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.