way "see" the nanoscale. Art is vastly expanding our attainability to the nanoscale through the use of our alternative senses, separate from our sight. Two artworks, Nanoessence and Transjuicer, are flawless examples of this intersection of nanotechnology, art, and our senses. 

Nanoessence, created by Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy, is an interactive audio-visual installation. The viewer interacts with the presentation through his or her own breath. This project aims to engage the viewer in a sensory qualitative experience of quantitative data. What makes the Nanoessence so incredible is that it analyzes a single skin cell with and Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) in order to examine the juxtaposition between life and death at a nano level. Nanotechnology, and this project, is challenging the ideas we have about what makes something living, for at the nano level, the space of the body has no defining boundaries. 

(Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy's Nanoessence.)
Transjuicer, created by Boo Chapple, is an audio speaker made out of bone. Chapple worked with the piezoelectric nature of the bone in order to produce sound; generating sound by causing the bone to vibrate in a specific way. The motivation behind this project has to do with Chapple's desire to examine occurrences that go beyond our human ability to sense. Transjuicer amplifies the nanoscale elements of the bone so that they can be beautifully and successfully experienced at the human scale.  

(Boo Chapple's Transjuicer.) 
Nanoessence and Transjuicer, and the many other works we discussed this week, allow us to interact with nanoparticles on a sensory level that goes beyond simply "seeing." These works embody the intimate strong relationship between nanotechnology and art, and represent the fascinating work that results from their intersection. 


Anonymous. "Art in the age of nanotechnology." ArtBase. N.p., 11 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 May 2016. <https://art.base.co/event/2014-art-in-the-age-of-nanotechnology>

Gimzewski, Jim, and Victoria Vesna. The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science. VictoriaVesna, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <http://vv.arts.ucla.edu/publications/publications/02-03/JV_nano/JV_nano_artF5VG.htm>

"Nanoessence." Visiblespace, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <visiblespace.com/nanoessence/>

"Transjuicer." Science Gallery. Dublin Science Gallery, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/visceral/transjuicer/>

Vesna, Victoria. "Nanotech intro." YouTube. UC online program, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ3y6TkXJ6Y>

Vesna, Victoria. "Nanotech Jim pt1." YouTube. UC online program, 21 May 2012. Web. 21 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7jM6-iqzzE> 

"What is Nanotechnology?" Nano. National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <http://www.nano.gov/nanotech-101/what/definition> 

Chapple, Boo. Transjuicer. 2009. JCG, Australia. ArtBase. Web. 21 May 2016. <https://art.base.co/event/2014-art-in-the-age-of-nanotechnology>

Thomas, Paul, and Kevin Raxworthy. Nanoessence. 2009. JCG, Australia. ArtBase. Web. 21 May 2016. <https://art.base.co/event/2014-art-in-the-age-of-nanotechnology>

Wikipedia contributors. Detail of a medieval window at Troyes Cathedral. Digital image. 1400. Web. 22 May 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_stained_glass>

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Unit 7: Neuroscience + Art

Being a Psychology major, Neuroscience concepts are constantly introduced in many of my classes, and with each introduction I find myself more intrigued. Psychology is the study of the human mind, specifically behaviors that affect the mind. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, most specifically the study of the human brain, which is responsible for preserving the body and housing conscious and unconscious thinking. As professor Vesna mentions, the field of Neuroscience is fairly new, because for thousands of years many scientists who attempted to investigate the brain, just gave up. 

(Andy Warhol for Neuroscientists, by Valerie van Mulukom.)

I find the relationship of Neuroscience and art to be fascinating and beautiful. The human brain is the one that perceives art, it essentially creates it and gives meaning to it. Although the brain assigns meaning to art, it is art which influences the brain and mind so significantly. Art alters our perceptions of the things around us everyday; it is art that shifts our perceptions and creates conscious and unconscious emotions. This study of the mind and its perception of art has a significant influence on how artists develop their art, on psychotherapy, and on the field of advertising. 

(Hippocampus II, by Greg Dunn.)
Researchers Suzanne Anker and Giovanni Frazzetto extensively studied the brain's perception of art by creating the Neuroculture Project, which examined how modern brain science has affected popular culture. The ideas and concepts of neuroscience are constantly publicized and presented in mass media, art, film, literature, and commercial products. Anker and Frazzetto claim that neuroscientific knowledge is not limited to laboratories but is instead integrated into our everyday lives and influences our social values and consumer practices. They studied the combination of art and science in order to inform the scientific community and the public of the social and ethical implications of neuroscience developments. 

(Suzanne Anker's beautiful fMRI Butterfly images.)

The beautiful integration of neuroscience and art can further been seen in Anker's fMRI Butterfly, and works created from Aequorea Victoria jellyfish genes. Anker's fMRI Butterfly is comprised of overlapping MRI scans with the same butterfly and inkblot images to create an optical illusion where the identical butterflies look novel within each scan. Anker's work is a wonderful example of this integration, however I believe the pieces created from the jellyfish genes perfectly represent this integration. Researchers have tweaked the fluorescent green protein gene from these jellyfish and have successfully, and beautifully made brain cells glow in a "brainbow" of over 90 distinct colors. 


Anker, Suzanne, and Giovanni Frazzetto. "Neuroculture." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10.11 (2009): 815-821. 

UC Desma. "Neuroscience-Mark Cohen." Cole UC online. YouTube, 12 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt1." Cole UC online. YouTube, 17 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt2." Cole UC online. YouTube, 17 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt3." Cole UC online. YouTube, 16 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016. 

Wikipedia contributors. "Neuroscience." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 May. 2016. Web. 15 May. 2016. 

Debatty, Regine. fMRI Butterflies. Digital image. 16 Mar. 2007. Web. 15 May. 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/nearnearfuture/2335769107/>

Dunn, Greg. Hippocampus II. Digital image. 2010. Web. 15 May. 2016. <https://inside-the-brain.com/tag/brain-art/> 

Van Mulukom, Valerie. Andy Warhol for Neuroscientists. Digital image. 20 Jul. 2011. Web. 15 May. 2016. <https://inside-the-brain.com/tag/brain-art/> 

Weissman, Tamily. Brainbow. Digital image. 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 May. 2016. <http://igtrcn.org/brainbow-101/> 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Unit 6: BioTech + Art

The altering of biological systems, like genomes, living cells, and tissues, is central to biotechnology research. Looking at and studying DNA codes and biological systems at a cellular level allows scientists to generate great things, such as creating new lives, and saving others. It is no secret that artists have always been fascinated by nature, and this week we learn about how strongly artists are bound to biotechnology. Artists are aware of the endless possibilities genomes hold, using them to create powerful works of art. Although the topic of BioArt is highly controversial and has many pros and cons, it sheds light on the ethical and social issues that sometimes go unnoticed in both fields separately. 

(Representation of BioArt; Eduardo Kac's Genesis project which allows viewers to create bacteria mutations.)

Joe Davis is considered the pioneer of BioArt, believing that genes and genomes were a new palette for artists. Davis was able to convince scientists to teach him how to synthesize DNA, and how to interest it into living bacteria. Many of his artistic pieces were comprised of experimenting with sound and cell structures, such as the Audio Microscope that translates light into sound, and another project where he assessed how Jazz music effects e-coli. Davis has used the limitless potentials that genomes have in order to create powerful pieces that truly are living art. 

(Joe Davis, the pioneer of BioArt, in the lab.)

Although BioArt was first anticipated by Joe Davis, it was officially created by the group SymbioticA. Partners Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr formed the Tissue Culture & Art Project, which created a place for artists to engage in science labs and experiments. SymbioticA's Tissue Culture & Art Project focuses on tissue engineering, which is demonstrated in their quite amazing project, the Semi-living Worry Dolls. These dolls were modeled after the Guatemalan worry dolls; at bedtime, children took one doll for each of their worries, shared their worries with the dolls, and then the dolls solved their problems. The Semi-living Worry Dolls represent the present stage of "cultural limbo", which is characterized by childlike innocence and a blend of fear and wonder of technology.  This project investigates the relationships we have with life and non-life, by creating something that is "semi-living."

(The Semi-living Worry Dolls.)

Cohen, Hal. "Eduardo Kac's Genesis project." Photograph. The Scientist. The Scientist, 11 Nov. 2002. Web. 7 May. 2016. <https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/14362/title/Bioscience-Moves-into-Galleries-as-Bioart/> 

Lornalab. Joe Davis. Digital image. 22 Apr. 2014. Web. 7 May. 2016. <https://lornalab.is/?attachment_id= 1122/> 

McKenna, Phil. "Joe Davis: The mad scientist of MIT." NewScientist. NewScientist, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 7 May. 2016. 

"Synth-ethic: Art and Synthetic Biology Exhibition - Vienna, Australia." Biofaction. Synthethic Art and Synthetic Biology Exhibition RSS, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 7 May. 2016. <http://www.biofaction.com/synth-ethic/?p=37/> 

"SymbioticA." SymbioticA. The University of Western Australia, 6 May. 2016. Web. 7 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "5 BioArt pt1." Cole UC online. YouTube, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 7 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "5 BioArt pt2." Cole US online. YouTube, 17 May. 2012. Web. 7 May. 2016. 

Wikipedia contributors. "Biotechnology." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Apr. 2016. Web. 7 May. 2016. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Event 1: Leap Before You Look

After reading the description of the Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 exhibition on the DESMA 9 website, I knew I had to attend. Upon entering the official website for the exhibition, there is a quote by Josef Albers that instantly stood out to me. It reads "We do not always create 'works of art,' but rather experiments; it is not our intention to fill museums: we are gathering experience." I made sure to keep this quote in mind when I attended the event this past Sunday, and it truly transformed my experience. 

(As you can see, I was very excited to attend this event.)

(Richard Lippold, Sketch for The Sun, 1953.)
Many of the pieces in the exhibition embodied our Unit 2 topic of Math + Art, which was actually my favorite topic covered so far. I was really excited to see all of the mathematics undertones and concepts within many of the pieces, and I made sure to take pictures of the ones I found represented Math + Art the most. I was also excited to know the history behind the combination of math and art, and where it all originated from. I could see the concepts we discussed in class, like geometry and linear perspective, in each of the pieces, and it was awesome. 

(R. Buckminster Fuller, Three Frequency Geodesic Sphere, n.d.)

When one thinks of liberal arts, mathematics is not the first thing that comes to mind. That being said, I thought it was so cool that so many of the pieces from a liberal arts school were filled with mathematics elements. I became even more aware of the significant influence mathematics has on art, and the absolutely beautiful artworks that can be created when math and art are integrated. 

(Josef Albers, Multiplex A, 1947. Josef Albers, Astatic, 1944.)

If you cannot tell from the look on my face in the second picture, I was really happy to be able to attend this exhibition. Not only did I find it to be extremely relevant to the topic of Math + Art, but academia aside, I found it to be very fun and interesting. I would definitely recommend this event to everyone, and encourage them to attend and read about the exhibition on this website: https://hammer.ucla.edu/exhibitions/2016/leap-before-you-look-black-mountain-college-1933-1957/#. Whether you are an art lover or not, I believe this exhibition is beneficial to us all. All the pieces come from a rich beautiful history, and all embody the idea that art is much more than what meets the eye. 

Albers, Josef. Astatic. 1944. Woodcut on Japanese nacre kozo paper. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, n.p.

Albers, Josef. Multiplex A. 1947. Woodcut. The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, n.p. 

Fuller, R. Buckminster. Three Frequency Geodesic Sphere. N.d. Graphite and felt-tip pen on paper. Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford.

Lippold, Richard. Sketch for The Sun. 1953. Ink and graphite on paper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.