W5: Midterm/Review by Stephanie Mercier

Wow. It’s been five weeks already. So far we’ve learned about the two cultures, mathematics, perspective, time and space, the industrial age, kinetic art, robotics, the human body, and medicine. That’s a lot of stuff. We’ve also watched Bladerunner and on my own I watched Children of Men – a clip was shown in the fourth (?) week – and many youtube videos.

Before this class I never really thought much about the topics we’re currently going over. I knew there was a rift between the scientific and artistic communities, but I didn’t really think about it. It’s everywhere though, especially on this campus. All the BS majors stay on the southern part of campus and all the BA majors stay on the northern part – psychology majors like me are squished in the middle. We talked a lot about his rift and many examples were given. There was talk about why his rift is bad, but it wasn’t until later weeks where we were finally given examples of art and science together. In the second week, we explored the idea of perspective. This was a great example of how mathematics and art influence each other. In order to show reality and depth in art, proper linear perspective was usually needed. During the second week we also talked a lot about the fourth dimension – most of my second blog was about the fourth dimension because I had no idea what it was before this class. But after some lengthy research I was able to visualize the fourth dimension. The youtube video that was shown in class that described the many different dimensions helped a lot too. I remember reading a math book about string theory and the 11th dimension or some large number of dimensions. After reading that book, I thought mostly of dimensions as a component of math and science. I didn’t understand how anything higher than the third dimension could be represented in art until after week two. My favorite example is Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. In this photo the fourth dimension is represented by the image of a nude on a stairs at different moments. This is just another example of how art and science are related.

In the third and fourth week, we learned about robotics and the human body: two topics which are very different. It was very surprising to see how much robotics has progressed. I had no idea that there were robots that were capable of “dancing” among other things. The fourth week was a bit of a shock also, especially the video of Orlan and the numerous advances in genetic engineering. I really had no idea that our technology had become so advanced in both robotics and medicine. I liked how the medicine and the human body came after robotics. The topics are so different and contrasted well with each other.

For my midterm I wanted to draw attention to this juxtaposition but had no idea of how to do it. The hardest part of that midterm was actually coming up with an idea. I thought I would show the contrast by mapping the 3D transformation on a computer from one person’s face to their ideal face. Like if you could map Orlan’s original face in 3D and her new face and then show the transformation of that in 3D - similar to when you see someone age in a movie really quickly. This would have incorporated the topics of the fourth dimension, digital imaging, the human body and medicine. Eventually I decided that it would be much cooler if you could model transformation of human faces in three dimensional terms – not just three dimensions on a two-dimensional screen. Anyway, long story short, after a lot of thinking and research I found that if you combined the technologies of digital imaging, tactile graphic display, and pin art (those square things with hundreds of pins you played with as a kid), you could model the faces in the third dimension and could eventually animate this to incorporate the fourth dimension. The combination of the project two main themes: the human body and robots echoes the juxtaposition which discussing the human body the week after robotics creates. But it is also yet another example of how science and art are coming together.

-Stephanie Mercier

22 Responses to “W5: Midterm/Review by Stephanie Mercier”

  1. [...] W5: Midterm/Review by Stephanie Mercier « DESMA9_sectionA [...]