Sunday, April 24, 2016


Before beginning this unit, my extent of art and medicine combinations were limited to one of my favorite TV shows, Grey’s Anatomy.  As a form of art through drama, the show utilizes detailed medical procedures combined with their personal lives.  After this Module, I have a new perspective on how medical technology can affect art.  The human body, itself, is a work of art and the work doctors are able to do to the perfect the human body.  However, medical procedures that can harm one’s health or are merely cosmetic are less artistic, straying from the roots of the human body’s original perfection.

Modern medical advances are made possible though imagining techniques that allow us to view the human body internally.   Renaissance techniques have been long cast aside for contemporary MRI’s, X-rays, and Cat Scans.  These microscopic photographs allow us to explore previously unseen environments.  These images can even be classified as art.  Virgil Wong, for example, incorporates imageries of bodies into his work.  Yet, these pictures are still not the original pieces of the body.  Walter Benjamin could argue that these reproductions actually generate lost auras, not true art.

Throughout history, the perception of what the human body should look like has evolved.  Modern science has allowed plastic surgery to become an extreme part of modern society.  Orlan engages in body performance art with series of live surgical performances that explore this topic of what beauty should look like.  However, I believe these shows are not art, but merely unnecessary uses of medical technology in the name of art.  This also represents the loss of aura because it alters the original art of the human body.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Marxists. N.p.. Web. 24 April 2016. <>.
Jeffries, Stuart. “Orlan’s Art of Sex and Surgery.” The Guardian, 9 June 2009. Web. 24 April 2016.
Orlan – Carnal Art (2001) Documentary. Dir. St├ęphan Oriach. Perf. Orlan. N.d. Film. YouTube. Web. 24 April. 2016. <>.
Vensa, Victoria. MedTech + Art Lecture. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <> <>
Wong, Virgil. “Art Exhibited in Galleries and Museums around the World.” Art. N.p., 2012. Web. 24 April 2016. <>

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Robotics + Art

During the 15th century, Gutenberg revolutionized the art of mass production and thus the spread of knowledge by bringing the Chinese invented printing press to the west.   In the past, I was always taught that the arrival of this new technology was one of the most important moments in Western history as it kick started the Age of Enlightenment and the spread of knowledge, music, and politics through books.  Yet, this unit had enabled me too delve into another subject that I had previously not considered as being effected by this upheaval in society: art.  Mass manufacturing through industrialization has triggered the problem of lost “aura,” which Walter Benjamin describes as the loss of “uniqueness or authenticity due to mechanical reproduction of artwork.”  Thus, the copying of art by machines to distribute to the rest of the world may diminish the true beauty and influence the original art piece could have upon its viewers.  On the other hand, more people are able to learn and grasp the impact of art than ever before because anyone with access to a book or computer can see these reproductions.
This de-authentication of artwork by machine did not stop in the 16th century and instead has continued into modern times as machines continue to progress.  For example, Henry Ford also utilized mass production to take a product invented for the wealthy, cars, and enabled it to be accessible to the general public.  But, similar to the mass production of art, this assembly line method of creating cars allowed anyone to appreciate it and spread its popularity and use across the west. 

Another method of mass distribution has come in the form of computer and the Internet.  Alan Turning created the idea of a computer to decipher the German enigma machine to help the Allies intercept and decode German messages during the war.  This difficult creation was illustrated in the movie “The Imitation Game” which showed the giant computer of the past and enabled viewers to see how far we have come in way of technology.  For example, now computers can look up any piece of artwork across the world and throughout history, enabling widespread art appreciation. 

Alan Turning (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch) explains the idea of the first computer in the movie "The Imitation Game."

Even though Walter Benjamin believed that the reproduction of artwork lacks presence in time and space, I believe that this loss may be worth it to advance the spread of art as a whole and continue the creation of new technology. We can take this one step further and also claim that now technology as a whole is influencing the idea of art itself.  Arthur Ganson, for example, has an entire collection of machines as art that can aid viewers in seeing this connection firsthand. 

“Machine with Roller Chain” by Arthur Ganson


Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Marxists. N.p.. Web. 18 April 2016. <>.
Ganson, Arthur. “Machines.”  N.p. Web. 18 April 2016.
The Imitation Game. Dir. Morten Tyldum. Perf. Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly. StudioCanal, 2014. Film.
Vensa, Victoria. Robotics + Art Lecture. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <>
Vensa, Victoria. Robotics + Art Lecture. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Math and Art

Upon initial inspection of both math and art, the prevailing conclusion would inevitably be that the two subjects could not be more distinct.   Yet, after careful examination of this week’s module, it is clear that math is a huge influence upon modern art—especially through the use of computers. 
            One of the most striking examples of this idea lies within music.  Music is extremely influenced by mathematical concepts due to the idea of sound.  Sound can be defined as the relationship between physics and perception and thus the very building blocks of music are reflections of math.   Music is composed of diverse sounds that can be described in the form of a mathematical function, with time as the independent variable and amplitude as the dependent variable.   Composers can additionally analyze music mathematically to make it more pleasing to the broader population.
            Artists and scientists alike utilize the opposite subject in their creative expression.  Leonardo da Vinci is a prime example of this mesh between subjects.  As both an artist and a scientist, he fused both to create some of the most influential masterpieces of all time.  For example, he studied geometry of perspective to conclude that the eye must be placed in the right location through light.  Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa exemplifies the golden ratio, in which artists use geometrical figures to increase harmony within their works. 
The art of origami is another key example illustrating the supreme effect math has upon art.  Robert Lang shows us how traditional origami has transformed into a particularly mathematical expression of art.  For example, math establishes the “underlying axioms, rules, [and] operations” that artists use to create origami.  Deprived of math, the art of origami would have stayed in the paper cranes of the past, unable to fully evolve into the incredibly intricate staple of contemporary art.
 Thus, these examples highlight that math is not only a great influence on creating art, but also a tool that can be utilized to perfect it and constantly improve it. 

Frantz, Marc, ed. Lesson 3: Vanishing Points and Looking at Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <>.
Hom, Elaine.  “What is the Golden Ratio?” Live Science.  Web. 10 Apr 2016.      <>

Lang, Robert J. “Origami Mathematics.” Origami Mathematics. Robert J. Land Origami, n.d. Web. 10 April 2016. <>.
Music and Computers: A Theoretical and Historical Approach. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <>.
Vensa, Victoria. Math + Art Lecture. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <>.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Two Cultures

Upon first noting the idea of “Two Cultures” my own ethnicity came to mind.  Although I grew up in a stereotypical American household, I am also partially Indian.  Yet, at college today, my friends are more excited about eating Indian food or attending cultural events, like Holi, than I am.  Although they may appear to be two different cultures, both American and Indian identities are merged in both everyday society and me. 

Bollywood Bites in Westwood Village

When I fully delved into the study of two distinct cultures, the ideas of C.P. Snow truly resonated with me.  Snow identified a progressively dividing culture between sciences and humanities that is perpetuated by the university system.  UCLA is a prominent illustration of this forced division. For example, in both location and aesthetically, the North and South campuses of UCLA represent the polarization of students into two distinct groups.  Bruinwalk, a clear line separating social science majors from science majors, geographically divides North and South Campus.  In addition, North Campus majors (housing the humanities and arts) are privy to the classical architecture resembling churches, South Campus (home to math and sciences) is known as the less visually appealing side of campus with it stark, office-like buildings. 

Top of Bruinwalk: Students can turn right to go to South Campus or left for North Campus

Coming to UCLA, I took a path similar to the majority of my peers exceling in classes in both cultures. This appreciation traveled with me to college where I was able to take a few science classes along with the requirements needed for my political science major.   Yet, these few General Education classes outside my field left me with an education that was less well-rounded than the high school educations we all received.  Steven Pinker asserted that, “anyone speaking to the public about wide concern should be educated in both sciences and social sciences.” Similarly, speakers at the 50th anniversary of CP Snow’s “Two Cultures” lecture presented that it is this very divide that is having negative effects on societal problems.  As a political science major, my future political career will involve both speaking to the public and attempting to solve the problems plaguing society. However with very few math or science courses under my belt, I am undereducated on some of the very tools I will need to respond to social issues. However, I will hopefully be able to effectively utilize the modern technology of the new “third culture” to bridge this gap. 


Vensa, Victoria. Two Cultures Lecture Part 3. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.
Pinker, Steven. Steven Pinker. UCOnline. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.
Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Cambridge UP, 1959. Print.
Vesna, Victoria. "Toward a Third Culture: Being In Between." Leonardo. 34 (2001): 121-125. Print.
Williams, Christopher M., comp. "A Dangerous Divide: The Two Cultures in the 21st Century." New York Academy of Sciences (2009): n. pag. Web. 3 Apr. 2016. <>.