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

Week 3- by Allie Gates

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I feel that much of our discussion in class has been focused on art as the creative force behind a scientific endeavor.  Metropolis, Tesla, and all of the snapshots of movies that we saw were examples of how science is made pretty by art, or is nudged along by artistic impulses,with the end result being one serious feat of technology or science.  However, I think it is also interesting and pertinent to think about the ways in which science is a creative force behind art. Not just a means to an end, mind you.  While I really enjoyed seeing the Professors exhibits that use  technology to create interesting pieces of art, there are also other ways to explore this idea. Science can BE the art, not just an avenue TO the art.

Last quarter, I lived in Washington D.C. and fell in love with the Hirschhorn Museum of Modern Art in the Capitol Mall. I went many times and saw an amazing video of the most convoluted Rube Goldberg Machine I have ever seen.  Traditionally, a rube goldberg machine is a machine/ chain reaction of events that is set up to do an exceedingly simple everyday task, like popping a balloon. And I just found a copy of the video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U82eWptFxSs

The movie is a loop.  The original is twenty six minutes long. It is one, long, huge chainreaction.  For instance, a pitcher is tipped over, and its contents are spilled, pushing a wheel which strikes a match, which burns a string which pours a mystery chemical onto a bunson burner, etc. The majority of the steps are not mechanical interactions (the momentum of one object running into another), but chemical reactions, usually explosive.  Depending on where you enter the film in the exhibit, the tempo ranges from painfully slow to uncatchably fast. Every step is perfectly metered and measured to flow into the next, and the entire movie is shot in one take. Hundreds of chemical reactions and mechanical interactions perfectly set up and timed to carry on interdependently for almost a half an hour.

I love this exhibit because its such a great example of true synonymy between science and art.  Its not that the artist had to develop a technology to acheive the artistic end, but that the chemistry itself is the art itself. There are no steps between the science and art, as there is no sense of removal. One does not first witness the art, and then conceptualize the science behind it.  It is impossible to think of the scientific or artistic aspects of this piece exclusively, because they are one in the same.

More importantly, I get the impression that the piece isn’t harkening to any higher idea than this interplay between science and art. Although I’m not a seasoned art critic, this piece seems to rejoice in the beauty of science without attempting to portray a lot of other ideas.  It marries the two disciplines in a fundamental way by just letting them be.

Art. Science. Whats the difference?

Week3_Math, Robotics, and what the world of new technology means for Traditional Art by Kirk Naylor

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

This week, I found many of the topics interesting as well as insightful and so decided to not focus on any one in particular, but instead look more into all of them. Firstly, I’d like to discuss a very new and exciting theory in math and physics, and that is String Theory. This theory is exciting, because it is the first theory ever validly conceived to describe the entire universe, from the quantum level to galaxies. String theorists propose that the universe could have as many as 11 dimensions, and that all quantum interactions are determined based on the vibrating of strings in the 11th dimension. This theory is directly relevant to the video we watched on Tuesday, about drawing lines, branching, and folding to depict more and more dimensions. This brings me to the subject of four dimensional art. such as this long-exposure of a trapeze artist

This is an example of one type of four-dimensional art. This is the static type of four-dimensional art. Pieces of static four-dimensional art are usually long-exposure pictures or paintings or sculptures where movement is shown through the repetition or blur of objects, as if the viewer is looking at multiple instants in time at once. The second type of four-dimensional art is moving four-dimensional art. This art is often digitally rendered and changes over time to show the flow of time, as opposed to static, where all images are showed at once. Often, this type of four-dimensional art uses a mathematical algorithm to determine what it would look like at each instance, such as this four-dimensional portrayal of the Julia set, a fractal.

watch?v=XIasuHbxlxw

In Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” he discusses how over time, we have become more and more able to create and and reproduce art, and the value of these reproductions. With the heralding of the age of robotics, it is possible for art to be created and reproduced like never before. This leads to interesting questions about the value of this art, similar to the ones brought up in Benjamin’s article. He says “Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art.” I believe that this shows that there are certain unbreakable bonds between art and technology and society as a whole, and it shows that all three must evolve together, or the other two would stagnate. However, the very nature of mechanical reproduction changes the way art is viewed. Initially, the creation of a car was viewed as much a piece of art, as well as an industrial production. This is because originally, skilled craftsmen would create each piece with skill and care. However, with the invention of the assembly line, and later robots, the car was able to be mass-produced and is for the most part seen entirely as a piece of industrial work.

hand made car

hand made car

modern assembly line

modern assembly line

by Kirk Naylor

Week 3: On Aura, Originality and Copies by Ryan Andre Magsino

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Week 3: On Aura, Originality and Copies by Ryan Andre Magsino

I too copied and pasted my following thoughts from a text editor to the browser to be published on the blogosphere. Does this imply however that the originality or aura per say has all but drifted away from my thoughts? To answer this question, we must first look into defining aura and its method of measurement. Walter Benjamin, in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” defines aura as “the unique phenomenon of a distance.” Does this infer that by standing closer to a sculpture, I am able to absorb a greater understanding of its aura? Neigh. Rather a saying I believe would run parallel to Benjamin’s definition would be that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If the purpose of art is to produce and/or arrange “elements in a way that appeals to the sense or emotions” then the aura of such a piece must be the “unique phenomenon” pulling away at our own senses or emotions. Therefore, the aura absorbed from a piece depends entirely on the perspective of the one(s) viewing it. However, as the sciences through modern technology take root in society, we are moving away from manual mediums to digitized copies. Throughout most of his essay, Benjamin relates to the capturing of an image. He relates to humanity originally using paintings as a medium of capturing an image; but as pursued digital technology, photography and film soon took its place. One of the major differences between the two is the ease of replicating digital media compared to manual media. This brings about two issues, the replication of an original work and the debatable existence of aura in a duplicate.

copy

If I were to make a digital backup (copy) of my favorite song from my favorite artist’s album (physical copy of a prior recording) and then plan to use it for artistic purposes, is there anything wrong with me in doing so? This and other closely related questions have fueled the current debates over music, copyrights and the rights of use. Surprisingly, even the well-known birthday song “Happy Birthday to You” is copyright by Warner Chappell Music. Rumors claim that rights to use of said song would run up to $10,000 USD. On the other hand, if anyone was allowed to simply replicate something and call it their own, is it really theirs? Since music is essentially “an art form whose medium is sound organized in time,” should there be a penalty for arranging sounds similarly? The following is a video showing how many popular songs utilize the same/highly similar chords: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHBVnMf2t7w). Is there such a thing as being completely original? Another striking case is the “Amen Break,” a widely-recycled rhythmic backdrop, its use over the decades and how it came to become licensed: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac).

artif

Duplicates, Copies, Clones…call them whatever you like, but are they really the exact same thing as the original? Does it retain all the functions let alone the aura of the original? As modern science approaches what science fiction writers could have only imagined prior, mankind has pursued the ability to duplicate/replicate our very existence both genetically and artificially. Although we are determined, we have yet to create a perfect product. Yet, is the creation of a perfect duplicate/replicate even possible? One of the popular themes in the realm of science fiction is the existence or lack of aura in a copy. Being either a genetic or artificial copy, they may present feelings or emotions. But were those emotions or feelings they emit merely programmed into their existence? Answers to questions like these usually determine the viewpoint of the author.

Bonus: A comic response to the Time Machine clip we watched during lecture recently:

comic2-1421

Week 3- Robotics and Art by Kimberlie Shiao

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

This week’s topic was about the Industrial Age, kinetic art and robotics. While the idea of a robot existed before industrialization in examples such as Mary Shelley’s 1831 Frankenstein monster, mass production and exchangeable parts helped push forward the idea of a human-designed creature that could move and think (maybe) on its own. Computers- which are the minds of today’s robots- have been a major step to realizing this dream (or nightmare).

While many tales of “humans playing gods”, so to speak, are cautionary ones, there are many benefits to robots. With computers and robots we have been able to accomplish more in science and math. We have also been able to reach out to communicate, create and share information, ideas and art with others. With human input and guidance, robots are able to accomplish feats that were previously thought to be tasks and challenges for humans, such as solving a Rubix Cube. While we’re only beginning to explore the possibilities that modern technology can bring us, art has suggested possibilities that guide us to and away from the directions we attempt to take in robotics.

Many traditional imaginings about computer/robot-human relationships take on a pessimistic view. Classic but modern examples are Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (released in 1927) George Orwell’s 1984 (written in 1949), where humans use technology to worsen other human lives. A more antagonistic relationship between technology and humans is depicted in the contemporary blockbuster film, The Matrix, where computers keep humans in a thrall of virtual reality and use their physical bodies for power. While The Matrix seems to depict an almost Terminator-esque straight forward humans-versus-robot conflict, there are points where “robotic” nature of the programs (who/which manifest as people) in the Matrix world are called into question. This theme of the melding natures of human, computer, and robot is not new. Classic examples include the 1982 film Blade Runner (based on Phillip K. Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), the 1968 film 2001: Space Odyssey (based on Arthur C. Clarke’s story The Sentinel), and Isaac Asimov’s 1950 book I, Robot. All three of these deal with the evolution (and characteristics) of technology and humans as convergent, not parallel or divergent. While not necessarily a completely optimistic idea, I feel it is a positive change in the way we view and approach robots. The science of computers and robotics brings a future of possibilities that allow us to explore and question things often found in art fields: our perceptions of identity, self, freedom, and power. And thus, science and art are seeming to evolve in a way that is converging, much like sci-fi’s robots and humans (or should it be humans and robots?)

Of course, we probably have a long way to go before both humans and robots reach such levels of sophistication. But we’re not as far as some might think; robots and computers can be nearly omnipresent.


(Sorry for hotlinked image. The image also links to the source article about robot population density.)


(Another hotlinked image; sorry.)

-Kimberlie Shiao

Wk3_Mind-Body Problem by Alana Chin

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

This week in lecture, we talked about the Industrial age, kinetic art, and robotics. Professor Vesna introduced the philosopher Rene Descartes and his ideas on mechanical philosophy and dualism. Dualism basically states that the mind is independent of nature and physics and that it can’t be limited to the brain or a distinct substance. I was intrigued by this concept and decided to learn more about it, which brought me to the mind-body problem. According to Wikipedia, which is actually as reliable a source as is the Encyclopedia [http://news.cnet.com/Study-Wikipedia-as-accurate-as-Britannica/2100-1038_3-5997332.html]), the mind-body problem tries to explain the relationship between the mind and body and determine how one affects the other. At first, this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem at all. Your body senses something and it sends a signal to your brain. You see a hamburger and you think, “Yum food.” It seems simple enough. But then I read into it a little more and confused myself. The brain is just a mass of tissues and electrical signals. Where are my thoughts coming from? I know that different signals are firing all over my brain to trigger visual recognition of the hamburger and the feeling of hunger, but how am I able to think, “oh boy, hamburgers are my favorite.” Wikipedia states it better: the mind-body problem “explains how someone’s propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs and desires) can cause that individual’s neurons to fire and his muscles to contract in exactly the correct manner” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mind). If the mind is this abstract thing without physical substance or matter, how can it have such a physical effect on the body? And most people would agree that the mind is abstract. People would say that the mind is personality or soul. The way your mind works is distinct from anyone else’s. However, you can’t see your mind. You can’t touch it. It is just there. Yet somehow, this massless, physically nonexistent thing is capable of influencing the physical body. I suppose what I am trying to say is that the mind is this entity that gives personality and authenticity to a person. Without the mind, the physical being is just not the same.

As I was contemplating this, I started reading “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin. I don’t know if I was just still consumed by the concept of the mind-body problem, but I couldn’t help but relate the reading to it. Walter Benjamin argued that art is reproducible. Especially with new technology, many kinds of media, from prints to graphic art, can be perfectly reproduced. However, Walter Benjamin argues that although it may look the same, it still lacks “its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” He continues to explain that it would lack historical testimony and the wear and tear of previous ownership but essentially he is saying that the replica lacks timing. Now this doesn’t make sense to me. First of all, of course it lacks timing. It is simply impossible for the replica to be made at the exact same time as the original. As we learned previously, you cannot cross dimensions and travel through time. That’s just way confusing. Secondly, the replica lacks the original’s “unique existence” because by definition, that is what makes the original. Just like the mind is an entity that gives personality and authenticity to the body, the original has personality and authenticity by being the first one. Walter Benjamin doesn’t make sense to me because by definition, the replica cannot exist equally as the original because then you would just have two originals and that is an oxymoron all by itself. It just doesn’t make sense. Now my brain hurts but I will pretend that I understand since apparently the mind influences the body.

Alana Chin

Week 3 - Industrial Age, Kinetic Art, Robotics by Mindy Truong

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

As modern technology improves and advances, robotics is more commonly seen. Common exposure to robotics is seen on media such as the internet or the entertainment industry. Through surfing the web one can obtain in depth information on robotics. I feel like when robotics is depicted on the big screen, it usually has either good or bad intentions, no intermediate.

When the topic of robotics is brought up, it is common to first think of advanced robots such as ones that resembles humans, can perform highly developed tasks, and has a mind of its own. When depicted on television on such shows like Family Matters or Futurama those robots are highly similar to humans, in either their behavior or appearance or both. Steve Urkel’s robot on Family Matters is an almost exact replica of himself. The robot looks, sounds, behaves, and thinks like him. Bender on Futurama also shows similarities to humans due to the way he’s structured and his actions. He behaves on his own and can also carry out advanced tasks if he wishes too. On The Simpsons Movie, toward the end of the movie there is a robot programmed to carry out the job of disabling bombs. However, this robot shoots itself with a gun showing that even though it is programmed to disable the bombs it can think on its own and do as it wishes.

bender

urkel-bot-2

Other robotics might come to mind such as fictional ones that we are exposed to through the media or internet; examples include Wall-E and War of the Worlds. On Wall-E, the robot is a good one that cleans up the earth. It is portrayed as a friendly robot caring for the condition of the earth. On the other hand, the robots shown on War of the Worlds are evil robots that aim to get rid of human kind. Their goal is to destroy the earth. Those two movies show robots at opposite ends, one that is good one that is bad.

When thinking of robots usually those seen on television first comes to mind, but those are advanced and kind of stereotypical robots. There are other robotics around that we are can run into daily. A very common robotic that is around is the Roomba vacuum. It is preprogrammed to clean around the house and with so many generations of Roombas, the technology has improved making it more advanced. Scientists create robotics that are there to help and benefit our lives. Robots are sent to space to explore around so that humans do not need to go into unknown and possibly dangerous territories. There are also robotics in the industrial field created to save time for us, such as those created to replace assembly lines.

- Mindy Truong

Week 3_ The end of art? By Piero Vallarino Gancia

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Post-modernism is arguably the most depressing philosophy ever to spring from the western mind. It is difficult to talk about post-modernism because nobody really understands it. It’s allusive to the point of being impossible to articulate. But what this philosophy basically says is that we’ve reached an endpoint in human history. That the modernist tradition of progress and ceaseless extension of the frontiers of innovation are now dead. Originality is dead. The avant-garde artistic tradition is dead. All religions and utopian visions are dead and resistance to the status quo is impossible because revolution too is now dead. Like it or not, we humans are stuck in a permanent crisis of meaning, a dark room from which we can never escape.

                                               

Kalle Lasn & Bruce Grierson, A Malignant Sadness

 

Postmodernism is an aesthetic, literary, political or social philosophy that attempts through the use of difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyper reality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning. (Stanford EP)

 

Indeed, postmodernism depends on the claim that reality is constructed as the mind tries to formulate its own individual reality. Hence postmodernism defies what is absolutist and promotes relativity of thought in all. In post-modern thought, interpretation is everything, as reality is simply our own interpretation of what happens to us daily.

 

This complicates the task of the people who attempt to articulate the new philosophical doctrine we are living in. Hence postmodernist thought relies mostly on concrete experience over abstract principles, as the outcomes of an experience are always relative rather than universal.

 

Post-modern thought thus has created a “tabula rasa” condition in which truth can be constantly redefined as to fit one’s own needs and experiences. Combined with the facility of reproduction provided now by digital and mechanic means, this poses a serious threat to the advancement of creativity and thought in general.

 Mona Lisa?

Personally, I find interesting yet alarming the velocity at which different images and ideas from the past such as the Mona Lisa or the Guerrillero Heroico (I couldn’t think of anything else) are infusing our society; they are everywhere. We are bombarded by repetitiveness in art and this could lead to a limitation of our creativeness always as we will constantly be depending on previous works to create our own.

 

This reproduction of art leads us to another omnipresent issue in post-modernist philosophy, the definition of art. Can these reproductions be considered art themselves? Benjamin Walter asserts that for a piece of art that has not been produced digitally or mechanically, it is “its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” that classifies it as art. Its unique experience to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence is what gives it its aura, its right to be a work of art.

 

However, Benjamin believes that “with the advent of art’s mechanical reproducibility, and the development of forms of art (such as film) in which there is no actual original, the experience of art could be freed from place and ritual and instead brought under the gaze and control of a mass audience, leading to a shattering of the aura.” Indeed as works of art have now become the products of products the aura finds itself only in the moment, be it in a photograph or film, that is taking place. The aura and thus the art itself has become intangible and has lost its timeless appeal; sadly it has been trivialized. 

Week 3-Robotics and Industrial Age by Matt Kramer

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

This week’s focus on robotics and the Industrial Revolution was very intriguing.  Robotics and the industrial age are both tied together in that it was our country’s movement, and later addiction, towards an economy and society based upon mechanisms and industrial technology that would spawn the ideas and creations of robots.  Robots have been featured in in the realm of fantasy for years now.  The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was written in 1818, and it depicted a life lead by a robot that was created by a “mad” scientist that wanted to create something artificial that simulated real human behaviors.  And today scientists and large companies are making huge advancements towards creating robots that they hope will actually be able to function and think critically like human beings with artificial intelligence.  The thought of how easy life could become for the person who is able to afford a robotic servant for instance is very dramatic.  

After the advent of the Industrial Revolution people’s lives became a lot more simplified.  Automobiles were beginning to be mass-produced and people would soon have an easier means for transportation.  Americans and people all over the world were then given microwaves, toasters, and so many more inventions that help to simplify their lives.  And now the thought of robots someday being able to think and act for us makes me think that all of this technology is not always a good idea and that it is indeed possible that life can be oversimplified.  I am sure many people are in an agreement with me and for that reason robots will hopefully not take over the world, but still, is there going to be a robotics age where scientists and technology developers push the envelope too far?  

images-2

Some may say that we have become to content and lazy now that we have computers that do so much for us.  It is hard to dispute this, but the fact is computers still require us to put in a lot of the thought and effort into using them.  For instance, an artist who uses a computer to create artwork still has to create the art himself, the computer is somewhat of a tool.  But, robots that can possess artificial intelligence someday, would be creating the art.  And I’m sure all would agree that this should be a human’s responsibility.  

Robots have also  contributed to the downsizing of many companies that used to rely on human labor, but now have machines and “robots” that can perform the tasks for cheaper.  This is not a good thing because our society and economy depends on having a high employment rate.  And although robots and technology are good in fields like modern warfare, where a robot can replace a human soldier and save lives, too much technology can hinder the vitality and advancement of humanity.  It will be very interesting to see how in the future robots further contribute to and harm society.

-Matt Kramer

Week 3: Robotics, by Erick Romero

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Week 3:  Industrialization, kinetic art, robotics

I was very excited when I learned that we were going to discuss the topic of robotics in this class.  It amazes me (literally) when I go see a movie or read about a world where robots are those intelligent beings that do amazing things such as act like humans, are smart and effective, possess great strengths or ability to fight crime, or even when they wage war upon human race and threaten to exterminate all human kind.  It amazes me because of the mere possibility that one day science and technology will be advanced enough to create these beings, which each day as technology advances it seems more and more possible.

I remember how my interest in robots started when I saw the movie ‘Robocop’.  I was very young, but I thought it was pretty cool that a robot like Robocop would possess such strength and abilities to fight crime.  I was too young to realize the amazing technology that is needed to create such a robot.  All the computer science behind it, the mechanical engineering needed to make it move, the electrical engineering to give it energy, and so much more.  Then as I grew older I realized that such things were not possible, at least not yet.  But the magic of films, artists’ perceptions of such technologies, and their great imagination continues to feed upon us those dreams of making it possible in our life time.

I think that it is thanks to artists that some of the greatest inventions are created.  It starts with an artist or writer’s imagination that captivates a young kid, and then that kid grows up to make it possible because of that inspiration.  A kid reads say Jules Verne “From the Earth to the Moon” and then when he grows up goes to work for the NASA Space Program and helps put the first man on the Moon.  Or a kid sees a drawing of a robot in a comic book and then grows up to be a computer scientist.  This is something that I think it’s vital for the advancement of our technology:  Someone comes up with an idea, then someone else makes it possible.  Collaboration between art and science at it’s best.  That is the recipe for success.

And we are not that far from a world with robots.  We are at the beginning of very great inventions and discoveries.  An example is Honda’s ASIMO, a humanoid robot that can run, walk on uneven slopes and surfaces, turn smoothly, climb stairs, and reach for and grasp objects. ASIMO can also comprehend and respond to simple voice commands.  The next two videos show the abilities of ASIMO.  The first one shows how it is able to do many maneuvers and moves that make it look like one of the robots from the movies we have seen. 

ASIMO video 1

The second one shows the learning capabilities that ASIMO possesses.  It is able to identify objects that are shown to him, and it also makes judgments about the characteristics of some objects, the first indications of Artificial Intelligence.

ASIMO Video 2

Another cool robot is being developed at MIT, under the name of DOMO.  DOMO is designed to be an assistive robot, a type of robot that can help people with chores, it could help elderly or wheelchair-bound people with simple household tasks like putting away dishes (more info at this link: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/domo.html).  This robot uses computer vision technology to identify an object, and then with the help of weight sensors it can grasp objects and place them on shelves or counters.  The amazing thing is that it can adapt to many objects and surfaces, it’s not a script or a routine that is following.  Look at the next video, pay attention to how it obeys voice commands, and when he is handed an object he wiggles it to get a feel for the object, then transfers the object to the other hand, and then puts it on a shelf.  This movement is very important, since it helps it learn things about the object such as size and weight, and how to transfer it to the other hand and to the shelf.

DOMO Video

We have come a long way from the Assembly Line production of machines that Ford started in the making of their cars that Prof. Vesna talked about in the industrialization topic.  But these where repetitive tasks that could be programmed onto a machine.  The new robots will adapt to new things, and learn new things.  It is a very cool world we are going towards, and both artists and scientists have made it possible.

Week_3 Industrial and Digital Revolution by Richard Jin

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

The industrial revolution of the late 18th century and early 19th century was a defining era in the course of mankind. Although significant, after Tuesday’s lecture and even through Thursday’s lecture, I was profoundly confused as to why we were discussing Henry Ford, the assembly line, electricity, and dualism among other things. Sure, it dealt with science, but what did it have to do with art? We were given nuggets of information, but how did they all relate? I began to formulate questions and later sought to resolve these questions as I read this week’s readings, talked to different art majors, and reflected on the subject.

 

  • What were the consequences of the industrial revolution on producing art?
  • How did artists portray art in the industrial age and what impact has it had on science?
  • How does the evolution of the industrial age affect us today?

As discussed in lecture, the industrial age ushered in an age of mass production and printing. Not only could ideas – among these new ideas about art –be readily disseminated, but certain objects and artwork could be reproduced and replicated. This expanded the array of the tools and mediums artists could use. Take for instance Powell library’s intricate ceiling design:

 

Powell Library Ceiling

Powell Library Ceiling

Prior to the industrial age, such intricate and repeatable wood designs would have taken years to complete. However, with machines to do the repetitive and tedious work, the amount of work to complete such a design was significantly decreased. Thus, the industrial age allowed the previously unfeasible, feasible through the use of machinery.

However, the mechanization of society was not always favored, as we see in dystopian movies such as Metropolis. With the massive growth in machinery and technology, artists began to creatively envision the future. The artists’ portrayal of the future seemingly has molded the direction in which science has taken technology. Compare what artists in the industrial age envisioned the future would be like, to what technology has created today.

 

1920s Portrayal of the Future in Metropolis

1920s Portrayal of the Future in "Metropolis"

 

 

 

Present day achievement

Present day achievement

 

 

Much in the same way, the way artists portray the future today (hovering cars, colonies on the moon) direct scientific research today.

Although the industrial revolution has passed, it has evolved into yet another revolution, the digital revolution – the topic of Douglas Davis’s article.  With new digital technology, we can digitally reproduce artwork, share it on the internet, allowing for the mass exposure and distribution of art (whether through print or the internet). This new age has also brought forth new ways of expression, “empower[ing] the imagination.” We see this through contemporary artists working with cybernetics and technology. Take for instance the Blue Man Group, a group that creatively integrates technology with art and music.

 

The Blue Man Group Performance

The Blue Man Group Performance

 

In this link, the group allows web surfers to great their own digital artwork:

http://art.blueman.com/message.php

Furthermore, the internet has allowed us to share and communicate, even contribute to artwork. Douglas referenced an art project The World’s First Collaborative Sentence that took off in 1994, where everyone could contribute to this living sentence. Today, we see public collaborative artwork such as one of our class TAs webprojects: http://www.d-kitchen.com/webbyawards/twitflick.html allowing everyone to join in.

However, we see resistance to this digital revolution as some claim that digital reproduction causes the loss of the “aura” of artwork if it is a duplicate. In my opinion, unless the person in question is an art scholar, they wouldn’t know the difference between an original and a duplicate. If you were to tell them it was an original, they would probably believe you, and in that sense, the “aura” would be preserved. It seems to me the growth in worldwide art literacy obtained through digital reproduction far outweighs the loss of this mythical “aura” that most people could be duped into experiencing.

Richard Jin