Friday, June 10, 2016

Event 4: Fowler Museum (UCLA)

The Fowler Museum is an ideal place to visit for UCLA students not only because of the cultural heritage it contains, but also because of its proximity since it is housed on campus. It is for that reason that I decided to pay the museum a visit, in midst of finals week. Fowler Museum was established in 1963 with its purpose to consolidate various collections of non-Western artifacts on campus, with particular focus on art and material culture from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, as well as the Americas. Through exhibitions, publications, and public programs, Fowler Museum aims to instill an appreciation of diverse peoples, cultures, and religions of the world. 
Headrests in East and Central Africa
When I first walked into the museum, these hemispherical objects immediately caught my attention. As it turns out, they are in fact headrests constructed in East and Central Africa by wooden supports to cradle the neck during sleep. Because our head serves as a "medium" in which we can communicate between human and ancestral realms during dreams, the head is usually associated with spiritual power and the concentrated essence of a human being. As a rest, the artifact on which the head rests is often revered as an art form. 

The Fowler Museum also contains an impressive amount of silverware. These collections of silver mainly originated from the British, but also include items from Western Europe, Russia, and America. Most of these silverware date from 17th-19th centuries, where industrial revolution had led to increased slave labor in the mining of gold and silver, and the craftsmanship of gold and silverware was consequently reinvigorated. Since the use of silver by the imperial and wealthy families have perpetuated in China throughout almost its entire history, people would undoubtedly wonder how silver-crafting technologies have changed since then. As it turns out, modern technologies have done little for artists other than to provide some mechanical aids. In fact, a negative consequence of advancements in technologies that enabled the mass production of silver also inadvertently led to the devaluation of silver as an art form. Regardless, we once again observe the intricate link between technology and art. 
Silverware in Fowler's collection
The most salient changes that advances in technologies have brought us are captured in a series of photographs captured by Stephen Verona in his series Mao to Now. From rickshaws to Maglev trains, and from roadside barbers to beauty salons, we see how technology brings us both convenience and luxury. In the lower right corner of the picture below, the evolution of fashion with technology can also be observed, though admittedly this may be due more to changes in fashion sense than to technology per se. However, we note that technology does in fact shape fashion, as we recall the 3D printed fashion garments on display at the Architecture and Design Museum.  
Mao to Now by Stephen Verona
Here's a photo of myself at the museum ;D

"About the Museum". Fowler Museum. N.d. Web. 10 June 2016.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Event 3: Hammer Museum

I visited the exhibition "Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957" in Hammer Museum on May 12. It is the first comprehensive exhibition in the US that documents and examines the history of Black Mountain College, a famous experimental college where art education was deemed central to its liberal arts education. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that Black Mountain College did not stipulate courses as required, and instead gave its student free rein over pursuing their interests. This freedom was largely due to ideals of the progressive education movement, and was also influenced by education reformer John Dewey's principles of education. As a testament to the power of such freedom, many of the college's students and faculty went on to extend their influence to disparate fields such as visual art, musical composition, poetry, and architecture. 

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957
Hammer Museum
Buckminster Fuller in his geodesic dome
To my pleasant surprise, Buckminster Fuller was among the famous architects who taught at Black Mountain College, even serving as its Institute Director in 1949. Fuller is best known for his popularization of the geodesic dome, a 3D geometrical shape constructed by each face of a icosahedron (a type of Platonic solid) into n2 similar triangular tiles. The edges of these small triangles are then projected onto the sphere, so that the resultant structure carries the arrangement of edges. Such a geometric construct have since been widely used in modern architecture design. The Montreal Biosphere, the Climatron greenhouse at Missouri Botanical Gardens, and Walt Disney's Spaceship Earth are a few such examples. A deep mathematical principle behind the geodesic dome is that it solves the 3D isoperimetric problem, which in layman terms means that it encloses the largest volume for a given area. It is therefore conceivable that such designs will find applications elsewhere where space is constrained. For his lifetime achievements, an allotrope of carbon, fullerene, has been named after him, with a particular molecule of that allotrope (C60, called buckminsterfullerene) bearing his full signature. 

The Geodesic Dome by Buckminster Fuller
There were many famous artists, such as Josef and Anni Albers, whose works were on display, with many by Josef displaying deep understanding of perspective paintings and color. It is apparent, from a simple stroll along the exhibitions, that there are deep scientific principles behind these artworks, which once again shows the existence of the "third culture". Here's a photo of myself at the museum.


1. "Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957". Hammer Museum. N.d. Web.  4 June 2016. <>

2. "Geodesic dome". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 4 June 2016. <>

3. "Black Mountain College". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 4 June 2016. <>

4. "Buckminster Fuller Inside His Geodesic Dome". Pinterest. N.d. Web. 4 June 2016.  <>

5. "Perspective (graphical)". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 4 June 2016. <>

Friday, June 3, 2016

Event 2: Architecture and Design Museum (A+D)

On May 21st, I visited the COME IN! DTLA exhibition at the Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. Though the museum had severe space constraints, it still contain a reasonable number of exhibitions that tie in closely with the content covered in class. The applications of advanced technologies in fashion and design are particularly striking. 

Among the designers whose artworks are on display is Julia Koerner, who explores the concept of biomimicry in 3D printing fashion garments. Among the exhibits are the Hymenium Jacket and the Kelp Jacket, shown below, which are both part of the Sporophyte Collection. This collection is primarily motivated by flowerless plants which reproduce through spores, hence the name "Sporophyte", which refers to a particular stage in which spores are produced. The Kelp Jacket, for example, bears semblance to the complex and intricate layering system found in kelps. With the help of sophisticated 3D printing technologies, the lace-like patterns appear to grow naturally on the human body. It is in this regard that such bio-inspired designs establish the link between technology, nature, and art. 
3D printed fashion garments: Hymenium Jacket (Left), Kelp Jacket (right)
Experimental shoe designer Chris Francis is another artist whose work was on display. In his collection "Ten Acts of Brutalism", he explores the concept of "Brutalism" as a wearable architecture. The shoes, which were made of everyday objects on a meager $300 budget, exemplifies both geometrical ideas as well as materials physics in its design, giving it an semi-mechanical outlook capable of artistic and self expression. 
Shoes from the collection "Ten Acts of Brutalism"
While exploring the museum, I found an unnamed art piece in a secluded corner that explores the concept of "perspective". In that art piece, space was carved out on a wall and handcrafted miniature furnitures were placed inside, so that a close-up view of the art piece makes it seem like a typical living room. I am especially fond of those miniature hanger made from paper clips. 

Overall, I found the museum an interesting place to visit on a casual weekend. The art exhibits would be especially entertaining for those interested in the application of modern technologies to fashion. Here's a photo of me at the museum! 


1. "Sporophyte". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 2 June 2016.

2. "Come In! DTLA". A+D Architecture and Design Museum. 24 March 2016. Web. 2 June 2016.

3. "Julia Korner". JKDesigns. N.d. Web 2 June 2016.

4. "Chris Francis Shoes". Pinterest. N.d. Web. 2 June 2016.

5. "Perspective (graphical)". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 2 June 2016.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week 9: Space and Art

Space is an interesting concept for our perceptions of space have changed leaps and bounds throughout the passage of time. The vastness of space itself, when looking only from a local perspective, have led to ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks until end of the classical period, believing in the flat Earth model, in which Earth's shape is conceptualized to be planar or disk-shaped. Similarly, this vastness had led to historical debates on the scientific accuracy of geocentrism, where all celestial bodies are propounded to revolve around the Earth. It wasn't until the 16th century that Nicolaus Copernicus, in elaborate geometrical details, proposed his heliocentric model that resolved the issue of planetary retrograde motion. 
Copernicus's heliocentric model
All these issues can be attributed to the apparent local isotropy of space, where it appears to be uniform in all directions locally. Only when we scale things up can we observe the anisotropic effects. For example, Earth appears to be 2D when observed on its surface, but it is in fact 3D (and spherical) when observed from space. Thus, to explore space, we have to develop elaborate technologies. As Prof. Vesna mentioned in her introduction video, "space" is a subject that integrates all the topics covered, such as nanotechnology, robotics, and mathematics, in this course in a coherent manner. For example, carbon nanotubes were envisioned for the the construction of space elevators, construction of spaceships and scientific instruments used in space missions all involved knowledge in robotics etc. 
Artist's conceptualization of a space elevator

In addition, space explorations have led to a huge number of remarkable technological advancements. The Hubble Space Telescope is especially noteworthy. In addition to producing some of the most detailed visible-light images of universe, it had also recorded many observations that led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the universe's rate of expansion. This is but one aspect in which space and art are inextricably linked.
Image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

1. "Space intro." YouTube, Web. 29 May 2016.

2. "8 space pt1 1280x720." YouTube. Web. 29 May 2016. 

3. "Heliocentrism" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 29 May. 2016.

4. "Flat Earth" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 29 May. 2016.

5. "Hubble Space Telescope Images" European Space Agency. N.d. Web 29 May 2016. 

6. "Weekend Walkabout - Exploring the Solar System" N.p. 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 May 2016. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 8: Nanotechnology and Art

Nanotechnology primarily involves the assembly and manipulation of function systems at the molecular scale, from anywhere between 1 to 100 nanometers. While its concept, namely synthesis of molecules by direct manipulation of atoms, were first discussed and publicized by Physicist Richard Feynman in his 1969 talk "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom", the term "nanotechnology" wasn't coined until 1974, by Japanese Professor Norio Taniguchi. Though perhaps somewhat fortuitously, the first demonstration where nanotechnology was ostensibly applied is found in the Lycurgus Cup, which was made with small proportions of gold and silver nanoparticles distributed across the cup. Due to the presence of these nanoparticules, the Cup is able to display different colors depending on whether light is passing through. 
The Lycurgus Cup: green when light shines from in front, red when from the back
Given the modern notion of nanotechnology, and the fact that the Cup is a 4th century Roman artifact, the process in which it is made remains unclear, and may therefore be accidental, with the craftsman not even being aware of the presence of gold. Nevertheless, the Lycurgus Cup remains the first piece of artwork whose roots are deeply entwined with nanotechnology. 

In Dr Gimzewski's lecture, another scientist and engineer that is notable in the history of nanotechnology is Dr Eric Drexler, who arguably wrote the first scholarly article on the topic, and is known for popularizing its potential. In his book <Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology>, Drexler pondered the idea of a molecular assembler, one that is able to assemble molecular machines of arbitrary complexity. His vision of nanotechnology , one that revolves primarily around these molecular machines, however, was deemed "naive" by Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley , who put forth a number of arguments against Drexler. Since the conclusion of the debate in 2003, there have been quite a number of successful experiments that were in fact able to synthesize machine-like molecules. A notable example would the nanocar, developed by Rice Professor James Tour to demonstrate whether fullerenes slide or roll on a metal surface. 
Nanocar rolling across a surface
Another recent discovery is the conceptualization of the carbon nanotube oscillator. In such a system, a inner nanotube structure (such as C60) is placed within an outer carbon nanotube, and is shown to able to oscillate naturally, due to the van der Waals' forces between the two. Though there are still many challenges in order to realize such conceptualizations experimentally, understanding the mechanical properties of these simple molecular systems is definitely crucial for building larger molecular machines.
Schematics of the nanotube oscillator

1. "Nanotech Jim pt 1-6." YouTube. Web. 22 May 2016.>

2. "Lycurgus Cup". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 22 May. 2016.

3. "K. Eric Drexler". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 22 May. 2016.

4. "Nanocars". James Tour. James Tour Group. N.d. Web 22 May 2016.<>

5. "Simulating Molecular Dynamics of Nanotube-based Structures". Yong-Wei Zhang. NUS Materials Science and Engineering. 1 Feb 2010. Web. 22 May 2016. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Week 7: Neuroscience and Art

The relation between neuroscience and art is one that's both beautiful and perplexing. It's common for one to ask questions such as "what is consciousness", or "what are dreams", but any serious attempts to answer these thought-provoking questions have to stem from knowledge in neuroscience. To this end, we looked at a single organ in this week's lecture: the human brain. 
The human brain
Neuron map
As mentioned in Prof. Vesna's video, the human brain has been the subject of scientific studies only for about a century, following the discovery of electricity and microscope. As we now understand, the brain is made up of billions of neurons each connected by synapses to thousands of other neurons, and these neurons communicate via action potential sent along long protoplasmic fibers called axons. The recognition of neurons as primary functional units in the nervous system is credited to Spanish anatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is now regarded by many as the father of modern neuroscience. Among his great discoveries is the fact that one could "read out the connection patterns between neurons by simply looking at their shapes". This tree-like structure that connects neurons is not only artistically elegant, but are also optimized to allow efficient communication between neurons. It is in this regard that Cajal refers to neurons as the "mysterious butterflies of the soul". In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Cajal was also a seen as a legendary medical artists as his hand-made depictions of the neurons highlight the delicate arborizations of the brain cells, and are still widely used for educational purposes. 
Suzanne Anker's FMRI Butterfly

Cajal's idea of the butterfly has also influenced and served as a source of inspiration for many other artists and scientists. For example, artist Suzanne Anker, in collaboration with neuroscientist Giovanni Frazzetto, initiated the Neuroculture Project which aims to examine how "modern brain science has penetrated popular culture". One of their works, the FMRI butterfly, connected beautifully to Cahal's. In that work, 15 identical brain scans are arranged on a grid overlaid with various patterns of ink blots and an identical butterfly. When looking at these overlaid brain scans, one would pick up the nuance variations between each of them that give an optical illusion as if the butterflies are different from one another. Together with Cajal's beautiful neuron maps, these works aptly capture the artistic aspect inherent in neuroscience. 


1. Vesna, Victoria. “Neurosci + Art Lectures I-III.” Youtube, Web. 14 May 2016.

2. "Neuron" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 14 May. 2016.

3. "Santiago Ramon y Cajal" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 14 May. 2016.

4. "Techniques Series: Creating a Molecular Brain Map". Ana. Science Exchange. 8 April 2013. Web. 14 May 2016. 

5. "Neuroculture". Giovanni Frazzetto & Suzanne Anker. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Nov 2009. Web. 14 May 2016. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6: Biotechnology and Art

While we have explored the synergy between science and art from a solely appreciative point of view in the past few weeks, the concept of biotechnology as a form of art evokes numerous controversies, particularly those that involve the manipulation of genomes. An example would be genetically-modified food, whereby food source such as crops are genetically engineered to achieve more favorable characteristics and better yield. Yet, they have been met with a slew of criticisms ranging from health concerns to issues regarding its regulations. 
Genetically modified Aporange?
Another example would be human genetic engineering, which could improve physical appearance and capabilities, metabolism, as well as analytical faculties such as memory and intelligence which were previously thought to be innate. Again, one can argue on ethical grounds that such modifications would incur unfair advantages; one could also argue that all fetus retain their right to remain genetically unmodified, and doing so violets the tenets of human rights. Nevertheless, I respect the creativity in which applications of biotechnologies are envisioned, as well as the intellectual capacity in the numerous moral debates regarding pertinent issues. Moreover, artistic creativity is inherent in all such applications, and remains to be marveled at even by the laymen. 

SymbioticA, for example, is a bioart research lab based in the University of Western Australia that looks at biology and life sciences from an artistic standpoint. It is the first school to offer Masters and PhD program in bioart, with its students obligated to pursue both art and science courses during their study. In addition, it offers a residency program for artists, designers, and architects, who will be provided laboratory access and scientific training in areas related to their fields. An example of a bioart project done by SymbioticA would be "Fish & Chips", whereby fish neurons are isolated and grown over silicon chips. When stimulated, action potential will be induced, and and then transformed into artwork, thereby essentially turning these assembled neurons into a "semi-living" artistic entity. 
An artwork created by fish neurons
Another example of a bioart would be the GFP bunny, name Alba, created by contemporary artist Eduardo Kac, in collaboration with French geneticist Louis-Marie Houdebine. The GFP protein, which were isolated from jellyfish, was inserted into Alba, and proliferated with subsequent cell divisions, resulting in fluorescence when exposed to blue light.

GFP Bunny: Alba
While the ethical issues inherent in such artworks are apparent, since lifeforms are manipulated without consent, we should nevertheless acknowledge the power of science and technology in such creations. 


1. Vesna, Victoria, “BioTech Art Lectures I-V.” Youtube, Web. 8 May 2016.

2. "Fish & Chips" Georgia Institute of Technology. N.d. Web. 8 May 2016

3. "Ars Electronica Festival 2001". Ars Electronica. 4 Feb 2011. Web. 8 May 2016. 

4. "Symbiotica" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 8 May. 2016.

5. "GFP Bunny", Eduardo Kac, N.p., N.d. Web. 8 May 2016. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Event 1: Petersen Automotive Museum

When I first went to LACMA in my junior year, the Petersen Automotive Museum, located right opposite LACMA, was still under renovation and I had no idea what that was. It wasn't until April this year that, coincidentally, a friend of mine invited me to join him for a museum visit. Needless to say, it came as a great surprise that the museum in question was the Petersen Automotive Museum. Having undergone a $90 million renovation in 2015 with its exterior designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, one of the largest architectural firms in the world, and interior designed by The Scenic Route, the building itself proved to a masterful piece of art.
Petersen Automotive Museum
The Museum has a total of three floors excluding the basement level in which it keeps about half of it collection. Unfortunately, the collection at the basement level is not usually for public exhibition. The ground floor of the Museum showcases a wide variety of extravagant historical automobiles that are refurbished for exhibition. When I first stepped into the building, the 1925 Royce Royce Phantom immediately caught my attention. The Phantom 1 series were introduced in 1925, and it came with a Hooper Cabriolet body, with is most distinctively identified by its squarish body. However, the Phantom 1 on display at Petersen has undergone extensive makeovers from time to time, with it curvy structure and well-polished surface evoking a modern sense of beauty. Such handicraft further attests to advances in manufacturing technology, in which precision in manufacturing has improved leaps and bounds compared to the past.
Rolls Royce Phantom on display
The second floor, on the other hand, focuses on industrial engineering in which cars are manufactured for design and performance. In particular, one is introduced to different steps in the manufacturing of the car, and these see-through displays (such as the following) provide visual aids for better understanding of the car's interior. 
Car's interior
Lastly, the third floor focuses on the history of automobiles, with particular emphasis on the local car culture. In addition, several notable cars that appeared in movies are in this section of the museum, including Batman's infamous Batmobile and the Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond film: Skyfall.
Aston Martin from Skyfall
Other cars on the third floor

An obvious point to note from these displays is that car designs have vastly changed from the past to present. In the past, cars in general were squarish in appearance, including luxury brands like Royce Rolls, with its squarish Hooper Cabriolet body. Yet as we move from the 30s to the 50s, car manufacturers gradually incorporate curves into their designs, giving them a 'roundish' appearance, such as the yellow car in the photo above. Modern cars, on the other hand, rarely have sharp edges, and squarish designs have mostly become obsolete in modern designs. This is not so much a matter of the changing perspective of what constitutes beauty between the past and present, but is more associated with technological advances that drive the evolution of cars. The metalworking techniques in the past simply could not economically produce parts in the precision and quantity required. Such changes thereby highlight the importance of technology in art, since the lack of the former places severely restrictions in which forms art may take. Mathematical principles are also increasingly employed in car production and designs. The front design of the Aston Martin, for example, conforms to the shape of an ellipse, whereas there are no geometrical structures that cars in the past (such as the yellow car) correspond to. 

Far from the polarization of the two cultures that CP Snow wrote in his famous essay, synergy between art, science, and technology is evident in the production and design of cars. I would definitely recommend this exhibition to the rest of my peers, as it was indeed an eye-opening experience for me to learn about the history and development of cars. Lastly, let me end my post with a photo of myself at the event :D



"Petersen Automotive Museum" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 3 May. 2016.

"Petersen Automotive Museum gets $100 million gift from founders" Mark Vaughn. Autoweek. 25 Apr. 2011. Web. 3 May 2016. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 4: Medicine, Technology, and Art

The purpose of medical technologies usually brings to mind advancements in healthcare facilities aimed solely at treating and alleviating human illnesses. Through this week's lecture, we saw the synergy between medical technologies and art, as well as how the former can be incorporated into art itself.

Visual depictions serve as an invaluable tool to learning in general. Our understanding of the human anatomy may be quite advanced, but we do not have many visual understanding of the underlying mechanisms of body process that happens everyday. Perhaps the most well-known contributor to the field of biomedical animation is Drew Berry, whose visualizations of cellular and molecular processes possess both the scientific accuracy and aesthetic appeal, and garnered him international recognition such as the Emmy Award. In the article "Where Cinema and Biology Meet", the author Erik Olsen likened Berry to Steven Spielberg of molecular animation, asserting that Berry's work is "revered for artistry and accuracy within the small community of molecular animators, and has also been shown in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris." 

Another artist that stood out from this week's lecture is Orlan, a French artist, who first used cosmetic surgery as an artist medium, with the goal of achieving the ideal of beauty as depicted by male artists. By the end of the surgeries, she would have "the chin of Botticelli’s Venus, the nose of Jean-Léon Gérôme's Psyche, the lips of François Boucher's Europa, the eyes of Diana (as depicted in a 16-th century French School of Fountaineblue painting), and the forehead of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa." This, in fact, was the ultimate goal of her project "The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan", which was exclusively featured in the documentary Carnal Art
Orlan: Before and After
Though many commentators views Orlan's artistic endeavors to be a form of self-destruction, Orlan maintains that her goal was to "sculpt my own body to reinvent the self" to create "a clash with society because of that". Evidently, her artistic pursuits served as a testament of her self-expression. 

The aforementioned examples are but a few of the many ways in which medical technologies and art go hand in hand. Be it a method of self-expression, or as a visualization that appeals to both scientific and artistic audiences, the merits of the synergy between the two should nevertheless be marveled at. 


1. Vesna, Victoria. “Medicine Parts 1-3.” Lecture. Web. 24. April. 2016.

2. Erik Olsen. "Where Cinema and Biology Meet". The New York Times. 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 April 2016.


3. Orlan – Carnal Art (2001) Documentary. Dir. Stéphan Oriach. Perf. Orlan. N.d. Film. YouTube. Web. 24 April. 2012. 

4. Jeffries, Stuart. "Orlan's Art of Sex and Surgery." The Guardian. 1 July 2009. Web. 24 April 2016. <>.

5. Orlan. Pinterest. N.d. Web. 24 April 2016.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week 3: Robotics and Art

The synergy between arts, literature, and technology has historic roots tracing back to the ancient times. In Benjamin Walter's essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, for example, it was mentioned that the invention of lithography led to drastic increases in the reproduction and dissemination of literature and graphic art forms. It should also be mentioned that it was through such mass production of books, made possible by the invention of lithography, that knowledge became easily accessible, hence it comes with no surprise that lithographic techniques played a pivotal role in shaping the world as it is.
Ancient Lithography
Robots depicted in Capek's film
The Iron Man

Aside from lithographic techniques, advances in science and technology have also seen rapid developments in areas of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) such as robotics. First introduced in Karel Capek's film Rossum's Universal Robot, the terms "robots" and "cyborgs" have since found various expression in arts and media.

A prime example of "robots" in media would be the Iron Man franchise owned by Marvel Studios. This series revolves around the life of a genius billionaire named Tony Stark, who developed an extremely sophisticated A.I. system J.A.R.V.I.S. that is able to respond to his needs, such as taking care of daily chores and maintaining the condition within his corporation Stark Industries, which is mainly involved in developing advanced weapons and defense technologies; the most prominent being the robotic battle suit he developed to fight against invaders from all over the Marvel Universe. It is needless to say that this movie series is well received by people of all ages, with the third installment Iron Man 3 making into the top 20 highest-grossing films of all times. In addition to the Iron Man franchise, robots have also appeared in other popular anime series such as Evangelion and Gundam, further attesting to the artistic expression of technology. 

The recent victory of Google's AlphaGo against South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Sedol has led to further popularization of A.I. such that even the layman would wonder if one day robots would eventually supersede humans.  While we are yet able to draw a definitive conclusion, we must nevertheless concede on the point that the speed of the development of A.I.s is indeed astounding.


1. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Marxists. N.p. 18 Oct 2012. Web. 17 April 2016. <>.

2. Vesna,Victoria. “Lectures Part 2.” Robotics + Art. 17 Apr. 2016. Lecture.

3. Jacobs, Matthew. "'Iron Man 3' Box Office: Superhero Threequel Passes $1 Billion Mark." The Huffington Post., 17 May 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.

4. Andre Beguin. "Lithography". Printmaking Dictionary. N.p. N.d. Web. 17 April 2016.

5. "Mark 43" Iron Man Wikia. N.p. N.d. Web. 17 April 2016.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week 2: Mathematics and Art

As a Mathematics major, I have long come to appreciate its beauty for its myriad of applications to sciences and engineering, as well as in its own right. Perhaps not as art in the literal sense, but I cannot recall a moment where I haven't regarded Mathematics as a form of "art". If one were familiar with field theory, the recognition of complex numbers as the field extension of the reals, and the reals being the field extension of the rationals wasn't as trivial as it seemed. After all, what are "i"s,"e"s,and "pi"s? However, Leonhard Euler found a simple, elegant formula that collectively summarizes these three monstrosities.
Euler's Identity
Sample computer code
Gateway Arch, St Louis

As a testament to its ubiquity, Mathematics is used almost everywhere, whether consciously or subconsciously, as Prof Vesna aptly captured in her statement "when we use computers we are using math". Even simple events such are mouse-clicks are explicitly programmed using algorithms which are inherently of mathematical nature. 
The development of Mathematics also had a profound impact in the history of arts. With progress in the former, realism in art work has been enhanced. It was mentioned in Prof Vesna's lecture video that the discovery of mathematical principles behind the concept of "perspectives" led to a more scientific methodology behind perspective drawings. For example, the square tiles on the floor in a famous painting by Leon Battista Alberti led to a single vanishing point at the center of the art piece. 

Another fantastic demonstration of the amalgamation of Mathematics and Art is in the construction in the Gateway Arch in St Louis, which is inspired by the shape of a parabola. Led by the dynamics between Mathematics and Arts, the projection of a parabolic curve on paper to that of a real-life artifact such as the Gateway Arch is indeed something to marvel at. 
Mathematics is definitely a prime example of a bridge between the two cultures mentioned in Week 1. In this course, I hope to further explore the dynamics between arts and technology, and well as the amalgamation of the two. 

1. Vesna, Victoria. “”Youtube, 9 April 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <> 

2. "Euler's Identity: The most beautiful equation". LiveScience, 30 June 2015. Web. 10 April 2016. <>

3. "Sample computer code" N.d. Web 10 April 2016.<>

4. "Perspective drawing". Once upon an Art Room. 14 March 2012. Web. 10 April 2016. <>

5. "12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in St. Louis". Planetware. N.d. Web. 10 April 2016. <>