week 1 \ twocultures \ Jillian Cross

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:
http://www.dactyl.org/directors/vna/Okeeffe.htm

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