Archive for the ‘week3_industrial’ Category

Nathan Reynolds/Week 3/Industrial Age, Kinetic Art, Robotics

Thursday, March 12th, 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.

The study of robotics is proving to be a very promising field of research as newer and more compact technology is made available.  Also, the know-how for building robots is becoming more and more common, with children still in grade school designing robots with limited, but very capable artificial intelligences.  As the frontier of knowledge expands, so does the ability of the machines created.  It is now common for us to look at a site such as Youtube and find several hundred videos pertaining to dancing robots, and just as many relating to other robot characteristics.  As we learn more about robots, the more advanced they become.

With the exception of Theo Jansen’s machines.

Theo Jansen is a Kinetic Sculptor who uses his technical genius to build what are commonly known as “beach beasts,” walking machines composed of nothing more than plastic components.  Although the Beach Beasts accomplish very little in terms of return on investment, they are intriguing to watch nonetheless simply because of their almost natural behaviors.

Theo Jansen stands in front of his creation, the Rhino.  Although it weighs a few tons, the design is efficient enough for Theo Janen to push it across the ground.

Theo Jansen stands in front of his creation, the Rhino. Although it weighs a few tons, the design is efficient enough for Theo Janen to push it across the ground.

Theo Jansen uses seemingly complex designs which are actually very simple at their fundamental level.  His designs manifest themselves in these Beach Beasts which display increasingly capable intelligences.  The design itself is so efficient that the machines can be moved by the wind, using their own computer capacities to navigate.  Jansen’s goal is to perfect the technology behind the creatures to the point where they can navigate the beaches of the Netherlands where they are built.  These machines accomplish no practical purpose, nor do they help humanity in any way.  However, they are entrancing; capturing everyone’s attention and captivating the imaginations of the individuals interested in them.


            Concerning robotics discussed earlier, the Beach Beasts represent a slow progression towards truly autonomous AI.  In a world of intricacies, where machines are expected to be complex and difficult to manufacture, Theo Jansen provides a rather refreshing counterexample to the whole scenario.  They are simple, yet innovative; a basic, but futuristic, and a herald for the ages to come.

 This creature only needs a gust of air to cause it to casually stroll down the beach.  Theo Jansens goal is to have these machines roam in packs, like heards of wild animals.

week 3

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish a piece of artwork from math and math from the a piece of artwork because at times art and math are embedded into one another.  This picture or piece of work by  Albert Durer about the methods of perspectives which made an important contribution to the polyhedra literature shows a mixture of art and math.  Durer’s Underweysung der Messung contains a very interesting discussion of perspective and other techniques and typifies the renaissance idea that polyhedra are models worthy of an artist’s attention. More importantly, this book presents the earliest known examples of polyhedral nets, i.e., polyheda unfolded to lie flat for printing. The image at right is Durer’s drawing of the net of an icon while the net is correct, his techniques of perspective were still under development, and it is interesting to observe that the projection at the upper right has a number of inaccuracies.

Here is another of Durer’s nets. This is intended as a truncation of a truncated cube. While most of his nets are quite accurate, this contains a significant error, which you will notice if you study it for a few moments. Eight of the vertices (those at the top left and top right of the four central dodecagons) show 360 degrees worth of angles around them, and so can not fold as intended. This should serve as a reminder that the idea of a net is not as simple and obvious as one might suppose. The beauty of these artistic works is that they tend to establish an interconnection between all the sciences. For instance, the truncation of snub yields the chiral which is important chemistry terminology, especially in optics. The idea that math, art, and science are all interconnected hold in the extent that we can look at a piece and be able to see branches of all three disciplines being displayed.  A theorem can be traced from this fact that literary works of abstract concepts all belong together and the ones of concrete concepts also are reached from the same beginning. I believe this is important for us as students and researchers to know because when we do interpret mathematics in art, it is sometimes evasive. But when we take into consideration that most of the concepts are in some way connected, we will be more likely reach a more concrete and accurate conclusion about what it is we are researching and interpreting.

week 3 \ art and its times (inspired by Chaplin, amongst other things) \ ben marafino

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Oftentimes it has been said that architecture is the most basic – it is certainly the most visible - expression of its times – of course, the same definition may also be applied to art. But while architects exude (at least, one would like to think they usually do, but this is not always the case) the practical, artists are inclined towards the satirical. This dichotomy in purpose arises in yet another form: architects seek to maintain the institution , while artists actively contribute to what some would characterise as its decay, others its see as its improvement or inevitable evolution . In essence, to effectively marry politics with art, the art itself must border on the satirical. Of course, the results will usually be controversial (it basically is by definition; if you can think it up, someone out there will get offended.) – but must this necessarily be so? We’ll think about satire as a mainly political, and to a lesser extent, religious, matter.

Part of the difficulty in thinking about art in this context is compounded by a disappointing divorce of social consciousness from art – and of course, the definition of art itself, but that’s beside the point. Society prefers to view artists as themselves entirely apolitical, but this fails to realise the complexities of reality and of people. People are opinionated, but they may or may not choose to express those opinions in public, but the consequences of expressing them, in a previous vacuum of opinion, really shouldn’t be severe. In actuality, ‘popular’ artists that do publicly take political positions are usually heavily criticised for taking them in the first place (eg Dixie Chicks & the Iraq war, and there are many others) – though those who make their politics apparent through their works are given a pass. Perhaps it turns out that we – not me and you, but society at large – have got no problems with politics in art, but rather with political artists. Why is this so?

A curious, but all too human, phenomenon occurs with most media icons – let’s keep it at that for now – figures that are obviously very popular in the music, television or movie worlds; they may even be sports players. Either way, they certainly are widely admired; otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten to where they are now. At that point, their fans have imprinted their preferences on them and vice versa – they want to buy the same things that their idols (apparently) possess , eat what they eat, and believe the same things that they publicly believe (noticed any prominent atheists out there lately, aside from Dawkins? I haven’t). When their preferences somehow clash, this apparently comes as an earth-shattering realisation to some previously forgotten but noisy section of society. When it comes to politics and religion – particularly when it comes to these two bugbears of societal decency and implied normalcy - there may be no limits to the outrage that can be unleashed by such groups  in a nation known for its fervent religiosity.  (This is also the reason why advertising is so effective, even if you don’t believe in its coercive powers – that’s all right, because you’re surrounded by a lot of gullible people.) 

week 3/kinetic art/paige marton

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I have been anticipating the transition into more detailed accounts of the products of the two cultures. And in this weeks lecture, Industrial Age, Kinetic Art, and Robotics we studied the various outcomes the two cultures can have on the economy, art and society. It never crossed my mind that Fordism and Taylorism, strictly business related practices, related back to what we discussed in class. Robotics was obviously related to science but I was curious to see the relationship to the other realm. I was pleased to discover robotic and kinetic art, which on the surface and in more abstract ways combine the two cultures. I believe Marcel Duchamp’s bicycle wheel is one of the first kinetic sculptures. However, I definitely don’t associate him with the two cultures or anything science related. I believe kinetic art is a very particular and unique combination of the two cultures; it is very different from art about science. An artist who creates very interesting kinetic art is James Woodfill. His works incorporate scientific methods of production and ideas. The use of Taylorism and Fordism in business production reflects scientific management and the assembly line. They were both considered radical at the time of their conception; however, they proved to be successful methods. As I contemplated the ideas behind these two practices, I realized their methods are also applicable to art making. Famous artists Andy Warhol and Murakami are known to have their peers and muses work on certain aspects of the production of their art, similar to an assembly line. With more research and a greater understanding of art science and technology, I am starting to find how connected these forces really are. 

sorry i always have to give links to my photos, for some reason it wont let me upload them. here is duchamp’s bicycle wheel

and heres the link to james woodfill’s website.

-paige marton


Week 4: Technology and Medicine/Jasmine Huynh

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

I really liked this week’s lecture topics and guest speakers because it hit an area very close to home for me. I am currently a biology major who aspires to one day work in the medical field, so it was very interesting to see the different types of art that arose from medicine. The art spanned from digital photographs composed of medical instruments to  movies based on human reconstruction.

During our lectures, I saw several mentions made about the “Body Worlds” exhibits. I have not personally attended one of these exhibits, but I would love to. I find them particularly interesting because I also work in a research lab. In our lab, we use a process called “Tissue Dehydration” to preserve tissue samples so that we can look at them later under a microscope. We preserve the tissues (lung tissue of mice, in our particular lab) by soaking them in different concentrations of ethanol until all the water is removed from them. The research doctor that I work with in the lab told me that the same steps we use for tissue preservation are used to create the “Body World” Exhibits. It was really cool to see a common denominator between the different subjects that I study.

Inspired by the lectures, I searched for some other pieces of artwork that focused on the human body. I found an artist by the name of Wenda Gu. He produces artwork using strands of hair–the hair is taken from free haircuts that are given to the general public. He uses whatever type of hair is available to him, be it straight, wavy, curly, brown, black or blonde. Below are samples of his work:

In the picture above, the artist was trying to create a symbol of unification between all the different nations, represented by the different colors.

Here is the famous piece that he did for a display at Dartmouth University:

I thought it was really amazing how he could build something so elaborate using something that we all possess. Aside from styling our hair, we hardly think about it. After reading several interview transcripts, I learned that Wenda Gu is very passionate about the topic of unifying the nations of the world through the common medium of hair. A quote from a Dartmouth interview states that Wenda Gu’s work stems from “his dream that through his art he might unite humanity and encourage international understanding.”

Week 3 \ Luddism \ Ariel Alter

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Luddism was a social movement in early 19th century England during the transition from artisan mode of making things to industrial production. Its proponents opposed the rise of knitting machines that could be operated by unapprenticed laborers and the migration of skilled workers to the factories. This meant the devaluation of skilled workers and the autonomous, tolerable working conditions as they were now parts in a larger machine. The movement became stigmatized by the English government  to the point where destroying the machines (”industrial sabotage”) would be punishable by death. The movement led to uprisings and battles between the British and Luddite armies, and eventually quelled after 3 luddites murdered a mill owner and three Luddites were hanged.

Today, the term is meant pejoratively against someone who irrationally opposes new scientific ideas and technology. I think that the use of this term is inaccurate because the Luddites had a legitimate reason for protesting against capitalist fat cats- would you rather work at home, or dehumanized in a factory? How would you feel if your life’s cultivation of a skill was nonchalantly tossed into the incinerator of archaism? What I think the Luddites were ultimately fighting for was their quality of life, not an ideological opposition to technology that made their lives easier.

In the recent past I’ve noticed various Design/Media Art students apply the term to the art students in group revelry. The art student as painter, sculptor, ceramicist, or any other medium specific field is a burning effigy tacked up to the while while desma students silently click away and stare into the screen. Someone who uses archaic art forms- analog as opposed to digital photography, printmaking as opposed to adobe illustrator, or any other digital/ analog analogy is considered an “art luddite.” One thing that I have noticed is that the art students don’t apply this term to themselves, and would really like to experiment with digital technology and feel that the department itself is behind and archaic, unlike the original luddites who actively disowned technology.

To get a rise out of one of my design/ media art I Instant Messaged her with the Luddite anthem to parody her preconception of art students being laptop burning amishmen:

“As the Liberty lads o’er the sea
Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood,
So we, boys, we
Will die fighting, or live free,
And down with all kings but King Ludd!”

To which she responded: “My robot army will murder you.”

week 3 \ relevant links \ alberto

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Week 3_The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction_Joseph Racca

Monday, January 26th, 2009

“There is no clear conceptual distinction now between original and reproduction in virtually any medium based in film, electronics, or telecommunications.  As for the fine arts, the distinction is eroding, if not finally collapsed.”

-Douglas Davis

How could it be so easy to mistake a twin for their identical other?  Exactly, the question is there in the answer, the twins are identical, therefore are difficult to distinguish between.  In art, this same problem is becoming more and more apparent as digital reproduction of art pieces increases.  Not only digital reproductions are the single problem, along with the digital comes the ‘real’ reproductions, such as replicas of sculptures, paintings, etc.

Identical Twins, Difficulty in distinguishing the two? (At times)

Identical Twins, Difficulty in distinguishing the two? (At times)

These reproductions counter integrity of the originals, sometimes even being so similar to the original that it becomes impossible to tell which was the original to begin with.  When we Google an image, let’s say Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, we are given hundred of thousands of results.  But which is the original?

The answer to that is more obvious than some might expect.  So which is the original?  None of them of course, all of these results are simply just results of “reproductions,” digital reproductions to be exact.  They may all seem to be similar and present the same results, because that is what they are, the same result and that result is that of mere digital reproductions.

Which is which?

It’s the case of the impostor; who is the bad one and who is the good one?  Like I will mention later, it becomes a dilemma when it comes to finding the beauty in the real arts.

Digital reproduction, a problem even with digital media.  These days, as the article states, “The fictions of “master” and “copy” are now so entwined with each other that it is impossible to say where one begins and the other ends.  As seen with motion pictures, people have managed to “reproduce” these works of art and much of the time the differences are undetectable, making it difficult to distinguish what is real from what is fake.

Distinguishable from the originals from the outside, but pop in the disc and you can barely tell the difference.

Distinguishable from the originals from the outside, but pop in the disc and you can barely tell the difference.

Over time, if we don’t do something about it, we will begin to lose appreciation for what really matters, the master ‘copy’ so to speak.  We will soon take for granted the original masterpieces in art, paintings, sculptures, portraits, and music.  With multiple reproductions, we tend to see the originals as less significant.  We don’t appreciate the little details, the fine details in original works of art.  And even though digital reproductions of are close to the originals, they are merely just reproductions, never embodying the pure essence of the original it seeks to mimic.

Week 3/Media and technology/Connor Petty

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Virtual and reality have always been separated by a thin line that has become the subject in many films and media. Most notable I would like to mention are The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, and Serial Experiments Lain. In The Matrix, the concept of a virtual world was viewed as a cage to the mind, not as a realm of unlimited possibilities. While that concept was the foundation of the storyline that focused on trying to escape the matrix, in Ghost in the Shell and Serial Experiments Lain the storyline would focus on the problems of a virtual world or rather a world that is heavily influenced by the internet.

Ghost in the Shell takes place sometime in the future where the development and production of cyber brains and cybernetics is common place. The issues that the show touches upon stem from the mystery of the Laughing Man, a hacker that was the cause of several deaths and a few assassination attempts against a few political figures. The reason that the Laughing Man is able to get away with such things is due to the fact that he never leaves any evidence by hacking into random people’s cyber brains and either modifying their memories or taking total control of them in order to commit some heinous act. What this series portrays so well is the consequences of advanced cybernetic technology. Cybernetics is a very real technology that is being developed and will likely become a very large industry in the near future. The advantages to cyberdization (increased mental capacities such as memory, and internet access directly from your brain) is so great that is it no surprise that it is common place in Ghost in the Shell. A reoccurring theme in Ghost in the Shell shows the consequences of such technology by always asking the questions, “What are memories and how much of memories are real?” This is indeed a good question because the answer becomes very wishy-washy once you begin to store memories in a digital format. Because memories become digital, they can be created, changed, or destroyed if they are hacked, which is what the Laughing Man is known best for. I don’t know if I should look forward to this future or not, but either way, these are issues that should try to be solved as early as possible.

An alternative semi-futuristic setting in Serial Experiments Lain depicts the evolution of the internet into something called the “wired”. Wires are a very big theme in show because every other scene seems to be showing cables, telephone wires, or large electrical transformers. But the premise of the show is that with the growth of technology, the ease at which the internet can be accessed and the influence that the internet has upon society greatly increases. Serial Experiments Lain however, took that premise to the extreme by somehow proposing the idea that the internet evolved so much that it could affect reality itself, which meant that the boundary between virtual and reality became nonexistent. The show further proposed that it would be possible to become an entity of the internet and a physical body would no longer be needed. The problem with Serial Experiments Lain is that one would have to suspend their disbelief over the course of most of the events that took place in the show. In the end, the show did come full circle and shows that having a physical body is proof of existence. It’s a bit of a summary, but if you have any interest you could watch it yourself.

Week 3\Taylorism and Art\Marian Portugal

Monday, January 26th, 2009

            Taylorism, a theory developed by Frederick Taylor in the late 19th century, is defined as the usage of scientific management.  In other words, it is a more effective and faster way to reach the final product.  One of the most popular examples of Taylorism was in the assembly lines to create Model T Fords.  Manufacturing factories for these automobiles consisted of assembly lines.  Assembly lines divide the labor into several smaller tasks, in which each person in the line performs the same task over and over.  Although this form of mass production is most efficient, I do not believe that this form of creating art is the least efficient because it destroys the connection the artist forms with his or her work and the importance of the journey to the finish disappears.

            One artist known for her robotic works of art is Leonel Moura.  Several of her creations are made from mini-robots, called mbots.  These mini-robots hold pens that can detect the absence of color on paper.  When this happens, they automatically begin drawing circles in the area.  Also, if it detects a color, it may still draw in the same area, but will contrast between warm and cool colors.  Even though these robots have the capacity to create beautiful and esthetically pleasing paintings, they don’t have brains.  They can’t feel an artist’s passion toward his or her work, learn new lessons from the journey to the finish, or appreciate the final product.  I feel that these aspects, the emotional and mental aspects, are what make art so important and meaningful in our world—not the physical portion of it. 

            Comparing Moura’s work to another artist’s work, like Rembrandt’s several self-portraits, I see much more emotion and meaning in Rembrandt’s paintings.  His self-portraits exhibit not only how he is changing physically, but mentally as well.  His facial expressions vary from painting to painting, including looks of worry, stress, anger, and confidence.  I believe there was a possibility that Rembrandt took the time to reflect on his life at the time he was creating each self-portrait, which could have created a strong bond between himself and his paintings.  The collection of his several portraits can also show how he progressed through his life and the different mental states he was in. 

            It all depends on what the artist wants out of his or her work.  If an artist is aiming for precision and accuracy, the most efficient path to take is with robots or any other mechanical element.  If an artist’s goal is for a strong emotional connection and importance to his or her art, he or she should do the work on his or her own, without the help of artificial hands for assistance.




Week 3\Modernization and Art\Jay Park

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” says that the works of mass production lack an authenticity compared to the original. Though true in every sense, the belief is taken further in today’s society, where things that aren’t original or handmade are neglected and set aside as inferior. Replicas, perfect as they may be, are given a lower tier of appreciation too often, because of the overarching idea of authenticity that Benjamin refers to. There are flaws to this elitist approach to art. Consider the media of films or music. The actual, original, authentic product is only accessible and only experienced once for the people in its production. Every copy of a CD or DVD, is technically a copy of the gold original, and is must therefore lack a sense of appreciative value. This is hard to agree with, considering that the music from the CDs I buy or the DVDs I watch at home still sends the intended message. There is a lack of appreciation for replicas that is the direct result of an over-appreciation for the idea of authenticity.  Granted, there is a sense of awe and admiration when confronted with the original artwork. However, replicas allow appreciation for the art without undermining the value of the artist’s message to people who otherwise would never have the opportunity to experience. The cost of authenticity is priced too high in contemporary society, leaving replicas to hide in shame for no reason. If the artwork can be replicated while conveying the same, intended message, then authenticity is nothing more than certificate. There is nothing more to take from art besides the artist’s message, and the subject of authenticity often seems to be an elitist, anti-industrial movement belief that wants to stray from conformity. There are legitimate claims to the importance of authenticity; but there are also detrimental beliefs on replicas that derive from the authenticity claims, that need to be kept in check.   

Week 3 / the artist’s ego in the age of mechanical reproduction / stephany howard

Monday, January 26th, 2009

VS Ramachandran MD, PhD is the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Neurosciences and Psychology at UCSD.   In his book A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness he spends a chapter addressing art and the brain.  In defining art, he says “anyone today will tell you that art has nothing to do with realism.  It is not about creating a replica of what’s out there in the world.  I can take a realistic photograph of my pet cat and no one would give me a penny for it.  In fact, art is not about realism at all—it’s the exact opposite.  It involves deliberate hyperbole, exaggeration, even distortion, in order to create pleasing effects in the brain.” (43)   I find it refreshing to hear a scientist’s definition about art because he brings a rather traditional view into the conversation, which is illustrated by two assumptions:  (1) art is a picture, a depiction of something (which can be realistic or not), and (2) it strives to create “pleasing effects in the brain.”   For better or worse, art has moved away from both these traditional qualities; that is, contemporary art often denies any form of representation or pleasing effects.

In fact, psychologist Steven Pinker has argued in his book The Blank Slate that it is precisely the problem of contemporary art to deny human nature—the modernist destruction of beauty has ruined elite art in Pinker’s mind. But if we use Ramachandran and Pinker’s concepts of art being pleasing imagery (as it has traditionally been defined), it’s interesting to think about what has happened to art since mechanical reproduction has fundamentally altered our relationship to images.

Walter Benjamin argues that mechanical reproduction, photography, and film have fundamentally shifted the direction of art and how we relate to images.  Benjamin argues that “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element:  its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”  He says that “the presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity…the whole sphere of authenticity is outside” technical and all kinds of reproducibility.”  He later describes that this movement away from the authenticity of the object and its ritualistic production—the loss of a work’s aura led to art’s function becoming political.

I find this politicizing effect that reproduction has had on art to be really depressing.  It’s all too obvious how art made today (especially in LA) is created and circulated within a thick web of false social interactions—art has become (since Andy Warhol) an increasingly egotistical activity, designed to show status in an extremely elitist social hierarchy.  Since artists incorporated reproduction into their work, the emphasis has moved even further away from the object itself and the experience of the work and towards a social obsession with the image of the artist as some romantic figure.

As a painter, I fear that traditional forms of art (like painting) are grasping onto an antiquated egotistical approach to art making—paintings are like the tail feathers on a peacock.  Ramachandran mentions the argument that “artistic skill may be an index of skillful eye-hand coordination and, therefore, an advertisement of good genes for attracting potential mates.”(55)  Of course the ego of the artist has always attracted attention, and there have always been stereotypes of the artist as romantic, insane, genius, etc.  And with technology, I see art moving even further away from the maker than we have ever seen it.  I think that as art merges with technology, it will become increasingly about the experience of the work (as has occurred in film), not about the mysterious maker or her ritualistic mode of production.

Watch VS Ramachandran talk about art and the brain!

stephany howard

The Aura of Art in a Technological Age/Jillian Cross

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I am choosing to discuss the reading, “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” for several reasons. The first of which is that I believe this article shows an argument that I would not expect from an artist’s point of view. A main point in this article is that “there is no longer a clear conceptual distinction between original and reproduction in virtually any medium.” My instinctual reaction to reading this line in the heading was that the article would be written by some artist who is mourning the loss of “true art.” I was pleasantly surprised to find an entirely different approach. Part of the argument shows that by recreating or reproducing a work of art, one is not eliminating the original artwork, but rather one is adding their own individual mark upon that art.

            This is fascinating to me. I have always loved and appreciated the original, the classics, and the best. I never imagined that the recreations of these things were, in fact, art in their own ways. One who alters a classic painting is merely adding his or her subjective point of view into a classical piece. It seems almost euphemistic to think that these people have been adding to the art as opposed to taking away the sacredness of the original. Davis states that he can recreate meaning “within a subjective context that is inevitably unique, no matter how ordered or predestined.” The idea that each recreation or deconstruction and reproduction of a work is unique astounds me. I never would have thought of this in such a light.

            Another fascinating point in this article is the idea that “any video, audio or photographic work of art can be endlessly reproduced without degradation, always the same, always perfect.” When I first think of the ability to mass produce things with perfection, I think of the advantages we see in the technological world. We can perfectly reproduce any number of parts to a machine, any number of items that are present in our daily lives, any number of instruction manuals. Without mass production of technology, things in our everyday lives like computers and cars would be very rare and very expensive. If perfect mass production were not possible, our quality of life would decrease.

At the same time the ability to perfectly mass produce art can also be seen as a blessing. Think of people who would never know what Mona Lisa’s smile looked liked had it not been for a reproduced post card sent to them from the Louvre. Think of the places where even a copy of a masterpiece brings smiles to the citizens’ faces because they can see something too beautiful for their own world. Through technology, people are able to experience so many forms of art all across the globe. These experiences would not have been possible without mass production, or online communication, or the ability to scan and send things in a perfect light. An American video may never be viewed in Egypt without the use of a streaming program. With the many types of communication available worldwide, artists are able to share their work with so many different people.

A slightly frightening side to the technological advances is captured when Douglas Davis states that “we can walk, think, and feel the manmade world in virtually the same way we can experience the “real” world.” This is apparent in our everyday lives as we see children turning to video game instead of playing outside, we see teenagers courting via the Internet as opposed to in person, we see family members corresponding in a chat room when they used to get together for tea. I believe much of the interpersonal communication is being lost to the technological world (Commercial emphasizing this:

We are losing the art of language as everything becomes abbreviated on IM (instant messages). We are losing the appreciation of the feel of a museum when we choose to take a virtual tour online instead of visiting the actual location. So while we are able to share the simple works of art through the digital age, in another sense we are losing the more complicated and more important arts of interaction and communication in the process.

For some, reproduction technology is diminishing the aura of artwork. But for others, the “aura resides-not in the thing itself but in the originality of the moment when we see, hear, read, repeat, revise.” I think that Davis’ ending statement best sums up my view of art. Art is not definitive, there is not always reasoning behind it. The true art is found in the way you react to a piece or work, the way that work makes you feel and the way that work shapes you as an individual.

More info on Douglas Davis:

Original Reading:

week 3/robots…?/alice nakata

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Creating a robot with feelings. This has been the ultimate goal of many robot-builders. There are many human androids being built that can show a wide variety of very human-like feelings, but they are all input data. No robot has been created that have feelings of its own. I’ve always thought how that would become possible. Humans are able to have feelings because we have a brain, neurons, senses, DNA, blood flowing through our veins, a heart… A robot is manmade. It is possible to give them sensors so they can “feel” things. But the way they process those “feelings” are not through a complex organ called a “brain,” but rather data input by us. The way they are supposed to think are preset by us. They cannot choose what they like. Even their preferences are chosen by us.

I found an interesting video on YouTube. It is about a robot with the feeling of “want.” Of course, it is a digital clip. But if a robot can see something and reach for it like the one in this clip, then I will be able to say that we have created a robot with feelings.

My perspective on this video is as follows. This robot, on her own will, wants to mimic the girl on the TV screen. She pays no attention to the TV at first, but when she saw the doll face, she finds it interesting. She found it to be attractive. She “wants” to look exactly like her. Starting with her dull, gray face, she begins to apply make-up on her face. When she is done, she is satisfied. As the TV screen is moving away, the face on the screen gradually changes. She still mimics it by reaching out further to the screen, until she can no longer reach. She breaks herself to be able to see the screen.

The reason why this video is different from other robot clips I’ve seen is because I have never felt sympathy when watching them. Usually I am surprised, I admire, and I look forward to the technology that can advance in the near future. But after seeing this video, I felt nothing but sadness. The robot ended her “life” because of the want to become more human-like.

Should we keep trying to build robots with feelings? What is the purpose?

Week 3/ Industrial Age, Kinetic Art, Robotics/ Erum Farooque

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Robots and art are quite different things. This class constantly joins together two completely different ideas that normally one would not even think of at the same time, let alone together. I never saw the relation and I still don’t see how they would be connected in any way. So I looked up the definition of robotic art and found this article. gives a thorough description of what robotic art is and how it developed and came to be. However, it was much too long so I did not read it and instead read robotic art’s definition on Wikipedia.

I found out that robots were used in early theater and played actual parts in plays. The great artist, inventor and scientist who is the perfect personification of art and science mixed together and working together in harmony, Leonardo Da Vinci, even built many robots for theatrical plays, including a lion that threw flowers and a soldier. More so, automatic chess players, artists and other robots were built all the time during the 19th and 18thcenturies. Early Chinese built mechanical toys, a mechanical orchestra, and many other contraptions that were remarkable for their time incorporating their scientific robots into art, cinema and their culture. Here is a quote from Wikipedia about the marvelous adventures into the roboting world in ancient times: 

In the 13th century A.D. Badi Al-Zaman’Isma’il Al-Razzaz Al-Jazari was a Muslim inventorwho devoted himself to mechanical engineering. Like Hero, [from ancient Rome] he experimented with water clock and other hydraulic mechanisms. Al-Jaziri’s life’s work culminated in a book which he called “The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices,” completed in 1206 AD. This book is often known simply as “Automata.” In Europe in the 13th century Villard de Honnecourt is known to have built mechanical angels for the French court, and in the 15th century Johannes Muller built both a working mechanical Eagle and a Fly.

Examples of robots in the arts include, but are not limited to, literature, stories and cinema. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is an example of artificial intelligence in the form of a robot manifesting itself in the real world. The Wizard of Oz is also robotics in performance art.

Walter Benjamin’s article, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” talks about how works of art are reproduced in more modern and conventional ways as more advanced mediums are created and become more readily available. Writing beautiful manuscripts by hand was replacing by typewriters and then by the computer to produce almost as equally beautiful writings. Photography, cameras, and movies also outdated painting. As we develop more technology, old traditional ways to produce art becomes old and thrown out and much less used, but is always still there due to the fact that one usually does not appreciate the mechanically reproduced work of art as one cares for the value of one hand made. Original and traditional stuff always carries much more value than a new modern reprinting of it. For example, a letter written out in ink and physically mailed to a significant other is more meaningful than an email sent. Usually one is more excited for the former, because that is not a common practice anymore. Paintings are also much more valuable than photographs. Sure photographs are faster, clearer, and capture the memory much more vividly and clear, but what would you show off more: a picture you took of your backyard or a painting someone did of you. A reproduction of art determines its lesser value than the original also because of its lack of uniqueness and rarity. One can’t ever perfectly reproduce the original.

This youtube video captures the work and care an artist has to put into a painting versus the ease of taking a photograph, thus proving the painting’s value.

Look at the difference between the painting and the photograph. Which is cooler to have?:


Week 3/ Robotics, Innovation, Future/ Andrew Curnow

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Throughout the extensive history of mankind, evolution and industrialization has occurred. From simply beginning to use iron farm tools, to the modern day technology and robotics utilized in open heart surgeries, humankind has greatly advanced itself. Of all of the trademark moments in societal improvement, or degeneration in some people’s opinion, one that truly marked a new era was Henry Ford’s utilization of the assembly line and use of interchangeable parts. This innovative production principle allowed Henry Ford’s company to draw above its competition in a capitalistic sense; however it impacted the world itself. It allowed firms to mass produce goods, all identical, all conforming for a decent price, and allowed interchangeable parts to make constant repairs feasible. This cataclysmic change in society allowed the production possibility frontiers of many firms and markets to drastically shift and expand, however at a price. Pre-revolution, parts were crafted in artisanship, it was a trade to be able to efficiently hand craft many pieces, and with the notion of interchangeable parts this trade was deemed near useless. Thus Ford’s technical innovations were positive in an economist’s mindset; however it brought forth conformity that almost eliminated creativity and artist input.

This idea of technological progress has always encountered much criticism. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a distinct fear of a futuristic and technologically advance society is easily evident, where creativity and the art is not evident, and mass conformity is apparent in daily life. However in ancient times fear was shown towards progression as works of evil, the very same changes that have aided in the production of our present day world. In Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” the author states that though things can be reproduced mechanically, easily, and efficiently, the mass of creations will always lack authenticity, no matter how theoretically ‘perfect’ they are. All of these factors aim to one thing, a distinct fear of the future, robotics and technology.

On the other hand however, or rather, on a personal note I believe technology can only better the future of humanity. Granted giving a computer the intelligence of a human is indeed a fearful thought, I think that on the current level, technology has given humanity the means to be the most efficient, and useful as possible. Though a common argument has been the technology has been our demise, through things such as global warming, that is simply the fallacy on our behalf of not correctly using what technology has granted us. An example is in healthcare, though through the extent of our evolution, human practice of medicine has greatly increased, the possibilities of our future require the precision of robotic assistance. The fear of artificial intelligence ‘taking over the world’ is a fallacy developed solely in the creative minds of Hollywood. The only true fear should lie in the human misuse of that technology and the repercussions it will have on our planet and our immediate health.

Week 3 - The Blur Between the Original and the copy of an Artwork Resulting From the “Age of Digital Reproduction” by Joon Jang

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Perhaps the most important aspect of technology in respect to art is our increasing ability to communicate fast to a wide audience.  And in communicating, digital means is the most effective, bringing forth the “Age of Digital Reproduction” that Douglas Davis talks about in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction.  In the essay, Davis argues that the idea of a pure original and impure copy is now fiction.  I partially agree with him, but I daresay that he did not have the whole picture.
The only reason why digital art, which is based on film, electronics, or telecommunications, has no clear original or copy is because the first product, in itself, is a copy.  That is, the original, is in a different medium.  In film, the original medium would be the process in making the film, including, but not limited to, the actors, the camera angle, the script, and the setting.  In electronics and telecommunications, the products are meant to be mass produced and virtually exact copies of each other, only differentiated, for electronics, by the preferences of the users, and for telecommunications, the quality or resolution, if applicable, of the medium, and therefore do not have a physical original.
Then what about the tangible works of art that are mass produced?  Do they have an original?  Perhaps yes, like the copy of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” I used to have.  But if we were to talk about mass produced artwork that isn’t based off of a previous artwork, then I would say that they don’t have an original.  I don’t know if cars can be considered art, but let’s take the early history of Ford for example.  Henry Ford used to say that “you can get any color you want, as long as it was black.”  In other words, all of the Fords were meant to be the same, except maybe for their difference in qualities over time.  Of course, there are some inevitable, albeit small differences in qualities even between brand new Fords, but as far as the consumers are concerned, the Fords are the same.  They are all Fords, made by anonymous workers and machinery we don’t well understand and none were original.
In that sense, the original of those Fords isn’t the very first Ford ever made, but the idea, the logic, the blueprint of the Ford.  Perhaps what it really means to be an original of anything is the idea from the author of that piece.  If this is true, is there any meaning in the traditional sense of the meaning of an original?  Yes, because the original is the closest thing there is to that idea of the author, the closest thing to what the artist wanted to express.  In the past, this translated into “there is meaning in the fact that the artist him/herself made this piece.”  The difference now is, in the digital medium, this no longer can apply, if and only if the artist had made the “piece” digitally.

This is a digital copy of Vincent van Goghs Starry Night.  Can you enjoy this copy the same way you can the original?  Does the digital copy have the same meaning as the original piece?

This is a digital copy of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night." Can you enjoy this copy the same way you can the original? Does the digital copy have the same meaning as the original piece?

Chess Board by Davo.  Up to what extent is the piece posted here the original? Up to what extent is it a copy?

"Chess Board" by Davo. Up to what extent is the piece posted here the original? Up to what extent is it a copy?

Music has a similar concept.  Music, in a sense, is digital, because of the standard musical system that it revolves around.  When performers precisely perform a song as it is written on its score, the performance is an exact copy of the song, original only in the sense that a same exact performance can never be given again for obvious reasons.  A true original of a song wouldn’t be its first performance but the idea of the song, the sounds of the song that the composer had in mind, which the composer put onto a score.  Perhaps this is the “aura” the people have talked about in speaking of the superiority of the original piece, only wrongfully have thought to emanate from the piece of art itself.  The blur between the original and the copy in music, or any kind of art that result from our technological ability to reproduce and distribute may be a blur resulting from looking at the wrong place.

Joon Jang

Week 3/Digital Reproduction/Amy Chen

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Douglas Davis’ article “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction” talks about the uniformity of an original artwork and that of its reproduction.  He states that even in fine arts, the distinction between the original and its copy is slowly eroding.  I can agree to certain points and this is perhaps one of the reasons why fine arts has developed to the style it is now.  But what about land based art?  One of the greatest earthwork sculptures, and definitely one of the most popular, is the Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson.  One of the reasons why I personally enjoy the Spiral Jetty is because at the time, art was continuously being commercialized, such as through the reproductions of paintings.  Robert Smithson found a way to avoid that and to avoid “containment.”  By building the Spiral Jetty at an actual site (in Utah), he goes beyond the containment of museums and cleverly avoids any possible reproductions.  To truly experience this art piece, one must go to the actual location and walk upon the spirals.  It’s an experience that can’t be reproduced, and the reproduction will never equal the original since the experience of the piece relies so heavily on its environment (such as even the color of the sea).



On a separate note, watching all the films in Desma lecture on Thursday was fun and thought provoking.  When watching Charlie Chaplin’s “The Modern World” I got a sense that as soon as he was sucked into the machine, he came out as a machine.  It was as if through the monotonous routine of the gears shifting he lost his creativity and human side of himself.  This of course can be enlarged outward to the idea of Taylorism which linked me to Dystopic books, one in particular being Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  There everyone does one specific job and they revere Ford as their creator.  Ford created a system of organization that is efficient in mass production and mass consumption.  The society in Brave New World functions together to be efficient, even going as far as to sabotage a fetus’ development by way of oxygen deprivation or other ways to cause mental retardation.  This baby then is conditioned to perform one task and one task only, and is even conditioned to believe that their life is fulfilled – believing that only they can perform that one task. 


One link I particularly liked from the desma home page was the link to the youtube video about circuit bending.  Although when regarding technology one tends to think they are intended for a specific purpose it’s enlightening to see people literally bending this purpose around.  Using the circuit boards, people are able to warp sounds and create sounds that were never before in existence into existence. 

Week 3/Digital and Mechanical Reproduction in Music/Mark Signaigo

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

When reading about the differences between original and copied pieces of art, the thing that kept popping into my head was Music. I understand the idea of an original work having an aura and (possibly because I was conditioned to believe so) I believe there is a difference between an original painting and a replica.
Music, on the other hand, sets a different circumstance, because it is not a tangible object. The sheet music inked on the page may be but you can make very strong arguments that it is not itself the artwork. The song, once originally performed by a band or orchestra, is then gone forever. The invention of the Phonograph, and eventually through the evolution, CDs and MP3s, allow for the preservation in exact form of a particular musical piece. While you can easily argue that no recording would measure up to witnessing the piece played live, the actual recording will bring you much closer to the artist’s intent than simply reading the sheet music or hearing somebody else play it.
The other interesting aspect is that when a sculptor finishes chiseling, when a painter finishes brushing, their pieces then become complete. They are done, that’s it, they become relatively static and pass through time. Music, on the other hand, is more living and fluid if the artist desires. The Model T was the model T, it was designed, produced and remained. A musical piece however can be continually edited, changed, played differently in different places and time to reflect the evolution of the artist, the times, or anything else that inspires the artist along the way.
In this way one can argue that technological reproduction actually furthers the art forms of music in allowing it to truly live, age and evolve as the artist does. In perhaps no other art form is this possible. Artists can go through phases which can be demonstrated across a timeline of pieces by progressions and periods, but nowhere else can one piece so evolve and grow.

Week3/Theres nothing wrong with being efficient/ Lam Tran

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Henry Ford made things efficient with his assembly line. Doing so made cars cheaper, thus they could broaden their consumer base because more people can buy them. This, in turn, is related to capitalism, because with Ford’s new assembly line, they can beat their rivals. Some argue that this is repetitive and boring. In the late 1920’s, this is shown in Charlie Chaplin’s The Modern World. The repetitiveness drives him insane. One can also argue that this destroys the creator’s ability to be creative. Because each person is only working on a single aspect of a product, they normally do not see their finished work or couldn’t care less because it is not their design. If you only look at it this way, I can agree that it does block one’s creative juices.

But in the art world, this drive for efficiency is required in some cases. In artwork shown in class, its even more required. Installation work requires hundreds of parts, sometimes many of these parts are used many times. For example, ( Leo Villareal’s art work light show requires hundreds, maybe thousands of small individual lights. Each light was not made one by one to be unique by the artist himself. That would take more than a lifetime. The beauty of it is the work as a whole, after everything is assembled. Efficiency in the factories made these small lights affordable and plentiful for projects like these. It gives the artist the ability to focus on the project and less on how he or she is going to obtain the parts for it.

This efficiency can also be used to replicate installation art and place it in other museums for display in multiple places around the world. Ford’s assembly line made replication easy. It also makes replacing one of the parts easy if its broken. This is particularly useful for Leo Villareal’s work because I’m almost certain those lights will probably burn out and he would have to replace them. If each bulb was “unique” then, remaking one and replacing it would just be a pain.

All it really requires is a twist. Anything that one thinks is dull or bland can be made into something more original. Ford T-Models were all the same and the same color. Individually, they might seen bland because it loses its uniqueness. But seeing all the products fresh out of the factory all lined up creates a different picture. Now it can be seen as art.

Lam Tran