week5/midterm/akhil rangaraj

The topics presented in this class thus far have had some common themes. One of them stems from the title of the class itself – art versus science. The first topic introduced dealt exactly with these two subjects, with the idea of “two cultures” as presented by CP Snow. In class, we went over many of the stereotypes, from the starving artist, to the mad power hungry scientist. We then also went over some of the internal stereotypes here at UCLA. For the second week, we viewed how art and science developed hand in hand during the renaissance, and how mathematics was present in our concepts of beauty. The third week covered the industrial age, and how science and art earned their separation. The third week, in my opinion, slightly deviated from this common “Science versus Art” theme, as most of the material presented focused on mechanical advances, and the societal changes that ensued. The fourth week also deviated from the straight “Science versus Art” theme, and instead focused on the ethics of using biological systems in different ways.
Another common theme in all of these topics is almost exactly the same as the first one, except instead of fighting each other, the two fields, namely art and science, work together – Art and Science, if you will. CP Snow’s third culture is an exact reflection of this ideal, of art working together with science to accomplish something greater. In class, we covered some examples of this “third culture” where the science would have failed had not art stepped in, and vice versa. The second week also had a melding of art and science. We saw the activities in the renaissance, where great painters did painstaking measurements to develop the idea of perspective. We also viewed the youtube video on the golden ratio, which was particularly interesting. The third week we covered the context of the invention of cybernetics, robots, and the industrial revolution. We watched a video clip of Metropolis, which combines the recent (at the time) leaps in automation, with an artistic, if dark view of the future. This was most interesting and fitting with the Art and Science theme. We also saw some current examples of how art is being revolutionized by the use of mechanical objects and robots. The art sometimes is no longer the final product, but only the process in which the product is created. The fourth week is somewhat harder to rationalize within this paradigm, as using a human body as art is somewhat grotesque. The video shown in class of the french woman undergoing plastic surgery was horrifying, to say the least.
My midterm project is related to the themes above, as well as the topics themselves. My project involves using various sensors to visualize the electromagnetic radiation that our modern-day society pumps out day out and day in. It also encourages the public to learn about their own brains and the electric impulses in them through an interactive electro-encephalogram device. This project uses newly developed electrical and biological devices to visualize the various technologies that, to most people, seem like magic.

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