Archive for February, 2009

Week 8-Gil Kuno, Chaos?, Big Bang- Diar Nejadeh

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

When first listening to Gil Kuno’s lecture, I couldn’t understand his progression from a video on the fourth dimension to his own projects, but as I explore his website I begin to realize what he is attempting through his work.  In the first video in Gil Kuno’s lecture we begin at a picnic with two individuals, slowly our view of the two picnic goer becomes less and less as the camera pans away.  Quickly we leave the Earth’s atmosphere and travel through our galaxy and even more quickly we leave the outermost planets of Uranus and Neptune, lost in a sea of space.  In addition, the first video I mentioned, which explained dimensions past the third, another insight into the potential complexity space and time.I have to admit that after a marathon of the History Channels, “The Universe”, I have come to understand space in a much more scientific way, beyond the artistic interpretations of Gil Kuno and the video on dimensions.  

When observing the night sky, one cannot help but pause and observe the shiniest and closest object - the Moon. Some theories assert that once the moon was a part of the Earth itself and that collisions with comets and asteroids have chipped some of the material from the Earth. This material, due to gravity later formed the Moon. Ever since it was formed, the Moon has been slowly escaping Earth’s gravitational pull, and it is now much further away than it was twenty thousand years ago. Eventually, the moon will wonder away from Earth’s gravitational field into the unknown, ever expanding universe. The Moon is not the only sky object that keeps moving away from the Earth. In fact, every single object in the universe is moving away not only from the Earth, but also from any other object in the universe.

The truth is that the universe is governed by ever-lasting set of rules, which are abided by, by both matter and energy. These two entities in which the entire universe is made of, leads me to argue that simply stating that what some might perceive as chaos, is actually an unwillingness to understand the admirable nature of the universe. The fact that the universe is expanding in time means that, at some point, the universe was at singularity, infinitely small in dimensions. This also means that the Big Bang was anything but big, and it couldn’t have been a bang, as there was no air or any other medium to transfer the impact waves from the bang. Assuming that an explosion occurred implies the existence of a bigger, outer space within which our universe exists. Because our universe is expanding, will it ever reach the outer limits of that outer space, or is this “bigger universe” expanding as well? Is this the only universe in existence?bigbang2

Some questions will remain unanswered for quite some time, and we are running out of time to answer many of them, as the universe is expanding proportionally with the distance from the reference point. This means there is a point beyond which the universe expands at the rate faster than the speed of light, which implies that there is a horizon of visible universe,and any light originating beyond it will never reach us. Thus, even though we are armed with vast knowledge and intelligence to grasp the rules of the universe, some questions will inevitably remain unanswered until the end of time.big-bang

 

 

 

- Diar Nejadeh

Final Abstract: BioMods by Simon Wiscombe

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

BioMods is a exhibit designed to allow the user access to their own genetic material, allowing them to modify, add to, and remove from their own DNA. From there, they will step into a small room that will allow them to experience their new selves. This room will be a “virtual reality,” every wall being a display screen that transports the user to a completely open virtual environment for the user to explore. Through various sensors and attachments, the room will track the user’s movements and actions, allowing them to explore with their new genetic makeup. Multiple exhibits will be linked together to allow users to interact as their modified selves.

by Simon Wiscombe

Final Abstract: Divisible by Zero: Redux by Sohail e. Najafi

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

In this second iteration of the Divisible By Zero installation, the experience will seek to expand on the principles presented in the first iteration through heavy expansion of the interactive-multimedia-virtual-reality-experience.  The system will be enlarged to include several interactive spaces of increasing size where the number of simultaneous users encountered will grow as one proceeds through the installation.  Users will now be separated from each other by full planes of light that they are instructed not to traverse. Along with the added technology, progress aspect, and increased chaos, new relevant issues will be presented to the user utilizing new technological mediums, such as robotics and biotechnology, in the increased visual-auditory spaces.

By Sohail e. Najafi

Final abstract_Jhi-Yeon Oh

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Our body functions by transmitting electric signals from the brain to the nervous cell to the body cells. The major electric signals are passed mostly by the central nervous system (CNS) which falls down from head to the toe, along the vertebrae. Therefore, if one injures his/her vertebrae, the damage can cause paralysis of the body─parts or whole. Sometimes this damage is irreversible or hard to fully recover.

This is because of that the electric signal cannot pass through the broken nervous connections. Stem cell research has coming into the spotlight since the stem cell can regrown into new spinal cord, reconnecting CNS. However, this free growing potential of stem cell has brought up to the ethical issues such as cloning.

The purpose of ‘The six million dollar man’ project is to build an artificial nervous system using nano/biotechnics. Thin cords will link two broken nerves and transmit the electrical signal between them to move the paralyzed parts again.

 

 

by Jhi-Yeon Oh

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Invisible Earthlings- Extra Credit by Diar Nejadeh

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

In the description of Beatriz da Costa’s Invisible Earthlings exhibit, it is said to be an examination of the relationship between human beings and non-human beings.  This relationship is made clear through the structure of the exhibit, which was seperated into seven locations of da Costa’s backyard.  A small screen above microbial samples, allowed the exhibit goer to also be inolved in the exploration process.  The touch screen allowed the viewer to interact with the exhbit by finding a blue glowing disk at the collection site and touching it with a stylus.  The collection sites included a bench, trash can, gate, flower, porch, garage, and butterfly bush.  The findings at each collection location ranged from bacteria, to fungi, to mixed cultures.  img_3630

After Week 8’s discussion of space, which is clearly associated with ideas like chaos, I couldn’t help but make the connection between this exhibit and the film shown in class by the guest speaker Gil Kuno, where a camera travels from the surface of a hand, into the inner cell structure.  Although the “Particle Group” exhibit does not make an in-depth investigation of non-human species, it, in my mind, is a commentary on the complexity of all that is around us . What we see in our daily lives, and with our own eyes, is only the surface of a deceptively complex structure of organisms and micro-organisms.  

Although, I cannot say that I am a scientist and didn’t connect to the exhibit as I suppose some might, I cannot help but realize da Costa’s choice to name her exhibit, “Invisible Earthlings”.   img_3626by Diar Nejadeh

week 8 - space - Abraham Harn

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

                Human beings have long wondered what lies beyond planet earth. It was conflict between intellectuals that led to the discovery that earth is not the center of the universe, and years of arms race that led to technologies advance enough to finally take a look of what is beyond this planet. Even though we have yet to discover living organisms outside of earth, we have not stopped looking, and we certainly have not stopped fantasizing what could be out there.  

                What do people expect the aliens to be like? Physically, we seem to have come to a consensus that they’re these green creatures with huge heads and big eyes and long arms who travel in these flying saucers. Such description have been, allegedly, seen around the world and captured in camera or video recorder and have been the basic models for aliens for many movies, books, and games, just to mention a few.

                I am a big fan of movies that tries to depict alien forms. There was a 10-episode TV series back in 2002 produced by Steven Spielberg, featuring Dakota Fanning. The series was about people being abducted throughout the world (clichdfanningtakené I know), before tracking devices were placed deep in their brains. Long story short, we see government officials that try to find and conduct research on the people who were adducted while others stand up to the government.  Dakota Fanning played a little girl that had “special” genes from an abducted mother and an abducted father, who was born with special powers such as slowing down time and creating illusions; she was a project that the aliens were studying carefully, observing how people would react in different situations relating to the special girl.

                This TV series, like many other movies, tries to depict aliens in the form of a normal human being. The movie MIB for example, showed that aliens are disguised like humans and living among us, teach our young, make our coffees, and deliver our mails. As fictional as it might seem, this might be indeed the best approach when one intergalactic species decide to make contact with another, regardless of their intention being hostile or friendly. Just imagine the day that we discover living beings on another planet thmibalienat have lower intellect than us. As scientists, the best way to studies these species would be to cause as little disturbance to the species and the environment as possible. Assuming aliens that have successfully discovered our planet, it is safe to assume that their intellectual level is beyond our understanding, and that they would want to approach us with little disturbance, for the purpose of understanding our planet. The best way to do this would be to “blend in”, and live among us.

                While I don’t think that among the thousands of billions of planets and galaxies that are out there that we’re the only one with life, I do believe that we will not find such a planet, at least not in the near future. I cannot begin to imagine the fear and the insecurity that would arise if we also discover that these beings are way more advanced than we are.

by Abraham Harn

Abstract

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

It took many long years for doctors to even begin to understand the idea of insanity and how a person becomes insane or mentally disturbed. I plan to tap into people’s emotions of humor, rage, joy, sadness, and even melancholy by having a group of seven in a square room with walls covered in large screens in which they will be forced to watch various visuals that will give them the feeling of insanity. This feeling of insanity will last for a short period, therefore people that come out of this experience should be able to now sympathize with disturbed people and hopefully become tolerant of mentally disturbed groups of people.

 

Dafne Luna

Final- Abstract by Michelle Wong

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

 

Alzheimer’s Disease is often taken too lightly and people make simple comparisons to memory lost. A device will be attached to a person’s brain to create a simulation similar to what an Alzheimer’s patient would experience. The simulation includes memory lost, immobility, and communication hardships by blocking certain receptors in the brain. The purpose is the spread Alzheimer’s awareness and knowledge to the general public while it lets them experience first-hand the patients’ experience. This project is especially aimed at those taking care of Alzheimer’s patients to help them understand the frustrations the patients are experiencing.  Further development may be recording a patient’s memory prior to the advancing stages of Alzheimer’s.

 

By Michelle Wong

Extra Credit – Invisible Earthlings by Michelle Wong

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Yesterday I attended the exhibition by Beatriz Da Costa, called “Invisible Earthlings,” at the California NanoSystem Institute.  The “invisible Earthlings” were referring to the microbes, which she defined as
“small size, not visible to human eye, [yet they’re] social actors.” This exhibit was to inform the public what relationships we have with them. The microbes reside in our ecosystems and in our human digestive tracts, and yet we don’t notice them until they cause negative health effects.  Her exhibits attack the question of how can we function if we deny the existence of billions of actors? All this was displayed on the wall when we first walked into the exhibit.

The installation was rather very simple.  Around the room there were six Nokia N800 and a couple of petri dishes displayed in front of them. Inside the petri dishes were bacteria samples that Beatriz Da Costa had swab from various places in her house, such as her porch and her gate. She grew the bacteria colonies, analyzed, and classified each plate to identify the microbes.  The bacteria’s name and background information were all displayed in and interactive presentation on the Nokia N800’s.

I really liked the exhibit because Beatriz swabbed bacteria from everyday areas and thus making it easier to the public. I think this is a great piece to bring awareness to the public that there are in fact “invisible earthlings” that share the environment with us. The bacteria colonies itself are a piece of the art. The patterns and colors that they displayed were unique. Some of the colonies that I found pleasant on the screen were staphylococcus, yeast lactobacillus, and bacillus.

The installation was in a small room, not particularly well lit but I think that serves a purpose. Bacteria, or in this case, microbes tend to grow better in damp and dark areas. I think the exhibit itself is giving us humans a glimpse into the microbes’ environment.  Furthermore, the way how Beatriz presented the topic of microbes was unique. If she has presented it in a lecture, which I originally thought it was, it would have been less amusing and some audience (especially tired students) may have dozed off. But her exhibit was rather interactive and interesting.  

I think her purpose of bring the public awareness of microbes was very meaningful. Generally scientists and students who were studying the topic would do further research in it. I would assume that the general public would have little knowledge about them except when they are sick and refer the microbes as “germs.” I think the artist is trying to break the association between the word “germs” and “microbe” because it is definitely a misconception, at least scientifically.  I would attend her exhibit again and hopefully she would continue this installation and bring to us more artistic representation of the microbes that we come into contact with on a daily basis. One of the most important lessons that I learned is that there are millions and millions of microbes surrounding us at any given moment, good or bad microbes – we just have to look at it from a different perspective.

 

By Michelle Wong

Extra Credit Blog by Mitch Platter

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Yesterday, I attended the exhibit “Invisible Earthlings” by Beatriz Da Costa in the California Nanosystems Institute. The main idea behind the exhibit was to inform more people about the role that microbes play in our environment. The abstract to the project was written on one the first wall to the right when you walked in, and consisted of plain, black font on a beige painted wall. The abstract stated that when people think about our environment or nature, they simply think about plants or animals. People will relish in the rare occasion of a songbird landing on their windowsill, but hardly anyone takes interest in the hundreds of microbes that are sitting on the windowsill as well. Therefore, Beatriz Da Costa stated that the goal of her exhibit was to make people aware of these microbes that are invisible to the human eye and whom literally escape our view.
The way in which Beatriz Da Costa showed us these different microbes was very interesting. On two of the walls of the exhibit, she had hung several Nokia N800’s, which appeared to be palm pilot-like devices. On these Nokia’s where pictures of several different everyday locations; a butterfly fly bush, a garage, a porch, a purple flower, a gate, under a trash can, and a bench.  With a plastic pencil, you were able to touch the screen of the area, and when you hit a certain area, several different microbes would appear on the screen. You could then hit each microbe, and a summary of the type of microbe would come up. This summary contained what genus and species microbe it was, how it reproduced, how common they were, what they did in our environment, among other things.  Under each of these palm pilots was a shelf, and on this shelf were petri dishes which contained the samples of microbes that she had collected.
I really enjoyed attending this exhibit, for the simple reason of the way it presented the topic it wanted to cover. The topic was scientific; very few people are aware of microbes, and the terms that were used to describe the microbes were well beyond most people’s comprehension (they were certainly too complex for me). Therefore, if the artist had presented the material in a lecture, a power point, or some other less exciting medium, the meaning of the exhibit would have been completely lost to most people. However, by combining the fields of art and technology into her exhibit, she turned what would been a terribly boring subject into an interactive exhibit that was actually very interesting.

by Mitch Platter