Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Wong’

Extra Credit – Sound and Science (Music for the eyes) by Michelle Wong

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

On Friday, March 6th, I attended another film screening called “Music for the Eyes.” This was a compilation of short films by Cindy Keefer. This movement was based rooted in Germany, 1986. It was based on the concept that music for the eyes is comparable to sounds for the eyes. The first music video was black and white. Considering that it was one of the first music videos, it was as appealing as the ones shown afterwards. The second music video was by Fischinger. Fischinger, known as the father of music videos, used the rhythm of music to structure the visual effect. Between 1930 and 1943, Fischinger first experimented with cells. He named this piece “Allegretto.” The music video tells a show with it movement as it responds to the high and low pitches of the music samples. Kinetics is defined as the unit of sounds, form, and visual.

Fischinger influenced many film makers and three of the filmmakers’ works were shown during the presentation. The first one is Mary Ellen Bute. Her work is called the “Mood Contrasts” made in 1953. The concepts of science and art together are equivalent to seeing sound. When the mood is happy, then there were more colors and the movements moved faster. In contrast, when the mood was gloomy, then there were fewer colors and the movements became slower. Another filmmaker is Jordan Belson. He made five essential films between 1957 and 1959. The one that was broadcasted was titled “Vortex.” I found this piece to be brilliant. He organized thirty eight sound systems in a circle and he used the vibrations from the surround sound systems to create the music video. Another piece by Belson is called “Allures,” made in 1961. This is piece is probably the most amusing piece from the whole presentation. There were no computers used in the production. The music video was based on molecular structures, astronomic tools, and consciences. Belson was inspired by a German geometric book. Other artists’ worked shown includes Norman McLaren and Silvia. Silvia’s work was based on the modeling of the cubic, conical, and concentric shapes. Semiconductors were also used in the “Worlds in Flux” and “Brilliant Noise.” These two music videos were made by mapping frequencies.


The music videos that were presented serve as the basics and inspiration for today’s modern music videos. After the presentation, I looked up some music videos online and I watched each video three times. The first time I muted the volume, the second time I only listened to the audio, and the third time I watched it with both audio and visual. From this experience, I learned that the eyes can use the visual and create imaginary music for the brain. I used this technique and watched random music videos in different languages and videos that I randomly came across. The visual itself gave me a sense of the beat and what emotions the artists were trying to send out to the public. Further information about this presentation can be found on

By Michelle Wong

Extra Credit – Sound and Science (film screening) by Michelle Wong

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

On Thursday, March 5th, I attended a film screening by Dr. Hans Jenny. The film was about Cymatics: Bringing matter to Life with Sound. Although the film screening was about thirty minutes, it gave me a better visual idea of what frequencies is. In high school, when I learned about frequencies, the visual demonstrations were metal slinkies.

In the film, I saw how the vibrations brought life matter. It was a gooey substance, similar to putty, and it danced and moved according to the vibration rhythm. The faster the vibration, the higher the frequencies, and the faster it moved. They were like little humans dancing to choreographed movements, except sound itself is the choreographer. I find this concept to be very similar to us humans. We dance according to the music, we dance to how we feel when we hear the beat, and we dance to the rhythm. Likewise, the particles are dancing together as if it was rehearsed and during the low frequency vibrations they were dancing lyrical.

I find the wave patterns that they created were very unique and beautiful. Everything fitted together like a puzzle and flowed smoothly together. The film was quite interesting even though it was the same one basic concept for the whole thirty minutes.

Before the film screening I had no idea what the word “Cymatics” meant. After watching the film screening, I did some research and had a better understanding of the word and concept. Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena that was discovered by Dr. Hans Jenny. He is a Swiss medical doctor and natural scientist. The patterns that I saw in the film was created using pure tones or otherwise known as simple sine wave vibrations. Although the patterns looked unique, Dr. Hans Jenny’s experiments are repeatable.

I think this is something that I will truly consider art and science. The patterns are absolutely amazing and yet meaningful. Dr. Hans Jenny allowed us to see something that is invisible to the naked eye through art. Vibration is something that we know exist and feel, but not something that we see. A drop of water in a puddle of water will cause ripples to form, and that is a representation of vibration and disturbance. But that is a process, sound on the other hand is something that we hear and have daily dependence on. I think this is extremely important because we can visually see the vibrations that our ears have in contact with every time we listen. Dr. Hans Jenny had also made it possible to see how our language looks like phonetically. The vibration of the pronunciation of vowels, letters, numbers, and words all have a different pattern. In other experiments, we can even see how our voice looks like. This gives us an opportunity to look at the world from another angle. Sound is no longer only for the ears, it is now more the eyes to appreciate it brilliance.


By Michelle Wong

Desma 9 – Nanotechnology by Michelle Wong

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Before lecture I had a slight hunch of nanotechnology is, but after the Nanobama talk it was a lot clearer. I thought it was really interesting that Buckminsterfullerene and the carbon nanotubes were made of purely carbons. The structure of Buckminsterfullerene, otherwise known as the Bucky Ball abacus, is unique that it’s organic and can carry molecules inside of the abacus. Prior to the lecture, I didn’t know that different colors can be extracted from the color black at the nano state. I think this is very important because the colors in cosmetics are not natural and it contains carcinogens. This is extremely useful because manufactures are using too much artificial colors, for example, food dyes, hair dyes, and fabric dyes.

I did a simple google search for the word “nanotechnology” and I got numerous results relating it to medicine. Nanotechnology is used in cancer treatments because it allows researchers to interact and study the cancerous and normal cell in real time. It is also used during chemotherapy. The use of nanotechnology can be more accurate in pinpointing cancerous cells and deliver the drugs only to cancerous cells – sparing the healthy cells. I didn’t realize how small the nanoparticles were until I saw this youtube video: . I find it absolutely amazing how researchers can engineer something smaller than cells because I’ve been taught that the small building block of life is a cell. Attacking cancerous cells from the genetic level is amazing because that is the underlying problems of cancer. nano_shower

During my research for my final project, I came across a virtual reality site. In virtual reality, nanotechnology is used to create a glove that is worn the participants. During the simulation, the gloves will give off force feedback and the sensation of touch. Because nanoparticles are so tiny, virtual reality is used to examine and touch the nanoparticles and to give the researchers a better sense of it is. After the lectures and my own independent research, I learned that nanoparticles are all around us and we never really used it. Now scientists are using nanotech to create plastic solar cells in place of the expensive silicon. One of the advantages in nanotech is that the scientists can control every step of the polymerization of the molecules. Although there are many positive sides to nanotechnology, there are also some concerns. Further research is needed to determine whether it is safe for our health 100%. Scientists are still unsure what would happen if certain scientifically engineered new nanotech molecules interacted with our natural cells. Despite possible consequences, nanotechnology is the solution to sustainable health and solar problems.

Another topic that found very interesting is the way how IBM was able to move atoms by atoms by the oscillating forces from a tuning fork. This reminds me of movie screening from the sound and science symposium. I attended the movie screening where vibration was used to create waves and art. I think the similar concept should be applied to the art of moving atoms. The way how engineers move the atoms and create what they want will be beneficial to our planet because we can create what we are in deficit. Maybe someday we can alter the conformation of graphite and create diamonds!


by Michelle Wong

Extra Credit: Slow Food by Michelle Wong

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Last Friday, February 27th, I attended a seminar presented by David Santo, a representative from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. The university was newly founded and the program Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food. There are 218 chapters in the US and Puerto Rico. In the 2008 International Conference, individuals from over 130 countries attended to exchange and debate on cuisine topics.

David Szanto focused his introduction of the university around the question of “What is Gastronomy?” He defined it as fancy food and cuisine. He also gave us the etymology of gastronomy, which turns out to be “rule of the stomach.” I think the best definition was l’art de faire bonne chére, which translates into the art of eating (and hosting) well. Other definitions include the study of relationship between culture and food and the act of writing about food and drink.

I thought his presentation was interesting because it made me realized that we Americans don’t really care about food. Unlike other cultures, we specialize in fast food with chain restaurants here and there. A decent, multi-course meal is rare and is considered to be a special occasion event. I found Slow Food to be very meaningful as it is beneficial to both consumers and producers. The motto “good, clean, and fair” was repeated many times and I think that is a very short and concise purpose of Slow Food. It defends local food traditions and biodiversity. I think this is extremely important because the American tradition of food has become pizza and hamburgers. Most of us are just eating to fill our stomachs and we are not appreciating the taste and the process of how food came to our plates. Slow Food spreads taste education to connect producers with consumers. While doing all this, they maintain a business model that focuses on the sustainability of economics, social, and financial.

The university’s core classes integrate science with the techniques of food preparations. I find it to be a very small, but interactive community where they all share an interest: the love of food. Not to mention, they have numerous field studies and they get to travel to many tourist attraction places like Italy. I must say the tuition is a bit high but considering that all trip expenses covered, it’s a pretty good deal.

One thing that I learned is that gastronomers are involved in many jobs. Some include food company managers, wine/food tour operators, purchasing operators, food publicists, pastry chefs, restaurant owners, fair trade food distributors, and etc. I’m really glad that I attended this seminar because I learned a new word, gastronomy (a word that I’m unlikely to come across under normal circumstances), and it made me realize the food traditions around us. Although I may not be a food specialist in future, but there is definitely a chance to become a wine taster and travel to different places and experience different traditions and cultures. I think it is the utmost respect for the chefs when the consumers are enjoying the chefs’ effort rather than chowing down mindlessly. Goodbye McDonalds and Hello gastronomy!

Further information can be found at and at

By Michelle Wong

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

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

Week 7 – Mind and Body By Michelle Wong

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

I thought Siddharth Ramakrishnan’s presentation to be very interesting and somewhat different from formal presentations that I’ve attended. The style of his presentation was somewhat surprising because I expected to be a bit more serious like our previous guest speakers. The concept that Ramakrishnan was presenting was based on how we approach the mentality of animals from a third person’s point of view. I thought it was very oxymoronic when he said that the state of consciousness depends on which angle we are coming from. The example of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is exactly what he’s doing – studying the consciousness of animals from scientists’ definition f animals’ point of view. But nevertheless, I agree that the animals are conscious by their own definition because they interact among themselves and survive by working together.

The two examples that I liked the most were the octopus and the dancing bees. I believe that in his presentation, he showed the octopus to be fully aware of its surroundings. Even though it is in the octopus’ nature to be able to camouflage, it really depends on the octopus’ consciousness to use it. They need to determine when they’re in danger, why they need to camouflage, and how should they change their body colors. I also really liked how he demonstrated that we should consider the animals’ nature when determining the animals’ properties. For example, the bees have a different perception of the world than we do because it is in the bees’ nature to be able to absorb light with multiple angles.

To some extent, I would consider us humans as animals. We say we are conscious because we are able to communicate and express our emotions. Our communication stays within our own human species. This is can be applied to all animals as they interact among themselves. We interact with animals through actions and gestures, which is the same idea in which animals interact with other animals. In conclusion, I agree with Ramakrishnan that the existence of “consciousness” depends on how we approach it. I also found the two videos on the octopus to be very useful because the majority of the general public is consist of visual learners. Similar to a “picture is worth a thousand words” concept,

The visual part of his presentation was very appealing. Although his presentation was based on scientific facts, he incorporated examples that are acknowledged by the general public and little artworks. The simple vocabularies that he used seemed to make it more accessible to the general public, including little children. For example, his example of Alice and the caterpillar was very intelligent. Instead of going in a big circle and using fancy concepts, he simply explained it using a children’s fairytale. I think this is the true meaning of the integration of art and science. I mentioned in my previous blogs that I believe art and science are inseparable because they depend on each other for new ideas and presentations. Siddharth Ramakrishnan’s presentation did exactly that.

I found the following site to be very interesting. It shows that animals are conscious but scientists are denying it because “[they] can’t measure the phenomena, but also because [they] don’t even try.”


by: Michelle Wong

Week 6 Biotechnology by Michelle Wong

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

During lecture we saw how biotechnology connects industries, mathematics, computers and robotics, agriculture, food science, and medicine. One thing that really caught my attention was how artists used biotechnology to alter nature. Edward Steichen’s work was one of the most interesting one. It never came across me that someone would genetically mutate the genes of plants to give rise to certain characteristics for the purpose of their art. I agree that he intended to present his ideas through his work but is this any different from genetically mutating animals? Once mutated, it will be unfavorable in nature and causes negative effects on the plants health. I also found Natalie Jeremijenko’s thesis very interesting – planted trees genetically identical are subjected to different environment will nurture different trees. This strongly opposes the scientific belief that clones are identical, but it really depends on the environment. I found this concept to be interesting because it reminded me of the movie GATTAC. Can we really determine someone’s life because we “designed” them and just because we have the recipe of what they’re made of, can we anticipate its results? I would say no because for example if we’re baking a cake we can have expectations but we can’t guarantee the final results as it all depends on the temperature of the oven (environment).

This also brings us to the question of animal rights and should we be using animals in art and science. I think what Eduardo Kac did, the GFP Bunny, was unethical and derails the point of using animals as a source of experimentation. I feel that there is a difference between using animals for entertainment, by means methods of expression, and using animals for scientific values. For my experiments, I use triple-transgenic mice. They are mice in which three genes, amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PS1), and tau, are mutated to produce and increase concentration of amyloid beta plaques. Because of biotechnology we are able to have mice that carry the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and thus allow us to advance in finding a cure of Alzheimer’s, a disease that affected 2.6 million people between the ages 45-65 in 2006 and is expected to quadruple by 2050. There have been previous debates regarding animal usage in laboratories and whether we have the rights to do so because animals are living things as well. I’m not saying humans have the right to do this because we put ourselves as the superior race, but because we live on a different life span cycle. It is much easier for mice to be impregnated and to give birth, not to mention mice gives multiple births. As for humans, the process of maturity takes a fairly long amount of time and the intelligence level between humans and other species differ. With biotechnology, we can genetically designed animal models to express the type of the diseases we want to study so we can have a real time model to carry out our hypothetical treatments and trials. But I have found those who genetically mutate animals or perform procedures on animals out of curiosity to be absurd and wrong because in science, the sacrificing of animals for valid experimental procedures is justifiable. However, “Animal rights organizations do not agree with supporters of biotechnology, who claim that this technology will reduce the number of animals used in tests because the new tests are more specific.”

LaFerla 3X-Tg mouse model

LaFerla 3X-Tg mouse model

By: Michelle Wong

Week 5 – Midterm blog by Michelle Wong

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

The four topics that were covered in the first half of the quarter were two cultures, mathematics, kinetic art/robotics, and medicine. These four topics are interrelated because it is impossible to separate science and art. First of all, in the two cultures – art and science, both scientists and artists share the same goal and rely on one another to achieve their goal. They both strive for perfection regardless of where they started. Science needs art to translate complex wordings and data into visuals that the general public can accept. Mathematics is perhaps not defined regarding which culture it belongs to. In art, mathematics is used as the perspective concept, geometric shapes, proportions, and display. In science, mathematics is used for accuracy, repetition, and as a way to explain their findings in actual proofs. Kinetic art and robotics falls back onto mathematics and art. Mathematics and science is needed to construct the robot and to control the robot as a set of inputs and outputs values. Although there were debates whether work created by robots qualify as art, I believe it is art. I think the robot and the work that the robot created as a whole is a piece of art created by the robot’s creator, it is just another way of displaying art. Medicine – my favorite topic yet. To me, medicine is an integration of all of the above topics. Robotics has yet to become a dominating subject in the field of medicine because of its stability and accuracy – something that doctors are trying to achieve. Medicine itself is an art because the scientists are playing “God” in which they are trying to create and correct everything – perfection in human nature. I have found all of the topics we have covered to be very interesting. If I didn’t take this class I wouldn’t have taken the time to draw out its similarities. The number of similarities they have among them are so tightly integrated that it is not possible to draw a distinct line and separate them by topics. Just like in math, each topic builds upon another.

My project ties in with the medicine, technology and art topics of this first half of the quarter. During the lectures we discussed how scientists have advance with the treatments of cancer by using technology; I feel that there should also be developments to assist us with everyday inevitable problems – acne. What I came up with is not something that will catch the attention of the majority of the public, but nevertheless it will be important to those with problematic skin. I came up with a device that will clear our skin pores by “sucking” out the sebum and the bacteria that is causing acne. So how does this tie with the artistic aspect of this course? Same idea with plastic surgery – I learned that people use plastic surgery to perfect themselves. Doctors and artists are the same in which they both strive for perfection. Acne may be a small problem compared to cancer, but it is still an obstacle to beauty.

By: Michelle Wong