March 15th, 2009

In ending this class, Michael Century attended our final lecture as he provided his insight on art, science, technology, and how the world has combined and segregated them. I felt as if his lecture ended the class on a similar note to the one that began the class ten weeks ago. He discussed the combining of art, science, and technology over the years, pointing out periods of time in which they were greatly used simultaneously to achieve great things. Additionally, Century talked about the times when the aforementioned fields were used separately, which corresponds to times in history that were not so successful. Thus came his most fascinating point, in my opinion: economist Joseph Schumpeter’s wave acceleration.

Schumpeters Wave Acceleration Graph.

Schumpeter's Wave Acceleration Graph.


I found it interesting that a wave function, which is used to describe the ups and downs of a capitalistic economy, can also be used to represent the pace of innovation over time. Beginning in 1785 with water works, textiles, and iron, Schumpeter has created this wave function that includes five peaks and five valleys between then and ending in 2020. Each peak corresponds to a time of rapid innovation while each valley translates into a period of slow innovation. As he analyzed the graph, Century pointed out that the peaks of the wave function occur during times in which art and science come together to further our innovations, which many times includes technology. Through this, it can be seen that, as a human society, we are far more productive when we refuse to segregate art and science into two completely separate fields of study but instead mesh the two in order to create a masterfully innovative world. This also means that the unwritten “Law of Moderation,” also holds true in the case of art and science. That is to say, we are far more productive when we have some art and some science as opposed to separating the two into two different worlds, each of which contains only an abundance of art or an abundance of science, not both.

An example of the Law of Moderation in terms of food.

An example of the "Law of Moderation" in terms of food.


Overall, I think that this lecture was very informative in regards to summing up the intent of this class. This class was especially relevant to us here at UCLA as was commented in Week 1 by Professor Vesna. Michael Century articulated the point about how art and science never interacted but over time, people began to utilize the two together in order to accomplish common goals. He labeled the future as a question mark since we will have to wait and see whether or not humans will once again segregate art and science, such as in the case of UCLA’s north and south campuses. All in all, Century’s lecture and this class opened my eyes a little to see how we cannot separate art and science while still expecting to progress forward with our innovations. The two areas work too well together to separate them; whether society wants to admit it or not, art needs science, and science needs art. It is just another rule of nature that ultimately cannot be broken.

- Travis Johnson

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

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.

Week 9 Nanotech_Michie Cao

March 15th, 2009

Seeing as how our class, as a whole, deals with the fusion of art and science, I think it is appropriate to end this quarter with the topic of nanotechnology, because this field is pretty much the epitome of art, science and technology.  Moreover, it is a field in which Professor Vesna is very involved and so, there is a lot of interesting and fun stuff that she can share with us.  I am particularly fascinated with her zero@wavefunction exhibit, where audience members were able to manipulate third carbon molecule projections on the wall with their shadows.  Still, I have no idea how that works, but the fact that something as intangible as one’s shadow can interact with projections on the wall is pretty darn cool. 


Honestly, I didn’t really know what “nanotechnology” was before this class. However, since Professor Vesna’s covers so much about this topic in her class, I finally felt inclined to search it up. Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale of size 100 nanometers or smaller.  I think it’s a fairly new field, so there is a lot of potential for growth.  Not only that, it can be utilized in diverse and flexible ways from conventional devices, such as curling irons, to high-tech gadgets to medicine.

Regents Professor Zhong Lin Wang and other nanotechnology researchers from Georgia Tech recently developed a “power shirt” with the ability to generate electricity from the wearer’s physical movement and use that energy to charge small electronic devices, like a cell phone.   What makes this possible is a microfiber nanogenerator that is composed of two fibers.  When those two fibers rub together, it can generate a small electrical current that would be harvested for energy.  This microfiber nanogenerator would potentially be woven into garments or even curtains or tents, where the energy could come from wind motion.  . Combining current flow from many fiber pairs woven into a shirt or jacket could allow the wearer’s body movement to power a range of portable electronic devices. The fibers could also be woven into curtains, tents or other structures to capture energy from wind motion.

Another invention made possible by nanotech is the Nokia handset that can detect diseases.  Developed by the Applied Nanodetectors Ltd., the cell phone contains a nanotech chip with sensors that can identify certain gases, such as CO2, nitric oxide and ammonia, that build up within the body depending on the condition.  Using the emitted breath of users, the nanochip detector would be able to determine if a person was suffering from, say, asthma and communicate that quickly through simple red and green symbols and texts.  If condition was marked positive, developers say, the handset would immediately notify the user’s doctor.    

Considering these inventions are still merely prototypes, I am pretty impressed. Nanotechnology not only allows for things to be made smaller and lighter, it allows for things to be more widely accessible to the general public. 

Read more about the cell phone breathalyzer:  http://www.techchee.com/2009/02/22/nano-breath-cell-phone-checks-bad-breath-for-diseases/

Michie Cao

Michael Century Lecture (Extra Credit)_Michie Cao

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

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

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

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

Particle Sniffer/ Nanotechnology(extra credit)- Joshua Wilson

March 14th, 2009

We are in an era where Nanotechnology seems to be taking a position. The use of Nanotechnology is becoming more and more apparent, and predictions show that it will be the technology mostly used by the upcoming generations. The lecture on Thursday March 14, 2009, by Ricardo Dominguez titled “Sounding out the Matter Market” was interesting and used Nanotechnology. In this lecture, Ricardo Dominguez presented a new technology that used nanotechnology called Particle Sniffer. Also during this lecture, Ricardo showed a video and also played music that showed and illustrated the sounds of the particle sniffer. The video showed a situation where a person walked through numerous particle sniffers, and as they walked through the particle sniffer created a type of noise that seem hostile.  Ricardo also pointed out that the particle sniffer was put into several college campuses, and most banded them due to the hostile environments that college students reported. Ricardo also mentioned that many museums tried the particle sniffer but rejected it and many societies banded it, but it is still on UCLA campus. The particle sniffer is also used in airports for security reasons.

I found this lecture to be somewhat interesting, but the lecture provided not as much writable information that I can use to blog about. But what I took from it more so besides how the particle sniffer creates a hostile environment, I saw works of Nanotechnology. The idea that things will be operated on a Nano scale is pretty amazing. Things will be more efficient, smaller, and better quality.  An article by Zyvex quotes “In the future, nanotechnology will let us take off the boxing gloves. We’ll be able to snap together the fundamental building blocks of nature easily, inexpensively and in most of the ways permitted by the laws of physics. This will be essential if we are to continue the revolution in computer hardware beyond about the next decade, and will also let us fabricate an entire new generation of products that are cleaner, stronger, lighter, and more precise”. Here we see the great impact that nanotechnology will have on America in the near future. Just think how much our everyday lives would become easier through the usage of Nanotechnology. For example, just substituting the brains that operate our computers, nanotechnology will make the computers smaller. Nanotechnology will also help in finding cures for cancer and other diseases that are incurable.

As Ricardo expressed through out his lecture, the use of nanotechnology is progressively increasing. A quote by David Rejeski “Debate began in earnest on changes to federal toxics law last month as the House consumer protection subcommittee held its first hearing of the new Congress on the need to update the law. How one defines what changes need to be made to the law can differ - whether the person represents the chemical industry, an environmental organization or a host of other interests - but there was unanimous consent among the panel testifying that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) needs changes. This is a major step forward in efforts to provide better oversight of nanotechnology” sums up the progress dealing with congress on the topic “Nanotechnology”. So the full potential of Nanotechnology is all most here.  



Joshua Wilson

Whistlers- Joshua Wilson (extra credit)

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

Random Post

March 14th, 2009

Robot teacher! What?



So I should be studying for finals right now, but I had to share this: another example of Japanese robotics.