Art, Science + Technology

DMA9 Fall 2007, Section B

Archive for Ian Link

Week Nine

I have decided to write about my experiences with the final instead of doing the usual thing and writing about the class. Hopefully this wont be too big of a problem. This class did a few interesting things to the way I work. I usually dont worry about the scientific aspects of my artwork, but whenever I did things for the class, I always thought about the other side of the equation. As someone who primarily uses a computer as his primary medium, I am always aware, to a certain extent, of the technical side of things. However, this class brought new context to my work. I never thought about issues with a combination of art and science, it was usually just one or the other. For example, my midterm dealt with a portrayal of intensely scientific concepts in a very artistic method. This was really unexplored territory for me, though I know I am not exactly the first to cross over into this fusion of science and art, as the class has taught me. It was a good feeling, to know that I was trying something completely different than my usual shtick. It’s also something I’d like to keep doing.

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Truth

Truth

I’d like to think that truth is an absolute thing. That is not to say that we cannot explore things we find untrue, but I merely believe that the truth is truth, regardless of whether or not we’ve found it yet. There are examples throughout history of ‘truths’ being completely and horrible wrong. Gravity sort of threw everyone for a loop, as did evolution. Truly we have been wrong so many times that it is hard to believe that everything we clutch so dearly as absolute truth is indeed absolute truth. Yet, at the same time, I dont believe in truth being something relative due to our interpretation. I dont think humanity is the end-all of the universe. If humans are blind, it does not mean that the rest of the universe doesn’t exist. If we only were to look at humanity, certainly some ‘truths’ might be a bit different for us than for the rest of the universe. If humanity was, say, colorblind, then to us, the universe would have no color. But the universe does have color (or so we think, anyway) and thus our opinion really doesnt matter. This isn’t to say that humanity doesn’t matter and it certainly is nice to cling to what we believe to be the truth but we should never let our opinions of the truth constrain us. Science is about discovery and we should do just that. Working solely within pre-fabricated frameworks can only get us so far.

week 7: space and art

space

I have always believed that it is extremely narrow-minded to think humans are the only intelligent life populating this universe. With the boundless nature of space, why then would there only be a single race of intelligent life? I never really got it. How could humanity, with all its intelligence, dismiss the possibility of another form of intelligent life? I suppose humanity is vein and would rather not have its intelligence disputed by some other race or being. Its discomforting to think that there are other, alien races out there, perhaps conspiring to thwart humanity and steal our precious planet from our clutches. This has, of course, been the premise of many, many, movies, television shows and books. I suppose we humans have done a lot of very dumb things over the years and this sort of falls in line with a few lines of illogical thinking but it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Regardless of humanity’s view of extraterrestrial life, our sense of awe regarding the vast voids surrounding this tiny planet has always struck me. I’ve loved the science, the artistic interpretations and everything in-between. Part of me will always wish that I was born in a time where humanity has been flung across the stars, but as things stand now, I am content with simply looking out from earth’s small vantage point.

Wk 6: Medical

water on frames

I’ve never felt as fragile as when my AP chemistry teacher described human beings as water-filled sacks attached to a frame.  As weird as it is to think of human beings in such simple terms, it is certainly true.  Like many other humans I am quite attached to my body and I’d like to think it is more than just bunch of watery sacks.  Yet, more and more, technology allows us to change the human body.  Pacemakers regulate the beatings of our hearts, plastic surgery reconstructes our faces, limbs are added and the list simply goes on and on.  I find this both fascinating and terrifying, as most people probably do.  It’s one thing to simply replace a lost limb with a prostetic, but to replace it with a perfectly-working leg grown from a petri dish is entirely something else.  However, you cannot argue with the results.  We are currently are just approximating the real thing with mechanical prostetics.  In some ways, you’d think that synethic limbs and organs would be more appealing than mechanical prostetics.  After all, mechanical things are certainly further away from the real thing.


the same thing applied to art

As art goes, I can’t say I appreciate performing plastic surgery on-stage.  I like tattoos as a form of self-expression but am kind of weirded-out by someone vastly altering their face for the sake of their artwork.  I suppose a certain someone did cut off their ear, but this feels like something else.  I can see this being more popular in the future as techniques improve and it becomes more accepted in society.  It certainly would be interesting to see how people change themselves 500 years from now.  I certainly doubt that face-lifts and lypo-suction  will be all the rage.  Perhaps tentacles will be in style.

Week Five: Thoughts on Midterm Presentations

the future of science

The largest feeling I drew from the midterm presentations was one of awe given the prospect of such an exciting future. There are so many fields of research just waiting for ambitious persons to tackle. As far-fetched as some of the project proposals were, they all reminded me of what the future of science and technology has to offer. Nanotech, in particular fascinates me. The presentation about carbon nanotubes, while completely unrealistic, does bring up interesting ideas about using super-strong nanotech fibers/metals in armors. It will also be interesting to see how the future of robotics and nanotech addresses our current energy woes. The presentation about robotic bio-fuel harvesters seemed like a semi-realistic idea of what could happen in the future as our energy needs increase along with progression of robotic AI. In addition to biofuels, it would be interesting to see how robots will displace traditional agriculture. I wonder how long it will take for agriculture to be completely mechanized.

The future of art

While many mediums of art tend to use the same basic technologies over the years, the computer graphics world is in perpetual change. The presentations, while a lot of them weren’t about art, made me think about how much advances in science translate to advancements in computer graphics. My forays into fluid dynamics simulation (Nextlimit’s Realflow, mostly) furthered my appreciation of science’s involvement in cg. It even made me want to take fluid dynamics classes and hardcore physics tends to scare me. Science even filters into my other medium – photography. New advances happen all the time in optics that lead to better lenses and better camera bodies. Not that I can really afford any of them.

Week 4: Bio + Art

thoughts on biology and art

 

Biology is a very interesting field to me, considering im majoring it, I should probably think as much. I’m also into photography and work a lot with computer graphics so the idea of combining biology and art is a very interesting topic to me. I don’t really think i’ll wind up combining art with biology so much as I would bring some biology into my artwork. My midterm project for this class has a bit to due with the idea that biology and art can be combined though its nothing as extreme as some of the examples introduced in class. I really like the idea of simulating life in terms of mathematics and aesthetics. The examples we examined in class were very interesting, especially the animations (which I had seen before, actually). I would love to bring some of those ideas, such as behavioral patterns of wild animals into my work.

 

Why I dont like the GFP bunny

 

I love science, I think it’s fantastic. Moreover, I think genetic engineering is the way of the future. However, I wouldn’t call it art to ask someone else to make a bunny phosphorus green. The artist didn’t challenge any public opinion as it’s already common knowledge that genetically modified organisms are everywhere. He simply wanted to be cutting edge and attempted to do so by sacrificing his own creativity, assuming he had any to begin with. Our guest speaker attempted to validate the artist by placing his artistic aims above the lowly aesthetic. Yet, in order to remove the aesthetic, there must be an underlying idea. Yet, wasn’t the underlying idea created by…scientists? It’s not as if the artist came up with the original idea of modifying an animal. It seems that this piece is just a bunny that barely glows green. All I would think of, while looking at this piece (if it were to exist) is that genetics is going to continually involve itself in our lives.

Wk3: Thoughts on robots

on robots

Robots have always been very interesting to me. I’ve always liked science fiction so I suppose that makes sense. But real-life robots seem to get more fascinating on a daily basis. Robots have come a long way over the years, giving us the creepy Asimo and the scary unmanned military vehicles. Of course, more interesting still is what will come in the future. Asimo is one thing, but it would be quite another to have robots do things like run farms by themselves or something equally useful.

Though robots also scare the living hell out of me. Just a few days ago, a robotic canon killed 8 people in some kind of malfunction. But I suppose that’s how it goes. With any significant new technology, people die using it or because of it.

Blade runner brought up an interesting point and while I have yet to see the movie, it certainly made me think about a few things. In the movie, robotics has evolved to the point where androids are sentient beings. It’s very interesting to think about how society would deal with an increasing involvement of robots in our lives. I suppose one day humankind will one day have to deal with a blurred line between man and machine.

More on robots

Films like the Matrix and 2001 depict sentient robots as having a completely negative affect on humanity. In the Matrix, robots have enslaved all of humanity…and in 2001 a supercomputer manning a spaceship tries to murder its crew. Both not so positive about the whole smart robot thing. I have the hopeful vision that this isn’t how the future will be. Label me an optimist if you will, but I don’t really expect a Skynet or a society of robots using humans as fleshy batteries. I think the fundamental problem with these concepts of the future is that they don’t have the concept of gradual change. I’m not going to wake in the morning, turn on the news and hear about the nation of Asimo declaring its sovereignty (later called Asimostan, if you must know). In 100 years, I doubt it will be very strange to think of robots as companions, friends, whatever, just not as metallic evil doers who are going to do mean things to you because you are a silly bag of flesh. It just seems rather silly to think of future progress in technology and science from the present, rather than from the eyes of the societies that they exist in.