Sunday, April 24, 2016

MedTech + Art

In this week’s topic, I learned that medicine, particularly anatomy and dissection, is truly the intersection of art and science. The work I found most interesting was Eduardo Kac’s “Time Capsule” project. On November 11, 1997, an artist by the name of Eduardo Kac implanted a microchip in his own ankle. With the microchip embedded into his body, he became the first human to be added into a remote database typically used for lost animals. The artist set up the “art gallery” to look like a medical room, with equipment that could be found in typical hospital rooms. It’s interesting to see that many artists and doctors would actually operate on themselves, being both the innovator and patient at the same time.

Eduardo Kac's Time Capsule Gallery
Another similar work was Professor Kevin Warwick’s “Cyborg Project,” in which he implanted an RFID chip in his forearm. With this chip, he could do extraordinary things such as opening office doors or switching on the lights without having to move a finger. There could be a lot of practical applications for this project. For example, the disabled may benefit from being able to perform daily tasks of opening doors with the help of embedded microchips.

Warwick with RFID Chip

I also found Diane Gromala’s Ted Talk, “Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty” intriguing. She noted that statistically one in every five people have chronic pain, and that virtual reality is an effective alternative to relieve short-term pain because the user is so intensely distracted by the immersive media. Although I have not experienced virtual reality before, I believe Diane’s research is true. In Duke Dumont’s “I Got U” music video, a man used a virtual reality headset to escape from his sad, rainy environment to a paradise island. However, his excitement and happiness was only short-lived as he had to go back to reality when the song ended.

Works Cited
DukeDumontVEVO. "Duke Dumont - I Got U (Official Video) Ft. Jax Jones." YouTube. YouTube, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Kac, Eduardo. "Time Capsule." Time Capsule. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
TEDxTalks. "TEDxAmericanRiviera - Diane Gromala - Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty." YouTube. YouTube, 07 Dec. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Medicine Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Warwick, Kevin. Kevin Warwick, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

LASER Event Blog

On Thursday, April 21, I attended the monthly Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) at the CNSI building. LASER featured talks from artists, scientists, and scholars who shared their research to spark interesting conversations. I found Taylor Aubry’s “The Future of Our Energy Landscape: Could Plastic Solar Cells Meet Our Energy Needs?” presentation particularly fascinating. The overall focus of her thesis and research was about how plastic solar cells have the potential to be a low-cost source of clean energy in the near future. She mentioned that the fabrication of silicon solar cells is extremely expensive, and that using flexible plastic is a much cheaper alternative. One fantastic example Taylor showed the us regarding real world application was that of a bus stop in San Francisco. The bus stop had flexible plastic solar panels installed on its roof, which powered both the lights on the side and the WiFi router to provide free internet to pedestrians. Solar engineers and scientists had to work together with designers to transform the mold-able plastic solar cells into functional applications.

Solar Powered Bus Stop in San Francisco
Taylor also mentioned that plastic solar cells could power wearable electronics such as smartwatches in the near future. Her presentation related to an article I’ve read recently on Wall Street Journal: “As Oil Jobs Dry Up, Workers Turn to Solar Sector.” In the WSJ article, the author states that there have been an estimated 150,000 American jobs lost because of the sharp decrease in oil prices in the past year. However, the solar sector is still strong as it is expected to add 30,000 jobs this year. This is exciting because these jobs may include solar panel installers to solar panel designers to engineers. 

Link to potential applications of flexible solar cells video.

Workers Installing Solar Panels
Me at LASER Event

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Robots + Art

In this week’s topic, I found the intersection of robotics, computers, and art fascinating. Robotics traces its roots back to the printing press, and was further revolutionized by Henry Ford’s assembly lines. However, the notion of Taylorism (a theory that aimed to improve economic efficiency) created problems as low to middle wage workers were “dehumanized” when they did the same job over and over again in an assembly line factory. 
Assembly Line in one of Ford's Factories

These problems inspired Karel Capek’s 1920 science fiction “R.U.R.”, which was a screenplay that first introduced both the word and image of a robot. It's incredible to believe that the notion of a robot was actually first conceived on the artistic side, not the technology side. I now realize that even though we may have the technology, we also need the artistic/creative side to make the technology fully functional. 

The industrial revolution, assembly line, and subsequent mechanization of workers created a negative image of robots in western culture. I’ve seen a number of Hollywood movies about robots, with the help of artificial intelligence, becoming so smart that they turn on their own creators: humans. However, there has also been instances where movies align with Machiko Kusahara’s point of view on Japanese robotics culture. For example, in the film “Edge of Tomorrow,” Earth is invaded by an alien race and nearly every soldier on the battlefield looks like a robot. The soldiers in the film utilized robotics to aide them in fighting the war.

My perspective of robotics and technology more closely align with that of the Japanese culture’s. From Kusahara’s lecture, the Japanese have an optimistic view of machines helping modernize society. These machines could range from sophisticated robots that provide search and rescue operations during natural disasters to simple mechanical tools for daily use. Upon viewing Rodney Brooks’ Ted Talk, “Robots Will Invade Our Lives,” I remember my family used to use the iRobot vacuum machine when I was still in middle school. Overall, I believe that art, technology, and robotics highly complement each other and even depend on each other to move forward with innovation.

iRobot Floor Vacuum Cleaner
Japanese Search and Rescue Robot

Works Cited
Brooks, Rodney. "Robots Will Invade Our Lives." Rodney Brooks:. Ted Talk, Feb. 2003. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
Nasowitz, Dan. "Meet Japan's Earthquake Search-and-Rescue Robots." Popular Science. N.p., 11 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
Uconline. "Robotics Pt3." Youtube. N.p., 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Robotics MachikoKusahara 1." YouTube. YouTube, 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
WarnerBrosPictures. "Edge of Tomorrow - Official Main Trailer [HD]." YouTube. YouTube, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Math + Art - Week 2

I found Dr. Vesna’s lecture video most insightful in this week’s topic. From the lecture, I learned that artists need to truly understand underlying mathematical principles to create a solid foundation in order to draw, paint, or sculpt basic regular forms such as cubes, circles, spheres, etc. Coming from a background with no art influence, I was surprised to find out that nearly all artists had to use mathematical principles to create their masterpieces. For example, Brunelleschi was the first to create linear perspective in 1413. He developed the vanishing point, understood scale and length of objects to the spectator, and controlled perspective.

Short Intro Video of Brunelleschi's Linear Perspective

Leonardo Da Vinci also used a scientific approach to creating art. He studied the eye meticulously and created mathematical formulations to compute the relationship between distance of an object to the eye and intersecting planes. Leonardo, like many other famous artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, and Rembrandt, used the Golden ratio to define proportions in many of his artwork such as the Vitruvian Man and the Mona Lisa. It’s incredibly compelling to learn that a number (Golden ratio) has influenced so many great artists and sculptors.  The ratio was also known was “The Divine Proportion” during the Renaissance period. In Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” the key dimensions of the room, the table and ornamental shields were all based on the Golden ratio. 

The Last Supper with Golden Ratios Outlined
The Golden ratio and the Vitruvian Man had also influenced Le Corbusier, an architect who used the ratio and his modular system to create his architecture. He believed that using the proportions of the ideal human body would improve both the appearance and function of architecture.

Le Corbusier's UN Secretariat Building
However, not all artists believed that creating master art-pieces required specific mathematical formulas and rules. According to Henderson’s “The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: Conclusion,” some artists followed the belief in a fourth dimension as a symbol of freedom. This created new forms and types of art such as abstract art. 
Example of Abstract Art

Works Cited

"Abstract Art - Lessons - TES." Blendspace. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Henderson, Linda. "The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art: 
Conclusion." Leonardo. 3rd ed. Vol. 17. MIT, 1984. 205-10. Print.

J, Elaine. "What Is the Golden Ratio?" LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

"Golden Ratio in Art Composition and Design." The Golden Ratio Phi 1618. 04 May 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Smarthistoryvideos. "Linear Perspective: Brunelleschi's Experiement." YouTube. YouTube, 20 Nov. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "" YouTube. YouTube, 09 Apr. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week 1 Blog Entry

As I continued to read “The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution,” I had more and more trouble classifying myself in one of C.P. Snow’s two polar groups – literary intellectuals and scientists. C.P. Snow's argument of just two cultures is overly simplified. I am a fourth-year UCLA business economics major, and although my degree is classified as a Bachelor of Arts, I have been required to take several math-based classes such as calculus, statistics, and econometrics. UCLA also does a great job with the General Education requirements, which has allowed me to explore different fields of academia including the life and physical sciences. I would best classify myself as in between the artists and scientists. For example, in the field of finance, executives must understand how to not only value businesses (science and math), but also manage and work with people (art).

Discounted Cash Flow Model Used By Investment Bankers (valuation can sometimes be more art than science)

There is a constant mixture of both science and art in our everyday lives. At the forefront of technological innovation is what is known as virtual reality – a computer technology that simulates an environment for the user to interact with. A recent article from TechCrunch notes that the lack of content is holding virtual reality back from going mainstream. Scientists must collaborate intensively with digital media artists to create a seamless, fully immersive experience with a virtual reality product.

Example of Virtual Reality Experience

The idea of divergent thinking brought up by The RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms video was particularly compelling. The paper clip example that tested creativity of children at different ages showed how many of us are limited in thinking by our social and physical boundaries. I was actually asked a question similar to this in one of my job interviews in finance: “What are 10 different uses for this [pencil]?” Although I thought I was creative with answers such as “chopsticks” and “firewood,” I could have provided much more interesting ideas if I utilized divergent thinking. 

Divergent Thinking
Works Cited

Bird, Jane. "Selling a Business: Valuation Can Be More of an Art than a Science -" Financial Times. N.p., 07 Sept. 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

Jacksepticeye. "THE FUTURE IS NOW! | HTC Vive Virtual Reality." YouTube. YouTube, 01 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

Scherba, Tony. "Virtual Reality Is about to Go Mainstream, but a Lack of Content Threatens to Hold It back." TechCrunch. N.p., 03 Apr. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

Snow, C. P. “Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.” Reading. 1959. New York: Cambridge UP, 1961. Print.

"STREETOFWALLS." Street Of Walls. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

TheRSAorg. "RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms." YouTube. YouTube, 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.