Week #5: Midterm Blog by Jeff Poirier

Being halfway through the Design and Media Arts: Art, Science, and Technology course, I have been exposed to many new ideas, theories, and philosophies as they relate to artistic endeavors, scientific inquiry, and society as a whole. I really enjoyed the beginning of the course when we discussed the Two Cultures debate, the societal schism that has developed between science and art. I felt that this issue affected me very personally since I am a South Campus major, but I enjoy North Campus classes just as much, if not more. From the context laid by the culture discussion, we moved onto mathematics and time in art, which was extremely intriguing. I was impressed by the discussions of fractals, the Fibonacci sequence, and the golden ratio. I began to look around and notice the spirals and patterns that seemed so highly theoretical before. I had worked with geometry in art before (as illustrated by my midterm project), but the intricacies of Fibonacci and fractals were truly startling. As in this sunflower:

The section of the class that has been the most interesting in a contemporary context has been, in my opinion, the robotics and industrialization section. The work of MacMurtie, Stelarc, Feingold, and the Survival Research Labs are all so different from anything that I had previously experienced. In thinking of robots, I had always pictured scientists and labs, rather than the artistic applications I have been exposed to as of now. However, I do have to remember, that without the sciences of robotics and the highly advanced mechanization, such artistic practices would be unattainable. Thus, they are dependent upon each other, the two cultures.

I was also very intrigued by the human body and biology section of the class. The work of Orlan regarding the human body image and plastic surgery was well beyond my normal comfort zone, yet I was impressed by her dedication and steadfast beliefs about society. Though the art in this section was interesting, I was most engaged by the ethical debate, which also stems back to robotics. The questions posed in the Hippocratic Oath for medicine, as well as the more current interpretation, were so pertinent to the issues of present day life! The biomedical ethics of plastic surgery and genetic engineering must be seriously considered by our civilization. This too relates to the ethics of robotics and how “human-like” and independent technology is truly becoming. Serious questions regarding our society’s dependence on technological advancements and robotics must be asked in the not-so-distant future.

All in all, I have been very satisfied by the first half of the DESMA 9 course. I really enjoyed all the different artistic mediums and artists presented. However, honestly, I have most enjoyed the societal debates regarding the two cultures, robotics, biology, and the human body. Art and science are interdependent. They are within one another, of one another, and yet distinguished from one another in so many ways. As our society progresses through time, our sciences and our arts seem to consistently approach an intertwined unison.

-Jeff Poirier

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