Archive for the ‘extra_credit’ Category

Extra Credit - Gabor’s sonic model: A research review - Shanpeng Li

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

On the first day of the Sound and Science Symposium I was able to attend the lecture by Curtis Roads from UCSB Department of Media Arts and Technology. It was a very interesting lecture but some of the terms he used were very advanced and hard to grasp, but overall I was able to get the basic idea of his research topic. Curtis Roads is a composer of electronic and electroacoustic music while specializing in granular and pulsar synthesis. He began the lecture by introducing the concept of electronic music and how it is very similar to traditional music by at the same time very different.

Electronic music involves the use of electronic musical intruments or electronic music software to create and even though their methods are very different, electronic and traditional music do have similarities. Curtis mentioned that it is possible to compose electronic music to sound exactly the same as acoustic music which definitely shows the technological aspect of electronic music. Later in the lecture, Curtis went on to describe some differences between electronic music and traditional music. For example, Curtis mentioned that electronic music opens the homogenous notes to limitless heterogenous notes that is only achievable by electronic means. Heterogenous notes are not static and fixed but can evolve into different things and does not share the conventional environment that applies to the homogenous notes created by acoustic instruments.  Also Curtis mentioned a very advanced aspect of electronic music which is that softwares are able to take in real locations and make that location into sounds that reflect how it would sound within that location. For example, if a piece of music is entered through the software you want the music to sound as if it is within a church, then the software is able to apply multitude of different effects such as echo that will transform the music into the desired location. In my opinion, this is a great example of how art and science can allow for the creation of extremely innovative pieces.  Some of the other differences that Curtis mentioned were for example, the composer is the performer in electronic music unlike in traditional music where the composer often does not perform their work. Also notations in electronic music is no longer symbols but instead graphical. Electronic music allows for a unlimited array of microtone scale which is extremely difficult to achieve with traditional instruments.

Curtis contributed to the creation of many programs such as Pulsar Synthesis and Emission Control. During the lecture, he briefly talked about each one, for example, Pulsar Synthesis is a program that allows the transformation of one music piece into another that is located in a different location like I mentioned earlier. This program shows a very promising future with further development. Even Curtis mentioned that he often wonders if it is possible to create a program that takes in a piece of music and project a location which the music is most likely placed within.

Throughout the whole lecture, Curtis played numerous pieces of music which he composed and each one shows how sound can be broken down into single particles that he called grains and by changing the granules slightly, you are able to produce very different results using electronic means. I think that Curtis’ lecture showed a field that many do not often encounter and it was a great experience to listen to his lecture and his research.

Michael Century Lecture (Extra Credit)_Michie Cao

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

This past Thursday, I attended Michael Century’s lecture at the California Nanotech Science Institute.  I thought it was an appropriate culmination to this DESMA Art, Science and Technology course, as his lecture discussed on whole the unification and impact of art and science on society.  


Michael Century started off talking about the stages of interaction between art and science that society had undergone throughout history.  The first apparent “wave” was a period of stability in the middle ages, where society was mainly run under a unified Church system.  As a result of this, most of the information was “compartmentalized”:  there was very little interaction between the different fields and also between theory and practice.  The second “wave”, which Michael Century described as the “Threshold”, came during the Renaissance Era.   In contrast to the last epoch, there was much interaction between theory and practice and scientists and artists.  A fine example of was Galileo, a scientist, and his assistant, Cigoli, an artist.  Interdisciplinary meeting places, such as academies, readily allowed for this free flow or “un-compartmentalization” of information.  They were known as the home of the dilettanti, “those who were interest in many things”.  As a result, there was wave of new inventions, such as the printing press, microscope.   The third wav, a period of re-compartmentalization, occurred after 1600s.  Dualism and specialization were characteristics of this epoch.   Now, we approach the current stage that we are currently at: the “Information Age”, as Michael Century dubs it.  Yet again, it is a period of de-compartmentalization, social fluidity, reflexivity and hybridity. 

As one can see from above, history truly does repeat itself.  In this case, it continues to work in a pattern, alternating between stable and threshold period.   Based on Schumpeter’s graph of the “Waves of Innovation”, these transitions are often triggered by new and significant inventions, such as textiles (in the first wave), steel (in the second) and electricity (in the third).  Currently, we are climbing up the fifth, most recent wave that was prompted by developments in digital networks, media and software.  However, Michael Century points out that this wave differs greatly from all the past ones, in the sense that it relies on “intellectual” technology and not “physical” technology.  As these technologies affect more the way people see and perceive things and not how they do things, the cultural impacts they have on society will potentially be deeper. 

Michael Century ends his lecture, asking us to speculate on the future.  When will the next stability era arrive or will there even be one?  What will be the trigger for the next wave?   Personally, I do not see another “stability” era coming any time soon.   He states that, at this point in time, it is not about inventing new technology, but more about using that technology in new and innovative ways or as Michael Century states, “filling in the dots of the wave”.  Truly, the key to that lies in the unification of art and science.   And after having seen the imaginative and provocative final project proposals of my peers, I definitely think we are doing just that.  With so many new technologies and with art and science interacting ever so closely now, I feel that society will be on a “threshold” and be progressing – in terms of innovation and change – for a very long time.   That we should be able to experience and see these changes take place in our own lifetimes is an extremely exciting thing. 



Michie Cao







Extra Credit - Michael Century Lecture - Shanpeng Li

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

In the last lecture of the course, we were able to be joined by Michael Century at the CNSI auditorium where he lectured about his theory and proposal on Modes of Interdisciplinarity in Art and Techno-Science. The lecture was very interesting as it went through many of the past trends of technology and briefly predicted how our technology today will affect the future. Michael began the lecture by talking about the history of our society and the stages it went through. One of the  most significant idea he showed was the history of compartmentalization and decompartmentalization in the world and how it separated different periods of innovations into period of stability and threshold. On the diagram that Michael showed in class, he showed interchangeable period of stability and threshold going in the order of the Middle Ages (Stability), the Renaissance (Threshold), the Modern Age (Stability), the Information Age (Threshold), and the Post-Information Age which he placed a question mark upon in hope of experiencing this age. Looking at the trends from past ages, we can predict that the up coming Post-Information Age is a period of stability unlike the Renaissance and the Information Age. Michael’s focus was on the interaction of art and science and he realized that during the threshold periods where massive innovative ideas flourished was when artists and scientists were truly able to communicate with each other and share their ideas.

Later in the lecture, Michael proposed his 3 modes of interdisciplinarity which are integrative, service, and reflexive. For each mode, two different examples were given to provide assistance on how each mode works. The mode of integrative focuses on the combination and coming together of two methods such as art and science to reach another completely different approach similar to the third culture discussed in our class. The mode of service focuses on the use of one method by the other to create innovative designs. The last but not least is the mode of reflexive which in my opinion is the most crucial and beneficial. The mode of reflexive focuses on challenging the past methods by modifying and improving them to come to a more developed and advanced method. One of the most interesting examples that Michael showed was John Whitney who took military hardware and modified them for the use of film which is an excellent example of service mode.

One of the most important diagrams that Michael showed was the diagram of Schumpeter’s wave theory. In this diagram, 5 different waves were shown each describing a period where a new form of innovation truly took over the society. For example, the wave began with the technology of water power and then moved on to the new innovation of steam power and eventually ends with the 5th wave that consists of digital network and software. Michael pointed out that before each new waves were made, many artists are already experiencing with technology that contributes to the oncoming wave of innovation. In this sense, currently we should actually be experiencing with technology that will eventually develop into the 6th wave of innovation. In my opinion, this wave will mainly consist of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and robotics which currently is not quite advanced by developing at an amazing speed.

Michael’s lecture was very entertaining and interesting as it truly showed the infinite possibilities that can develop from the combination of science and art.

- Shanpeng Li

Extra Credit#2 David Szanto by Komal Kapoor

Sunday, March 15th, 2009


On February 27th I went to David Szanto’s lecture on Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences. I was expecting to find a really interesting lecture on the functions of the human body and some integration of art (since our class is based on Art and Science). However, I was utterly disappointed by the lecture. It was not even a lecture, more so an advertisement of the university David sponsors. We sat through an utterly unexciting list of courses that are offered and various countries the students get to travel to while getting their degree. I guess the most interesting part was how they had an Italian professor who was talking about freezing fresh Oysters and the students were given wrong translations stating the lecture to be on freezing fresh ostrich.  You get the idea on how boring this lecture was.

Instead of learning about the courses, I would like to have learned about various cultures and how it directly impacts the processing of food (since gastronomy is the study of the relationship between culture and food). I would especially like to hear about the difference in the processing of food in different cultures. So much of our food is processed and full of preservatives and it would have been interesting to learn what the difference is in American production and preservatives versus European. Worldwide it is believed that American food is utterly fattening and I would like to learn the details especially since David commented exclusively on the various cultures the students get to experience through the University of Gastronomic Sciences.  I would have also liked to learn about the adverse effects these food and preservatives have on our body.

By Komal Kapoor

Extra Credit#1_Linda Weintraub by Komal Kapoor

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

A few weeks ago I went to hear Linda Weintraub’s lecture “Drop Dead Gorgeous: Beauty and the Aesthetics of Activism”. Linda described beauty as the intereaction between the viewed and the world. Interestingly, she commented on how beauty is not really a visual phenomenon but based on a set of cultural values. I think this is apparent in every day attraction between people. Certain groups ofpeople find certain traits as more attractive for example darker skin, or bigger eyes. Linda further asks the question about what beauty looks like when it is represented in productive ecosystems. This reminded me of the ideal facial structure we have talked about in class, and naturally produced ideals are often considered as beautiful.

Andy Goldsworthy is an artist she introduces us, whose art I have come to really appreciate.  His art is composed of articles from nature that he sets up in perfect structures. Humans are delighted by nature at its simplest, and it is even more pleasing when it is arranged in simple shapes and distinct colors.  



Linda progressed her lecture with a discussion of how there can be beauty even in the “uglier parts” of nature, like a rust pattern or bacteria design. Furthermore, the beauty in death and decay that is shown in Michel Blazy’s tower of moldy oranges and Gregor  Schneider’s mission to display a person dying in a gallery. These are interesting notions I have not really considered before. I really like a remark a student brought up about how there is an ongoing competition to make the goriest horror movies and the reason for that is maybe that we have become so numb and push ourselves to feel something through these movies. So I am not really sure if we will ever find death as beautiful or artistic, but we do accept it in our popular culture in movies.

By Komal Kapoor

Whistlers- Joshua Wilson (extra credit)

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

On Friday I attended many lectures for extra credit, the one I’m going to blog about is titled “Aesthetics of Natural Radio” by Douglas Kahn. Now I want to first start off by saying this was one of the most boring lecture that I attended on that Friday so this blog may not seem interesting because I hardly found anything fascinating, or even helpful. Usually the lectures that occurred Thursday and Friday spoke on things that somewhat related to nature or was fascinating. For the most part the lecture was about whistlers which had something to do with nature but was still not so interesting. The kind of whistlers I’m describing is defined as a very low frequency electromagnetic (radio) wave generated by lightning. Frequencies of whistlers are 1 to 30 kHz, with maximum usually at 3 to 5 kHz. Although they are electromagnetic waves, they occur at audio frequencies, and can be converted to audio using a suitable receiver. So the lecture wasn’t about an ordinary whistle, but a whistle developed through nature. In the lecture Douglas reported that “whistler documented over a period of six years from 1888 to 1894 at the Sonnblick Meteorological Observatory in Austria, in a 22-km long telephone line”. I didn’t see any importance in this quote; I just wrote it to help describe the main points of his lecture. I actually now that I think about it found something interesting about whistlers, that they were used in WWI. Douglas quoted “whistlers commonly heard in wireless gear (air and earth) used in communications and surveillance”, so I suppose they were very helpful in the WWI.

In a more described way, what causes an  earth whistler is when we have a situation when in the ionized gas that exists in the region of space; frequencies just so happen to not travel at the same speed, which in return produces a whistling tone that decreases in frequency with increasing time. Now that I think about it, things that occur in nature are unique because they occur for a reason. We humans have found ways to utilized some of natures attributes to the world by turning them into things that could benefit us on a personal level. It has also been said by educators on Wikipedia that there has been whistling sounds heard on Jupiter, which indicates that lighting strikes there. So if lighting is apart of nature and some signs of nature have been reported to have occurred on Jupiter, maybe there is life out side the earth atmosphere. There being life outside the earth atmosphere is pretty hard to phantom because we have searched and found nothing. Do I believe that there is life else where besides earth? Well it’s hard to think not but I also believe that man is the next thing closest to GOD. I believe man is God’s greatest creation, who has great powers, but has also created a world of chaos.

I notice that I digressed from the topic and that’s only because the lecture  was not all that interesting, but when I think about life and how things work in nature, I find many interesting things. The world is beautiful.

Joshua Wilson

Extra Credit - Michael Century Presentation - Miki Koga

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

For our last DESMA 9 class, Michael Century joined us at CNSI for a presentation on “Modes of Interdisciplinarity in Art and Techno-Science”. It served as an appropriate and exciting culmination of the past ten weeks. In physics, we often refer to resonant modes when we talk about waves; modes are one half-wavelength or a half a period of a sine wave. More generally, a mode is a form or style in which something exists. Century seemed to have used the word in both senses: waves and forms.

During the latter half of the lecture, Century described three contemporary modes, or forms, of interdisciplinarity: integrative (synthesis), service (instrumental), and reflexive (ontological). For example, he described the case study of the avant-garde German Bauhaus that unified art and technology, or the case study on the Digital Harmony Hypothesis and John Whitney, who famously repurposed military hardware for film animation. However, I was most interested in Century’s talk about modes, or waves, of innovation. I learned that according to Schumpeter’s wave theory, there have been five waves of innovation since the Industrial Revolution that have gradually grown shorter. We are currently part of the 5th wave, beginning in the 1900s and characterized by digital networks, software, and new media. Its major difference from past waves is that the driving force is no longer steel and iron. Furthermore, all of the “hard problems” have been solved, so it is truly about innovating and taking existing knowledge to the next level. We are in the process of filling in the dots of the present wave. Thus, we can only speculate what the 6th wave will be, if there will even be one.

Schumpeter's Waves of Innovation

Schumpeter's Waves of Innovation

As in making most substantial predictions, we must first study general trends in history. Thus, let’s take a closer look at wave 4 and wave 5. Those who started to experiment with digital media, the Internet, etc. in the 4th wave anticipated what established prevalence in the 5th wave. This appears to be a common and logical pattern in past waves, so we apply it to our present situation. Innovative scientists and artists are currently experimenting with nanotechnology, robotics, biotechnology, and other areas that we have explored in our very class. So we wonder if that is the corresponding techno-economic paradigm to come. Will the so-called 6th wave really be an epoch of nanotech, robots, and biotech? If the modes predict anything, then it seems so. It is interesting to consider because this may manifest in our lifetime. Through all of our current artistic, scientific, and technological explorations, we have direct control over the future of a post-information age. With respect to Century’s diagram reflecting periods of compartmentalization and decompartmentalization, he leaves the future as a question mark: Stability (Middle Ages) → Threshold (Renaissance) → Stability (Modern Age) → Threshold (Information Age) → ? (Post-Information Age). It can either be a threshold continuation or entry into a new era of stability. These are all thought-provoking theories to leave this class with. DEMSA 9 has introduced me to a sea of emerging technologies, art-science collaborations, and pioneering ideas. The culminating guest lecture helped me realize the importance of taking all these things and looking at what is happening in the wider perspective of things, including history. We are constantly trying to get our hands on the latest gadgets and we hear of new technologies and research in the media daily, but let’s continue to take the time to consider all of the implications.

So with that, goodbye DESMA 9 blogosphere! It’s been nice sharing and hearing what you all had to say. :D

By: Miki Koga

Here’s a link to Michael Century:

Extra Credit– Century by Leah Sitler

Friday, March 13th, 2009

This past Thursday, we had a guest lecturer Michael Century come and talk.  It was a very appropriate way to end the class, as he discussed the relation of art to science and interdisciplinarity.  It was reminiscent of the discussions we had in class and section during the first week of class.  It was a different way of approaching the separation between art and science than Snow’s The Two Cultures.  Instead of approaching it from a categorical perspective, Century discussed the separation in terms of periods in history, using the compartmentalization of the two as a measure of history.  His stability->threshold->stability model was very thought provoking.  Under this mindset, changes in history happen when there is a decompartmentalization between art and science–when human contact is made between the artist and the scientist.  The example of the middle ages (stability) to the Renaissance (threshold) to modern era (stability) was very effective.  It was during the Renaissance that artists and scientists first began to “hunt in packs,” and I couldn’t help but think of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Renaissance Man,” the ideal man being someone who was both intellectual and artistic.  This ideal combines both art and science, emphasizing the two equally.  In the modern era, the dualism and specialization returned with the Scientific Revolution.

Century then looked to the present (a concept that is hard to define), and continued the stability->threshold example by using the transition from the modern era (stability) into the postmodern or information age (threshold).  The present age being marked by the characteristics of reflexivity, social fluidity, and hybridity.  I cannot help but think of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Foucault’s theories on the subjectivity of identity.  There is an inherent instability and subjectivity in the two’s works and theories.  Will the next form of stability be in the absence of truth?  Will the next era be founded on the truth in an absence of truth?

Next, Century talked about Schumpeter’s waves.  It was interesting to see the pattern of technological advances in an historical context.  It was also very intriguing investigating the possible techno-economic paradigm to come, especially because the forthcoming intellectual technology has a much deeper cultural impact, as we are dealing with artificial intelligence.  

Century then talked about the contemporary modes of interdisciplinarity.  Integrative (synthesis), service (instrumental) and reflexive (categorical).  I had trouble understanding what the point of this part of his talk was, but it was still interesting, and the examples were very intriguing.  I got the impression that these three parts were cyclical, with reflexive’s characteristics of critical reflection, and leads to new art forms leading logically into integrative (synthesis) category.  One of his integrative examples, the Bauhaus, was really interesting to me, and also seemed incredible pertinent to the class.  The goal of Bauhaus was to create creative minds for architecture and industry that would then produce artistically, technically, and practically balanced utensils.



Extra Credit #5_Biophysics of Hearing by Brittany Santoyo

Friday, March 13th, 2009

At Dolores Bozovic’s presentation on the “Biophysics of Hearing,” she explains exactly how the human ear works and how exactly we are able to hear. First, our ear is made up of three partitions (the external ear, middle ear, and inner ear) that each perform imperative roles that are useless if left to fend on their own without the accessory of the other two. The external ear concentrates sound waves that are detected by hair cells down the ear canal which vibrates the eardrum. The eardrum is connected to the middle ear bones (three smallest bones in the human body). These bones, the malleus, incus, and the stapes, mechanically transmit the sound waves to the inner ear where the connected tubing called the eustachian to the throat. Also in the inner ear, there lies the cochlea which converts the sound waves into neural signals and then are transfers to the brain through the auditory nerve. When Bozovic was explaining this concept of hearing, it did not seem to be foreign to any of the twenty or so people in the room. However, the unique thing that she has based her research on is the pattern of the hair cells.

In Bozovic’s research in the Physics Department here at UCLA has lead to groundbreaking discoveries. At first glance, when the deep working of the ear was examined, nothing truly seem atypical or peculiar. On the other hand, once the ear was further examined, Bozovic and her team came to find that the pattern of the “mechanosensitive” hair bundle oscillated at its own volition. Her team extorted the sacculus from a bullfrog in vitro in order to advance the study. Honestly during the presentation, I had no idea what this sacculus was so when I looked it up I came to find that it is “The smaller of two membranous sacs in the vestibule of the inner ear.” ( ) Then, they used an adaptable stimulus fiber to accurately compute the dislocation influence in relation with the oscillating hair cells. The entire time this was going on, it was being meticulously recorded and graphed for accuracy. It was noted that at the time of this seemingly spontaneous fluctuating hair bundle, there was also a budge in the “negative-stiffness region” that corresponded precisely in time and effect. The outcome, therefore, was that “This movement has to result from the interaction of the bundle’s negative stiffness, which creates a region of mechanical instability, with a myosin-based adaptation mechanism that continually repositions the bundle there.” (in Bozovic’s words exactly) The results were amazing to those who actually understood her findings.  For more on Bovzovic’s research:

During this lecture, I kept coming back to the fact that the ear honestly holds no sense of interest in my mind as hard as I try. Then, I remembered that many people endure spells of imbalance and dizziness due to inner ear infections which honestly perplexes me as much as this oscillating hair cells seemed to do to Bozovic. I tried so hard to relate this to the subject in Bozovic’s lecture and finally thought that I had found something because both the things at hand specifically involve hair cells and the role that they play. With this in mind, I decided to ask her myself as she hurried out to catch a class at ten, but was shot down when she told me that in fact neither had to do with the other because the inner ear and the outer ear hair bundles operate significantly differently. My hope of actually getting something valuable out of this lecture was gone.

By Brittany Santoyo

Michael Century (Extra Credit) by John Philip Bongco

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Michael Century–a guest speaker–drew DESMA 9 to a close. Overall, I would describe Michael Century’s lecture as being very captivating. It was interesting how he brought the course to an end in a similar way to how it started. In a nut shell, Michael Century spoke about how society (has always) and continues to construct divisions  between the focuses of art, science and technology, essentially labeling and segregating them. He began by dividing periods of history into three sections of time: 1. de or un-compartmentalization 2. compartmentalization and 3. stability. Compartmentalization meaning separate distinct parts, decompartmentalization being the opposite and stability implying a balance. He associated stability with the middle ages since the middle ages are often characterized by its unified church system. This meant that there was strict church dogma (a system of principles and tenets, as of a church) and a generally tightly ran society; however, this meant that the boundaries between different practices of arts, science and technology were more distinct. Michael described the Renaissance–another great era in history–in correlation with the word “threshold” meaning that this period of time was the beginning of new thinking, ideas and thus revolutionary art, science and technology. As a result, there was a lot more interaction between different fields and disciplines of art, science and technology. The boundaries between all practices were becoming less distinct. This is why many people call a multi-talented person a Renaissance man or woman. That Renaissance being is considered to be skilled, a prodigy, or an expert in multiple practices. The last stage of time Michael Century mentioend was the “information age”, an era where information is at our fingertips. Some would say that this is the era of the present. We can access information about a subject of interest from across the globe in seconds. He described it a time of society with more fluidity, interaction, etc.

I guess the most important questions that are up for debate is whether or not these stages of history are repeated like a cycle or if they exist as a time line? If so, what period of the cycle do we lie at in the present? It is quite evident that we are in an age where information is easily accessible, but the distinctions between art, science and technology are extremely distinct. In the beginning of this course, we talked about how the division between two cultures is extremely relevant to us as students because it is so visible on campus. We have north campus and south campus and a rivalry that exists between the two regions. It would make sense to consider Michael Century’s model of history as a cycle since history does seem to repeat itself. Michael Century encouraged us to continue thinking out-of-the-box for lack of better phrase. He emphasized that our current state is relatively fluid and that in order to remain in a period that perpetuates fosters growth and the beautiful correlation of different areas  and fields requires us to be open-minded. In this way, we can remain in a state of threshold and perpetuate the beauty and learning that comes from states of Renaissance, learning and information.

By: John Philip Bongco