Posts Tagged ‘matthew robertson’

Week 8: Space and Final Abstract by Matthew Robertson

Sunday, March 8th, 2009
Mankind has evolved for the phenomena of the earth to seem natural. We understand that the ground is down, the sky is up, and even though we are standing on a giant sphere, the ground seems rectangular. The rotation of the earth goes unnoticed. The pressure of the air above us is hardly, if ever, noticed. 
Space has been considered the next “frontier” for mankind to explore and colonize. The last frontier that was explored (by Europe) was America. As technology allowed for easier Atlantic travel, Europeans immigrated to America. However, even though there are apparent similarities between the exploration of the New World and space exploration, I find this comparison to be invalid. The problem is that even though colonists were in an unfamiliar place that new technology allowed access to, they were still on Earth and still in an environment that they had evolved to be able to survive in. One might argue that advances in technology will be able to compensate for mankind’s inability to survive in Space’s hostile environments. 
Assuming technology does progress to a point that mankind can safely live in space, the artistic implications of a lifestyle dependant on machines are very interesting. Imagine growing up in an environment where there was no sky. People associate the colors of the sky with the sky itself. Without the rigidity of growing up with gravity dictating that the ground is down and the sky is up, a person would have a different understanding of perspective and orientation. These would translate to different artistic perspectives, and could be very interesting. After a few generations, space would generate new cultures and artistic styles would diverge even more. Given the limit of communication speeds to the speed of light and the large distances between habitable worlds, there would be an element of isolation between planets. This would further contribute to the development of new cultures, and create an interesting environment for art to be created.
My final will center around the ideas of evolving organisms, swarm intelligence, and augmented reality, with a focus on using these technologies to create music. Particularly, I want to explore the idea that something vast and diverse as an ecosystem can create cohesive rhythms and tones. By placing fiduciary markers representing various natural conditions, the user will instantiate an ecosystem which a few randomly generated creatures will compete for survival in. I also want my project to be easily distributable and not have to function as an installation. The reason for this is that I believe interacting with simulations like this imparts a deeper understanding of the underlying principles; interacting with my project will begin to develop an intuitive understanding of how changing conditions can change the development of a swarm of evolving creatures. 
Matthew Robertson

Week 6: Biotech by Matthew Robertson

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

    It seems to me that as science advances and the technology exists to create a wider range of objects, that eventually we will be able to create “synthetic” living organisms that are identical to natural ones. Personally, I do not believe in a soul or any sort of existence other than what is physically in the body; the body of a living thing is nothing except for an arrangement of molecules that behaves how it does due to chemical reactions. It seems to me then, that arguments on what can and cant be done with genetically engineered things are merely specifying arrangements of molecules that are sacred and untouchable. I think this is a bad way to approach science and the future.

    That being said, I think that most of the art we saw in lecture this week was very disturbing and hard to look at. I had a hard time sitting through the lecture as I did not like looking at what was being displayed on the screen. I can understand that the ethics of this field are potentially very involved and complicated, however, they are ethics that I find exploring and arguing over to be something that I don’t want to do. I do not want to think about the animal that was killed to test the medicine that is saving my life, in the same sense that I do not want to think about a chicken that has spent its entire life in captivity to give me a meal. While the fate of the animals is very sad, its not something that I want to consider or have revealed to me. Accepting very strict rules on how animals are treated, becoming vegetarian, etc, raises too many difficult questions about the nature of existence and what it means to be alive.
    One particular problem is that many of the animals that are being killed or mistreated would not exist if not for the element of society that mistreats them. Is it better to have a horrible life than to not exist at all? At what point would the animal prefer life? Can a system of points (or a score) model how just an animals life is? Is it fair to decide this? If you object to an animal feeling pain, what if it is given a sedative or is bred to like pain and want to die? 
Matthew Robertson

Week 2: Mathematics, Perspective, Time & Space by Matthew Robertson

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

This weeks reading was about how artists incorporate a fourth dimension in their works. I got the impression from the article that there was a great disagreement to what the true fourth dimension is, which I found interesting. To me, this is similar to people arguing if the first dimension is length, width, or height. However, the way that the painters decided on a fourth dimension, be it temporal or spatial, is interesting.
Representing a scene which contains four spatial dimensions on a two dimensional media such as a canvas requires the artist to imply two extra dimensions in the painting. Thus, the challenge could be compared to representing a three dimensional scene on a one dimensional media such as a line. Thus it is no surprise that painters with interests in higher dimensional spaces have approached the problem in different ways. Part of the article centered around what different artists assigned to be the fourth dimension, with the third usually assumed to be scale.
The history of how mathematics integrated itself into painting was particularly interesting to me. While seeing the early examples of perspective I began to wonder how people who lived then and before perceived the world. Given that depth was never represented artistically, its possible that the notion of objects shrinking as they gained distance never occurred to them. Its possible that they perceived the world almost isometrically, with parallel lines never appearing to intersect (see A few years ago, I received a certification in computer aided drafting. Part of that was viewing architectural models of houses. When viewed with an isometric projection, the houses became very difficult to look at and details seemed to fade. If indeed medieval man perceived the world that way, understanding the world must have been very difficult. Perhaps this contributed to the length of the dark ages; without understanding of perspective, spatial reasoning could be impaired, which would result in difficulties in mathematics and engineering.
A cool example of the fusion of math and science is the work of Dr. Taimina. She crochets models of hyperbolic spaces. See Personally, I have a difficulty visualizing some hyperbolic surfaces. Perhaps if I’d been exposed to models like these from a young age thinking about and analyzing hyperbolic surfaces would not be very difficult.

The Upanishads idea of zero being the same as infinity was very strange to me. It reminded me though of the concept of indeterminate form from mathematics, or that zero multiplied by infinity cannot be evaluated. It also reminded me of the concept of integer overflow from computer science. If a number exceeds the largest size that its register width can support, it will wrap around and reach its smallest value. If there is no sign bit (meaning the number cannot be negative), the smallest value would be 0. Thus, zero would be one more than the largest number, and the largest number would be one less than zero.

- Thank you,

Matthew Robertson