Sunday, April 24, 2016

Medicine + Technology + Art

It is quite interesting to see how we are shifting in the way we see us, the way our bodies are being manipulated and how we are participating in this general culture.

The Visible Human Project created detailed data sets of cross section photographs of the human body in order to facilitate anatomy visualization applications. A male and female cadaver were used, they were cut into thin slices and photographed. The bodies themselves caused an ethics debate. The male cadaver is Paul Jernigan, a murderer executed by Texas, he donated his body for scientific research at the prompting of a prison chaplain. The female cadaver was a 59 year old donor who remains anonymous, she has been described as a housewife who died of a heart attack. It is often theorized her husband donated her without her consent.

Male & Female Cadaver

We often take X-rays for granted, but they are an intrinsic part of our society.  In 1895 Wilhem Rontgen produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength today known as X-rays or Rontgen rays. "X"- rays were a mathematical designation for something he didn’t know. He x-rayed his wife and it showed her wedding ring and her bones, she exclaimed “I have seen my death”. This electrified the scientific community and raised great scientific interest.


Most medical technology came out of war, but plastic surgery has been around since 4,000 years ago. It comes to us from the east, physicians in ancient india were using skin grafts for reconstructive work as early as 800 B.C. The word plastic does not mean artificial, it is derived from the ancient greek word plasticos which means to give mold or to give form. WWI made plastic surgery necessary, the best medical talents devoted themselves to reconstructing faces and lives during and after WWI.

Harold Gillies

Orlan, a french artist has been engaged in body performance art since the 70's. She uses plastic surgery to define herself and engage the idea of what is beauty.  Beginning in the 90's she started a series of surgical performances that were live, videotaped, and quite a spectacle. She brought a lot of attention to what it means to be beautiful, what it means to age, and how much control do we have over our look.  While being performed on, she read philosophical, literary, and psychological text. Her objective was to embody the visions of beauty created by renowned artists throughout history.

Harold Gillies. Digital image. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <>.
Orlan. Digital image. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <>.
X-Ray. Digital image. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <>.
Male & Female Cadaver. Digital image. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <>.
MutleeIsTheAntiGod. "Orlan - Carnal Art (2001) Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
"Medicine Pt3." YouTube. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
Tyson, Peter. "The Hippocratic Oath Today." PBS. PBS, 2001. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
"The National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.
"The History of Cosmetic Surgery - How It All Began." Robinson Cosmetic Surgery, Denver, Colorado. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Robotics + Art

Industrialization and manufacturing are the forefathers of robotics. The origins of manufacturing can be traced back to the printing press. The printing press contributed to the growing renaissance and facilitated the scientific method. It ushered in the beginning of mass production and knowledge exchange.

Printing Press 

Robots emerged in relation to mass production and assembly lines. The mastermind behind assembly lines was Henry Ford. Ford started with the car, which at first were only for the rich. In 1940 that all changed. Ford came up with an idea for a car that was accessible to everyone. To make this possible he came up with an assembly line for workers. With this assembly line, Taylorism came into the picture. In this scientific practice of management, workers were being treated like they were part of the machine.

Ford Assembly Line

The political also became intertwined with machine. Futurism drives in Italy in 1909, with Le Figaro “a futurist manifesto”. Italians celebrated the automobile as an item of beauty with speed and acceleration as the aesthetic element. They believed the splendor of the world had been enriched by new beauty, the beauty of speed. However, futurism had a very short run. Unfortunately, their culture of speed and power turned into fascism with WWI. Though overshadowed by their negative ending, futurists were central to the creation and development of kinetic art and robotics.

Le Figaro

Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist. His work was influential during the 20's, a time when political issues entered into the art world. Benjamin analyzes how mechanical reproduction destroys uniqueness, aura, and authenticity in works of art. He believed the withering of the “aura” is inevitable. Mechanical reproduction emancipates works of art from the dependence of ritual.

Walter Benjamin

The border between artist and designer, artist and engineer is not quite as clear cut in Japan as it is the West. Hiroshi Ishiguro is a prime example. He creates multiple geminoids, including one of himself. He goes through plastic surgery constantly so that the Geminoid and himself stay the same throughout the years. He wants to understand himself, understand human beings by creating something very similar but very different.

Horishi Ishiguro & Gemini

This is what robotics and art are at its core: the human quest for advancement, evolution, knowledge and understanding of society and themselves through any medium possible.

Printing Press. Digital image. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.
Ford Assembly Line. Digital image. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.
Le Figaro. Digital image. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.
Walter Benjamin. Digital image. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.
Horishi Ishiguro. Digital image. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.
Marinetti, F.T.. “The Futurist Manifesto.” masi. N.p.. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Marxists. N.p.. Web. 17 Apr. 2016  <>.
Uconlineprogram. "Robotics MachikoKusahara 1." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
Uconlineprogram. "Robotics Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.
"Taylorism Henry Ford." Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Math + Art

I try to stay away from math related subjects, numbers are not my specialty. Numbers to me never appear in a positive light, it’s usually debt, fluctuating weight, or not enough zeros on a pay stub. Though putting aside my personal feelings, I generally consider myself to be very appreciative of the way mathematics influences and moves us forward as a species, whether it be in science, art, or both combined.

Weight and Money

As a scholar who studies the east, it was fascinating to learn about the contributions the east had on the field of mathematics and art. Al Haytham, for example was a medieval muslim scholar who is considered a genius of his time in optics. His book of optics was hugely influential on renaissance artists, it transformed the way in which light and vision was understood, and it is considered the foundation of modern physical optics.

Kitab al-manazir (Book on Optics)

Learning about African Fractals was really insightful, both on what fractals are and how the african culture use them. A fractal is a pattern that repeats itself at different scales. Africans have been using fractals for centuries to design textiles, sculptures, architecture, hairstyles and more. Fractals are even used in technology by engineers creating antennas for cellphones. Antennas on wireless devices need similar reception over many different wave lengths, meaning it must have a similar structure at different scales, much like a fractal.

Ethiopian Fractals

Personally I never thought much of spirals, I just knew they were fun to draw and a hypnotist one day might use one to make me cluck like a chicken. But a spiral is so much more, it like a fractal is an ubiquitous natural phenomenon whose essence is its form. Logarithmic spirals depict growth and expansion in the universe, they can be reflected in structures as diverse as sea shells, whirlpools, hurricanes and even galaxies. If that wasn’t enough, in socio economic terms they can be seen in a stock market’s progress. Both fractals and spirals reveal underlying order within structures that seem chaotic on the surface.

Elliot Wave Pattern

The juxtaposition of art, math and science is always there, if one looks closely enough. While I usually don't fully understand and I can't relay to you the specifics of the symbiotic relationship, I can appreciate and acknowledge the history and contributions all three have made to one another in the past and ongoing present.

Elliott Wave Pattern. Digital image. Web. 9 Apr. 2016. <>.
Ethiopian Fractals. Digital image. Web. 9 Apr. 2016. <>.
Kitab al-manazir (Book on Optics). Digital image. Web. 9 Apr. 2016. <>.
Weight and Money. Digital image. Web. 9 Apr. 201616. <>.
"African Fractals." African Fractals. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. <>.

Fibonacci, Fractals and Financial Markets - Socionomics.net

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week 1: Introduction

C.P Snow believes that how we define scientists and non scientists is mostly misinterpretation, and it is ALL destructive. By defining we are creating spheres or “cultures” in which one can not be more or less than what they are prescribed to be. I believe each individual is different and generalizations often are demeaning, wrong, and lead only to conflict. In the spirit of defining one’s self, let me introduce myself. Hello my name is Bryan Ceron, I am a 4th year Middle Eastern Studies major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I am taking this class to challenge myself, my methodologies, my perceptions, more generally what I am blissfully unaware of and never question.

Defining Oneself
John Brockman believes that the bridges being constructed between the two cultures are still very fragile. At UC Santa Barbara this bridge was never apparent to me, until I started to think about it. I believe it’s physical manifestation is the Library, it’s in the middle of campus and connects both the Humanities/Arts side with the Science/Technical side. This bridge is very fragile, I believe those who run our system know this very well. There is not a day goes by where the library is not being renovated or new donations are being used to strengthen this bridge by creating a new building or buying new technology to keep the system afloat.

Construction UCSB Library Addition
C. P Snow believes that both artist and scientist are involved in the world of intuiting change in perception and materializing it for others to experience, see and ultimately change. I myself fall into the humanities “literary intellectual”, I’m not an artist and I certainly am not a scientist, I study the works of others. More specifically I study the Middle East as a whole, the cultures, religions, and it’s vast history. The perception of the middle east and the belief that an individual such as myself can institute change is what brought me to this field. The east, whether it be the Middle East or any other non western country is often seen as backwards and in need of guidance. Unfortunately for the Middle East, the history of imperialism and western intervention is far from over and their oppression is what strengthens my resolve to understand the why and hopefully do some good. 

If God Wills it


Toward a Third Culture: Being in between
Victoria Vesna

Leonardo, Vol. 34, No. 2. (2001), pp. 121-125.

Snow, C.P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1961. Print