Archive for the ‘week1_twocultures’ Category

Week I/Two Cultures/Nathan Reynolds

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

*NOTE* I was not enrolled in this class for the first three weeks of winter quarter.  I am simply doing these assignments to say that I completed everything.  I do not expect a grade for them as they are horrendously late otherwise.

            It is becoming considerably more and more obvious that the disciplines of science and humanities are separating when given nothing more than a glance.  This is because from such a glance, devoid of critical thought, one is not expected to see similarities.  They seem incompatible even.  It’s especially obvious from within our own campus in UCLA.  Our two “cultures” or halves of the same campus are divided by what we refer to as Bruin Walk.  There is a distinguishable difference between the two sides as well.  North Campus, the humanities side of the school is home to beautiful architecture (with the exception of Bunche) and places dedicated to the arts.  South campus is noticeably shabbier looking but has smarter students driven to do all things related to science (I state this with the bias of an Aerospace Engineer, please do not take this personally you tender northern children).

            Taking these comparisons to a global scale, statements made in works of literature such as C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures seem to be verified in many disciplines and aspects of life.  What is the purpose of engineering in explaining the shape of a rainbow?  What purpose can beautiful words find within a machine?  Indeed, we have been taught to view these two cultures as separate, and it is easy to do so.

            However, these statements can only truthfully be made based on the glance alone.  These glances are devoid of critical thought and comprehension.  Neither culture in its purest and most fundamental form allows for a lack of critical thought, and thus this statement must be false.

            So what?  We’ve said that this statement is false.

            What’s next?  Prove it.

            The massive ice-pick that is perfect for climbing this glacier manifests itself in the works on a man I’ve been doing research on for a while now, named Theo Jansen.  I comment on this man a lot simply because he has made it a point to bridge the gap between art and science.  There is genius in its purest form within his mind, capable of doing great things, and he chooses to unify and remove the differences between art and science, and showing how one’s existence is the key to the appreciation of the other.  He has gone so far as to state in a commercial (

            “The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”

            This bold statement provokes thought concerning the chasms that we have created between art and science.  If such walls exist only within the mind, then art and science should be mixed in subtle ways that are not readily noticeable unless conscious thought is applied.

            What is the purpose of engineering in explaining the shape of a rainbow?  When one thinks about it, engineering explain, and recreate the shape of the rainbow with its own metallic touch.

Even when the rainbow fades, the Arch continues to exist.

Even when the rainbow fades, the Arch continues to exist.



            What purpose can beautiful words find within a machine?  Do machines appreciate poetry, or a long narrative?  I assure you that the system server could care less about the blog you’re reading now.  However, the wrong question is being applied.  Can words make a machine beautiful?  Can a language make a machine something wondrous?  The answer lies in what language is applied.  English may be good for explaining the robot, but translate this language into what the machine understand, and it can do amazing things in both reality and fantasy: (, ( 

            Science itself can be, and is, beautiful.  When Spirit touched down and sent pictures of Mars back to Earth, science gave humanity a change to glimpse something that their ancestors could only see as a speck of light in a dark sky.  When surgeons restore a nearly lost limb to a patient, the healing process is miraculous and precise.  In order for science to work, there must be an art to the methods, lest the methods prove ineffective.

            Art is also scientific.  Dancing the swing requires a series of precise, almost routine steps with a few variations that can lead to countless permutations.  It is art, but without the science to hold it together, it would not work (well, it might, but we call that freak dancing).  An artistic sculpture mimicking the human body requires an acute and scientifically based knowledge of the human body.  Without it, the features become abstract and flawed.  It might be considered art, but its awe-inspiring characteristics are replaced by repulsive flaws.

            In the end, there is a difference between art and science.  There is a visible line that can be drawn between the two disciplines, but a wall does not need to exist.  In fact, in order for one to truly appreciate one of the two disciplines, he must be able to compare it and see the similarities it bears to the other discipline.  Without the differences between art and science, the world would be hopeless monotonous.  It is like night and day.  Both have their beauties and their flaws, but their differences should not be viewed as something negative.  Both need to be seen in their own light and cherished for what they are.

Week 1/ Rap/ Ariel Alter

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

(to be sung in a monotone voice to

livin’ without internet and other hypermedia
can’t look up highfalutin concepts like “infinity”
on wikipedia

my mind stops when an established set of ideas are impenetrable
i can’t seem to reach any other higher level

than a direct translation of word to image
illustrational tendencies are pushing me further to the edge

because i’m trapped inside a basement watching cardboard people dance
gyrating and spinning
there’s an obstruction to the entrance

where outside there is the elusive Funny Woman
filling up bleachers
and there is no Bible or Koran

a direct experience would only provide proof
to a zionist  with a hammer
and frat boys walking on the roof

I’m just a valley girl and would like for you so heavily to ponder that political implication
the sweat on my palms has flooded
there’s no point to think about infinity in a somnambulist nation

my body’s limp and melting closer to the void
my only pedestal of support is an atavistic mongoloid

i’ve been tryin’ to keep a tab on how much you’ve been kissin’ me
but the tally marks are accumulating
and blurring to infinity


Week 1: Mixing Science and Art; Jasmine Huynh

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Let me start out by saying that I am not really an art person. Sure, I like to look at art from time to time, but I think traditional art’s true beauty is lost on me. I am a biology major, and the majority of my time is spent either calculating physics problems, memorizing biological terms or drawing out reaction mechanisms for chemistry. I don’t like the uncertainty of art; it annoys me how one piece can be interpreted in so many ways. I like having one definite “right” answer, and often grow frustrated in non-science classes because one question seems to have a million answers. This is one of the reasons why I decided to enroll for Desma9: the class description of how science and art could be linked simply intrigued me. I have always held the two as completely separate entities. One can either be involved in science or one can be involved in both. Mixing the two is a completely foregin concept to me.

I really enjoyed Snow’s article entitled “The Two Cultures.” I strongly agree that there is a divide between the scientific and artistic cultures; in fact, I am living proof that such opinions do exist. In discussing the two cultures, Snow accurately states, “Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension–sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all a lack of understanding.”  There is great evidence for this right here on the UCLA campus. Being a South Campus major myself, I must admit that I don’t truly understand North Campus students. I view them as lucky students who only have one round of midterms per quarter and have copious amounts of free time. However, there’s no doubt that my view is just a stereotype because I don’t really know what North Campus students face. Just because they don’t have to spend hours upon hours in a Life Science lab doesn’t mean that they don’t share the same desire to make a new discovery or perfect a new skill. I think the biggest cause for the division between art and science is exactly what Snow mentioned:  the unknown. Because we are unaware of what occurs in the other realm, we are quick to make judgements and conclude that there is no chance for a connection.

The readings for the first week really helped to open my eyes to a new type of thinking. It helped me to understand that a connection between these two cultures, the artistic and scientific, really does exist. As I was reading the articles, a great example that shows a fusion between the two cultures came to mind. Apple computers has made a fortune with their innovative products, ranging from the iPod to the Macbook. These products are beautiful to both artists and scientists alike. Take the iPhone for example. Artists can rave about the aestethics of the product: the sleek finish, the thinness of the phone, and the simplicity. Scientists are fascinated by aspects such as its capacity for data storage and the mechanisms that allow it to function as a touch screen phone. The Apple iPhone is proof that a happy medium really can exist between the two cultures.

(above: the Apple iPhone)

Week 1/Art, Science, and Monkeys Part1/Connor Petty

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

The idea of art and technology can be considered a very wide and diverse subject that has only come about in the last century. Art in and of itself is such a broad topic that it can quickly become all encompassing in the realm of human expression. But for the sake of keeping my sanity on this subject, I will attempt to find the limits of art, or in other words, non-art.
To start, art must have a definition, and in order to make the best argument, I will give it the broadest definition I will allow; Art is as any form of human expression. With this definition, it is easy to identify some things that are not art. Anything that is not created by humans cannot be considered art, namely anything created by nature. Trees, animals, rain, snow, insects, rocks, etc… cannot be considered art. While entities of nature cannot be art themselves, they can be used to create art by some person; Stonehenge is the best example of this idea. But nature is just the easiest examples of non-art, but with a little imagination, I’ll try to see the limitations of art.
Let’s have a little thought experiment. We are familiar with a type of art called spin-art that involves a sheet of paper spinning on something similar to a potter’s wheel and that spinning piece of paper is then painted upon. The reason that this is art is that a person is controlling the paint that is applied to the spinning paper. But for the sake of argument, lets try to remove the human from the equation as much as possible. Lets say that the wheel is left running at a constant speed inside of a cage. In that cage is a monkey and several bottles of paint. Now, assuming that the monkey doesn’t end up killing himself from ingesting the paint( this is a monkey we’re talking about) and that the monkey is somehow trained to pick up the bottles and throw them at the potter’s wheel, if after the monkey is left alone for an hour, should the mess that the monkey leaves on the paper be considered art? From the definition that we working from the answer is no; the resulting mess was not produced from direct human intervention, but was instead produced through a medium aka the monkey. I don’t want to get into a huge debate about whether or not monkeys are artistic, they aren’t, and if you can prove me wrong, cite some sources otherwise I’ll leave that discussion for some other time.
From the monkey experiment this we can conclude for the most part that non-human sentient creatures cannot produce artwork.
-Connor Petty

Week 1/Cultural Unification/Kelly Tseng

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

“The further art advances the closer it approaches science, the further science advances the closer it approaches art.” – Buckminster Fuller

I have never really considered this notion until learning about it in lecture. I have always believed that art and science were two completely separate entities, two different cultures that were divided and had very little, if anything, in common. I have always perceived art as something with a recreational aspect to it, whereas the sciences (the natural and physical sciences) were considered the “work” and serious conundrums of daily schooling and life. As a child, I did not have a predilection for the arts because I found coloring and drawing cumbersome tasks. However, I found the sciences to be more interesting and more worthy of my time. It does not help, today, that I attend a school that is separated by its academic endeavors. When I speak to my friends back home and refer to the cultural divide that exists on our campus, in other words—the north and south campuses, I assume that they would understand this categorization because their universities would be subject to it as well. The sad truth is that, so far to my knowledge, only UCLA is subject to this academic/cultural divide.

This phenomenon brings me back to the quote by Fuller; the reality is that science and art are really an integration of one field of study, one culture. This idea may not be as simple to grasp as it is to write on paper because of the early split in society seen in Snow’s “The Two Cultures.” In his work, he mentioned the tug over which class of people deserved the honorary title of “the intellectual” and he also discussed the differences in the literary intellectuals and the natural scientists, a problem which can be attributed to the core curricula or academic institutions at the time. This problem has persisted even until this very day, as students at UCLA classify themselves as either north or south campus majors.

Before enrolling into this class, I had thought that we would strictly learn about design and media arts. I never would have imagined that we would discuss the reasons as to how art became distinct from science. I now believe that art is science and science is art, in a way. Take, for example, the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. It is a beautiful structure that combines the work of art and science. I do not believe that that amazing structure could have been constructed without the knowledge of science or the knowledge of art. Its detailed craftsmanship and aesthetic qualities require the integration of both.

week1 \ relevant links \ Alberto Pepe

Sunday, January 18th, 2009,22049,22535838-5012895,00.html

Week1\ArtsBridge\Amy Chen

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

I initially took Desma9 because after getting into UCLA as an Art Major, I never realized that a DESMA major even existed so I was interested in what DESMA had to offer.  It’s interesting to see that even within the School of Arts at UCLA, DESMA and Fine Arts are very separated.  Professor Vesna made this point herself in her second lecture, stating that even the architecture proves that point by isolating the different classes to different buildings.  After a year, I decided I wanted to change my major to that of Design, but a few realizations made me stick to Fine Arts.  I still have a growing interest in Design and I thought it would always be helpful to take a sort of background history on Design and Media Arts, just like how in Art we had to take a series on Modernism. 


It’s funny how a lot of people put on one end - science, and on the other – art.  It is as if they are two polar opposites, always rebounding off one another and never attracting.  A lot of what Professor Vesna said in her lectures reminded me a lot of another class I’m taking – ArtsBridge.  ArtsBridge is a class that prepares you to teach to inner-city kids about the arts and about other academic subjects through the arts.  I never realized you could learn a lot by merging subjects together with art.  There are so many different ways in which one person can learn that the conventional lecturing might not always be the best. For example, there are audio and visual learners.  Countless articles prove the fact that incorporation of lessons with art actually help to teach a child and can even promote in long-term learning.  So in my upcoming residency that I will teach, I’ll be instructing a class on memory through drawing.  I will teach how artists keep sketchbooks just like journals to document their daily lives or what they saw each day.  I will eventually teach how sketching helps boosts one’s memory and how different diseases of the mind can alter significantly one’s memory.  The incorporation of two different subjects, art and science (sketching/memory) makes for a very strong lesson, regardless if it’s about art or science.  Not everything has to be stuck within the limits of each subject’s.  Incorporating different subjects helps to tie connections to other subjects, which helps to promote a more efficient way of learning. 


The separation of subjects is interesting to trace back.  A lot of subjects complement one another and can even help to make a stronger impact.  Taking Desma9 and seeing Professor Vesna’s pieces demonstrate an aspect of that fact.  In the way that she combines technology and art together to make altogether something new, reminds me of how ArtsBridge Scholars combine two subjects, History, Science, Language, etc. with Art to create a new mix to teaching and learning.  Since when are subjects limited to their own categories?  Combining Arts, Science and Technology will definitely prove interesting to me.  Things are no longer within the lines.

Week 1–Artists for Reason

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Steven Wilson addresses some crucial points in his writing on Myths and Confusions in Thinking About Art, Science, and Technology.   As an aspiring artist, invested in science and hoping to bridge the gap between the two cultures described by Snow, I have specific hopes fellow artists and myself.

First, I hope that we can open our minds to the idea that our next major cultural paradigm shift will be more fundamentally driven by innovations in science than in art.  Our daily lives as humans will change shape dramatically in the coming decades as a result of the exponential growth of information technology (among other factors).  We as people will learn, eat, move, and interact with each other in completely novel ways as technology progresses in coming years.  I hope that fellow artists can overcome fears of the new, the rational, the complicated, and become intimate with technology as an inevitable part of our society—it is not our enemy.  As far as I’m concerned if you use facebook, you should be grateful for “technology,” not afraid of it.

Second, I hope that artists will become not only comfortable with technological and scientific innovation, but also engaged with that progress.  Wilson outlines three major ways that artists engage with science and technology:  continued modernist practice, critical practice, and art as research. He describes how artists in the critical tradition often position themselves against sci/tech.  It is easy to make emotional protests against what scientists are doing when the artist herself lacks “specialized” knowledge (a problem a la Snow) needed to make a responsible critique.  I share Wilson’s worry about when “artists see their only possibility as opposition to the research and blanket denial of it as new human possibility.” (3)  I hope artists will motivate deeper research, not protest it at face value.

We define Art in part by how it addresses that which is beyond rational.  The artist inevitably struggles therefore to successfully engage with the highly rational stakes of science while maintaining openness to that which science cannot (yet) explain with evidence and reason.  How does an artist use the power of human emotion to illuminate a more rational state of awareness or pursuit of knowledge, to shift perspectives towards curiosity and openness to a scientific worldview.  How can an artist help society embrace technological progress?  First and foremost, the artist must respect a scientific definition of “truth” and the values encoded in a scientific method for ascertaining this “truth”.  The artist must maintain intellectual integrity if she is to responsibly engage with science as a field.  She must uphold the values of science as a rational, intellectual, evidence-based pursuit of understanding in order to extol or critique its effects on society.  I hope to see a new culture of intellectually rigorous artists emerge—artists who are not only experts in matters that lie perhaps beyond the rational, but can admire the beauty of logical experimentation as well.

If you agree, you may be interested in my (still very young)  blog.



This video inspires me, although it makes me envious of designers. How can artists collaborate in a significant way?  If art has a purpose, does it become design?

Stephany Howard

Week 1 / Two Cultures / Patrick Morales

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

It seems to me that the struggle for understanding between the scientific world and the literary world, perfectly embodied in the on-campus-North-South rivalry, creates  a world of conflicting perceptions.  I have heard countless arguments as to which side has greater job security, which side is prettier and which side has more attractive students roaming its halls.  I could never fully wrap my mind around the arguments because I discovered that half my classes have been in the south of campus and the other half in the north.  Its a game of perception, a game that only leads to comparing and contrasting.  At the end of the day its not gonna matter who thinks of what or who knows the author of a particular book, its gonna boil down to who-is-getting-paid and who-is-getting-laid.

As a hybrid I find myself even more confused when people begin bragging about  their side because  many times the battle is led by  outside influences that have nothing to do with the pros and cons of the two worlds.  Maybe its a group of students who have been fueled by the intoxicating allure of alcohol who begin spewing off completely ridiculous comments.  Even when the argument is more subdued in a quiet conversation or a sly joke before class I don’t think any avenue could lead to a complete and objective analysis of the two worlds.  Its like the decision on how one is going to review a movie.  You could watch the movie and compare it to all the previous movies you have ever seen and grade it accordingly.  Or you could just take the movie for what it is and enjoy it.  I prefer to sit back and enjoy the two worlds for what they are.

While this might be idealistic I think that judging the two sides isn’t gonna do anything but gray a couple of hairs and slap on another heavy layer of doubt on top of the already gargantuan pile that any human wrestles.  There is no 2 or 3 or 986,756 worlds.  There is one.  And it is as complex as you wanna make it.

Week 1: On “On Creativity” by Joseph Racca

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

As mentioned in lecture, “the further art advances the closer it approaches science, the further science advances the closer it approaches art.” (Buckminster Fuller).  So as I see it, this quote states that science and art are following the path of the circumference of a circle, with art never being able to catch up with science and vice versa, science never being able to catch up with art.

Science and art have went hand in hand, sometimes clashing and sometimes clicking.  And in both art and science, creativity is the most important aspect as it continually takes a new, creative point of view or thought to bring about new forms of art in the realm of art and new hypotheses in the realm of science.  

For me, I see art as a science and science as an art.  In science, as I mentioned earlier, scientists need to be creative in order to formulate new hypotheses that they must test.  And as in science, in art, artists acquire knowledge of past techniques in order to create new ways to express their artistic ability.

In “On Creativity,” Bohm speaks of Helen Keller and the process in which Anne Sullivan creatively devised to teach Helen to learn and understand the world around her.  Because many of us are accustomed to teaching and learning through what we consider the norm, we “therefore [...] miss the opportunity to be creative and original” (Bohm).  Anne Sullivan did get this chance to be creative as she was in a situation that she, as well as the majority of people had never before been in.  She had to find ways to teach a young child who was blind, deaf, and mute, to understand the world around her.

It is unfortunate that we often do not get opportunities such as this to be creative which in the end ultimately inhibits our creative abilities.  Artists and scientists seem to always be in situations where they get that opportunity.  In “Creativity in Science and Engineering” by Ronald B. Standler, he states “One of the principal ways to be creative is to look for alternative ways to view a phenomena or for alternative ways to ask a question.

I found something very interesting in his article, and he described instances of bipolarity and creativity.  “There seems to be a higher incidence of bipolar disorder (i.e., manic-depressive disease) in highly creative people than in the entire population. This disorder causes neither creativity nor intelligence, but it seems to enhance creativity, perhaps by removing inhibitions and barriers to radical or complex thoughts.“  This is interesting when looking at it metaphorically, it compares to the struggle that many continue to face.  We sometimes find ourselves stuck between art and science.  We don’t know which to embrace and which to suppress.  And as he states, this disorder proves to be beneficial in “enhanc[ing] creativity.”  Some people are lucky enough to find a balance between the arts and sciences and some people aren’t as lucky, either having to choose between the two, or being left without the option of not being able to choose between either.


Week 1_What is Creativity? by Marie De Austria

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Bohm’s discussion in, “On Creativity,” about the subjectivity of the words “order” and “disorder” gave me a whole new perspective on art in general. I have always thought of art as proportional, balanced, and aesthetic despite some things being absolutely abstract. Art, however, seems to go beyond those restrictions to achieve creativity. What better way to explain this than to use an example that is very familiar and very dear to UCLA students – Royce Hall.

During my orientation, my tour guide told us that Royce Hall had “52 imperfections” built into it. Using the word “imperfections” meant that they viewed the idiosyncrasies of Royce Hall as a disorder. But to an incoming freshman like me, who thought the whole campus was breathtaking, Royce was a hall of order – where art, in all its majesty, meets science, with all its usefulness. Structures like these attest to the idea that art and science are interconnected. Bohm also discusses how our fear of making mistakes can limit our creativity. But with Royce Hall, this is not the case. The Allison brothers, the architects who designed the hall, intentionally placed those imperfections in there as if to stare challenge right in its eyes. The courage they had then is still being appreciated today by every student, visitor, professor, who passes by the halls in awe.

These attempts to define many abstract words that we sometimes take for granted are what I found really interesting about Bohm’s article. Take for example the way he tries to define the term “originality.” “Indeed, to define originality would in itself be a contradiction, since whatever action can be defined in this way must evidently henceforth be unoriginal.” Real creativity, then, is such a rare phenomenon that whenever it manifests itself in structures like Royce Hall or philanthropist deeds like what Anne Sullivan had done for Helen Keller, people would just be naturally drawn to it.

As a science major, art seemed to me a foreign subject I could only enjoy from the outside but could never be able to truly participate in. After reading Bohm’s article, however, I realized that I have been participating in the creation of art ever since I was born and learning about my surroundings. It takes the same “perception that is capable of seeing something new and unfamiliar” to discover a masterpiece as well as to find a natural law. Both disciplines are looking for a “totality, or wholeness, constituting a kind of harmony that is felt to be beautiful” in all of their work. Both art and science face the same challenge of creating something out of complete nothing, seeing things no one else has seen, successfully communicating to and educating a blind, deaf, and mute child, composing melodies no one has heard before, discovering the laws that govern nature.

It goes to show that having just one or the other, will limit people and prevent them from experiencing something greater than what either art or science alone can create. When one can create something greater than the sum of its parts – that is what I call creativity.

Week 1\On Creativity\Marian Portugal

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Although art and science are two clashing principles of life, they very well go hand in hand together.  I believe architecture is where the integration of the arts and sciences is most evident to the human eye.  The world contains several different types of buildings; all which have their own uniqueness that separates them from one another. After reading “On Creativity,” by D. Bohm, I discovered a few ideas Bohm points out that relate to Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous work of art, Fallingwater. 

Built in the 1930’s in Pennsylvania, Fallingwater was constructed for one of Wright’s clients, the Kaufmann family.  Creating the sense that the house is floating on top of a waterfall, it is amazing how Wright was able to build such an amazing work of art.

There is no doubt that Fallingwater is an original piece of creativity.  In Bohm’s article, he says “one prerequisite for originality is clearly that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it.”  Anyone who takes a look at the waterfall will immediately doubt the possibility of building such a house on it.  Wright, however, did not follow the norm.  He did not accept that belief of the impossibility of creating a structure on a waterfall, and proved those around him wrong.  Bohm also says “One thing that prevents us from thus giving primary emphasis to the perception of what is new and different is that we are afraid to make mistakes.”  Wright was not afraid to make mistakes.  Undaunted by failure and mockery, he persevered in planning the home so that he could create Fallingwater.

Bohm asks the question of what constitutes for creativity, and I believe it is being able to “think outside of the box,” meaning having the capacity to take your weaknesses and somehow turn it into a strength to give that extra kick.  People who are purely scientific or purely artistic are not creative.  They choose to only focus on their strengths and ignore their weaknesses, but a true genius utilizes both of these in his or her work.  Wright did exactly this, in which he had the talent to build a structured home, but also around a waterfall at the same time; which clearly served as the main impediment to the house’s completion.  Scientifically, however, Wright was able to make precise calculations so that it would maintain its strength and sturdiness throughout the years for the Kaufmann family to reside in.  Artistically, Wright utilized his creativity and originality to produce a unique design for the home.  Together, his strength in science and art allowed him to build this breath taking home.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is one of the many examples of the integration of art and science to produce a creative project.  What set Wright apart from others is that he was unafraid of failure or making mistakes.  This absence of fear is what allowed Wright to successfully combine art and science to build one of America’s national historic landmarks.










Week1/ The Two Cultures, a biological approach/ Lam Tran

Monday, January 12th, 2009

In the lectures, we learned that the seperation between the arts and science was a recent thing developed by universities. Its pretty obvious that Prof. Vesna believes that this is a tragedy. This is completely understandable; the segregating the scientists from the artists hinders human advancement culturally and technologically.

However, the segregation makes sense. Its common knowledge that the human brain is split in half; each side specializing in logical thinking or creative thinking. Of course, its more complicated than what I just wrote and there are some cross overs (numerical computation can be done on either side) and some artistic or scientific thinking requires some functional aspect from the other side of the brain (for example, some science problems require you to be analytical, which is an aspect of the left brain, and holistic, which is an aspect of the right brain). Most people have taken a personality test at least once in their life, probably in school, which labels a person being either more left brain or right brain. Personality tests have changed and become more complex over the years, bring in other factors, such as generosity, leadership qualities, etc., but whatever personality test you take, the different types can be categorized either left brain or right brain. Perhaps it is natural for us to separate the two cultures because that is just how our brains work.

Despite the differences between the two hemispheres of a brain, no single person is either only left brain or right brain. Each hemisphere is dependent on the other and there is communication between the two halves as our mind tries to decipher a code, solve a problem, or comprehending text. Although some activities require more activity on one side than the other, there is still communication between the two. This is going to sound cheesey but universities should work like how our brains work. Using UCLA as an example, the north campus would be much like the right hemisphere of a brain and south campus the left. There are interdisplinary majors and departments at UCLA and I am going to use environmental science as an example. To fully comprehend topics such as global warming, you need to know chemistry, botany, atmospheric science, and geology to comprehend the natural and anthropogenic contributions greenhouse gases and social science, politics, and psychology to be able to work out some sort of solution. Perhaps other departments should also intergrate other disciplines or at the very least try to confer with someone on the other side of campus. I don’t mean that a chemist should ask a creative writing professor what he thinks about which catalysts that can be used in his or her experiment. There are obviously some projects that departments have that cannot use the expertise of lets say… an economist professor. But perhaps some one in theater arts should ask someone in engineering with some ideas for a sci fi play. Hopefully, small interactions like these will grow into something more, bringing the two sides closer together.,22049,22535838-5012895,00.html


week 1 \ two cultures \ James Martin

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Based on the reading “Two Cultures” by C.P. Snow, and our lectures, we have all found that there are two different cultures in “scientists” and “intellectuals.” I see how this is true and I do believe that in today’s society there is a very large gap between the two different types of people. The quote that says that one should know both the second law of thermodynamics and a play of Shakespeare is very important in today’s society. I understand that specialization is of utmost importance for the way our society functions. However, I feel that all people of either “culture” should know about the other and experience everything that it offers. However, this does pose the question: Can somebody in the scientist category sufficiently understand and enjoy literary intelligence? I am a first year engineering major and I have had every one of my classes on south campus. This is the first class I have had on north campus and I am very interested in it and the differences from south campus. I hope that I enjoy every aspect of south campus and can get some classes in north campus in the future.
Art and science are slowly interacting more and more as time progresses. As seen in Victoria Vesna’s work from lecture, technology is being mixed with art to create amazing pieces. Technology and science are allowing for new cutting-edge pieces of art. As our society continues to grow and as technology advances, art will become more and more technology based. I believe that the two cultures will continue to mix and become more important to each other. As professor Vesna stated in our first lecture, the Desma 9 class has grown every years for the past couple of years and if the pattern continues, the class will be completely full next time and will have to expand its limitations. Barriers can be broken and society can grow as more of a complete unit if literary and scientific intellectuals join together. The gap between the two cultures is very large but is slowly getting smaller and smaller. Both cultures are affected by each other.
The third culture will slowly evolve into society. John Brockman, the editor of the book entitled The Third Culture, states that the third culture is already established and that they are contemporary scientists. He feels that there is no need to try and bridge the two cultures together since the third culture has already been established according to him. He also feels that science is at the top of our culture and that art might actually slowly be fading away. Though I understand where he is coming from, I do not feel as though art will go away at all. Sure, our society is getting more technologically advanced every day but art is also growing. I feel that we still do need to try and bridge the gap between both cultures as much as possible. I do not believe that a third culture has been created and I do believe that it will be very beneficial if we can decrease the difference between the scientists and artists as much as possible.
A good website that states some facts is:

Week 1 \ two cultures \ Yu Hsiao

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The idea that science and art is inseparable has always been with us all along. But even in UCLA today, the students and faculty members separate each other by north and south campus, where the north campus focuses on humanities and art studies while south campus focuses in the sciences. It is wrong to discern the two cultures because it is a duality where science and art coexist to make the world we know today. Nowadays, it’s obviously known to us why science is important. Without science, our knowledge of how things work cannot exist. Without functionality, our world simply can’t function. But people would ask the question, why is art important than? Why does beauty matter?
That’s a tough question to answer. It is human nature that makes us attracted to aesthetic things, and things of beauty. It is in our dispositions that we value gracefulness, and aesthetics. In modern day we can observe this phenomena in the media. Many pop singers are said to be known for their looks than their talent with singing. Those singer’s purpose from a scientific point of view, is to make music, and pleasing sounds through performing. But we see more emphasis on beauty, sex appeal, and etc. There are for sure, many well known Soprano singers in opera and choirs. They are known for their skillfulness in singing. But probably only a few of them will be signed to a contract with the record company, because the rest are too “ugly” to be promoted. It might seem unreasonable from a solely functional point of view, where if the singers fulfills his/her role at making a song graceful, then the singer has done her job. But in contemporary times, the emphasis of being beautiful physically has taken its place and now we can see the coexistence of the two in modern media.
This idea reminded me of the bicycle company, Trek. They are known for helping Lance Armstrong win seven Tour de France with their light weight, and aerodynamic carbon fiber bike.In an interview, the production liaison Scott Daubert emphasized that they look for stiffness, lightweight, aerodynamics, and lastly aesthetics in a bike. Normally, we would think that the bike only serves one purpose, that is to get Lance across the finish line first. To do that, the bike only has to satisfy the technical features such as weight, aerodynamics, and stiffness as mentioned above. But the liaison specifically said aesthetics was also a feature that they focus on. This shows that beauty matters, even on a bike. It is said to be a good intimidation factor. If the bike looks good, aggressive, and fast, then the opponents might think of that already before the race even starts.
Both science and art is important in this world. There is a duality, where you can’t have beauty without functionality, and you can’t have functionality without beauty. It’s the combination of both that makes a singer, a bike, a camera, a car, or anything, physically functional, and aesthetically pleasing.

week1 \ twocultures \ Fabrice Keto

Monday, January 12th, 2009

My name is Fabrice, and I am a guitar player. When I signed up for this class, I thought it would be all about science. I thought we would only be discussing concepts of science. Curiously, while reading the “Two Cultures”, I came to visualize that Design Media Arts acts as a mediator between science and humanities. As a science major and a music player, I would love to learn about the origin and the interconnection between the arts, science and technology because I think these are what truly control control or society and the way it works.

Many people perceive science as a an abstact concept. I would partly agree with them when it comes to the idea of speaking using words in a way in which literary persons do not recognize, as Snow reports. Additionally, the fact is that scienctists are in a religious term, unbelievers. One reason for this discrepancy is the fact that both religious and science concepts are too abstratct. When Snow talks about the two cultures doing something without having to think about it, I think he just makes a point about both science and religion are abstract. Science uses words that literary persons do not understand. In art, similar language that baffles those who are interested in science is also used. Archives reveal that there used to be a strong realtionship between science and art during the renaissance period.For instance, the society was founded by Kenneth Keele, who combined a distinguished career in medicine. We can conclude that when art and science are combined, as in Islamic art, the abstract becomes clear through the combination of the two. together they can bring clarity to one another so we can all be able to deduce those strange coded languages of art and science.

Week 1 \ Two Cultures \ Erum Farooque

Monday, January 12th, 2009

A point made in the first lecture that I found interesting was of the separation of arts and sciences. I had never thought much of the divide of the arts and sciences until high school when my cousin asked me if I was a math and science person or an English and history person. I never really grouped these two categories together before. Thinking about it, it made sense. English and history were more creative and artistically free while math and science were so fitting, set and logical. After that, I would sometimes find myself grouping together people on which combination they preferred, observing that I would get along better with the friends that liked math and science like me. One can liken this grouping of majors to cliques in high school. I thought, going to a large liberal university with hundreds of majors, everyone would get along with no divisions amongst the students. However, I was surprised when a friend of mine asked if I was a north campus or a south campus major. Major divides the college. Who knew that such a big university with such a diverse environment of student would split into two groups? That had quite the resemblance of those high school cliques we all wanted to leave behind. I do not really think that way, even though I am a south campus major and cannot stand the subject of English or history, because I have always loved the arts. Music and movies often serve a bigger part in my life than math or sciences ever do. I had an art teacher who told the class that art is the one subject that you can find in every other subject. He had an answer for every subject that was challenged to him, such as graphs in math are art, history teaches you about past art, etc. I do not feel this gigantic division of south and north because I believe one can love both. Tons of south campus people read and enjoy entertainment like movies and music. Furthermore, north campus majors could enjoy science and technology (which everyone uses) and usually well versed in science because of their pre-college education.

The most interesting point to me, made by Professor Vesna, was about how the school’s art building looked so dull and boring with a striking appearance of an office building. It is clearly odd how UCLA’s Broad Art Center lacks any artistic appeal but Harvard’s lecture hall, a library and even a church looked visually much more beautiful than our very own art center with all the art influences on its design. I found this picture of a very interesting building design taken from an artistic angle:

I found the architect’s quote very interesting and felt that it applied to mixing arts and sciences by contributing art to office type buildings of scientific work. Here is what the artistic architect said: “the last thing we want is to create an air of indifference, because then you’ve succeeded in making just another gray building, which the world doesn’t need”. He wants buildings to be full of wonder and joy. I also found another picture of a building in LaSalle College of the Arts and it provides a stark contrast to the Broad Arts Center:

Thinking about UCLA and its architectural designs, not all the buildings are boring. Royce Hall, Powell Library, Haines Hall and the Humanities Building are actually very artistic architecturally, much more than the Broad Arts Center. The only art-inspired part of our art building could be the orange bowl-shaped work on the lawn in front. It is very plain and I heard the temperature inside of it is always around 70 degrees, so that might be more science influenced than art influenced, which can be a representation of the mixing of arts and sciences. The sciences and the arts do mix in reality. Artists often use math to help proportion out their projects while scientists use art in their demonstrations and illustrations to describe their theories. These two divisions should be integrated since they really do use elements of each other already. We just need to bring the social aspects of the two cultures together.

Week 1/Art and Science/Alice Nakata

Monday, January 12th, 2009

As we have been discussing in class, art and science go hand in hand. But until I’ve joined this class, I have never thought of the abstract intertwining with logistics. In reality, though, the combination of art and science is everywhere, noticeably in the media.

Recently, I went to the El Capitan theater to watch the new Disney movie, “Bolt” in 3-D. During the film, I was amazed how movies evolved so much. A whole movie experience in the third dimension. I know that 3-D isn’t that amazing, especially with all the 3-D shows at Disneyland, but the thought that they made a whole movie with this effect caught my attention. I was imagining how the “behind-the-scenes” worked in the production of this movie. I can’t imagine how the computer science behind all of this works, but the advancement is simply amazing.

Speaking of computers, I came along a magazine today (I work at Borders so I look through them all the time) which was subtitled “Japanese Edition.” I, being Japanese, took interest in this magazine and started flipping through it. Some were graffiti, some were drawings, but many were “computer generated art.”
The most interesting art in the magazine to me was a collection of toys, made into the shape of a shoe. The design was first “blueprinted” on a computer, setting up how each toy would take up which space. Then one by one, artists put the toys together until it became one giant shoe. This might not sound surprising to anyone, but it was to me because they had to program each toy with their distinct shapes to make a replica of a shoe.

When I started to pay attention to my surrounding, I became aware that art and science belong together. I see most of them in the world of entertainment, but hopefully I will learn more that that as I continue to take this course.

week 1 \ twocultures \ Jillian Cross

Monday, January 12th, 2009

As an aerospace engineering major, I am pretty much as far away from the arts as possible in my curriculum. I signed up for DESMA9 because I wanted a way to bridge the gap between my science focus and the more creative area of art. I have never been very artsy or talented in any medium of art. I could use programs on computers to create art projects in a Media Arts class, but other than that I would never call myself creative. My creative design side pretty much extended to newspaper layouts in high school.

In a talk given at the O’Keefe Museum, Victoria Alexander stated that “The Art & Science Laboratory was founded with the belief that artists and scientists are not natural adversaries.” While this may be true, I feel that the two areas clash immensely in my life. I am a scientist. I am very calculating, logical and I always strive for perfection in every little detail. I work in the real world to find solutions to problems. This is what I have been taught: logic. Many arts forms seem to challenge that logic. Artists see the world in a different light. Artists strive to show the world their own perspective and interpretations, while scientists strive to put the world into perspective in a logical manner.

Alexander later states that “the essence of artistic activity is supposed to involve pure creativity and freedom; whereas, scientific activity is supposed to involve mechanism and strict adherence to laws.” She also says that this is a very narrow and stereotypical view of the two mediums. While it may be narrow, the stereotypes are there for a reason.

So while these two are not “adversaries” necessarily, I still feel see truth in the stereotypes of the fundamentals of each group. There will always be a divide between the arts and the sciences. This is even evident on our small UCLA campus when you look at the differences between North and South Campus. North campus will always be prettier and more social than south campus. North campus is generally “easier on the eyes and the mind” according to my friend who majors in dance on North Campus. A theater major told me that South Campus is “ugly and quiet and full of squares.” The divide between art and science (and the two halves of the human brain) are apparent in our everyday life.

Although I feel the divides are pretty dominant, there are some projects that do combine the two mediums successfully in my opinion. I feel that most of these successful projects are more of the computerized modern art as opposed to the more classic form of art. For example, I think Andy Warhol has successfully combined the two mediums into a work of art. More science related art involves creative ways to look at technology. Photography can capture a technical aspect of a machine and make it look beautiful.

These are some ways in which I would view art and technology before this week’s lectures. However, Professor Vesna has definitely begun to open my eyes to different ways that art can be combined with technology. I had never before thought of incorporating sound or biology into art the way that she did with the butterfly installation. There is a whole world of art and science is beginning to become apparent through this class.

Useful/Relevant Links:

week1 \ twocultures \ Andrew Curnow

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Throughout my life I have always fallen into the stereotypical mindset that Science and the Arts were separate. However, I thought that perhaps at a higher level of education such as UCLA, the two would intertwine and form its own study. Immediately following my arrival I noted the almost harsh split between the ‘North’ and ‘South’ campuses, the sciences and arts being very, if not completely, segregated. I once more fell back into my immature mindset that the two must remain away from each other, not thinking twice. The North-South rivalry grew ever more as time passed, and I noticed the even the lifestyles of the people studying either art or science were vastly different. I figured I would never, even out of school, interact with those of the ever intelligent ‘South Campus’.

This was my mentality preceding the first few classes I’ve attended in the first week. That the artistic persona would be enacted by a loose, carefree individual who would rather ask “why” then how, and the scientific fellow in a white lab coat hovering over a vial, laughing with a maniacal tone. It’s a hard thing to explain when a simple class alters ones mindset so extremely, although I’ve only heard a few hours of lecture. Almost spontaneously I realized, both through readings, words and images, that the sciences and the arts are so similar that it is a downright shame they are not related more often. Of course, like nearly anything realistic there are exceptions that many people take for granted everyday in our lives. Predominant architectures, and by that I mean the elaborate masterpieces, demonstrate the amazing mix of an open ‘artistic mind’ being mixed with the primed ‘intelligence’ of the architects and ‘thinkers’ that planned the buildings construction. In the past, this could be evident in such marvels as the Roman Colosseum in which mastermind scientists’ thoughts mixed with religious and aesthetic wants of an artistic mind created a work of such grandeur that no matter what ones profession was, all stood in awe as one. In the present day, or rather more recent at least, such works as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro (completed in 1931) show that with the thoughts of making something beautiful nearly the impossible can be engineered. Even in our own lives, some urban buildings show the mixture. However this brings forth another problem, at least in my own mind: if in everyday life, the one that the average person can relate the most with through buildings, why is there such a resentment of mixing the arts with the sciences in other facets of society?

It’s a hard question to answer, or even think about. Maybe the processes are different? The arts being a more hands on, ‘anything goes’ mindset, whereas the sciences mostly follow set laws and principles. Or perhaps it is the fact that the common perception is that the sciences take a higher level of intelligence, thus creating a feeling of superiority and segregation? It’s something I truly can’t explain, however I know that with a little acceptance, and an open mind the connection can easily be made. The so called ‘Third Culture’ must be present, as in the past, human culture has proved that the mix was readily accepted. As a result of it all, I believe as it happened in the past, a shift in opinions and beliefs will inevitably occur in the future. The generation of keeping science and arts separate is slowly coming to an end, and I believe that in the future of both UCLA and society, soon both will be integrated as if the difference was unapparent.