Triple Whammy! Allie Gates

Three posts for the price of one!

The first is the blog i wrote the first week before I had gotten onto the correct blog and had created one of my own.  The second is the midterm post, as I accidentally posted it to my other blog. The third is this week’s. Happy reading!

One:

Several centuries later, the Two Cultures that Snow outlines are still confined to their own exclusive enclaves. This is polarization of art and science is an idea that I’ve been chewing on for some time, as it seems like a divide that I jump on an hourly basis; much like Snow, purely because of my own unique circumstances. The recipe was set from the start. My mother is an artist– an award winning graphic designer to pay the bills, a doodler and illustrator to satisfy her own artistic itches. My dad, on the other hand, is a mechanical engineer–my entire childhood quietly tapping away on his keyboard, writing cutting edge computer simulation software. On top of that, I was born a synestheid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia), which is a neurologically based phenomena wherein letters, numbers, and other abstract things are perceived to have an inherent color and spacial orientation (on of many reasons I think math is so beautiful; the colors and shapes of higher level math are exquisite). For these reasons, art and science have always seemed like deeply interrelated and interdependent subjects–at times, one in the same. Coming to UCLA was a shock, as a I had never felt like math and art were so geographically and socially isolated pursuits. Although I didn’t realize this at the time, I came to college with diametrically opposed interests. My major was chemistry, but I am a licensed hairdresser by trade. As Snow describes, it felt like jumping between cultures that speak different languages–and (enter tiny sad violin music) for a long time I didn’t feel like I really belonged in either. I attribute much of this to the fact that there are misconceptions and stereotypes on both sides. So, like Snow, I think it’ll be interesting to clear the air about the nasty little slanderous ideas that exist about both sides.

On the one hand, most south campus folk think that cosmetologists are all failed strippers. Community college dropouts. Pretty chicks that can’t do anything better than cut some hair and then go party.

Hmmmmm.

At my salon in Santa Monica, the stylist to my left is a helicopter pilot, training to fly for the Red Cross. The stylist to my left is a real estate genius and has made a killing in residential sales– he has previously dropped out of veterinary school because it was “too easy.” The stylist across the room is the drummer in a very successful LA based lesbian punk rock band. Oh yeah– our receptionist is an Arytrian refugee who is a cage fighter in his spare time. Regardless, these people are bright, interesting, business saavy and most of all: intelligent. Whatever their reasons for hairstyling, they’re all some of the sharpest knives in the drawer.

On the other hand, most stylists/manicurists/makeup artists tend to think of scientists/mathema-what-have-yous as insufferable knowitalls. Robots. Boring dweeby geeks who couldn’t find their way to a party if it poured a beer down their throat.

If there is anything that my time at UCLA has showed me, its that south campusers work hard and play harder. They just happen to know all the chemical pathways that are being tickled when that alcohol or nicotine hits. Period.

In the interest of space, I’ll leave you to dispel or confirm your own remaining notions about hairdressers and scientists. But as a special favor to me, try not to raise your eyebrows too high the next time you find out your hairdresser knows her stoichiometry better than you, or your chem tutor walks in with a haircut that Madonna would envy. People are living gradients, not categories.

With that, check out this video. I think it encompasses the romance of art and science pretty intensively.

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

Cheers!

Allie Gates

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Two: Midterm Review

If there is anything that had been driven home during this course, it is that art and science are married. Intertwined. One in the same even; the kind of polarized dichotomy you are taught to understand of Jesus– he is man, but he is god, even though the point is that they are opposites. I feel the same is true for art and science; nothing is purely science, and nothing is purely art, and they are united by this elusive idea of creativity. More specifically, art and science seem to mutually nurture each other by informing the creative process.  Both Amy Tan and Elizabeth Gilbert have incredible TED talks on the subject of creativity. TED talks are an amazing movement– a couple hundred of the worlds most interesting and brilliant people gather in Monterey, California every year and each talk for 20 minutes on whatever is the object of their passion– from science to art and everything in between.

Elizabeth Gilbert: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

Amy Tan: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/amy_tan_on_creativity.html

Elizabeth Gilbert had an especially interesting point about creativity.  She began researching the way that people have conceptualized the creative process over the last several millenia. During the time of the Greeks and Romans, people did not believe that creativity came from within. They believed that those crucial creative moments, the Aha! moments, the moments where the frustrationa and block disappate in the wake of a great idea, those moments were not your own thought, but that this muse-like entity called a genius would come to you from the divine and guide an artist’s mind and work. This conceptualization allowed people to, on the one hand, not be burdened by the pressure of great work, but also dabble in many different creative endeavors and see if genius would visit them and allow them to create outside their regular mediums.

I think propagating this idea of being visited by genius, rather than being a genius, could have interesting implications in this nebulous, gray area we’ve been grappling with, the area between what is art and what is science, what is both and what is neither.  I’d like to think that many people might start to understand that their creativity, their genius, in one area can be translated to work in another.

For my midterm, I was visited by one of these geniuses.  I struggled and struggled to conceptualize a project that was, at once, purely scientific and purely artistic, one that played off the two in a synergistic way rather than being art in spite of being enabled by science or science that was made more widely appealing because it’s pretty.  After going to the Pacific Symphony in Irvine, I realized that music is one such art/science medium, but one that has a certain natural, organic quality to it that is not usually afforded to the futuristic projects we have been shown over the last few weeks.  After bumbling around for the first month of class, struggling to find something new and interesting to propose, my idea sauntered, fully formed, into my brain. It felt as if it had nothing to do with myself, but more like as if a little Dobby the house-elf had emerged from the walls of my room and whispered the idea in my ear.  Of course this didnt actually happen, but this feeling of being removed from the creativity and letting it come to me produced what I (immodestly) feel was a great idea. I decided to design a concert hall that incorporates a biological framework in its execution.  It is a concert hall that has walls outfitted with microchips that mirror the way an octopus changes color in order to produce visualizations of people’s brainwaves as they respond to the music.  If executed, it could provide a means for people to experience music on a new level of interpersonal cohesion.

And maybe that kind of inspiration and experience is what we need to coax the geniuses out of our walls…

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Three: Biotechnology and Sexytime

One aspect of the biotechnological debate that I feel has been glossed over is simple: sex.

From the beginning of time, people have been trying to get off. Though, as a species, we’ve been overwhelmingly successful in this endeavor, humankind seems to try to stretch the limits of sexual exploration with every new generation.  For example, the turn of the century was a time when women across the globe were afflicted by the medical malady known as “hysteria”– a condition marked by feelings of unsatisfaction, anxiety, rapid heart rate, excess vaginal fluid and frustration.  Before the early 1900’s, women were not considered to be sexual beings; it was thought that men were the only ones who could experience an orgasm, and so sex acts were solely for the pleasure of the man.  Hysteria was treated by doctors in their practices, and their ‘treatment’ back then was accomplished either manually (thats right!) or with various metal tools (yowza!) in order to make a woman orgasm.  The woman would leave the doctor feeling satisfied in ways her husband wouldn’t bother to achieve, but nobody pegged hysteria was widespread sexual frustration for many years.  Needless to say, once doctors go wise to the complexities of female sexual urges they stopped offering handjobs in their practices.

However, these metal tools that they used to perform the hysteria treatment were the beginnings of what would eventually become a multibillion dollar industry: dildos, and all akin sex toys.  (In case I’ve lost you or made you uncomfortable by now, I just want to clarify that all of this is true and that Im coming around to biotechnology.)  What started as a technological advancement in the treatment of an illness caught on as a commercial product for sexual gratification.  In much the same way, I project that biotechnology that is being developed in order to push the frontiers of medical science will be diverted to a certain extent in order to serve sexual purposes.  After all, people tend to look to technology to unlock wonders that we never dreamed of, to solve problems and bring luxuries that we can’t even comprehend.  The fetishism of technology is everywhere. Asian anime porn is fraught with cyborg whores, cloned mistresses, and sex-kitten biobabes with the sole mission of sex sex sex. The mass media has already latched onto the idea of biotech fantasy girls– the new Joss Whendon series called Dollhouse plays off the idea of genetically programmable people, focusing on women that you can program to kill, or to give some sweet sweet lovin.  The series Forbidden Science takes the robot route in providing a conceptualization for the new sexual experiences that art and science may bring, wherein sex robots are designed to fit different ideas of beauty and are then tested, rigorously!, by scientists who happen to be incredibly hot.  AI, a movie that provides one idea of the future of human-robot interaction, also touches on the ‘exploitation’ of robots for sex.  This is all interesting because it approached the intersection of art and science from a new angle.  In harnessing the science of creating these objects/people of desire, they approach art in a new way, as it looks into the nature of beauty and aesthetics and catalogs it in a replicable, decipherable way, expressed in the fantasy-satisfying nature of these creations.

In the end, science and art serve what the market demands. And as we continue to demand sexual gratification, developers will continue to create ever evolving products to satisfy.

Hey, at least you can’t get an STD from a robot.

Allie Gates

137 Responses to “Triple Whammy! Allie Gates”

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  2. Dobby says:

    Dobby…

    Three posts for the price of one!The first is the blog i wrote the first week before I had gotten on [...]…