Archive for January, 2009

Week 3: Technology and Art

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

The realm of the 21st century entails a world that is technologically driven. If you think about the time when our parents were growing up, they were thoroughly deprived of so much of what we find to be completely natural—and even necessary—to our modern existences. Cell phones give us the ability to stay effortlessly ‘connected’ 24/7 to our communities, iPods allow us to carry around hundreds (even thousands) of songs right in the palm of our hand, and the internet has given us the limitless power of knowledge in which one can ‘wikipedia’ just about any meticulous subject matter and be quasi-experts on them with a click of a finger. It is clear that technology has made a large contribution to art as well, as it allowed a fuse of man and machine, causing a whole new reality to emerge—one that blurs the lines of what art itself is. Technology became a gateway into other peoples’ lives and works, and thus our art reflects that. With mass reproduction made easy, an individual’s artwork becomes easily accessible, affecting and inspiring more people than ever before. This causes a cycle of intertexuality in which one person’s art can be a part of another person’s art, which can become a part of another person’s art (and so on). This gives way to the notion that the ‘purity’ and ‘originality’ of an artwork diminishes somewhere within this cycle, especially when it becomes impossible to even pinpoint the origin. Technology hence is the catalyst of the blurring of all lines and things (which makes for a very complicated humanity). Modern art has always been about man’s reactions to the changing world, and now more than ever this becomes relevant.

The clip I want to share with you is of Banksy’s newest art exhibit, the “The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill”. Banksy is a famous British contemporary artist who first became known for his defiantly political graffiti art. He is known only as “Banksy” and remains anonymous otherwise.

This exhibit, which was disguised as a hole-in-the-wall pet store in New York City, is an exhibition of some of his unique animatronic creations. It includes a rabbit pensively applying make-up on her(?)self, little chicken McNuggets sipping in on barbeque sauce, and fish sticks swimming around a in a fishbowl. It sounds more than absurd. It appears to be a commentary of our technological world, and perhaps our perceptions on living and non-living things. The technological advances have allowed us so many things, has empowered us in so many ways, but in a sense it is causing us to be more and more detached from the world of natural and human things. Technology can help in many ways but can also do damage to our psyche, and the way in which we percieve the living world. But the use technology to make a point about the living? That to me is kind of enlightening. These little creatures that reside in the pet store are so realistic in their own way, they seem alive. It is an interesting juxtaposition that Banksy created: using the available technology, he created something ‘living’ out of the ‘nonliving’. The clip below is of a leopard perched on a tree…or is it?

Banksy Village Pet Store & Grill - Leopard

Week 3: Does it have an “Aura” or not?

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I found it very odd reading and absorbing the article “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction” by Douglas Davis. Being such a dated thesis from over ten years ago, it presents a perspective that is completely foreign to me. Being born in 1986, I entered my conscious adolescence right as personal computing and the internet became standard facets of human life. Obviously dating myself as a young individual, I cannot picture an existence without the technology brought by personal computers or the limitless connectivity created by the World Wide Web. One of my earliest distinct memories is signing up for AOL back in version 2.0 with my whole family at our Compaq Presario desktop with a cutting edge Intel Pentium 90 MHz processor. Moving another step further into foreign territory is Davis’s concept of technocratic reproduction. To me, digital imaging and reproduction is just another standard part of our existence, like the telephone or automobile, but to those who lived in a world before these technologies, I see now that it was not so simple an adjustment. Hand-created art could all of a sudden be reproduced digitally and then changed in any way imaginable, losing its “aura of originality.” In my technocratic perspective, a digital reproduction, such as a photo copy or digital scan, is just another means of representing and expressing the same originality. If the reproduction is true to the original’s level of resolution, then there is no difference but the subjective one we place on the viewing’s situation. It’s circumstantial in my view. That is not to say I do not see the value in appreciating an original message through the originally intended medium (i.e. viewing a painting as the original oil on canvas versus as a digitally printed reproduction). Subtleties are expressed best through the chosen medium, and for specific reason. A painter chooses oil on canvas versus watercolor on paper for specific reasons according to his or her purpose. On this level I can agree with reservations to Davis’s presented points.

However when it comes to the next level or “aura degradation,” originally technocratic art, I lose my agreement with this perspective completely. Art is not just that which is created by means already established, such as the common physical ones of sculpture, painting, drawing, handwriting, etc. In the words of Leo Tolstoy art is anything that “infects” an audience and causes change within them. With this definition I see anything created by a human as being exemplary of an artistic endeavor. One great example of technocratic art that I believe has great original ‘aura’ is Liquid Sculpture.

Does Technocratic Art have an Aura?

Capturing the reality of nature by photo-realistic methods can be just as affecting as doing so by symbolic or expressionistic ones. In this art form, high speed flash photography and digital image processing, such as Photoshop, are used to capture beauties found in the natural wonder of water. Sculptures formed only by the forces of physics, formed only for precise instants, are rendered in digital form to be viewed over an extended period of time. It is a form of art that was never possible before technology enabled its concept and execution.

This is just one example as to the things that can happen outside the planes of our imaginations.

coolBy Sohail e. Najafi

Week_3 Robots from Childhood and Now by John Philip Bongco

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Webster’s Dictionary defines robots as being “mechanical devices that sometimes resemble humans and are capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance”. I think my earliest memory of a robot is of the Nintendo Robotic Operating Buddy (or R.O.B.). R.O.B. served as a Nintendo gaming console accessory in the late 1980s (specifically in 1985). It came with two playable games and received gaming commands by detecting optical flashes produced by a television screen. Yes, R.O.B. may have seemed like a revolutionary gaming product at the time, but it certainly did not keep up with the way robots were and would be portrayed in films in the following years.

Contemporary movies generally depict robots as having abilities that do not seem possible: super strength, artificial (or real) intelligence, expressing emotion, taking over the earth, etc. In Bicentennial Man, Robin Williams’s character Andrew Martin goes on a quest to become human. He ends up getting the proper surgery to express emotion and have organs that are similar to humans. I guess it makes sense for researchers, engineers and scientists to be a little disappointed when we realize and acknowledge that our technology is not quite there yet. On the other hand, we have made some great advancement. In a sense, many machines can imitate human tasks that are a lot more efficient through the use of these highly-developed pieces of technology. In addition, we see them or these things in entertainment as already mentioned.

I just like the idea of taking a step back and appreciating the technology that we have—technology that should also be appreciated and analyzed as art. For example: animatronics (and robots in general) that we see in theme parks and the kinds of things Walt Disney enjoyed creating. Did you know that the Walt Disney employee Lee Adams was the first to make the audio-animatronics that we see at Disneyland? This includes the stuff that we love from childhood like: “It’s A Small World”, “Indiana Jones”, “Splash Mountain,” “Space Mountain”, etc. As a child, I was in awe of how real the rides look and even—at times—believed that I was in completely different world on some of the rides. Now, I appreciate the time Imagineers (the engineers that put Disney rides together and work in over 100 other engineer-based disciplines under Disney) took to give rides so much detail and such a realistic feel.  People should take into consideration the lighting, mechanics, sculpting, architecture, etc. that go into making these rides such a great experience for the millions that visit Disneyland each year. I will never forget how breath taking the beginning of the “Indiana Jones” ride at Disneyland is and the robots that were used to make it such a huge thrill.



By: John Philip Bongco

Week 3

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

            Robotics has changed our world most completely and in very unique ways.  I think it is fascinating that art and the technology behind them can be so connected.  When we even take a look at the medical field, it is clear that robots have changed what is capable there.  This class had made me appreciate the connection of these two fields so much more than I ever thought I would.  The movie industry will never be the same now that robots have been introduced.  I remember the first time I watched Jurassic Park and then I saw some sort of documentary about how they made the dinosaurs literally come to life.  This raised my appreciation of the movie much greater.  The movies have taken on a new kind of art, one that could not have been possible even 20 years ago with out all the new achievements in technology and science. 

            Though it is not directly related to what we were discussing in class this week, I have developed a whole new appreciation for art and I am noticing art around me a lot more since I started taking this class.  I have observed that there really is art in nearly everything, even in the most unlikely places.  This past weekend, I was at home, and I was driving down some of the same streets I always do, but I noticed many new things.  All of this comes from the idea that people make functional things, but make them beautiful or creative in some way.  One example is in downtown Santa Barbara.  There are streetlights that have corn at the base and corn cut outs are found in the connecting railings between the lights.  Normal street lights of gray would work perfectly fine, but they are using the technology of lighting the street to creating something more pleasing to the eye.  Over the weekend I was struck by how awesome I think this is.  Bridges are often another functionally beautiful creation.  I have seen so many different bridges through the years, and some stand out as memorable because of the way the constructed.  The one in the picture stands out to me in my memory of being there and walking across it.  The wood-work that it took to create the bridge is certainly art, the function and technology are very basic, and the plants are just there to create a beautiful scene. 

1250035027_efec56765bAll bridges serve the purpose of getting people across areas, but some are more elaborate and decadent than others.  It makes me happy that architects can incorporate art into their work. 

            Another place that I have really realized is a form of art is cutting trees and gardening.  When we have our trees cut at home, my parents always directed which parts of the tree to cut and how to keep it remaining beautiful.  I always thought that this was kind of silly, but then I realized that this is another form of art.  When you compare the way quality cut trees look compared to those that were just “chopped” there is a real difference. 

            All around us there is art, whether in robots, movies, trees, or architecture.  I think this is the beginning of what this class is trying to encourage us to incorporate into our thought as scholars.


Natalie Ridling

Week3- Industrial Advancement and Literary Modernism

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

In English literary history, the period spanning roughly between 1900 and 1925 that is often referred as an era of modernism is a particular interesting collaboration with the theme of this week. Moreover, the writers and artists of this period were acutely aware that the world around them was changing profoundly with technological advancement, and purposefully set about creating new ways to express themselves in this new era. One example is George Eastman patents the Kodak box camera in 1888 that reshapes the whole spectrum of what painting used to be. The introduction of photography, which is easier and cheaper to obtain, challenges artists to revolutionize their works from naturalistic and realistic portray of objects themselves into abstract emotions and tangible feelings at a particular time or space. To overcome this constraint, artists borrow concepts from Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity that published in 1905 with its revolutionary model of non-Euclidean Fourth-Dimensional space-time. Subsequently, artists such as Picasso and Georges Braque began work in Cubism in 1908 and Filippo Marinetti proclaimed the first manifesto of Futuralism in Paris in 1909. It is also needless to say the advancement on transportation and communication networks have sped up the exchange of ideas between scientists and artists across continents within hours than months.

To bring a point back to the lecture on Thursday, I am not quite sure how Professor Vesna wants us to get from the lectures, but clearly I have seen how computer science and graphic animation and effects have been adopted heavily in Hollywood films such as Matrix or Transformers to create a sense of cutting edge fashion. Of course, perhaps it’s just me whose ignorance on both spectra over-clouds my vision to diagnose the complementary similarities or differences between science and art, or I shall be frank that I have little taste in analyzing them separately: Overall, I see a harmonious work made with the collaboration of scientific ideas and artistic innovations. To what extent of specification can I draw upon the differences? Honestly, I don’t know~

Many of my classmates talk about robotics in their blogs, but I don’t see how art is adopted in designing robots (well at least not with its mechanical functions; certainly it plays a big part when it comes to marketing and packaging). In my opinion, the attempt to generalize every aspect of life with a stigma of art and science is absurd and blunt. Without a clear definition of science and art, we have no basis to neither draw upon judgment nor make comparisons. Bottom line, we can only use word like “beautiful” to describe something is artistic and “cool” as a synonym for science. But isn’t that absurd?

By Wei-Yi Lin

week 3: theme parks

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

                The Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and early 19th century created a major burst of technological advances in transportation, manufacturing, and production allowed our modern day society to be greatly affected by technology. Some major inventions that came out of the Industrial Revolution, and time after, that greatly affected society are the airplane, cars, radio, steam engine, air conditioning, television, microwave, internet, computer, printing press and even Google.   

                Technology has greatly affected society in many different areas such as the media, entertainment industry, the medical world, and even the business world. Technology is everywhere and one place where technology is necessary is theme parks. Theme parks are the center of art and science of the world. Disneyland is the world’s perfect example of technological art. Several of Disneyland’s rides are very simple and generic robots and just amazing technological feat.  iasw11The “It’s A Small World” ride is full of little international robotic kids that sing in a very creepy way and the ride itself is artistic as well. Another great example is the Jurassic Park ride in Universal Studios.  The Jurassic park ride is full of robotic dinosaurs which are meant to scare the life out of you but most importantly is the fact that such a technological feat was created.jurassicush

                In all honesty I don’t care much for writing about robots I love to learn about them, see them, and even learn to make them so I apologize for the very pathetic attempt to write something readable. Thank you and sorry to have wasted your time this weekend, but next week’s topic sounds a lot more entertainment so yay!!! Yeah sorry .





Dafne Luna

Week 3 - Robotics and A.I. - Shanpeng Li

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Robots have been the prime example of futuristic imaginations in countless movies. They are often depicted as extremely smart entities capable of thinking for themselves or performing advanced tasks. While such imaginations seemed impossible in the past, we are actually approaching such advanced technology today. If you think about it, we are constantly being exposed to advanced robots today not just from movies but also everyday tools. While they are nowhere like the imaginations that were created years ago, they are still considered robots that can perform their jobs extremely well.

Some of the well known movies that depict robots are movies such as The Matrix, Terminator series, and iRobot. In each movie, the robots differ in numerous ways such as appearance, function, complexity…etc, but there is one fundamental similarity that connects them all. This similarity is artificial intelligence. Each robot has a consciousness of its own and they are capable of learning from humans. This technology is definitely something that is not developed yet. Robots in today’s world are very one-dimensional entities that are specialized into certain tasks because they are programmed to do so. Each robot has its own unique program code that commands what it is supposed to do and how to do it. It is simply impossible for robots to think for themselves and perform actions outside of its commands. Many such robots exist today and while they seem extremely advanced, but they are still not in the same realm as those depicted in movies. For example, if we look at common household items such as the television, it is programmed to receive signal and project the signal onto the screen for us to watch. Also complicated machines are used to create products at unimaginable speed such as those that build automobiles. It is programmed to movie car parts to extremely precise locations and combines them together. Such robotic machines serve a purpose in our daily life, there are also those that do not serve anything purpose but simply for entertainment and technological achievement. Sony, one of the world’s largest multinational conglomerate leading in the manufacture of electronics have developed many highly advanced entertainment robots such as ones that can perform synchronized dance and those that can move in response to different music. ( More information can be found at and Even though these highly advanced robots do not serve much of a purpose in our lives, it definitely displays the true power of technological advancement in today’s world. Comparing to the movie clips displayed during lecture, our technology today still does not live up to the past’s expectations.

Many futuristic imaginations are made into movies as shown from numerous examples, but nearly all of them do not come true. Movies in the past depicted today’s society with highly advanced technology such as flying cars, robots that think for themselves, and every household item being automatic without us having to perform any action. Even today, movies are being made about the future and one of the popular themes consist of robots gaining a conscious of its own and turning back on its makers such as those shown in The Terminator and The Matrix. In my opinion, I highly doubt that artificial intelligence will be developed in the near future because the fundamental concept behind every machine is still the same. A programmer is required to write every single action the machine is capable of and it is simple impossible for the machine to learn on its own and perform actions that dramatically differ from what its programmed to do. Every response the robot is capable of is written in its code and cannot change on its own. When the day comes where artificial intelligence is developed, that’s the day we have to start worrying about robots turning against us. 

-Shanpeng Li

Week_3 Getting People to Interact with Robotic Art By Gaurav Bansal

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Robotic art is the epitome of art and technology working together. Robotics has an aura of technological advancement, and the future, and in a modern sense, it is hard for people to connect to that. Through art, people can become involved with robotics and feel as if they are in a high tech future, right now. One of the more conventional ways this occurs is through robotic art instillations. One in particular I found interesting is called “the Flock,” by Ken Rinaldo.



This instillation entails large robotic arms that move around with the music being played. The motion is suppose to signify the natural movement of groups found in nature. The interesting part from the website is that there are pictures posted of people interacting with the instillation. By the few pictures it is easy to see that people really get into these pieces of art. This is one way that art uses robotics and tries to bring it to today’s culture. However, art can utilize robotics without having ever physically constructed a robot. Popular media has thoroughly made use of “robotics” in digital media.

Many movies make use of robotic technology. One of the more visually appealing examples, as well as relatively recent, is the movie I,Robot, directed by Alex Proyas. The robots in the movie are very high tech and interact very well with the humans in that world. There is a point in the movie at which the main character questions why the robots have to look like humans. Though there is no direct answer to this question in the movie, it is possible to make a good guess at why the movie was created with the robots this way. In this example, the audience is the viewers, and the movie is an instillation. The digital robotic art is trying to make the audience interact with the robotic characters, and it is much easier for the audience to interact with a humanlike object, as opposed to an obscure shape with blinking lights.

I, Robot

I, Robot


Obscure Robot

Another way art is using robotics through digital media is television. The television show that stands the most out to me for using robots is a show called Futurama.


In the series, the main character is from the year 2000, and is accidently cryogenically frozen until the year 3000. In this future world, robots are a common part of everyone’s daily lives. Eventually a robot becomes the mains characters best friend. This series does an excellent job in artistically exploring new ideas relative to robotics, and technology. Again, it does not take the direct approach of human interaction with robotics, like the instillations do, however anyone who watches this show will find something in the show that they would want in real life, thus indirectly having the audience interact with technology, even if it is only mentally.

No matter what type of robotic art is used, it is possible to have humans interact with it, be it directly or indirectly. Robotics is the path of the future and human beings need to be able to interact with them. Robotic art is the beginning of this path.

By Gaurav Bansal

Robotics and Technology by Jessica Young

Sunday, January 25th, 2009
Advancements in robotic technology have revolutionized the modern world. Robots have allowed for breakthroughs in scientific and medical research, and even modernized the most menial of tasks. Robots take on roles in the entertainment world and translate their abilities into some forms of human interaction. With robots being capable of carrying out many daily tasks, the big question is whether or not robots will “take over” the world in the future.

Since robots have such convenient applications, it is only natural that humans would gravitate toward the trend of using robotic innovation in everyday life. Robots are able to do the most mindless of tasks, from vacuuming to pool cleaning, and the most thought provoking, like acting as a functioning human appendage and giving a blind man the ability to see. Robots have modern medical applications as well. Without the assistance of robotics in the medical fields, many forms of complicated surgery would be impossible.




Brain surgery was revolutionized by the use of robotics in both the detection of brain defects and the physical correction of microscopic abnormalities. Robotics give doctors the ability to perform surgical procedures in the most impenetrable and sensitive parts of the brain. In cases like this where perfection of surgery means life or death, robots are vital to the medical community.


One of the most recent robotic applications that peaked my interest, was its use in the detection of pollen levels in the air.



Researchers in Japan created these detection modules out of styrofoam spheres which house a monitoring unit. About 200 allergy sufferers throughout Japan volunteered to hang these light-weight robots outside of their home and they are currently transmitting their findings to researchers based out of Tokyo. With the information provided by these machines, scientists hope to provide allergy sufferers with some measure of relief from what promises to be an especially pollen-filled spring.

All these applications of robotics are seeming harmless innovations that will help ferry us into the future, however, as human dependence on robots grows, the possibility of disaster also grows exponentially. As we often forget, robots are not without their flaws. Robots are man made pieces of metal which house current technology, and just as their human creators are imperfect, they too are not without their misfortunes. As the pandemonium associated with Y2K suggests, the mass failure of technology would create an upheaval. This dependence, while seemingly harmless, poses the possibility of huge repercussions. If robotic systems tied to the deployment of nuclear missiles were to malfunction, would that mean the end of the world? And as more and more tasks become automatized, does that mean that millions of jobs will become obsolete? We as an entire world need to closely examine the implications of a completely automatized world, because that’s where were headed.



In my opinion, robotic technology is vital to society, but human dependence on technology has become excessive. We need to examine technology with a little skepticism and not be so quick to adopt untested techniques and machines. If humans practice a little more good judgment in everyday life, we can ensure that we will have the most recent technological advances at our fingertips, as well as plenty of jobs to keep the world from becoming too technologically dependent.


WEEK 3, Robotics, Joshua Wilson

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

This week’s lecture was more exciting then prior lectures. Dr Vena spoke on the topics of “Kinetic Art”, “Robotics”, And “Industrial Age”. The topic that seems more fascinating is the topic discussing “Robots”. Now of course, robots are hot topics because it’s a creation created by humans to make a computer more human like. If one takes the time to analyze a computer, you would find that it’s made out of the likeness of a human brain. The creation of a robot was to give computer/machine human characteristics. For example, movie makers develop movies on robots all the time. Due to so many movies involving robots, I have stereotype robots to be a machine that is shaped as humans with certain human abilities. But the key point is there considered in some ways smarter, due to their ability to specialize in multiple things. This aspect of robots creates efficiency through out different parts of society. In the lecture, Professor Vena showed many films and clips on robots to reveal the progress on how well they have evolved. But what I mostly received was how they fit in human society. Robots can participate in warfare, new creations, manufacturing, etc.   

I also thought about how, humans are made to specialize in one particular thing, but robots are made to specialize in multiple things at one time. In the reading Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, Fuller opposes specialization. He argues that specialization precludes intellectual thinking. He points out that society supports the system of specialization by providing few subjects in school education. In some ways, I believe specialization is needed in society, and I also believe it restricts individuals to one thing. But if we think back into cave man time; specialization was essential for survival. There had to be a person who dedicated time to just learning how to catch food rather then trying to perform all duties required to survive. Specialization has also brought many creations and discoveries, because individuals have dedicated their time to one thing, and doing more than one thing at a time can create confusion or even may be a lot to handle. A prime example of specialization on a smaller scale is the structure of a University which is mentioned in the reading. A university consists of many majors, which encourages full attention. For example the engineering major at UCLA is an example of how universities create an atmosphere of specializing in one thing. This major only gives room for you to take the required classes for graduation, and discourages the thought of venturing out to take other classes.

The robots ability to specialize in many things, because Man declared it to be that way, has created a idea in movies that they are smarter than humans, and will one day take over. Could the creation of robots lead to the destruction of human race, and the destroyer being robots? Maybe society encourages specialization in one thing for the human race to keep us under control, but creates machines that can specialize in many things because their easier to control. But what if things go wrong in the creation of one robot? Prime example is the movie I Robots.

Joshua Wilson.