Archive for February, 2009

Week 8 – Space Exploration by Michelle Wong

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I think one of the subjects that we covered in class on Tuesday that best relates to our class is the topic of aliens. I think aliens remained an interesting and controversy topic because their existence will contradict scientists believes and will drown us in chaos. We are fascinated by UFO sightings because they are new to us and different from what we see on a daily basis. I think this is the same concept with art. In art and science, we are fascinated by new installations and discoveries, respectively. From my perspective, aliens are living creatures from outer space or another planet. They may very well to consider us “aliens” and their landings on Earth may be comparable to humans landing on the moon.

Art done in zero gravity seems to be the most creative because there are no restrictions. For artists, defying gravity may be a goal in expressing their creativity and bold expression. Arthur Woods’ theatrical production in zero gravity has not only brought the public to experience zero gravity, but he was also educating the public of what gravity is. Inside of the Mir Space Station, there are no restrictions of gravity and thus it allows the dance to have free rotation in every direction.

Another topic that I thought was interesting and stood out to me was the concept of “power to the tenth.” Gil Kuno showed a video that simplified the definition of the tenth dimension during his presentation, and we watched that video before a couple weeks ago in one of Professor Vensa’s lecture. After watching the video, I still question myself, what is the tenth dimension. From what I understood, the tenth dimension relies on the concept of uncertainty and exists within time. So are we living or traveling along in the tenth dimension? Since the tenth dimension is based on time, then in some way we can control fate and our future. We can influence who we become through our actions and choices. Just like an artist, we have to be bold and daring to make decisions that will set us on the path we want. Otherwise, if we just follow what is set in front of us or go along with the “rules” then we will be one of the “ordinary” people who all end up with the same future. The Simpson’s clip and the other video that Kuno showed us that magnifies the universe million millionth times have once again showed the relationship between art and science. Although the Simpson’s clip was a cartoon version that oversimplifies the scientific concepts, it is enough to educate the general public what scientists were trying to say. One of Kuno’s installations that have left me the deepest impression is the guitar pogo stick. I really liked the creativity that Kuno put into it and the sounds that the pogo stick emitted when it is in action.

I think space is art itself. The universe and the solar system is already a piece of art. For example, when the stars explode, it creates its own unique pattern and cluster of debris. Designers have often based their work on outer space. For example, the screen savers that were preloaded into our computers were based on the magnifying and traveling through space and pass stars. Below is a picture of the stars and the unique pattern and light that they emit. More art based on stars by Mark A. Garlick can be found at


By: Michelle Wong

Final Abstract - Abraham Harn

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

In my last project, I talked about simulation of our environment, with my presentation focused on the recreation of structures such as my apartment. This time, we will take all these existing technologies and programs such as personality simulation, structure simulation, community interaction simulation, ecological simulation, evolution simulation and even planet simulation, and combining them to see the endless possibilities. Imagine if we are able to recreate a community in which everything within it are programmed to match real life people, objects, environment, and we observe a simulated world that develops parallel to the real life, we will be able to use that model and predict and analyze our own futures.

By Abraham Harn

Abstract: Identity converter -Luis Hernandez

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Living in a world dominated by race/gender/faith/sexual consciousness, I have decided to create a machine that swaps the identities of two random participants. Their identities will remain swapped until the essence of each identity is fully soaked in the individual. (heterosexual, transgendered, male, female, Black, White, Latino, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc..) This will increase awareness to social injustice because the invocation of this other identity also comes with the knowledge of the pressing issues this identity would have. The identity will also be displayed exteriorly so that others will percieve them accordingly. Simultaneously, the participants will be conscious of their original identity allowing them to compare and contrast the identities.

-luis hernandez

Extra Credit: “Invisible Earthlings” by Beatriz Da Costa _ Michie Cao

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Today, I went to see the art science exhibition, “Invisible Earthlings”, by Beatriz Da Costa at the California Nanosystems Institute.  “Invisible Earthlings” is a display of many different types of microbes, ranging from bacteria to yeasts, that are found in ordinary places and that people never realize they encounter on a daily basis as they are too small to be seen by the eye.  In finding and identifying these microorganisms, Beatriz Da Costa aims to inform them of the large roles that these microorganisms play in their lives and in the world.  Most of the time, microbes are only “recognized” by the public when they pose a “problem” to society.  In short, it is only the pathogenic ones that are harmful and cause diseases to humans and other organisms that are largely known to people.  However, there are just as many, if not more, microbes that play beneficial and crucial roles in peoples’ lives and in the world, in general.  Some act as decomposers, helping to recycle nutrients in ecosystems, and others play a role in the nitrogen cycle.  One form of microbe that was displayed in Beatriz Da Costa’s exhibit was penicillin, found under her bench (if I remember correctly) and also a common type of antibiotic that helps fight bacterial infections. 


The way all this information was displayed was through a number of small video devices that showed images of the microbes that Da Costa found in various places around her house – under her trashcan, on her bench, on her gate, etc – and allowed the audience to click on the microbes for more information.  The real live samples were directly under the screens contained in Petri dishes.   Surprisingly, what I particularly liked about this exhibit was how truthful Da Costa was in communicating her information.  When a microbe could not be identified or when there was not information, I was told by the screen.  In a way, it brings to light that while we may have uncovered a lot of information on microorganisms in our world so far, there is still much more that we do not know.   Overall, it was a very simple and straightforward exhibition, for which I’m glad and charmed about.  Often times, artists emphasize too much on the aesthetics and not enough about the content.  However, Beatriz Da Costa relied on her information to tell the story and remained, once again, very candid about her work. 


For the most part, people take for granted the things that microbes are responsible for.  They are, well, one of the many unsung heroes in this world  People do not realize that much of the medicine and the environment we have today are only made possible by the existence of these organisms.  We may arguably be considered as the superior species on this earth, but still, our lives are just as dependent on these microbes and the world as that of other less superior organisms. 

Michie Cao





Invisible Earthlings Extra Credit - Esteban Torres

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Invisible Earthlings Extra Credit by Esteban Torres

Tonight I went to see the Invisible Earthlings set-up by Beatriz da Costa.  Her concept is to explore and classify the microorganisms that are all around us, and which we fail to acknowledge on a daily basis because they are too small to see with our eyes.  As explained by the statement on the wall, microorganisms are indispensable for human beings and for life in general.  We often see them as a threat because some of them cause diseases, but so many of them we could not live without.  The setup included blown up images of microbes found in different areas of da Costa’s house: garage, trash can, flower, bench, etc.  It was particularly interesting to see how some of these organisms are not yet classified.  I always assume that scientists have taken care of classifying and identifying the basics, but this sort of thing makes me realize there are so many things we don’t know.  A simple microbe in an ordinary American home is unclassified - pretty amazing.  One of the microbes in the purple flower apparently is found mostly in Central America and Africa and it causes infections in many animals.  There seems to be a complicated stability: the organisms that cause harm to some beings benefit other beings, such as is the case with this microbe in the flower. 

                The presentation was set up in about six different mini-screens.  The use of visual technology was applied so people like me (not very scientific) can be able to read about the microbes and see the images.  In all honesty, microbes don’t exactly strike me as a fascinating topic of discussion; however, there is something about this presentation that reminded me of a thought I had before.  Especially when I learned that the Corynebacterium is part of normal human skin.

                We have so many microorganisms living in our body, and without them, we would not be alive.  We often think of ourselves as single organisms: a man, or a woman.  We are everything that we are.  But when you think about it, without these microbes, we could not exist.  They are essentially a part of us.  And when you think about this, this is actually a very strange thought. You cannot draw a line between you and the organisms in you: everything is at work to make YOU.  From this idea, I gather the possibility that we, as humans, are a living part of another larger system.  We could easily be the “bacteria” that keep the larger system alive.  I get a sense that we are interconnected, and the possibility that we are an essential part of a larger existence is very real; it is almost a comforting thought.  The very fact that we are by nature social beings is indicative of the possibility of a larger existence.  Just like cells work together, humans work together.  The fact that happiness is pretty much impossible to attain in isolation also indicates certain interconnectedness.  In addition, size is all relative.  The microbes on our skin appear small to us but they are living beings that unconsciously make part of a larger existence.  We could be making a part of a larger existence without even knowing it. 

EC: Installation by Stephanie Mercier

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

For my extra credit, I helped install an art exhibition in CNSI for Beatrice da Costaon Wednesday the 25th from 3-6pm. The exhibit is a collaboration between the artists Ricardo Dominguez, Sharon Daniel and Beatrice da Costa and is called “Invisible Earthlings.” “Invisible Earthlings” is meant to explore the important role of microbes in our environment. The opening reception will be held Friday 5-7pm at CNSI.

microbes in petri dishes w/ video above

microbes in petri dishes w/ video above

More Event Information:

Although I did not learn that much about the actual exhibit, I learned a lot about how much work it takes to set up a seemingly simple exhibit. At the beginning of the day, we started with an empty room on the 5th floor of CNSI. The first thing we had to do was install shelves. On these shelves were placed petri dishes displaying samples of microbes. Above these shelves we placed touch screen video devices that would display a show relating to the petri dishes below for those at the event. The pen for the touch screen we tied to the shelves. Finally we applied the transferrable text which described the overall purpose of the exhibition on to the wall.

transferrable text before application

transferrable text before application

Although setting up this exhibit seems very straightforward we ran into many problems. First, we had problems trying to attach the video devices to the wall. We solved this by taping a bunch of cardboard to the back and applying some Velcro to the wall and to the cardboard. It’s a bit low-tech, but we did the best with what we had. Hopefully nobody will notice during the exhibition and the Velcro and tape holds. Another problem we had was some errors with the transferrable letters and its application. There were some mistakes in the two paragraphs (which cost $400 to print!). The mistakes included “:?Problems’ are de?ned”, “accoci ate”, and an extra copy of a line. We temporarily solved some of these problems by taking some of the letter from the extra line and inserting them into defined and cutting some letters to make a quotation mark to put before problems. So if the quotation mark before problems looks weird and the “fi” of defined looks squished you know why. We could have had the company that printed it install it, but installation would have cost another $400, so we did it ourselves. It was definitely harder than I thought it would be. There is still one problem that we left unsolved: wiring. We could not find any suitable extension cords to plug in the video devices.

text after application

text after application

Altogether it took Beatrice, Professor Vesna’s Personal Assitant, two other students and I, four and a half hours to put all of this together. It’s just too bad that I don’t get to see it on Friday because of a review session for my Psych Stats class.

almost finished

almost finished

-Stephanie Mercier

Linda Weintraub’s presentation-Luis Hernandez

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Tuesday night I attended Linda Weintraub’s presentation on activism and beauty. This lead on to Eco-Art and how there is beauty in the natural, truthful development and decay of pieces that make up our everyday life- specifically in ecology. Thankfully, my idea of Beauty has never been limited by the aesthetically pleasing but has been based to the analysis and interpretation of truth. What this means is that I consider subjects to be beautiful when they are thought provoking. They provoke me to question its veracity, to analyze its veracity.

Linda’s Thesis of the night: “Any culture’s concept of beauty always conforms to the society’s standards.”

I found this to be self-evident but the way she Linda expanded on this throughout the presentation was insightful. I like how she laid out things that humans typically like such as symmetry, geometric shapes, pleasant agreeing colors and shades. This is true and it is evident through the works of history’s most lauded artists. I personally love all of the things she mentioned as well and its part to do with my idea of what i think good design is, meaning that I have to see a valid reason for its existence. It is there for a purpose, to serve a function. Whatever the function may be, all it has to do is perform it efficiently and thus its existence is validated. I guess this is beauty in design.

Beauty in art I feel like is another thing. Unlike design, art doesn’t have to do anything. It does what it pleases, demonstrates what it wishes to demonstrate, deconstructs what it chooses to deconstruct, glorify what it chooses to glorify. A freedom exists here and the only limitations are those of the artist in terms of what they feel needs to be conveyed. Thought this may be true, for me to find it beautiful, i have to see truth in the content. For example, a senior art student’s work has portrayed deer to be pure innocent lovely creatures, which is true. They are lovely and they embody so much more in so many ways however, in the installation that I want to talk about, she renders the remains of a once innocent deer on a mound of earth in the center of a room which evokes emotions that are triggered by its veracity. It is beautiful because it is true, all lovely innocence ends up in remains- sinking into the earth to give life to more innocence. The work of this artist i feel is a perfect example of truth in art and she did not even hurt a single creature whereas Gregor Scneider’s work consisted of depriving a cow from a head and thousands of dead flies. I see truth in this, although I almost feel like he cheated, whereas the student’s work that I experienced was constructed organically, selfsufficiently.

Gregor’s work that was presented by Linda reminded me of Guillermo Habacuc’s intstallation of a starving dying dog. I acknowldge its truth on all the possible levels thinkable, however, something bothers me so much about installations like this. They aren’t voluntary or humane. The most I see in this is type of work is irresponsibility. This was not a collaboration between the dog and the artist, this was an artist’s selfish motives impressed on a helpless animal. It is tyrannic and celebrates his supremacy as an intelligent lifeform that has got the earth in its terrible state.

-Luis Hernandez

Extra Credit_Linda Weintraub’s “Drop Dead Gorgeous” Lecture by Madeline Schwarz

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Last night I attended ecologically conscious artist and author Linda Weintraub’s lecture Drop Dead Gorgeous: Beauty and the Aesthetics of Activism in the Broad EDA. Before the lecture, I had no idea the focus of the talk would be on ecological sustainability versus human interaction; I was expecting a more conventional exploration of media and art as it portrayed and related to physical human beauty. Linda Weintraub began her lecture by dispelling this misconception; ebullient, relaxed, and confident, she used the story of a man wearing a shirt reading “Stop Whining, Start a Revolution” to explain how she was more concerned with ecological activism than other, “more conventional” forms of protest. Yet Weintraub’s thesis was, in my opinion, a broadly applicable observation about the nature of beauty in all its forms: “Any culture’s concept of beauty always conforms to the qualities which a society considers desirable, pleasing, and esteemed.”

Beauty, as Weintraub began to discuss, is fundamentally connected to the other moral and ethical values we hold in society. Of course, beauty is primarily a visual quality, as she illustrated with her introductory description of French artist Sophie Calle’s work Blind, in which even though Calle’s interviewees were blind since birth, their descriptions of “beautiful” pointed to specific visual aesthetics.

From Sophie Calles work Blind at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

From Sophie Calle's work "Blind" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Weintraub went on to make five propositions about beauty and its relationship to nature: 1) Beauty is an indicator of a culture’s core values, 2) Beauty has a special relationship to nature, 3) Those parts of nature which we consider beautiful usually have value, 4) We care for things we consider beautiful, and 5) We tend to neglect and abuse what we don’t think is beautiful. She strongly questioned the reasons for which we wouldn’t think a sunset caused by pollution, a clear cut forest, or a landfill was beautiful, arguing that in our society, beauty has become more of a cultural value than a purely aesthetic label.

When Weintraub introduced her two primary examples, Andy Goldsworthy and Damien Hirst, I assumed that Goldsworthy’s would be the more “eco-friendly” work of art, while Hirst’s was the more manipulative, less “natural” work. Especially when she argued, “Every shape in the world is a response to its microenvironment,” and stressed the importance of objects remaining in their contexts, I thought, Why is 1000 Years more healthy for the ecosystem than Goldsworthy’s work? Whereas Goldsworthy imposes no man-made tools on his medium and rearranges natural forms in the environment, Hirst places a decapitated cow head and a swarm of flies and maggots in a public viewing vitrine completely isolated from the rest of the “natural” world. Then I realized that Weintraub was focused less on the general action of the work than on the metaphorical, conceptual meanings behind them - she used Goldsworthy’s sculptures to comment on how we appreciate the clarity created by human control and intervention more than the complexity of the natural environment. Similarly, she questioned why we resist decay and decomposition processes as beautiful, when they’re just as much a part of the life cycle as “healthy” youth. 

Weintraub continued to critique Marta de Menezes’ altered butterfly, Eduardo Kac’s GFP Bunny, and a two-headed planaria as tampering with the natural environment to deliberately create a fabricated piece of art that humans would find “beautiful.”

Marta de Menezes, Nature?

Marta de Menezes, "Nature?"

She then applauded the work of the Gelatin group’s giant bunny, George Gessent’s work repopulating flower species, Jae Rhinn Lee’s peculiar plant fertilization methods, Michael Blazy’s decomposing “multiverses,” and Gregor Schneider’s controversial work in progress “Death: Be Not Proud”  as both productive and sustainable, fitting into an ecological niche and contributing to its survival. 

A Michael Blazy installation

A Michael Blazy installation

Although I wondered whether some of Linda Weintraub’s “eco-friendly” examples could truly be classified as art, I finally understood her dilemma, and the ways in which she hopes to redefine the notion of beauty. I found the lecture to be extremely interesting and applicable to DESMA 9, and for the remainder of the quarter, will try to examine the art presented not just in terms of visual aesthetics, but in the context of function and ecological impact.

- Madeline Schwarz

Extra credit_Jim Hutchinson’s lecture_by Heeseok Lee

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

event-image-displayI decided to go Jim Hutchinson’s lecture not only because of the grade but also my interest in nano techonology. I’ve taken technical breadth class from nano technology area. I’ve attended several seminar regarding nano-tech before this time.  However, for this time, it was totally different than last seminars. He concerned environmental issues regarding nano technology. As nano technology becomes industrial level, the amount of waste will be exponentially bigger. It produces wastes about 6000 to 15000 times. Jim brought his concern on this pollution matter and people’s negative perception on nano technology and discussed how we can use nano technology for greener world by reducing waste.  According to the lecture, He mentioned that nano technology is required to be focused on minimizing hazards rather than the exposure because the release is inevitable.
He brought on example of how nano technology destroys our eco-system.  Many fabric companies infuses silver nano particles into clothing in order to prevent bacteria. However, every time of rinsing clothing with water, the silver washed out and exposed to public waterway. Professor Hutchinson said consumption of antimicrobial fabrics has increased, which means much more silver nano particles are washed off to public waterway. Silver nanoparticle has antibacterial activity, so as much nanoparticle get exposed and accumulated to eco-system, eco-system will be devastated.Concerning environmental problems, he discussed several solutions. Through use of safer chemicals and use less hazardous chemical synthesis, it can prevent wastes.  Also, Preparing nano-particles (i.e. Gold nanoparticle Au) by ligand exchange, can form a biomolecule complex in purpose of biological issue.
Also, dialysis, chromatography, ultracentrifugation, and stirred cell filtration is possible for green nano technology.  B2H6 is toxic and hazardorous to environment, thus it should be replaced with safer chemicals. Also, he introduced use of diafiltration to prevent waste of organic materials. Traditional problem of nano particles was easy to mix but hard to separate. so it has been main research how we can improve purification of functional nanoparticle. However, the use of diafiltration resolves the traditional problem. It only takes 15 minutes, and doesn’t require to use any organic solvents. Also produces the best pure results. Nanoparticles diafiltration is using of pore-sized method to purify nanoparticles. He urged the use of inter discilinary teams, which means one team should consists of expert from different fields such as chemists, toxicologist, physicists, and biologists. He also mentioned the benefit of using T mixer that separate materials with producing relatively low wastes by only adjusting the length of the tubing. T mixer makes benefits on both energy matter and environmental matter.

Extra credit_Linda Weintraub’s lecture_by Heeseok Lee

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I went to Linda Weintraub’s lecture, Drop Dead Gorgeous: Beauty and the Aesthetics of Activism. There was some students who seems to be in our section, Adam, and even professor. The lecture was demostrating how we define beuty. She emphasized on ecological beauty, which is not controlled by human, but nature, itself.   She keep questioning if something is beautiful because of its aesthetic value or  it is determined by cultural values.  She presented contrasts by showing several artists’ works. First, she introduced two artists, Andy Goldsworthy and Damien Hirst.  It was impressive that Andy Goldsworthy’s medium is found in his sight. His tool is nothing, but by only walking and traveling the nature and taking some photographs, he makes beaty. He shows how we can utilize area and nature as studio without harming or damaging nature. He wants to separate out from human made and not human made.  His works presented during lecture such as Ice spiral, stack of stone shows how art can be ecologially beautiful. He seems to suggest that nature is always there to make human happy to appreciata beauty of it. Linda asked why his work is so popular. I think humans are more comfortable with simple image, non complexity, non controlled by human. Another artist, Damien Hirst shocked me.

damien-hirst-a-thousand-years-1990-steel-glass-flies-maggots-mdf-insect-o-cutor-cows-head-sugar-waterHe displyas rotting cow’s head in one side of cube, and wants people to appreciate decay process. He seems to criticize how we, human resist the full life cycle, especially decomposing, decay. Food stablizer, botox, stainless steal…. thoses things represent how we are really against for decay, but Damien is proposing that full cycle of life is beauty. He claimed that death is real, not abstract. Process of decay is one of ecosystem worked by decomposer orgnism. It reconstituted matters into other from through decomposition. He is saying “It’s so delicious, beautiful , and colorful!” on decayed cow head.

Also, she discussed about three artist, Marta de menezes , Eduardo kyle, Verena kamikazn, whose art is based on human manipulating on nature. Marta de menezes modifies and manipulates buttefly’s wing patter. Verena Kamikazn also tamper life creation, making transgenic rabbit. He synthesizes gene and sequence DNA. Verena kamikazn uses worm as her art medium, and manipulates worm to have two head. These artists’ works has been controversial. Linda make question us, ” is this justifiable?”

bigpinkbunny2She again brought some example of ecological art forms. Gelatin rabbit on the mountain top really takes my interest. It was a project to exhibit process of decaying by using intentionally unstabilized material. Villagers will see full life cycle of art during 20years and gelatin bunny will feed a lot of kinds of lives. In terms of “Ecological”, I think it is real beauty.

Geroge gessert’s project is also impressive. His work is to rewild and undo commercialized flowers from marketing system to  biological system. It was kinda funny that Jae Rhim Lee changes her diet to serve plant with  her urine. I think it is beautiful for human to fit in eco-system. At the end of Linda’s lecture, she discussed about defintion of beauty. She explained that interconnectivenss, eco-system, full life cycle, living within context is beauty. In addition, she said that new ecological meaning of beauty should be based on how things function. I really enjoyed Linda’s lecture. It changes my definition or image about beauty. Now, I realized how human have resisted full life cycle, not following principle of nature. Ecological beauty is nature itself.