Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Event 1: BattleBots!! [April 20th]

So I have been dying to get tickets to see Battlebots, as it is now a TV show on ABC (fun fact, it originally aired on Comedy Central). I was lucky enough to get a free ticket to see the fights, thanks to Professor Dennis Hong. It was so much fun!
Announcement/Recap area for Battlebots
For those who do not know what Battlebots is, it is this awesome competition where people from all over the world compete to see whose killer robot dominates. Despite the violence of it all, a lot of art is implemented in the robot designs. Many designs are attributed to not only the destructive potential but also to look really cool. Take Bronco and Bite Force or example (the pictures below): each of these robots have a unique design that had to not only consider the engineering and science perspectives of the competition but also the aesthetics of looking like an awesome robot. Just like in the robotics lecture, the evolution of robotic technologies is not only within medical technologies but in entertainment, as well.

Bite Force

Yes, it's a bunch of people making robots, that's not art, right? I beg to differ. The art not only comes from the robot itself but the entertainment and enjoyment it brings to people. I was in the audience and met many people from all over (Oklahoma, Canada, Japan, Sweden, the list goes on) and they all came together to cheer on their favorite competitor. It's a community of all people nerding out over the design and destruction of their favorite team's robots. I like to think of it this way, the arena is the canvas, the robots are the colors, and the painters are the robot creators whose designs are made in detail to keep people thinking and excited about their art form.
The arena
Side note, I got to meet the one and only Adam Savage!! You may know him better from Myth Busters. He's a really nice guy and one of the judges for this year's season of BattleBots
The one, the only, Adam Savage!
So yes, BattleBots if a bunch of robots destroying each other, but if you peel the layers back, it is a modern art form within the robotic community that keeps people guessing and excited to more things to come. For those of you curious or still unsure about Battlebots, here is a trailer from last season.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Human Body and Medical Technologies

Professor Vesna discussed the evolution of X-Rays and MRIs and how that came about to save a lot of lives concerning medical cases of cancer, seizures, strokes, etc. Personally, I have seen the wonders of these machines as they have helped my father detect he had cancer and show my mother's degenerative arthritis eating her knee.
MRI Machine
I find it very odd that machines of such kind in its infancy was considered art and not of use for medical practices. They have clearly been of great use in discovering and exploring different diseases and medical anomalies, and I am forever grateful of the impact it has had on my family.

These new technologies have also been educational to the general public, specifically with the evolution of plastication in which polymers and body tissue are morphed to construct a body art form. This art created by Gunther Von Hagens was originally intended for medical instruction but later became public as an exhibit, showing preserved human bodies to educate the general population. I have personally been to this exhibit many times and it is quite fascinating.

There are also the down sides to medical technologies, for me specifically in cloning and mutation. I will take two movies to go off: The Island and X-Men.

In The Island, there is a group of clones that are held in a reservation and believe the real world is too contaminated with the exception of the island that isn't contaminated. Essentially people that are raffled off to the island are murdered as they are utilized for medical purposed for their real-life counterparts. X-Men deals with mutants, or the people that have special abilities due to their mutated DNA. There is a big ordeal of trying to overthrow the mutants as well as perform research on them for bad purposes. Both of these movies, though clearly fictional, offer a scary future that may come into reality if technology goes into the wrong hands. Many ethical dilemmas can be brought up if technology is used in such a neglecting manner.

Despite these outlooks, medical procedures find itself submerged into the artistic world, as shown by Orlan. She is famous for having reconstructive surgeries as a way to express different art eras and genres. Though I wouldn't personally go through this ordeal, like many reporters say in the documentary, it is a unique art form that combines medical advances and art.

Christophe Luxereau picture of Robotic Knee Implementation


Beatowner. "The Island Trailer." YouTube. YouTube, 29 Sept. 2007. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

MutleeIsTheAntiGod. "Orlan - Carnal Art (2001) Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 13 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. 

Petersenjak. "X Men (2000) - Trailer 1 HD." YouTube. YouTube, 04 Aug. 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Medicine Pt2." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. 

Von Hagens, Gunther. "Bodyworlds." Bodyworlds. Institute for Plastication, 2006. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Robotics and Art

To be quite honest, I was never really interested in robotics, that is until I became more exposed to the capabilities of what it can be. You would think a mechanical engineer would automatically be into robots, but not me. I was always interested in the thermodynamics, fluids and heat transfer aspects, but I digress. 

Robot saying hi.
This week has given me the opportunity to explore the art behind robotics and what it can do to not only entertain and create but also to better society. A perfect movie example of robots helping humans is Big Hero 6, one of my personal favorite movies.In the movie, an engineering student creates a robot that provides health care. Without going into full detail of the movie, this robot eventually helps fight crime with a team of students. However, there is a part of the movie where the robot goes "evil" and starts to go against orders.

Big Hero 6 Movie Poster
This seems to be a common theme in movies and novels where robots have tendencies of harming society, as stated by Professor Vesna in lecture. Much of our perception of robots are guided by media, which I think is ironic because our computers and phones used to tell us these things are robots, visual and computational ones at that. We are in a very integrated in robotics without knowing it yet we attack it because of the potential dangers it may pose. McNeals interview with Martin Ford about his book Rise of the Robots explored the concerns that humans with have fewer jobs as things become automated. Though I think this is somewhat true, I think technological innovations will bring in more new jobs as technology has been evolving at quite a rapid rate in the past 50 years. There is much that can be done to help people, such as help the blind drive. Professor Dennis Hong, who happen to be my senior design professor, created a car that does so: let's blind people drive. During one of his lectures, he commented that creativity and artistry is needed when solving world problems, and the the end goal should not only be for the purposes of achieving the set goal but also to make an impact on other people's lives. We must look at the good in what robotics can bring and not dwell on the fantasized evil that can emerge. Like I said before, we already use robots in our lives, so why turn on them now?
Cool example of very early implementation of robotics with integration of cams.


McNeal, Marguerite. "Rise of the Machines: The Future Has Lots of Robots, Few Jobs for Humans." Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. 

Technology News. "'The Writer' Automaton." YouTube. YouTube, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. 

TED Talks. "Making a Car for Blind Drivers." Dennis Hong. TED Talks, Mar. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Robotics Pt1." YouTube. YouTube, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Robotics MachikoKusahara 1." YouTube. YouTube, 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Math and Art

As an engineer, one may make the assumption that I am obssessed only with math and not art. This is definitely false! This week has depicted the integration of math into art and I am relieved that this topic is being covered because I believe math is really under-appreciated by the conscious of many. From lecture, much art is the use of simple geometries that are used to create complex ones and  they all combine mathematical formulas to produce perspective. Take this mobius strip for example: the curvature of this can be defined by mathematical formulas and creates a surface that technically only has one edge and one face making it one of the puzzling yet brilliant pieces of artwork.

Mobius Strip: the curiosity that has only one side and one face.

Maurits Cornelis Escher was one of the artists that explored the mathematical principles of topology, polyhedrons, tesselations, and logic space in order to create works of art that are regarded heavily by mathematicians. Below is one of his pieces of artwork that creates two different perspectives of the same area with a use of a central point.
Up and Down; lithograph 1947

As you can see his use of the vanishing central point to expand views not only creates perspective but creates the artistic illusion of the floor being the ceiling of the same building.

There are even more cool integrations of math that occur in artwork. The use of fractals shows extremely similar processes to that of a PID (proportional-integral-derivative) controller used in engineering design. Both of these essentially create iterations, or repeated processes, that later result in a final product: for the fractals there is repetition of shapes to create a desired pattern, for PID controllers there is repetition of input to continuously adjust output.

Iterative Process of Recursion for Fractals

PID Controller for processes

For a better understanding of what a PID controller does, you can watch this video above.

A modern use of science and art is Nathan Selikoff's sound clock in which the sounds create visual vibrations on a virtually projected clock. This is very inventive because it takes an everyday piece of machinery and creates it into an artform that integrates the science of sound waves.

For me, it is quite clear that there resides a plethora of similarities between art and science through the use of mathematics. HOWEVER, it is clear that we have forgotten the history of how art has developed and create this realm that art is not scientific or mathematical when it clearly is! We need to bring awareness of these similarities and restore creativity in the arts and sciences.


Uconlineprogram. "Mathematics-pt1-ZeroPerspectiveGoldenMean.mov." YouTube. YouTube, 09 Apr. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Roy, Peter V. "African Fractals." African Fractals. National Science Foundation. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Smith, Sidney B. "The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher." The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher. Platonic Realms, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Douglas, Brian. "PID Control - A Brief Introduction." YouTube. YouTube, 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Selikoff, Nathan. "Nathan Selikoff | Fine Artist Playing with Interactivity, Math, Code." Nathan Selikoff. Web. 10 Apr. 2016. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Two Cultures

Upon reading the articles from Snow and other authors, there seems to be a common agreement that there remains a great disparity between science and art and that our current education system is to be the blame for it. Much of the divide comes from the lack of understanding between the two cultures because our schooling drove us toward that manner.

The cultures of art and science are extremely divided at UCLA. As a Mechanical Engineering major and I rarely come into contact with North Campus students. The fact that we as students already label ourselves as North and South campus majors is an eminent divide that causes the disparity between art and science. As said in Lecture, UCLA campus is divided with the arts in the northern part, and sciences in the southern part. Not only is this a structural divide but a cultural one as well, as students fight to legitimize that their major is better. (You should click here for more opinions on North versus South Campus controversy.)

These perspectives on the divide of art and science and how they are implemented on our education system are not eye-opening to me as I have been a victim of the so called "factory system" of education described in the changing education paradigms video. I knew it existed as I constantly battled with school districts when I was younger, fighting for the school to accommodate my needs rather than assimilate myself to the general needs of others. I am really good at math and science and learned at a much faster rate in those subjects. This doesn't mean other students are not smart, they just have different capabilities and learning rates. Students should be able to learn at a rate they can excel and not conform to the standards that schools push children through. Because everyone knows how successful Common Core is doing...
I find myself quite artistic in some aspects as I am an engineering designer by profession. I do think that the creativity that comes with art is needed in sciences because there is too much structure in finding a "correct solution". As Bohm said, scientists must have a creative state of mind, as it will help with challenges and result in out-of-the-box solutions.


TheRSAorg. "RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms."YouTube. YouTube, 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

Bohm, D. "On Creativity." JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2016.

Snow, C.P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. New York: Cambridge UP, 1959. Print.

Vesna, Victoria. "Toward a Third Culture: Being In Between." Leonardo. 34 (2001): 121-125. Print.

Wali, Kiran. "Is a ‘science Student’ Smarter than an ‘arts Student’?" The Express Tribune Blog RSS. The Express Tribune, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.