Saturday, July 30, 2016

Third Event Blog

Me in the Nvidia VR demo lab
For my third event blog I had the opportunity to demo one of the leading brands in virtual technology, the HTC Vive. The demo was set up at my work where I currently hold an internship as  a software quality assurance intern. It was my first experience with virtual reality and my expectations were blown away. When I first put the goggles on I was put in a field that was set as the default environment. Once my friend selected the carnival demo I was put into a blue cube with square cross sections, and the demo began to load. This carnival demo featured several games like whack-a-mole, water gun shooting, gun shooting to pop a balloon, typical carnival games. Another demo that I got to try was the Tilt Brush, which was probably my favourite. It was surreal being able to draw things in air and be able to walk around the things that I drew.

Me in a cardboard cut-out of the Nvidia CEO
at his house party
The HTC Vive and controllers

What really amazed me with the VR demo was how real everything seemed to be. It wasn't as obviously fake as I thought it would be that I was in a virtual reality. If I let myself sink into the environment I really could have believed that it was real. One of the reasons for this was the tactile feedback in the controllers whenever I interacted with an object. Another was the Nvidia powered physics engines that create amazing effects in the physics of a balloon popping, in the hair of the whack-a-mole game, and the shattering of glass plates. Everything moved and exploded just as you would expect and see in real life. In order to make such a real environment VR needs the amazingly life-like features that an art physics engine can provide.

This interests me a lot because we learned in one of the lectures about a scientist that experimented with inverting goggles that invert the world around the user. The most amazing findings of this scientist was that even after a month of wearing the goggles, once taken off the user's brain is able to re-configure itself to the "real" environment. This amazes me because the VR world is so real, it's not too unbelievable to think that one day in the future the technology will get so good that it will be indistinguishable from real life, and maybe even fully consume some users.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Second Event

Ticket Stub from the Tech Museum
For my second event blog I watched Journey to Space by acclaimed filmmaker Greg MacGillivray. In his spectacular IMAX film, MacGillivray showcases some beautiful imagery ranging from prairie dogs and salmon-fishing brown bears. His main concern is the land scape, using impressive filming techniques to capture expansive scenery onto the IMAX screen. Employing the enormous IMAX cameras in extremely difficult situations ranging from white-water rapids to raging fires, and using close-up wide view shots to show an extraordinary geographical image  The end result is a masterful piece that engages the viewer into a beautiful artwork of Earth's most visually stunning parks. 

Movie Poster
Throughout the film there is a theme of healing and preserving these amazing national parks. Narrated by academy award winner Robert Redford, the picture stresses the sacredness of the land, particularly from the lens of Native American's. It is a powerful piece that shows the strength and impact that amazing artworks can have on some of the world's most pressing issues. Over-population and pollution are two big problems that threaten the worlds national parks, and hopefully many who see this film are able to get a good sense of how delicate the Earth really is.

The actual shooting of this film is a masterpiece in itself. Continuing with the theme of preservation, MacGillivray stayed away from digital cameras and actually tracked down the world’s last remaining inventory of special plastic-based film that is able to withstand extreme temperatures. He uses a combination of 70mm and 3D technology to immerse the viewer in incredible landscapes. This film could quite possibly be the final work to be shot and produced with traditional old school IMAX camera's.

I would highly recommend this IMAX film to anyone. It is an incredible masterpiece that engages the viewer into a world that is not often thought of on a daily basis. Not often do people in American society stop to think about how our national parks are doing, let alone nature itself. This film allows the viewer to take a trip to some of the worlds most amazing beauties, and has the power to make people rethink their actions when it comes to recycling, and pollution. If enough people change their way of thinking to preservation of nature, it will hopefully
eventually create a big enough impact towards preservation.
Traditional IMAX camera

First Event

My Ticket Stub
This past weekend I went to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose to watch the IMAX movie Journey to Space (2015). The colossal screen showcased footage from the international space station, developing space exploration technology, testing of new equipment, and animated projects of future missions. The movie as a whole focused on how far man has progressed in space exploration, and how future endeavors will result in human life on Mars.

One of the first lessons covered in Art, Science, and Technology is C.P. Snow’s famous work about the two diverging cultures in science and art. C.P. Snow’s third culture combines science and art, forming a better-balanced people capable of solving the world’s most threatening problems like over-population. Journey to Space shows how space-exploration would not have gotten to the advanced state it is now without combining knowledge of art and science. Because of advancements in astronaut suits and virtual reality simulators, NASA and other space exploration companies will in the future be able to solve humanities pivotal problem of over-population by sending people to live on Mars and other habitable planets.
Movie Poster

EVA (extravehicular activity) suits have had a much-needed upgrade ever since humanities first trip to space. In 1965 a Soviet cosmonaut named Alexey Leonov recorded the first moonwalk ever by humanity. Alexey commented that the walk was easy, but he had no means of motion other than pulling on a rope, because his EVA suit was stiff and ballooned from the internal pressure against the vacuum of space. Mars’ gravity compared to the Moon’s is much greater, so a suit with more versatility of motion is a necessity. In Journey to Space, a NASA EVA suit designer took us through her skill of combining art with science to develop a better astronaut suit capable of a wider range of motion, due to her use of stronger, more flexible materials, and better design. With these advancements in EVA suits the gravity of Mars will not be a problem for future astronauts. 

Another example from the IMAX film of science and art converging was of NASA’s virtual reality simulation lab. All aspects of space exploration are trained for in this lab with takeoff, EVA missions, and landing. The simulation needs to be accurate to the real thing so with the help of current planet topography maps, artists and designers have developed incredibly true to life simulations using perspective, an artistic technique that is essential for accuracy. Simulations with accurate perspective give the training astronauts an extremely good idea of what to expect when they embark on the real journey.

Artists rendering of future EVA technology
Nasa virtual reality training lab
I would recommend this IMAX film to people interested in humanities current position in space exploration technology. It gives an in depth view of how astronauts and scientists have prepared for future missions and how technology and equipment has advanced ever since humanities first endeavors into space. Space exploration is one of the many fields of science that is greatly benefited by combining art and science. Through the research put into upgrading EVA suits, and the advanced virtual reality training simulations, humanity will be able to achieve many of it’s goals, and will in the future be able to prevent the global issue of over-population.

Space and Art

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space
Space exploration has become one of mankind’s greatest achievements, with the first man in space Yuri Gagarin, to today’s technologies of preparing to send man to Mars. It is an exciting field of science that has gripped the attention of many. It’s hard to imagine what a trip to space would look like without actually going, but with the help of art and design projects, the ordinary man and woman are able to grasp a better picture of what a trip would look like.

At the very beginning of the space race there were propaganda news articles and television broadcasts that served the current state of space exploration to the mass public. Today there are amazing computer generated pictures and movies that can bring accurate beautiful images of the edge of our Galaxy, or the rings of Saturn to the general public. C.P. Snow argued that the third culture is an integral part of human civilization, being able to integrate both disciplines of art and science. With the help of these talented artists and scientists that work together to bring stunning images to any who are interested, the public are able to enjoy and get a good picture of what deep space exploration looks like, and ultimately become excited with what the future of space technology will bring.

Computer generated image (CGI) of Saturn

Popular TV show The Jetson's

Without art the general public would have a hard time imagining what space exploration looks like, and in turn be unable to get excited about it. Popular television shows and movies have been able to get all ranges of ages excited, with the help of The Jetson’s, Star Trek, and Star Wars, fictional portrayals of space travel has sparked the excitement to all. Star Trek fans have always been fascinated with the technologically advanced watches that the characters wear, and with the recent introduction of smart watches in today’s society, fans get a glimpse of how much closer technology is getting to what man once thought was fiction. In the years to come, what was once thought to be fantastic science fiction will become reality.

Blitz, Matt. "The Mysterious Death of the First Man in Space." Popular Mechanics. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 July 2016.
Vesna, Victoria. 'Lecture 5'. DESMA 9. 05/27/2016. Web.
C.P. Snow. Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. 1964. Print.
Vesna, Victoria. "Space and Art." UCLA. Los Angeles, CA. 20 May 2016. Web. 23 May 2016. Staff. "Arms Race." A&E Television Networks, 01 June 2009. Web. 24 May 2016.

"Yuri Gagarin, First Human in Space, Was a Devout Christian, Says His Close Friend - On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars." On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars. N.p., 2011. Web. 24 July 2016.
"The Jetsons (Western Animation) - TV Tropes." TV Tropes. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2016.
"ZI of the Planet Saturn." Getty Images. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2016.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Nanotech and Art

Depiction of how small a nanometer is
It’s funny how science attempts to answer the universe’s most complicated questions, but often time ends up raising many more than it answers. At first glace, nanotechnology doesn’t seem all that daunting, after all it’s just an incredibly small form of scale, but after looking more deeply into it’s applications and how absurdly small the technology gets, it’s impossible to wrap one’s mind around it. One of the most famous Nano scientists Sir Henry Kroto said, “a nanometer would be the size of a human head compared to Earth.” The majority of people haven’t been to space so it’s fairly hard to imagine how big the Earth really is, but it could be understood that a human head is practically infinitely smaller in comparison. As far as unfathomable sciences get in relation to art, Nano science could be one of the best forms to benefit.

Book cover of Crichton's novel
Famous American author Michael Crichton is well known for his works in science fiction. Many of his best selling novels have reached the next level of production, being implemented into movies. This science has benefited greatly by the adoption of art forms by depicting the possibilities of Nano technology in novels the eventually turn into movies, video games, and finally making its way into the collective conscience of the public. What Crichton depicts in his artworks is today’s science fiction, and most science fiction in the past has become today’s reality. If ancient civilizations were introduced to a phone call they would believe the phone to be a conscious being. This thought has led many to believe that what Crichton illustrates in his novels will one day become true. In his cautionary novel Prey, swarms of nanotechnology bots are given artificial intelligence and seek to self-replicate and take over their hosts. In today’s society this seems farfetched, but just like primitive civilizations being amazed with today’s technology, the futures technology will be nothing short of unbelievable by todays measure.

A swarm of people
In Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Vesna’s essay “The nonomeme syndrome” they explain the human race as a swarm within a swarm. That the human body and all of it’s complicated inner parts are made up of swarms of cells, that create humans, which are swarms of pople on Earth, and will eventually explore the universe. In relation to Crichton’s novel depicting a swarm of nanobots attempting to take over the human race, the human race itself has been a swarm of microorganisms taking over the Earth. To comprehend and attempt to explain the scale of nanoparticles to what the human eye can see is a mind-boggling process. The science is fascinatingly hard to imagine, but with the help of art depictions from novels, movies, and video games, it becomes a little easier to comprehend.

"What Is Nanotechnology?" Nano. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2016.
Holt, Jim. "It's the Little Things." The New York Times. The New York Times, 2002. Web. 23 July 2016.
"The Art of Nanotech." Bits The Art of Nanotech Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.
"What Is Nanotechnology?" Nano. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016.
Curtin, John. "Art in the Age of Nanotechnology." Art.Base. N.p., 2009. Web. 22 May 2016. <>

"Green CulturED Cannabis College." Medical Marijuana Glossary. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2016.
"Prey." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2016.
"Swarm Intelligence Reveals a Challenge Facing Self-Driving Cars - UNANIMOUS A.I." UNANIMOUS AI. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 July 2016.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Neuroscience and Art

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and the brain. It is the study of how the nervous system changes, how it’s structure, and inevitably what it does. Ever since life has become conscience questions of intelligence and emotion have been posed. In ancient times Egyptians believed that humans used their hearts to process thought. The brilliant Aristotle thought the same. It is one of the many areas of science that has many more questions than answers, which makes it the perfect discipline for artists to delve into.

Three images of the Brainbow neuron's
An art project, which coalesces extremely well with science, is the Brainbow. Jeff W. Lichtman and Joshua R. Sanes developed the practice in 2007, professors of Molecular & Cellular Biology at Harvard. The Brainbow uses fluorescent proteins to distinguish neurons in the brain from neighboring neurons. The resulting images create a beautiful piece, which has won awards in science photography competitions. The process has majorly contributed to the study of neural connections in the brain, or connectomics.

Matt Mullican's performance
under hypnosis
The study of the mind and dreams is one that is incredibly interesting, especially the fact that humans forget 95 percent of their dreams. The artist Matt Mullican experimented on the unconsciousness through his performance under hypnosis. During his performance, Mullican cries, shakes, rubs on the floor and does other unpleasant things. According to Mullican, it is his way to detach from himself, just like dreams allow the human mind to detach and experience things that the physical body cannot.

The disagreements by two of the world’s greatest philosophers Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud bring upon fascinating viewpoints from different perspectives. For example, Freud thought religion to be a fraud and Jung believed religion to play an important role for people’s development and self-reflection. Recent neurological studies supports Jung's belief that dreams are the most readily accessible expression of the unconscious. Like many of the questions posed by neuroscience, the two philosophers question things that to this day are still un-answerable.
The movie poster for a movie depicting the altercations of famous philosophers
Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud


"Brainbow." Center for Brain Science. Web. 17 May 2016.
"The Believer - Interview with Matt Mullican." The Believer. 2012. Web. 17 May 2016.
"Performance Under Hypnosis (Whitney)", Matt Mulligan." YouTube. Web. 17 May 2016.
Vesna, Vitoria. "" YouTube. Web. 17 May 2016.
Allman J, et al (2001). "The anterior cingulate cortex. The evolution of an interface between emotion and cognition". N Y Acad Sci. 935: 107–17 

"A Dangerous Method Movie Review (2011) | Roger Ebert." All Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.
"Fondazione Antonio Ratti." Matt Mullican. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.
"Brainbow." Center for Brain Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.