Archive for the ‘week1_twocultures’ Category

Week1 \ The Schism Between Art and Science \ Tammy Le

Monday, January 12th, 2009

It is not uncommon for people to believe that art and science are too completely independent subjects. Many times people believe artistic persons lack competency for the more textbook knowledge of science while those who excel in the sciences do not posses artistic craftsmanship of points of view. As a blog from the O’Keeffe Museum reveals, it is widely accepted that both are contradicting essences where artistic activity consists of “pure creativity and freedom” and sciences are associated with “mechanism and strict adherence to laws” There has been a rivalry between the arts and sciences here at UCLA where both groups argue their superiority in the validity of their attribution to the real world and convey condescending attitudes toward the counter part. The division between north and south campus illustrates the schism that UCLA students, and society as a whole, creates between art and science. What many fail to realize is and find it hard to accept is both can go hand in hand, intertwining to give rise to broadened views and wider perceptions of the world and all that is in it.

As C.P snow revealed, it is equally important to posses knowledge of subjects such as “thermodynamics” as well as be in touch with knowledge of the arts such as “Shakespeare.” When both realms are combined, knowledge can evolve from merely knowledge of facts into the possession of wisdom. According to a USA Today article by Jessica M. Pasko, when artists become scientists and scientists exercise a role of an artist, they can “blur the traditional distinctions between science and art.” By being more accepting of crossing the lines of conventionalism both art and science can serve as a medium of “social reflection, conveying political and societal criticism through the combination of artistic and scientific processes” In order to truly grasp universal knowledge and truth, the skills and perceptions of artists and scientists must be combined, allowing for a more open-minded perception and interpretation of the world as well as enhancing the ability to express their knowledge to others outside of themselves.

Essentially, all artists and scientists have elements of the other within themselves. Both require skills, craftsmanship, and a unique view and curiosity that are utilized in order to express their discovery and perceptions of the world to others. When people dare to close the gap between art and science and combine both, they enlighten both themselves and have the potential to grasp the attention of those around them and enlighten them more so than if they had remained within the restraints of one realm or the other. Preserving the division between art and science restricts opportunities and remains a false belief of how they do not correlate, when in reality the combination of both areas serves vital to a fuller, more in depth knowledge of all things in art and science together. Although both have distinct differences and characteristics, when they are conjoined, science and art are harmonious and necessary for the advancement for the individual and society as a whole.

Week1- Two Cultures/Gindy Nagabayashi

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I am a South campus major. I had some experience with art when I was in high school when I was in orchestra; however, once I entered college I feel as though I have had little interaction with the art community. Perhaps it is because I have been enveloped by all the prerequisite science classes my major requires. I felt very pressured to buckle down to stay focused meanwhile at the expense of exposing myself to the vibrant art culture that exists on campus. I think this class is going to help me explore art more. To form the bridge between art and science there needs to be educated dialogue about the divide.

As I read through C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures, I couldn’t help but think this speech in 1956 still holds true after 53 years. At UCLA we have our famous North and South campus divide. This divide created by the specialization of education is evident on campus. However, the division of the two cultures of the arts and sciences no longer has an excuse to remain segregated.

The internet is opening up a third culture. The World Wide Web is opening up forums for scientists and artists to come together. There’s Wikipedia breaking down E=mc^2 into laymen’s terms. The internet is bringing together people from all parts of the world. An artist claiming to not understand Newton’s Second Law can quickly learn the concept online with a quick search on Wikipedia. A scientist who’s never heard of lyrical dance can now perform a search on youtube and watch performances. The internet can stem new conversations between artists and scientists. Communication between art and science is easier now than it ever was before.

-Gindy Nagabayashi

week 1 \ on scientists and artists \ ben marafino

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Einstein perhaps said it best - “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.” At the highest levels in either field, there does not exist at work either a scientific, or artistic mind, but rather a creative one. We humans are predisposed to a rather unfortunate sort of categorisation; that is, we are more inclined to characterise these sorts of human accomplishments as existing solely within a ’scientific’ or ‘artistic’ realm – a trait that proves all too uniquely human, as it is with our pursuits of science and art. In reality, the sorts of insights required to create, for instance, a truly monumental work of art are not far removed from those necessary for the exploration of natural phenomena. Yet we insist on pigeonholing, in a very black-and-white sort of manner, scientists and artists into their respective fields, along with the attendant stereotypes.

What, then, are the reasons behind this apparent divide? For one, the practice of science as we know it today, whether fairly or otherwise, requires a large amount of prerequisite knowledge. Many scientific fields emphasise years upon years of education as a requirement – without which little can seemingly actually be done in the way of actual science, when in actuality all that is required is a bit of specialisation and creative thinking, as well as the proper mentoring. The same case can be made for many branches of art – it would be specifically unwise to limit ourselves to the the visual arts, which may immediately come to mind with the word ‘art.’ Envision, for example, the rigorous training and regular practice required from early childhood on, in order to achieve proficiency with a musical instrument – say, the piano. Prodigies in either field do, from time to time, arise, but they are the rare exceptions who end up circumventing the arduous path of education and apprenticeship followed by most scientists and artists. Those who are not of the naturally talented sort may be put off by the idea, and in the process, acquire a stereotype of the other field as they proceed slowly through theirs, immersed in a culture largely homogeneous in its thinking and (dis)regard of external entities. 

Regardless of the path followed, the end result is the same: a piece of some original work – Einstein’s formulation of special relativity required every bit of creative thinking as did, say, Schoenberg’s inauspicious (which, depending on who you ask, may still be the case) excursions into atonality. Both achievements, however, were universally reviled within their fields since their dissemination, and only with the passage of time did they gain wider acceptance. Perhaps the originality of such a contribution may be judged by the sort of reception it receives – that is, how well does the new idea integrate itself into the intellectual zeitgeist, or rather, not at all? Controversy, as it were, is not necessarily the universal bugbear of the idea as it may seem at first – the feedback loop of controversy brings wider attention to an idea, and may, for new scientific ideas, lead to a final consensus on its validity - which, as some may contend, is what really matters in the end. For art, well, a bit of attention never hurt anyone - especially not the flagging novice artist who, understandably, desires recognition above all else. 

Something that is hopefully quite interesting: (notice that it’s over at UCL, for where I’m told Alberto has got a special spot in his heart… right?) 

Week 1/ Two cultures/ Akhil Rangaraj

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I joined this class because I enjoy both the sciences and the arts. Among the arts, I especially enjoy music. I play an instrument, and I enjoy listening to music. The sciences have heavily influenced music, from the development of electronic instruments to even the way music is heard. Music has influenced the sciences as well, however, music also affects our every day life. This is only a single example, but I do believe that all arts have affected all fields of science as well as the other way around. As someone who is deeply rooted in the scientific side, I would like to get a deeper appreciation of the arts.

The sciences and the arts unfortunately do not mix too much today. Science is viewed as much more important than the arts. This sentiment partially stems from the belief that science (and by extension technology) improves our physical quality of life. This physical quality of life is easy to see; we have computers, televisions, excellent medical care, safe transport, and so much more. We cannot easily list the improvements art brings to our society. So much of art is subjective, and dependent on the viewer for any sort of effect. Art improves our “mental quality of life”, something that is impossible to quantify. Another reason for this perception is based, as CP Snow explained, on the segregation that the arts and sciences undergo during our educational process. We can easily see the segregation, right here at UCLA. The sciences are all in the southern part of campus, while the arts are all in the northern part of campus. This physical divide prevents students, who are on the same intellectual level, from interacting as much with each other while learning. Because of this, science students lack the abilities that arts students have, and art students lack some of the ability of science students. It is evident today that in technology, a product must have a certain aesthetic appeal to the general public for it to succeed. Note the success of Apple, Inc and its products, which are not necessarily the most technologically advanced. Apple has used skillful art design in its technological products to increase the ease of use and desirability of its products.

An example of a science that combines both ideals of arts and sciences is the science of stellar seismology. A team of scientists in Europe is using satellite observations of stars’ oscillations to create audio interpretations of the processes of the stars. The satellite detects minute “wobbles” which scientists then convert into an audio representation. While the audio is just a tone that has a regular pattern, it can still qualify as “art” (but thats another discussion). These audio representations have provided scientists with a new tool to figure out how stars work. Astronomers are also listening to the stars for other reasons, but also because “[i]t’s interesting in itself” as Dr O’Brien of Manchester University said. To me, this is quite exciting, as well as artistic. The concept of listening to a star’s “heartbeat” to figure out its state, is somewhat poetic.

-Akhil Rangaraj

Music of the stars from

Week1 Snow Two Cultures by Joon Jang

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

At first, none of this made any sense to me.  Why must we join these different cultures together?  Don’t cultures have meaning and value in that they are separate?  What benefit would there be from scientists and writers understanding each other?  With the world so over-populated, doesn’t it make more sense in the first place to divide work between people?  If everyone was expected to be good in multiple areas, wouldn’t it make the competition of survival that much tougher?  I cannot deny that these were the thoughts I had as I thought of what to write about.
I am a person who rather likes specialization; I only need to study the area that I like, and I can still have a good living.  Yet at the same time, I myself can’t reject the Renaissance ideal of being great in all areas.  It is no accident that I am a math major and still dream of being a writer in the future.  Deep inside, I understand the value of collaboration and learning from others.  But I have yet to see a clear merit in the two cultures understanding each other better.

My understanding of C.P. Snow’s conclusion in his essay is that specialization intensifies competition and polarization while diminishing what it means practice seriously in a field of academia.  If this is true, it suddenly makes much more sense to me.  Knowing only one side of anything isn’t enough to know the wholeness of anything.  One example, under a similar concept of the two cultures that Snow mentions, is the polarization between oriental and western medicine.  Western medicine has merit in that it has the support of what is more commonly thought to be scientific than the oriental medicine, while oriental medicine has merit in it’s long history of trial and error.  Yet, most specialists from either side argue that their side is more effective than the other.  Western medicine argues that there is no proof that oriental medicine is effective, while oriental medicine argues that the western medicine is too artificial and is harmful to the body in the long term.  But as for me, I see much potential if they were to collaborate.  Oriental medicine can strengthen the body to better fight diseases, while western medicine can act fast enough to save someone at the verge of his death.  If the goal of the two medicines is to make people healthier, why should they not collaborate?  See what I mean here.
Honestly, I don’t have a clear idea of what potential lies in joining the arts and the sciences together.   But if I can see potential in joining the two polar fields of medicine while others may not, there must be merit in what Snow, an expert says about joining the two cultures mentioned in his essay.  And hopefully, by being in this class, I can learn what Snow truly meant in his essay.

Joon Jang

week 1/art and science, two cultures/paige marton

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Art and science have had a continuous impact over my years as a student. Unfortunately my experience always seemed to be art vs. science. Art and creative thinking have proven to be a basic instinct throughout my life; on the other hand science was always such a painful experience. I’m just recently learning that these two cultures really do cohesively work together. Part of my understanding came from my time spent at UCLA’s art and architecture program. My backgrounds in art lead me to directly think about artists who explore scientific concepts in their work. The first artist that came to mind is possibly the most obvious, Leonardo DaVinci. Not only did he explore scientific ideas, but he was a scientist. Paul Klee came to mind as well. Klee explored scientific ideas in an unorthodox way. I happened to stumble upon an article that focuses on Klee’s science related ideas, and I was pleased to find that this site also provided a different perspective on artists’ struggle to understand and depict science in their work.  

During lecture the focus on the evolution of teaching institutions and the separation of arts and science lead me to ponder the separation in everyday society. I honestly feel society has a greater general knowledge of science over art and art history. It is looked down upon to be unfamiliar with certain scientific theories and concepts, however a lack of knowledge in art history really isn’t viewed as ignorance. When comparing the two, science does seem to have the upper hand over the arts; and this is also reflected within universities.

 Another dividing factor between art and science has to do with the tangible and the abstract. Progression towards abstraction has been present in art since before 1900. With the development of modernism art doesn’t require any certain steps or skills that define being an artist. On the other hand a scientist has forever been defined by their knowledge of laws and theories; there has always been a prerequisite. I also believe there are a number of similarities between art and science that seem to be constantly overlooked. Everything created from art and science is derived from nature. Science and mathematics are based around equations, and a newfound balance in science is often seen as an achievement, however, this symmetry is also created in art and architecture. Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti, both artists and scholars, recognized the laws of perspective and this was indeed a science-based discovery. As Brunelleschi and Alberti demonstrated, art and science replicate the same symmetry from nature, but art is not given the same esteem science is.

As C.P Snow believed, the hinging of science and humanities is vital. I too have come to agree, however, it is unfortunate that society seems to favor one over the other, whether it be art or science.

-paige marton




week#1 \ Broad Art \ Jay Park

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

We’d all have to agree that our art building isn’t as grand as the Ivy leagues’ or as intricate and unique as those at Cambridge. Professor Vesna hit the spot when she described it as a typical commercial building that can easily pass as a corporate office of some big accounting firm. This modernized and straightforward design evidently irks those of artistic passion. How could a place of art ironically lack the values and themes to be taught within?

First off, I wouldn’t even be close to bluntness when I say I don’t see contemporary art as true art. Andy Warhol’s work doesn’t appeal to me definitively as art as say Michelangelo’s masterpieces. The Simpsons best portrays my belief that art is moving towards ridiculousness when they satirically show an episode in which a pile of garden tools gets accidently cemented together on a wheel barrel as awe-inspiring art. However, I wouldn’t know where to begin to say when art ended. I just find things heralded as art these days are just unbelievably over-appreciated. The condom-made dresses, for example, do not register to me in my mind as art. Could it be the relative ease of skill, time, and masterfulness put into contemporary art that makes me shun it compared to the Sistine Chapel and the like? I am more than well-aware of my naivety in the subject and the layman’s judgment I pass on art these days. Yet, I believe that art shines in your eyes, and that masterful art hits you even when you’re blind. I find I hold a grudge against art that is heralded as such simply because of its uniqueness. Simply because no one has ever made a condom dress before, and the social and cultural implications that can be discussed endlessly of it mean nothing much to me. I never enjoyed contemporary art, nor have I wished to look upon it as art—until I watched an episode of Top Gear last summer.

Top Gear is a British BBC car television show that shined the light on me on trying to understand contemporary art. This particular episode that changed me focused on the question: Can a car be art? The basis for art, in their eyes, is that art is art if there is no other purpose for the item but to just be. In the episode, a car without a boot, that handled like a giraffe, and accelerated like a sloth fit just the bill. It looked good as a car, sublime and just perfect in lines, yet didn’t perform or operate as we’ve come to expect of any car. Contemporary art finally clicked for me—art is art when it’s got nothing to do but be. I had finally found a train of thought that allowed me to appreciate forms of contemporary art. Pointless and useless things are art! I’m by no means facetious when I say that; I have truthfully come to view in a different, more appreciating light what I have already seen. Art is irony: something that epitomizes something it absolutely cannot deliver nor has no purpose of representing or associating. Oh! Condom dresses. Now I get it.

Contemplate this understanding to that of the Broad Arts building at UCLA. It has nothing to show that it is the premiere art centre of UCLA. It has nothing to show there are artists inside, or artists in the making. It’s not particularly well-equipped or specially designed to accommodate certain artistic needs, nor is it viable that anyone can be artistically inspired by looking at it. Broad has no purpose but itself. In that sense, I have assessed the Broad building to be just what others would deny. My naïve judgment is pretense to others when I juxtapose and conclude the invalidity of Warhol to Michelangelo. Yet that same form of juxtaposition of UCLA’s Broad art centre to Harvard’s art centre can acquire validity unnoticed. It is quite satirical to think that I would deny contemporary art their title as art relative to classical works, when those who oppose this judgment would in turn use the same relativism to deny other objects the title of contemporary art.

I am still uncomfortable with the fact that I have to adjust my eyes to appreciate contemporary art—that I have to come in with a framework and certain mindset to see the potentials. I know I didn’t even have to come prepared for Michelangelo’s David to sweep me off my feet. But, the step I have taken to understand contemporary art has allowed me to see something about the Broad building that cannot be denied. It has nothing to do with art. Irony—what a masterpiece, indeed.

Week1 \ twoCultures \ Alberto Pepe

Friday, January 9th, 2009

a couple of things to remember about your blog posts…

1. please include your name and the week # in the title, and select the appropriate category (i.e. ‘Week1_TwoCultures’) to post into.

2. ~500-800 words = ~2-3 paragraphs. please include at least one (1) web link related to your post. images are not required, but are a good way illustrate your text (and tend to draw attention to your post).

3. spelling/grammar is important.

4. due sunday at midnight.

5. sometimes i’ll post a question, but this week i’d just like you to blog on something that you found interesting in lecture or the readings this week. for instance, if you’re a science major, what kind of experience do you have with the arts (or vice-versa)? do you think there’s a divide between the arts and sciences, is there one here at UCLA? find an example of a project that successfully combines the arts and sciences and describe why you think it does.