Monday, June 6, 2016

Event 3: Art + Brain and Nano on campus Catalog Release and Book Signing

For my final event, I decided to attend the on campus symposium that centered around the unveiling of Art + Brain and Nano two catalogs and book signing that Professor Vesna created as a collaboration between scientists and artists.  The event was not only eye-opening and informative, but also a beautiful tribute to William S. Klug, whose work with mechanical engineering greatly influenced many of Professor Vesna’s colleagues who were in attendance that night.  The event focused on the special relationship between art and science, highlighting that works of art can connect the general public to scientific ideas and reveal new ways of thinking about science as a whole.  The presentation began with each of Professor Vesna’s colleagues speaking about their backgrounds, how they aided in the collaboration of the catalog, and science or art has shifted their view on their own background in either.
(Dr. Mark Coen and a picture of the digital version of the catalog.  The original was also available to look through with a pair of gloves, and we were told copies would be available on Amazon shortly.)

One of my favorite speakers who was introduced was neuroscientist Dr. Mark Coen. His main point centered on the idea that the average person is slowly losing interest in science or is unable to understand the technicality behind scientist’s work.  This is why he believes this collaboration between artists and scientists is so important: artists will be able to express the ideas behind scientific discoveries in a completely unique way that will be more accessible to the general public.  This idea struck me on a unique level because I believe that we are conditioned as North campus majors to interact, watch, and listen to learn.  The idea that art can continue this learning for right-brained students to delve more into the scientific realm is fascinating. 
(Professor Vesna, I, and another DESMA 9 student speaking to her about how she is using art to showcase scientific discoveries)

Professor Vesna explained my favorite portion of the catalog to me as she flipped through a copy and answered my questions.  In this specific art piece featured, titled Blue Morph, scientists modeled, measured, and recorded the vibrations of a caterpillar as it went through metamorphosis with the help of nanotechnology.  Then, Professor Vesna created an installation that allows humans to sit and experience this transform into a butterfly through Nano scale images and sounds.  I believe this installation would be an incredible way to introduce younger students to the animal world and get them interested in science.  Even I would love to try it out someday! This piece is symbolic of the culmination of art and nanotechnology, both influence the other, and art is able to showcase the scientific process to the general public.  It was also interesting to hear about this project from the perspective of the artist and the scientist and see firsthand how their collaboration was able to create such a fascinating art piece bursting with science.  I found a video on the installation, which you can watch below.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Event #2: The Getty

At The Getty, I recognized a clear relationship between mathematics and art.  This link was apparent in both the architecture of the building and the art displayed.  My visit to The Getty truly enabled me to expand on what I learned in Unit 2 this quarter.
First, engineering/architecture represents a major intersection between art and mathematics.  Engineers must rely on math to create functional spaces but also art to create structures that are visually appealing.  One of my favorite parts of The Getty was the buildings that the artwork, which were works of art within themselves.  The Getty Museum was designed by Richard Meier in 1984 and was ultimately opened to the public in 1997.  The multiple buildings are organized into 2 axes and utilize a combination of sharp angled edges and cylinder-shaped buildings.
Another great comparison between art and math in the East wing of The Getty were the Spanish tiles made of tin-glazed earthenware.  The combinations of squares and hexagons not only influence the art in a positive way, but also enable the work to be perfected with clean, symmetrical lines.  To me, this tile art heavily resembled the Robert Lang origami pieces we studied in Unit 2, based on the complexity and reliance on math.  I also enjoyed the stain glass windows in this exhibit, in which I also saw touches of math in the designs.

I highly recommend visiting The Getty Museum if you have not gone before! The obvious connection between mathematics and art expressed throughout the exhibit truly aided me in connecting the Unit 2 lessons to in-person applications.  Plus, both the buildings and the art itself are incredible to look at!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Space and Art

One of my very first family memories dates back to a camping trip in which my parents, sister, and I all looked up at the night stars, naming constellations and just gazing at its vastness.  We always had glow in the dark stars on our bedroom ceilings and constantly berated my parents with questions about what else is “out there” in space.  Space has always represented both a fascination with the unknown and a sea of possibilities.  This, in turn, closely relates space to art because artists continually focus on spaces, like space, that are yet to be explored.
The Soviet Union launch of Sputnik in 1956 kicked off the Space Age and took the world down a intertwined path of exploration and discovery that interests people of all ages to this day.  Yet, public portrayal of this exploration of possibilities, such as TV shows like The Jetsons and Star Trek, were all conceived just before or after this launch.  These influential pieces of media not only impacted world culture, but also planted the question of “What is out in space?” in the minds of people of all ages.  These shows placed pressure on scientists to make these fiction stories an actual nonfiction success.  People dreamed, hoped, and pleaded for civilizations in space, the discovery of other creatures, and other human activities in this vast unknown. 
Recently, the movie Gravity focused on astronauts floating in the blackness of space, highlighting the fact that mankind still has no control or true knowledge of how to survive outside our planet.  Although Sandra Bullock eventually made it home safely, the movie just shows how powerful space can be.  It is my prediction, however, that based on past trends of scientific and artistic discovery that space will become more naturalized and a part of human life in the near future. 

Barber, Steve. "History Home." NASA. Web. N.p.,n.d. 29 May 2016. <>
"Gravity."Imdb. N.p., n.d. Web 29 May 2016. <>
Launius, Roger D. “Sputnik and the Origins of the space Age.” History of NASA. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016. <>.
"Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers." Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <>.
Vensa, Victoria. Space Exploration + Art Lectures I-VI. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.
Sputnick. Digital image. <>
Camping. Digital Image. <>

Gravity. Digitial Image. Film.  <>

Sunday, May 22, 2016

NanoTech + Art

Nanotechnology is a topic that is attractive to both scientists and artists, as it explores a new field not yet touched in history.  It can be defined as a science that is concerned with control of matter at the smallest scale imaginable- atoms and molecules.  It has the ability to create new innovation and technology for a variety of fields such as electronics, medicine, and even art.   As we have so much room to learn at the nano level, this type of science could have the ability to transform the world.

Nanotechnology is also applicable to everyday life. For example, the Lotus Leaf Effect explains the phenomena in which droplets of water appear to be spherical because water doesn’t “like” the lotus lead surface.  This technology can be seen in the self-cleaning glass on BMW’s so dirt does not stick to the window.  As soon as a dirt particle lodges onto the window, sunlight will react with the nanoparticles and clean the window itself.  This technology can also be transferred to fabrics, concrete, etc. 
In this lecture, however, I found the use of nanotechnology in medicine to be the most interesting.  Nanoshells can recognize cancer cells and apply near infrared light in order to kill of cancerous tumors.  This is revolutionizing the future of cancer treatment, as it may reduce the effects of chemotherapy, which are often severe.  For example, Abraxane is a nanodrug that can be used to treat breast cancer. I hope that the use of this technology will aid in transforming the medical scene in a way that past drugs and treatments are not able to. 
Before this lecture, I was ignorant on the massive impact nanotechnology is playing in our everyday lives.  I believe that a major aspect of art is to describe the world or a portion of life that is difficult to comprehend.  Nanotechnology reveals a complete field that is not viewable by the naked eye, and thus a mystery to the majority of the population.  By merely describing and showing what is not viewable without a microscope, such as a scanning tunneling microscope, nanotechnology is an art form. 

“Art in the Age of Nanotechnology.” Artabase. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May. 2016. <>.

Gimzewski, Jim. Lecture. “Nanotech for Artists (Part 1).” 21 May 2012. 

Gimzewski, Jim. Lecture. “Nanotech for Artists (Part 3).” 21 May 2012.

Vespa, Victoria, and Jim Gimzewski. "The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact & Fiction in the Construction of a New Science." UCLA (n.d.): n. pag. Web. <>.

"What Is Nanotechnology?" Nano., n.d. Web.  22 May. 2016. <>.

Digital Image. Web. Lotus Effect. May 22 2016. <>

Digital Image. Web. Nanotechnology in Medicine. May 22 2016. <>

Digital Image. Web. Scanning tunneling Microscope. Stock image. May 22 2016. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016


As the most complex part of the human body, the brain has always fascinated and intrigued me.  This unit on consciousness and the mind truly enabled me to delve further into this complicated topic and explore how art and neuroscience relates.  Both lean on each other to not only exist, but also expand and flourish. 
“Brainbows” were developed in 2007 and utilize fluorescent proteins to flag neurons and distinguish them from their neighbors.  The final product is not just a piece of science, but artwork that can aid both scientists and aid the general population in gaining interest and understanding about neuroscience.  Thus, artwork helps spread knowledge about the brain, and the brain was used to both create and perceive the art. 
Another source example I found fascinating was the trailer of the 1983 film Brainstorm.  The film follows a team of scientists who have created a machine that can record sensations, emotions, and experiences from a subject’s brain, allowing anyone else to experience the same moments. Yet, this movie proposes the question of whether we are becoming slaves to machines and if they expand our consciousness.  I believe that such technology would prove to be more destructive to our world than beneficial, however it might prove inevitable.   

The mind is extremely malleable, and should thus be protected.  For instance, UCLA researchers have proven that meditation increases areas of the brain that respond to emotions.  As an avid meditator, I found this article extremely fascinating.  I was told it aided health and well being, but the fact that a simple activity involving not thinking can “build a bigger brain” is revolutionary.  If this type of activity can induce a significant change, though, I can only imagine how future technology could begin to alter and shape the brain. 
Art and neuroscience are inevitably interconnected.  From the brain reacting to art, to art helping the world learn more about the brain, both topics have leaned upon one another in the last 100 years of study. 

BreadCrustCouncil. "Brainstorm Trailer." YouTube. YouTube, 2011. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.

Gardner, Howard. Art, Mind, and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity. New York: Basic, 1982. Print.

Vensa, Victoria. Neuroscience + Art Lecture I. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

Vensa, Victoria. Neuroscience + Art Lecture II. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

Wheeler, Mark. "How to Build a Bigger Brain." UCLA Newsroom. N.p., 12 May 2009. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.

Adl, Carol. Meditation Can Literally Rebuild Your Brain. Digital image. Your News Wire. N.p., 7 May 2015. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.

Brainbow. Digital image. Center For Brain Science. Harvard, 2007. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.

BreadCrustCouncil. "Brainstorm Trailer." YouTube. YouTube, 2011. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.