Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 4 Post

The field of medicine stands to grow in leaps and bounds from the arts. One way that we've already discussed in lecture from Robert Lang's TED Talk. Lang explained how a crease pattern could expand to hold open a blocked artery to the heart. He even ended his talk with the statement that "someday, origami can save a life."
Origami Stent, a project by Zhong You
To further the harmony between art and medicine, medical illustrations help others better understand the inner workings of the human body. A successful medical illustrator is such a niche skill because the illustrator must have a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy as well as the ability to replicate exactly what he observes in fine detail. One celebrated medical illustrator was Frank Netter, who published The Atlas of Human Anatomy and was dubbed the "Michelangelo of Medicine." Netter created over 4,000 medical images that are used by countless medical students today, which paves the way for technology and 3D imaging.
Netter, a watercolor plate that shows the muscles and veins of the head
An Forbes article explains that "the medical illustrators in the future will likely use more 3D technology as key elements in their apps and illustrations, helping to pull layers apart to reveal the inner aspects and structure." Imagine surgeons practicing a surgery on a 3D program before performing it on a patient! The Forbes article also mentions that in the medical field,  "it seems that students with more 'right brain' qualities–related to imagery, visual and drawing skills–have begun to emerge as more successful in today’s digital, image-based world of medicine". This seems to debunk the idea that medicine is solely about the hard sciences of biology and chemistry, and that the right-brain creativity comes in handy in medicine.

Diane Gromala's TED Talk about virtual reality also sparks some new ideas for medicine. Her explanation of VR's stress-relieving capabilities reminded me of art and music therapy, and it seems that VR has huge potential to advance those fields. VAN Beethoven came to the UCLA campus earlier this school year and was a visual music experience that could easily be recreated for the purpose of relaxation, and furthermore accessed by many of the general public with a VR headset.

But to take VR even further, I think Gromala's experiment with a skeletal scan of her own torso could be broadened to an experience of the entire human body from the inside--Magic School Bus-style. Imagine the biology lessons that directly allow students to observe what DNA replication would look like inside of the body!

Bell, Susan. "Know How to Fold 'Em: How Origami Changed Science, From Heart Stents to Airbags." L.A. Weekly. N.p., 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <>.

Glatter, Robert. "Can Studying Art Help Medical Students Become Better Doctors?" Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <>.

Lang, Robert. "The Math and Magic of Origami." TED. TED, Feb. 2008. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <>.

Lerner, Barron H. "Frank Netter, MD: The Michelangelo of Medicine." The Atlantic. The Atlantic, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <>.

"VAN Beethoven | LA Phil." VAN Beethoven | LA Phil. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <>.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Week 3 Post

To start off my blog post for this week, I'd like to discuss the meaning of art in terms of robotics. I personally don't view the existence of a robot or technology to be a form of art, however I will say that there is an art in coding and engineering itself. I view that art to be more of a skill than a form of expression. Robots are typically created to serve a purpose, which I don't believe to be a component of art.

As mentioned in lecture, Marie Shelley's Frankenstein is a celebrated and well known example of technology-gone-wrong, and is one of the first in a trend of robot mishaps. One film that I'd like to mention that has generated a lot of attention for its artistic themes is 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie follows a voyage to Jupiter in a ship with a sentient robot, Hal, who slowly takes control of the ship. The idea of robots expanded the realm of science fiction, creating new topics of conversation.

The Arduino TED Talk celebrated the mass proliferation of robotics and technology through open source sharing, but what stood out about the speech to me was actually the ease of access for 3D printing. The invention of 3D printing has opened up many possibilities in health and science, but also endless avenues in the arts. Countless sculptures can be printed in place of other mediums which would take much, much longer, but 3D printed art is no less impressive than traditional.

3D Printed Fashion
This 3D printed piece by Luke Jerram is is actually a sculpture of a seismograph of the Tohoku earthquake that devastated Japan, "extract[ing] art and beauty out of that terrible event." This is a perfect example of art, science, technology, robotics, and mathematics all coming together. This piece is beautiful on its own (almost looks like an audio waveform which is why it caught my attention), but with the additional meaning of the tragic earthquake, it officially becomes a form of artistic expression. The seismograph is the unemotional math and numbers representation of the destruction in Japan.

Tōhoku Japanese Earthquake Sculpture, Luke Jerram


"Catastrophe Becomes Art With 3D Printing." PCWorld. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Full Mooned: 3D Printed Fashion." Scarletchamberlincom. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. <>.

"HAL's Birthday." HAL's Birthday. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016 <>.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Diana Gibson. Frankenstein. Madrid, España: Edimat Libros, 2000. Print.

"WHAT IS ARDUINO?" Arduino. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. <>.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Week 2 Post

Adobe Illustrator blew my mind. In Illustrator, images aren't bound by their pixel values but rather expressed using mathematical forms called vectors. This means that an image can be made as large as needed without losing quality because the mathematical properties can be easily scaled, unlike pixel-based images that can only stretch so far before lines begin to blur. It is much easier to understand how math is involved in computer programs, which is why I was so astonished at the mathematics behind the art of origami as explained by Robert Lang. His explanation of circle packing that allows for infinite levels of detail from a single sheet of paper is incredibly simple, but limitless.
Crease Pattern Example designed by Brian Chan
The interactive pieces of Nathan Selikoff came as little surprise; assigning a numerical value to audio frequencies creates visual patterns in the simplest voice recording programs. Another example of this is Daniel Sierra's "Oscillate" which uses simple mathematical formulas to create geometric 3D shapes and effects. Sierra explains in his Bio page that he uses "animation, programming, computer graphics and digital sound synthesis" to create many variations of "immersive digital environments," which is essentially a beautiful blend of mathematics and art. (I strongly encourage you to watch the full video, it's quite stunning.)

Daniel Sierra
In many senses, math can be a lens through which we see the world. I know from experience that when you recreate their 3D scene on a 2D canvas, the beginning step is comparing everything to everything else, it's making your field of vision into a combination of ratios. This car is a fifth of this building, this cat's tail is curled to a third of its body length, and so on. I had never thought of these ratios to be fully expressed in mathematical variables until I read through the "Vanishing Points" lesson by  Frantz. Even though the expression is incredibly simple and I know for a fact that I've done these sort of calculations before when sketching a scene, the thought of writing real life as cold hard mathematical fact seems... uncomfortable. I think this is because I strongly believe that I am not and will never be a "math person," and the juxtaposition of a math equation with parentheses and capital versus lowercase letters feels like an invasion of my norms.
Vanishing Points and Looking at Art by Marc Frantz

 Chan, Brian. "Rei v. 3." Origami Rei. July 2008. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <>.
 Frantz, Marc. Lesson 3: Vanishing Points and Looking at Art. 2000. PDF. 
Lang, Robert. "The Math and Magic of Origami." TED. Feb. 2008. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <>. 
 "Nathan Selikoff | Fine Artist Playing with Interactivity, Math, Code." Nathan Selikoff. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <>. 
 Sierra, Daniel. "Oscillate." Daniel Sierra. Web. 09 Apr. 2016. <>. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week 1 Post

If art and science are indeed two distinct cultures, I'd fall decisively on the side of art. I entered UCLA as a Pre-Economics major, but no matter how hard I tried, the mathematics never made sense. The arts have always been a strong passion of mine, from fine arts to occasionally dreaming that I can sing well enough to perform. The line between the arts and the sciences is strikingly clear on the UCLA campus (clearly North versus South campus as referenced in lecture), but it was even clear at my high school, with defined “art and music buildings” and “math and science buildings.” In fact, the only educational institution that didn’t section science versus art was in elementary school. This realization reminds me of the Changing Educational Paradigms video that details a study of creativity in children at five-year intervals. The shift, from child to adult, of scoring 98% to a mere 2% “genius rate” comes with the categorization of learning (Land and Jarman). A Google Image search of “creativity and age” shows a consistent trend of a peak in early years and then constant dwindling of creativity.
 In my opinion, the idea of creativity has always been very closely linked to the arts, to the point where they’re typically synonymous. Again, to pull from Google, “creativity” is linked to vibrancy and color, while the idea of “science” is white lab coats and sterile environments.

I am not quite convinced, however, of the idea of two completely distinct disciplines. Web design, architecture, even advertising strategies are all examples of what I believe to be interdisciplinary. I prefer to think of art versus science as a spectrum, for “contemporary art practice, particularly that utilizing digital technology, is loaded with references to science” (Vesna, 123).  Furthermore, “Feyerabend suggests that if we assume that science and art share a problem-solving attitude, the only significant difference between them would disappear” (Vesna, 124). Art is typically seen to be expressive, but political writings or detailed diagrams can be viewed as problem-solving. If there are “challenges in making science relevant to nonscientists… barriers to effective science communication,” (Williams) it is due to a lack of communication between the humanities and the sciences. The acceptance that the two disciples are forever separate is the root of difficulties.