Archive for the ‘Week3_IndustrialAge,Kinetic Art,Robotics’ Category

Week 3_ Artistic Transformation by Christine Vu

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

       The Industrial Age has transformed “the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself, [bringing about] an amazing change in our very notion of art” according to The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. During this time, production was increased by the onset of creative inventions. Art became a matter of technology.
       Inventors like James Watt and Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre instigated modern thought. Daguerre became recognized as the first individual to capture a still image by a process he named photography. Shortly after, photography quickly gained popularity because of its dynamic nature and flexibility. It’s ability to combine entertainment as well as creativity attracted much of the world. The halted motion tested one’s level of conformity by initiating different perspectives from the viewer as well as the beholder. The idea of maximizing the eye’s potential helped artists portray their beliefs. Nowadays, artists use photography to portray scenarios, idealogies, or opinions to the general public. The fascinating thing about photography is that it enables us to get a glimpse of the past, capturing memories, as well as historical events. The function of photography is to connect the past, present, and future. A single snapshot could tie in the many aspects of art- color, contrast, resolution,- into a single entity that can be replicated. The idea of replication stirred up the Industrial Revolution, targeting the onset of mass production.
       During the Industrial Age, objects like the printing press and films were introduced. These were labeled as alternative art form. Nowadays, robotic inventions have captured our interest because of its convenience. Americans have relied on these sources to cater to our laziness. Robots have been designed to perform with greater accuracy and reliability. This is ironic that we, the creators, are falling second to these man made masterpieces. Robotics is progressing now more tan ever. This art has even earned itself in some of our classrooms. I remember my high school’s robotic club took pride in the competitive aspects. We have made artwork a competition, focusing more on utility and losing appreciation for its beauty. I hope that one day, robots will not only be known as an art form but as artists as well.

Week3_Robotic Art in the past by Nikola Kondov

Monday, January 26th, 2009

We always tend to think that robotics are a thing of our age, the modern age. This was preceded by several generations of science fiction writers and artists who predicted that our life would be dependent on machines. When my father was a kid, he once heard the prediction that by the year 2000 we would be walking alongside robots. Now we all know that this is not the case, yet robots get more and more complex. But I never thought that the first machines that actually conform to the definiton of a “robot” were invented long before our age. In fact, a lot of the mechanisms that are thought to be an invention of the 20th century were “born” long ago. In the 13th century A.D. a great scientist, named Al-Jazzari was born in the Arab world. He invented a lot of things, including the crankshaft and the connecting rod, which was used in the  “saqiya chain pumps” , which basically used hydropower instead of manpower. He also invented the twin-cylinder reciprocating piston suction pump.

Twin-cylinder reciprocating piston suction pump

He also invented a water-supply system, which supplied water to mosques and hospitals in Damascus.

But some of his inventions are truly a work of art. He created humanoid machines. One of his most notable inventions was an automated waitress that was able to serve tea, water and drinks. He invented the famous “peacock fountain”  which was a sophisticated  hand-washing installation which featured humanoid machines that were offering soap and towels. He created an “automated musical band” which consisted of programmable humanoid machines that enternained Al-Jazari’s “robot” band

While his inventions were not exactly conforming to the modern definition of a robot, it is among the first if not the first example of robotic art. It was clearly innovative, pushing the boundaries of what is possible. To me this is a remarkable incorporation of science in art.

~by Nikola Kondov

(based on an article on; article URL:

Week 3, Technology and Nature, Wei-Han OuYang

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Revolution is a process that is always going on in so many ways. For example, our technology’s revolution started around the era of industrial revolution and has been advancing more and more rapidly nowadays in the 21st century. Think of it like this: in the beginning of the 19th century, automobiles just started to be produced. Rarely anyone owned a car. But then it starts to get more and more popular and inexpensive. Now we’re living in the 21st century in which airplanes and space ships are really rare. But on the other hand, if our technology keeps advancing this vastly, our grandchildren might own space ships and will be taking field trips out to the space. Just take a prospective as the people living in the era when automobiles were first created and look at the cars and ask the question: wouldn’t it be awesome that I can just jump into that car and be almost anywhere I could imagine and have a little picnic there? And now take a look at those space ships going up into the unknowns and actually imagine that in one or two century, people will own space ships.
When I was a little boy I always imagined that the world that I will be living in when I’m a grownup would be full of talking robots and flying cars. What is so interesting about that thought is that talking robots and flying cars do exist now, just not common in our everyday life. Our technology has been advancing so fast that we have figured that global warming is happening and we are researching the planets around us to determine whether if there is a possibility that us human-beings can be living in another planet. Robots are built to explore the sites that humans are not able to reach nowadays. And the idea of A.I, artificial intelligence scares me sometimes because our technology is so close and there are so many movies and stories out there that warn us about the risk of A.I.
sam-worthington-terminator21Last Tuesday we talked a little about bio-robotics and the movie Blade Runner. Even though there are so much that we know about our world and technology, nature is awesome and we shouldn’t under estimate it.

Invisible Octopus

So far, our technology is able to take out the DNA that makes Jelly fish glow and put it into a rabbit so it glows in the dark. But after watching this video, the octopus can literally disappear in nature if it wants to. Nature is unpredictable. As our technology advances, the nature is evolving and changing to adapt to our ruined world. And these kinds of phenomenon just make the prediction of mind reading creatures more and more possible. Will us humans ever need to use technology to figure out how to read others minds? Like the pictures that we saw in lecture last Tuesday of computers able to read what is going on in a human’s mind and helping blind people see, maybe there exist a creature that can help blind people regain their vision. Who knows, maybe in time we’ll have Spiderman to fight the criminals.

Week 3: Robotics and Technology in the Artistic world by Brandon Aust

Monday, January 26th, 2009

This week’s discussion on robots and science in modern art really got my attention. Especially when we discussed the science that is present in movies. I find it interesting that with every new discovery in science, movies, books, and other forms of art are released about the subject, and a large majority of this art released has to do with what could go horribly wrong with the new discoveries or ideas. The human mind fears the unknown which is what this art form thrives upon. A few titles that relied on this sense of fear of science include The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, The Fly, War of the Worlds, 1984, Brave New World, Jurassic Park, and Metropolis. All of these were influenced by scientific concepts such as space exploration, cloning, time travel, and increase of technology. The Terminator series goes very deep into the ideas of science in order to intrigue and scare people. The movie employs both the ideas of technology and time travel to put an end to human existence.  The movie serves as a kind of warning to humans to recognize that we must monitor what we create because at a certain point our creations may destroy us. In the movie, the human race begins to put its security in the hands of a machine system called Skynet which soon develops a mind of its own and attempts to kill all human life (thus the initial scare of technology). When this initial attempt fails, a group of human resistance bans together under John Connor to fight back against the machines. The idea of time travel is thus introduced as machines are sent back to kill off the Connor family at different points of their existence in order to stop the resistance from ever happening. This idea alone greatly intrigues the human mind on the concept of what time is—a notion we discussed in terms of time being the fourth dimension. It brings rise to such questions as: Is time linear? Can the future be changed? and if so what effects would these changes have on the world? This concept of changing the future is a huge part of the movie series Back to the Future. Although this is a more light-hearted tale of the scientific ideas, it still provokes a lot of questions about the linearity of time and if different actions cause different time lines to fork off—which then brings about questions of alternate dimensions in time. So although these movies are meant as entertainment, they are indeed art in the way that they provoke these thoughts in the human mind. They also are a vision of the creator’s message put onto the screen which is indeed very artistic since all art is based on its creator’s message.
terminator Another place where this kind of technology is put in the form of art is in themed entertainment. Theme parks such as Disneyland use a wide variety of technology to thrill guests and put them in surroundings that are different from their own daily lives. The technology is used to create such an engaging atmosphere that the guest is supposed to believe that they are actually; say, in space or in the jungle. They use robots in the form of audio animatronics in order to create such an atmosphere. The technology was first created using reel-to-reel magnetic audio tapes which sent an electric signal to the robot which would create a reaction (hence the term audio animatronics). It is now done using computers which send the electric signal—each signal acting as if it were a single drawing in a sequence of animation. Now, the technology has advanced to create robots that can run on real time as though they were puppets, so that these robots can interact with people. This was done with the walk around Wall-E character that traveled the globe to promote the movie.

I believe that as technology continues to improve, there will be increasingly more ways for artists to get their messages out there in more innovative ways. Forms of art alone have increased throughout the years to include paintings, sculptures, graphic art, books, television, and movies. With aided technologies such as the internet, consumers can now view art all the time within the comfort of their homes. This makes it easier for visionaries and artists to get their messages out there and allow the human mind to ask questions about what is going on around them.

-Brandon Aust

Buckminster Fuller… the new Marx? Nicole Carnarius

Monday, January 26th, 2009


Fuller, possibly biased by his Naval training, traces the rise of one of the main features capitalism, specialization, back to the rise of ocean exploration of European countries. In Fuller’s manifesto, the bourgeoisie morphs out of the venture capitalists known by Fuller as the Great Pirates or “GP”s. The GPs gained power not because they owned the methods of production but because they were the only people who could navigate the ocean. Why were they the only ones? Because they were not specialized. Buckminster discusses how education evolved so that the brightest people could be used by those in power without having any of those bright people know enough about what is going on to take over. Eventually however, around WWI, the GPs became desperate for new technological advancements. They had to untie the hands of the scientists to the point that now the government isn’t able to keep track of the technological advancements that are daily increasing. Because of this, there can no longer be “Great Pirates” who know about everything and can rule accordingly. The next generation of political leaders lived by the rules of the GPs, but they no longer had the foresight to make decisions. In fact in all facets of society, people were in confusion about how to integrate the changes technology made in their belief systems and moral codes. According to Fuller, human survival is dependent on humanity’s metaphysical mastering of the physical. While the physical rules of capitalism and socialism say that there is not enough to go around, new technologies, if not blocked off by the government, find that there is enough resources for all.

Really, one may ask, enough resources for everybody? Fuller wrote this article in 1965 at a time when “Spaceship Earth” had 2 billion less people, but even now it is true that we produce enough food to feed the entire population, but do not have the government organization to do so.

Why don’t we have the government organization? As Fuller points out, it is because we are operating with a form of currency that no longer represents actual wealth if actual wealth is seen as “our organized capability to cope effectively with the environment in sustaining our healthy regeneration and decreasing both the physical and metaphysical restrictions of the forward days of our lives.” In a society where there are enough resources for everybody, there is no need for wealth in the way it is presently used but instead resources should be allocated in a logical, community based way and the expansion of new technologies, especially technology to harness limitless energy such as that of the sun should be put in the hands of scientists and not those who possess the most of an outdated form of currency. If wealth is seen as knowledge, than human wealth can only increase and therefore human quality of life should only increase.

Fuller predicted that by the beginning of the 21st century, the changes to wealth would have already happened or the human population would be near extinction. He predicted that by this time, all the world would be industrialized and the population would be beginning to decrease. The sixties were a time a great hope for humanity and since then things have gone down hill. The division between the rich and poor has grown, the trade deficit in America has grown, and the consumption of fossil fuels has greatly increased. Perhaps we are on the verge of extinction. It is predicted that in as little as thirty years, we will start seeing the effects of global warming. We are the first generation who is projected to make less than the generation before us. We are no longer on the winning side, and maybe that will be the impetus to finally get us to adopt the strategies Fuller postulates in his article.

Fuller’s solution to the government? A large computer. Start writing the code now.


Is the Earth in its final century?

Week 3_Industrial Age, Kinetic Art, Robotics by Crystal Lin

Monday, January 26th, 2009

It’s interesting to see how the development of technology brings about change in the art world. When the Professor was talking about Descartes, I had to think twice to make sure I wasn’t in another math class. Whenever I think of Descartes I think of Descartes rule of signs, with zeros and polynomials. I didn’t realize he was a philosopher as well as a mathematician. I guess that’s another to show the distinction between two cultures: when I told my North Campus friend about it, she said, “Descartes was a mathematician? I just knew he was a philosopher!” Though Descartes rule of signs didn’t affect the world of art, other mathematic discoveries did, like the fractals we looked at in last week’s lecture. One of the movie clips that stuck in my mind from lecture was the one of a man explaining the Hebrew language, and how each letter had a corresponding number, and each number had significance. For example, the numbers for the word “father” totaled 3, and the numbers for the word “mother” totaled 41.Together they make 44, which is the numerical total for the word “child.” To think that the “Torah’s just a long string of numbers” is insane in my mind.

The picture corresponding to Descartes’ illustration of mind-body dualism also caught my attention. If I took Philosophy of the Mind this quarter like I had intended, I probably would have learned more about it, but my current understanding of mind-body dualism is that the mind is separate from the brain. The mind has to do with consciousness and self-awareness, whereas the brain has to do with intelligence. It’s interesting to think how one would do without the other.

I think one of the things I really take for granted is the technological wonder of robotics. I never found robots to be interesting, nor did I care to look at the complexity of even the simplest robotic machine. It was cool nonetheless to watch the evolution of robotics through movie clips and slideshows. When the professor showed the clip of a woman’s face being recreated through robotic movement, I was blown away, because I had initially thought that it was really a woman talking! Looking back on movies like “Blade Runner” and comparing them to movies like “iRobot” definitely makes it that much more exciting to live in this day and age.

Week 3_Robotics, Art, and Self-alienation(?)_Wenjing Wu

Monday, January 26th, 2009

There might not be some significant correlations among the three key words in this blog. But they are really interesting points on which I want to share my thoughts with everyone.


Many times I found my knowledge of a known object was both limited and ambiguous until I was motivated to do some research on it. The concept of “robot” occurs to me exactly in this way. I couldn’t name the major characteristics of a robot that distinguish it from a machine before I GWY(google, wikipedia, youtube) it and understand that the most important trait for a robot is being able to make direct decisions in reaction of the environment on its own( That’s why I take Goldberg’s Telegarden as a machine combined with the Internet rather than a robot). Technology nowadays has reached such a height that robots become successful mimicry of human intelligence and function. The video Prof. Vesna showed us featuring a robot imitating a lady’s facial expression was really impressive. As for the concern of intelligent yet inhumane robots losing control and taking over the human world, I’m optimistic mainly because I believe in Issac Asimov’s Tree Law of Robotics, the core of which is that a robot will never injure a human being or leave him/her vulnerable. The designer should be and will be very careful not to break the laws.


There are a number of art works related to Robotics including “Exot” from Monochrom, an international art-technology-philosophy group. Exot is a tele-robot remotely controlled via a web-interface/chat forum. As for virtual form of Robotics, I found a cool link on the course website—Joseph Delappe. I visited his cardboard sculpture of Gandhi on Third Guangzhou Triennial at the Guangdong Museum of Art in November, 2008. The sculpture is based on his online and treadmill powered reenactment of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Salt March to Dandi” in Second Life from March 12th through April 6th, 2008. Delappe walked on a treadmill for 26 days to reenact Gandhi’s Salt March in SL and there he met all kinds of people(or their virtual compartment) and obtained art inspiration from this “journey”. This is another interesting way of communicating with people in virtual world.


Video:Treadmill Powered Gandhi in Second Life

In the end of Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, which mourned on the jeopardizing of original art work’s aura, he wrote: Its(Mankind’s) self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. However, Douglas Davis cast doubt to this opinion and raised several examples to illustrate the aura “resides not in the thing itself but in the originality of the moment when we see, hear, read, repeat, revise”, therefore it would never be impaired by its technical or digital copies. The era of technology and digitalization didn’t turn everyone into allienated and inhumane monsters. In my view, on the contrary, works such as the “Reenactment of Salt March in Second Life” and “Telegarden” endowed people with spiritual refreshment that communication and pacing down are what they need in the real life.

Week3_IndustrialAge,Kinetic Art,Robotics by Dennis Yeh

Monday, January 26th, 2009

In the first two weeks of this course, we have covered how art and technology are intrinsically related.  Without technology, there would be no art, and with no art, people would not express their innovation or emotions, and the creativity necessary for technological advancement would be non-existent.  However, this week’s lectures have given me a new perspective to consider: can technology mean the death of art and humanity?

After reading H.G. Wells’ Time Machine and watching the two film adaptations, I realized that all three versions have something in common: when the protagonist travels into the distant future, he encounters two species that have evolved from homo sapiens: the Eloi and the Morlocks.  The Eloi are weak and feeble creatures that seem to lack curiosity and intelligence, while the Morlocks are beastial creatures that live underground and maintain the machines that keep the Eloi (their food source) alive.  H. G. Wells uses these two species as a metaphor for the division between the working class and the wealthy during the Industrial Revolution.  As the time traveler explores Earth 800,000 years in the future, he makes several observations and hypotheses about how the world ended up this way.  He supposes that the Eloi’s small stature and lack of intelligence are the result of humankind’s previous struggle to transform nature through art and science.  After all of humanity’s problems had been solved, the need for technology and innovation to improve life was no longer necessary.  As a result, they became unimaginative and lost all curiousity about the world.  Without any work to do (presuably with the complete automation of life), they became physically weak and diminutive.  In addition, the protagonist hypothesizes that advances in medical science had become so advanced that all disesases were completely abolished, as no signs of disease are present amongst the Eloi. With no work to do and no hardships to overcome, society becomes non-hierarchical, with no defined leaders or social classes.  With no hardship or inequalities in Earth’s societies, there would be no war and crime.  Art and culture, often driven by problems or as a foundation for revolutionary ideas and new developments slowly disappeared, as eventually there were no conceivable improvements for humanity.  Eventually, the protagonist discovers the Morlocks, and realizes that the wealthy upper class devolved into the Eloi, while the working class, having to deal with manual labor eventually evolved into the cannabalistic Morlocks.


After considering this prediciton of the future, which makes perfect logical sense, I have to ask myself: will our society ever achieve such a future, where our own technological advancement and creativity end up destroying humanity?  It is obvious to me that science is a double-edged sword.  With the advent of cars and other inventions that pollute our environment, we have already invented our way into a “global warming crisis.”  With the invention of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, we have effectively created several methods for wiping ourselves out.  As Albert Einstein once said, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

-Dennis Yeh

Week 3 – “Industrial Age, Kinetic Art and Robotics” by Derek Spitters

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

The industrial age marks a period of rapid technological advances that continues to this day. The primary goal of this revolution is to make life easier for our society. We mechanize procedures in our factories in order to make a standardized, consistent product for less money. So far, robots have not begun to demand wages. We build supercomputers to do number crunching for us, and we even use robots to do surgery. All of these advancements have reduced the amount of work we have to do. In some ways this can be a bad thing. Robots displace many jobs, and this trend will only continue as technology keeps advancing.

These constant technological developments have pervaded almost all aspects of our society and culture, so it is only natural that this progress be applied to artwork. Many artists have created interactive or kinetic art using the most cutting edge technology of the time. One example of this is the installation Particles of Interest by the *particle group*. ( This work of art featured a series of sensors that detect nano particles present on visitors. These sensors are placed in columns that contain speakers and provide audio feedback about the type of nano particles detected on each person who passes by. Each column was programmed to detect certain types of nano particles. This installation, which was featured at the North/South Mixer, used technology to create a unique experience for the viewer with the goal of encouraging a dialogue about the pervasiveness of nanotechnology.

Many other artists use robotics in their artwork as well. For example, in The Blanket Project, Nicholas Stedman created a robot shaped like a blanket. ( Wave-like pulses are created by the robot and are controlled either by computer or manually. A person can interact with the blanket by lying on the bed and allowing the blanket to flow over them.

In many ways, our society seems to have become obsessed with the idea of robots. Although the practical uses of many robots have made our existence much easier, our real fascination is with those robots that resemble humans. There are two basic aspects of these robots that attract us: the degree to which they look like a human and the degree to which they think like a human. In both areas advancements in technology have allowed us to make increasingly realistic humanoid robots. Our preoccupation with robots can be seen by the fact that every year a big blockbuster will feature robots. Some examples of these films are The Matrix, The Terminator, Alien, Star Wars, I, Robot, Transformers, Wall-E, Robocop, 2001, A Space Odyssey, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Stepford Wives, and Bicentennial Man. One reason that we seem to be increasingly engrossed by robots is that technology plays such a large role in our everyday lives. Not long ago a computer was a rare thing to own, but now people often buy a computer for every member of their family. Our cell phones now have GPS and our cars now have computers and cameras. Thanks to satellites we can access the internet wirelessly from anywhere in the world. Our generation has witnessed the rapid growth of computer technology. Movies that depict robots are an expression of our desire to see what could be possible in the near future after further developments.

week3_robotics,etc._ Originals vs. Reproduction by Devin Quinlan

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

In our modern age, technology has advanced to the point where art can be mass produced, not even by the original artist, but transcribed from the original medium to one (such as a scan or photograph) that can be printed out by a computer and viewed by anyone with internet access. As a result of these developments, people like Walter Benjamin have begun (or already had been) expressing what they believe to be lost in reproduction.

I had always been a bit biased on this subject. Ever since I was young, my mom, being an art teacher,  had been authority on art in my mind. She would always complain when her students would copy other works of art, telling me that there was no creative expression involved. She would always try to get me to draw things myself instead of copying or tracing things I had already seen. I came to believe that copying was bad, and that there was no merit to reproduction. I agreed with Benjamin that there were things about an original piece of artwork that can never be attained. With an original piece of art I would imagine the actual artist working over the canvas, painting and painting over the mistakes until the image was what he or she desired. It is sort of the same feeling that I get when I walk down bruin walk and think about Will Ferrell walking along the same path when he filmed Old School. It’s a way to feel that much closer to the artist.

After thinking of examples of things that exemplified this idea, however, I came upon a memory from a few years ago at an art museum that alters my view of this subject. It was after a long day at the museum and we were just about to leave, when we encountered a vending machine for original art. The machine works just like any other vending machine - you basically put in $3 and out pops a small piece of authentic artwork from some unknown artist. After thinking about the little artworks that we got that day, I realized that I would have honestly rather spent my three dollars on a small poster replication of a famous work of art. I feel that looking at something with a true message or meaning that was created with true inspiration is much better than original art, even if it’s a reproduction. While it’d be great to have an original Picasso masterpiece, I’d much rather have a copy than an original artwork that didn’t speak to me.

The truth is, there really isn’t anything wrong with reproduction. People like reproductions because they are of quality artwork, and there is really no way to make everything authentic without leaving people disappointed and unable to draw inspiration from great art. In fact, some art is meant to be reproduced, such as the logo. A logo for a large corporation is something that says a lot about a company. The artist actually puts a lot more thought into it’s creation that you would think, as everything needs to be just right, from the font and placement to the subliminal messages that come from the arrangement of lines and colors. The medium for the logo’s creation is almost always a computer, so there really is no “original” copy of the work, at least not one that I would get the feeling of being closer to the artist through. These artworks are created exclusively for being reproduced, and in fact the art’s success comes from being reproduced everywhere until anyone could reproduce it themselves.

In the end, there is no sure answer to the question of whether or not a reproduction is as good as an original. An original gives you extra aspects of the work and creates almost a bond that you can feel with the artist who created it, while the ability to reproduce works with accuracy in great numbers allows great art to get to the masses. Once again, it’d be great to have an original Picasso, but for now I’ll just have to settle for a reproduction.

-Devin Quinlan

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