Friday, June 3, 2016

Event Blog #3: Staring in the Age of Distraction (SAD)

Staring in the Age of Distraction (SAD), a poignant acronym for the exhibition given the tragic events that unfolded this past Wednesday
On Thursday, June 2nd, I attended the Design | Media Arts Senior Exhibition, Staring in the Age of Distraction. The exhibition focused on the works of 49 graduating undergraduates in the Design | Media Arts department, and the theme revolved around the idea of creating and viewing art in an age where we are often over-stimulated with constant images, noises, and events happening around us. Given the tragic homicide-suicide that happened on our campus the day before, the theme of the senior exhibition hit close to home. How do we find time to process our emotions, much less view art, when external forces (e.g., clubs, professors, supervisors, friends, etc.) expect so much from us all the time?

When you find out your friend Louis is a Design | Media Arts major one week before we graduate #oops
At the exhibition, I saw my friend, Louis. Thinking he was only there as an attendee, I was surprised to find out that he was there because he was featured as one of the artists. Turns out Louis is not only a Biology major, but also a Design | Media Arts major as well! Louis then directed me to his project, titled Pain and Pleasure. 

Pain and Pleasure + Me being very excited
Louis showed me his two-seat bench with cacti surrounding it and speakers attached to the bottom. He explained to me that touching the cacti through the heat emitted from your hand will cause them to elicit a noise. After asking him why he chose to create this piece, Louis described how he wanted to explore the concept of pain and pleasure--comfort and discomfort. Are you willing to risk getting pricked by a cactus's needles if it means being able to hear a pleasant noise? What are the costs you are willing to take if it means being able to fully enjoy the piece?  Although he was worried about audiences being unable to hear the noise being emitted once they touched the cacti, I found it very fitting for his piece to be hard to hear given the theme of the exhibition. 

The proud artist with his work!
Louis and I also discussed the intersections between art and science--something he is at the center of given his double major in the arts and life sciences. Through his work, Louis wants to accelerate our society's entry into the third culture, where we use science to create art. Art, then, would be the medium to inspire new ideas in the sciences as well as have broader society fall in love with science (or at least get excited about it). Our discussion brought me back to the entire purpose of this course, and I am very happy to see how one of my friends is directly involved with creating meaningful work that bridges the gap between art and science. 

Pham, Louis. Web. Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. London: Cambridge UP, 1993. Print.
"☹Staring in the Age of Distraction☹." Facebook. 

Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. London: Cambridge UP, 1993. Print.
Vesna, Victoria. "Toward a Third Culture: Being In Between." Leonardo 34.2 (2001): 121-25.
Zakaria, Fareed. "Why America's Obsession with STEM Education Is Dangerous."Washington Post. The Washington Post. Web. 02 Apr. 2016.

Event Blog #2: Maria Antonia Gonzalez Valerio

Professor Maria Antonia Gonzalez Valerio + Me in the audience
On Thursday, May 26th, I attended Professor Maria Antonia Gonzalez Valerio's lecture on Philosophy + Art + Science. Valerio currently teaches at the National Autonomous University in Mexico, where she leads the interdisciplinary collective that bridges the gaps between the humanities, arts, and sciences. 

Professor Valerio as she lectures on the philosophical approach of art and science
Given Valerio's background in philosophy, the main focus of her lecture was on the philosophical aspect of the intersections between art and science. She noted the increased prevalence of art and science in society, which can be seen in festivals, galleries, and machines. This increase in prevalence, then, leads to more hype, allowing others to be more critical about what is being done. 

Valerio continues her philosophical approach to raise a variety of questions. Why include art when it does not generate new knowledge in science? How is the field of art and science moving forward to create definitions of meaning as opposed to furthering understanding of the field? What does "art and science" even mean? Although Valerio did not have the answers to all these questions, I really enjoyed hearing her speak about how it was necessary for artists, scientists, and philosophers to with more specific, hands-on projects in collectives to produce more meaningful work. 

Should there be limits to bioart?
One portion of Valerio's lecture that stood out to me was when she began to discuss biotechnology and art. She discussed creating a distinction between art + science and art + nature/living. In this distinction, art + science is about producing work that comprehends reality--a model for what currently exists. Art + nature/living, on the other hand, produces work that is related to nature--a reflection on how humanity has manipulated nature throughout history through industrial and biotechnological means. 

With the discussion of biotechnology comes the discussion on bioethics. Should artists understand the biopolitics of being in a biology lab, or should they simply outsource their work to scientists? Is it necessary for bioartists to understand science and its protocols? Should bioethics be applied to bioart? Whether or not people believe bioart is a valid art form, Professor Valerio's lecture highlights how it is still an emerging field that deserves attention. 

Anker, Suzanne. "The beginnings and ends of bioart." Web. 
Kelty, Chris. “Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology?”. Web.
Levy, Ellen. “Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications.” Web.

Vesna, Victoria. “BioArt pt. 1-5.” Lecture. Web.
Zylinska, Joanne. "Taking Responsibility for Life: Bioethnics and Bioart." Ethics and the Arts. Web.