Sunday, July 31, 2016

Event #1 - National Art Gallery of Albania

The National Art Gallery of Albania is one of the most renowned institutions in all of Albania. Under the dependency of the Ministry of Culture, The National Art Gallery preserves over 5,000 works of art and it features several different expositions that are both pleasing to look at as well as educational regarding the history and culture of Albania and other countries.



The most interesting exhibition I looked at was one that showed the urban plan of Albania in 2030. Considering the fact that Albania is plagued by such intense corruption, I thought it would be immensely interesting to see what the visionaries have planned for my tiny country.

The various aspects of the exhibit addressed the plan for sustainable economic development, improvements in quality of life in urban and rural areas, and the protection and improvement of the quality of the natural environment.

Much of the vision centered around an area of Albania from the capitol, Tirana, to the city of Durres where a lot of construction and investment is currently occurring.

What I found most interesting about the exhibit, was the connection between art and technology that was utilized to portray the various projects.

Pictured below are the black box rooms that utilized projectors to portray image and video onto screens that showed the vision that was created for Albania in 2030.


Another very interesting piece was a map of Albania that was created in the ground and a projector was synced up to the audio that explained directly on the map where the improvements were going to be made as well as the effects of climate change in Albania. Below, I have attached pictures and a video of this piece.





video



Proof of Attendance: Ticket Stubs





EXTRA CREDIT EVENT - The National Museum of History

The National Museum of History in Tirana, Albania is the largest museum in all of Albania. The museum includes 8 pavilions: Pavilion of Antiquity, Pavilion of the Middle Ages, Pavilion of Renaissance, Pavilion of Independence, Pavilion of Iconography, Pavilion of the National Liberation Antifascist War, Pavilion of Communist Terror, and Pavilion of Mother Teresa. All of these 8 pavilions work together to explain the key events in Albanian History. 

The museum is filled with amazingly beautiful works of art such as sculptures, paintings, and statues. 

The thing I found most interesting in a museum dominated by art, is the display of the technology that was present in Albania during the time of the Communist Regime. The video camera pictured below, was used by the British journalist Daniel Damon from the "Sky News" television station and by the Albanian journalils, Azis Gjergjito film the events of the years 1990-1991, among which the falling of Enver Hoxha's (the Communist dictator of Albania) statue n Tirana. 



This is absolutely mind blowing, as some of the events that completely changed the course of history are documented in this technology that has now become a piece of art with which to remember our past. 

Another piece of technology I found very interesting was the tape recorder "UHER" that was used by the investigation teams which was retrieved from the archives of the Ministry of International Affairs. 


The amazing pieces on display in this museum are a phenomenal method of utilizing artistic expression to tell the history of an entire nation spanning hundreds of years. 


Image: Picture of me standing outside of the Mother Theresa Pavilion 


Image: Commander Bato which led the most powerful revolts of the Illyrians against 
the Roman Empire in the years 6-9 B.C. 


Image: The City of Berat in Albania


Image: George Castriot Skanderbeg, Albania's national hero



Proof of Attendance: Ticket Stub and Receipt 






Sunday, July 24, 2016

Space + Art

When thinking about outer space, the first thing that comes to my mind is this image of unfamiliarity and unknown territory stretching infinitely. When it comes to outer space, we have learned so much, yet we know so little. After watching Carl Sagan's video, Pale Blue Dot, it definitely shifts my perspective and helps me truly understand why our knowledge of outer space is so limited. Sagan's video shows the picture of earth from the greatest distance that it has ever been taken. In the picture we are able to view Earth as a tiny blue dot. This relates to the Powers of Ten video that truly opened my eyes to the power of adding one zero when looking at the world. This actually helped me better understand why making mathematical mistakes when it comes to powers of ten are viewed with such outrage and shock by the scientific community. Being that Earth is our source of life, it is easy to view it as the most important thing in the world, however looking at earth from such a vast distance is an especially humbling experience to realize that we are only a very tiny and seemingly insignificant part of such a vast universe.

Image: Earth - A Pale Blue Dot 


When relating space to art, in a statements made by Annick Bureaud of The Leonardo Space Art Projec, Bureaud says that artists "reveal the essence of space for human beings in the twentieth century" and they "have been the fuel of space exploration, embodying in their art the dreams of humankind, making these dreams desirable for engineers to achieve." I found this statement to resonate with me because the curiosity, imagination, and passion with which artists perceive the world is truly influential in sparking scientific research to further that curiosity and inspire even more wander.

Scientific exploration has been one of the most competitive fields in human history. Countries are constantly competing with each other to see who can acquire the most knowledge the fastest. This competition has led to many conspiracy theories that are very interesting to explore, namely the accusation that America's Apollo moon landing video is fake and that it is all an orchestrated, hollywood hoax designed solely to claim that the first man on the moon was an American. Among many other reasons, one of the biggest reasons why this is so controversial is because the flag in the video appears to be flapping as if in a breeze which is impossible in the airless surface of the moon.


Image: Apollo Moon Landing - Fluttering Flag 

Space is the one place where scientists and artists can co-exist in peace. This is because scientists can continue to study space to better understand the universe and its inner workings and artists like Chesley Bonestell can continue to create art that mimics the intricate beauty that lies within space and to help people conceptualize the different concepts and imagery used by scientists.


Image: Saturn as seen from Titan, 1944 - Chesley Bonestell

Sources: 
1. “A Pale Blue Dot.” A Pale Blue Dot. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.bigskyastroclub.org/pale_blue_dot.html>.
2. Eames, Charles and Ray. “Powers of Ten” video. Eames Office. 1977. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=25&v=0fKBhvDjuy0>
3.  Malina, Roger, Arthur Woods, Annick Bureaud, and B.E. Johnson. "Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers." Leonardo Space Art Project Visioneers. MIT Press, n.d. Web. 25 July 2016.
4. "PHOTOS: 8 Moon-Landing Hoax Myths -- Busted." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 25 July 2016.
5. "Bonestell.org - The Art of Chesley Bonestell." Bonestell.org - The Art of Chesley Bonestell. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2016.

Images:
1. A Pale Blue Dot. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.
2. Apollo Moon Landing. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.
3. Bonestell, Chesley. Saturn as Seen from Titan, 1944. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.



Event #2 - Krujë Castle Albania

One of the most renowned national monuments in Albania is the Krujë Castle in Krujë, Albania. The castle is infamous for the Turkish sieges that it withstood during the Albanian Revolt of 1432-36. The Krujë Casle has also been transformed into a museum dedicated to Albania's national hero, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg who fought for Albania against the Ottomans in 1444.

The Krujë Caste hold many famous paintings and sculptures as well as the sword of Skanderbeg.

In addition to being an artistic and historical monument, the castle has also inspired the development of new technology in Albania. The Krujë Castle is a huge tourist hotspot and the startup teams in Albania are working to develop a system of classifying the important historical monuments in Albania. They are trying to utilize QR codes to make it easier for tourists to scan various parts of monuments and read a little more about the historical context of each monument.

Although the project is still in the early developmental stages, it is an idea that will hopefully fuel tourism in Albania even more. When I went visited the castle, I found that it had been significantly reconstructed and there was a lot more information presented to visitors for each piece inside the museum. This was very helpful because it helped me gain a better understanding of Albanian history. Considering the fact that I left Albania when I was very young, it was hard for me to read the explanations in Albanian for each piece in the museum and as a result my parents had to explain it to me. With the development of the QR code project, the descriptions of the monuments and pieces of the museum would be written in English as well which is an international language and would significantly facilitate tourism and understanding of Albanian history.





















George Kastriot in battle against the                       Mamica Kastriot, George's sister.
Ottomans.

Hallway leading to George's Sword.



My cousin and I reading old letters sent by George Kastriot talking about Albania.

Proof of Attendance: 

Ticket stub 


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Biotech + Art

Biotechnology is defined as “any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use” (Article 2. Use of Terms). 

When considering biotechnology in terms of art, one is confronted with the awe-inspiring but also controversial BioArt. BioArt manipulates the genetic construct of living creatures in order to enable artistic expression. As a result, many people such as Ellen Levy are battling with the question as to whether this genetic manipulation for artistic expression is ethical or humane.

Eduardo Kac is an American artist famous for his creation of the fluorescent bunny, Alba. Kac created Alba as a method of artistic expression, but also ad a tool for testing the transferability of DNA across species. This genetic modification is the essence of BioArt, which “is a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering to transfer natural or synthetic genes to an organism, to create unique living beings” (Kac).


Eduard Kac's fluorescent rabbit, Alba

When thinking about biotechnology and after reading Levy’s article, I cannot help but think about human cloning. Last quarter, I took an English class where we read the book Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The book essentially addresses the concept of the cloning of humans solely for the purpose of providing organs and biological necessities for the naturally born humans. The book, however, is written from the perspective of the clones who are exactly like humans in terms of their construct, social norms, and emotional capacity. Although a complete cloning of a human being has not yet been developed, scientists are eagerly experimenting with the cloning of human body parts and organs.

Book: Never Let Me Go by  Kazuo Ishiguro

By experimenting with the concept of xenotransplantation, scientists have genetically modified pigs to grow human organs suitable for transplantation. Although utilizing pigs to develop human organs that can save lives is an amazing thing, the experimentation is also very dangerous, as there exists the “possibility of spreading viruses from one species to another” (Trivedi).

              
                                                          Using a pig to grow a human ear. 


Sources:
1.     "Article 2. Use of Terms." Convention on Biological Diversity. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2016.
2.     Levy, Ellen K. Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classification. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF.
3.     3. Kac, Eduardo. "GFP BUNNY." GFP BUNNY. Ekac, 2000. Web. 10 May 2015.
4.     Kazuo, Ishiguro. Never Let Me Go. New York: Vintage International, 2005.
5.     Trivedi, Bijal P. "Cloned Pigs Modified for Use in Human Transplants." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 17 July 2016.

Image Sources
1.     Kac, Eduardo. Alba, the fluorescent rabbit. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.
2.     The book, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.
3.     Pig xenotransplantation with human ear. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.




Nanotech+Art

Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale from a range of 1 to 100 nanometers. The scale of nanotechnology is very interesting because it is very difficult for the human brain to conceptualize at is it far smaller than the size of things that can be registered by human vision. Scientists have tried to relate it to human hair because “the average thickness of a human hair is ~5 x 10-5m, which is (50,000) nm” (Gimzewski). They have also related it to the human head by claiming “a nanometer would be the size of a human head in relation to the size of the planet if the planet were the size of the human head” (Gimzewski).

One of the most interesting pieces of art that was made possible through the use of nanotechnology is the creation of audible speakers from bones. This project by Boo Chapple is called “Transjuicer” and it utilizes “the piezoelectric nature of the bone matrix in order to cause bone to vibrate in such a way as to generate audible sound” (Art.Base).


Some artists, like Christian Orfescu, use devices such as scanning electron microscopes to create abstract art by imaging the molecular landscabes of different materials.


In addition to creating new forms of art, nanotechnology is also immensely useful in developing new methods of preserving art that are safer and more reliable. The NanoForArt project is created to engineer and develop conservation products that are environmentally friendly as well as reliable in professional conservation of artwork.



Sources:
1.     "What is Nanotechnology?" Nano.gov. National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d. Web. 17 July 2016.
2.     "Art in the Age of Nanotechnology." Art.Base. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2016.
3.     Gimzewski, Jim and Vesna, Victoria. "The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science." Web. 17 July 2016.
4.     Feder, Barnaby J. "The Art of Nanotech." The New York Times. N.p., 25 Jan. 2008. Web. 17 July 2016.
5.     "The Fine Art of Nanotech - Horizon 2020 - European Commission." Horizon 2020. N.p., 23 June 2015. Web. 17 July 2016.

Image Sources:
1.     Comparison of Macro, Micro and Nanoscale. Digital image. NTNU Tech Zone. N.p., 23 Feb. 2016. Web.
2.     Chapple, Boo. Transjuicer. Digital image. N.p., 2009. Web.

3.     Orfescu, Christian. Light through a Pinhole No.2. Digital image. N.p., 2008. Web.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 2: Medicine+Technology+Art


Image: Preparation for plastic surgery. Photo by Getty. 

Plastic surgery has always been a topic that has deeply interested me. Not because I want to make any changes to my appearance, but rather because I am completely shocked by the tremendous and growing popularity of reconstructive surgery.

When thinking of medical technology and art, reconstructive procedures are the epitome of both fields working in unison. The human body is one of the most heavily utilized methods of artistic expression. It is an intricate web of different systems to create something so complex and beautiful. This biological beauty of the human body is explored by Donald E. Ingber who explains architecture of the body as tensegrity which is “a system that stabilizes itself mechanically because of the way in which tensional and compressive forces are distributed and balanced within the structure” (Ingber 48).

            In a world constantly striving for perfection, people demand the most outrageous of transformations in an attempt to reach their version of perfection. With the outrageous demands that doctors are constantly presented with, The Hippocratic Oath portrays the seriousness of their work in upholding certain ethical standards in their practice of medicine.

            “The most popular cosmetic procedures are for making eyes rounder, slimming down jaws, or making noses pointier” (Sharma). Lip injections and wrinkle eliminations are also very popular procedures in a world where youth seems to be of primary importance. In the age of social media and taking the perfect “selfie”, more women than ever are resulting to plastic surgery and facial reconstruction to improve their image.

            One of the most popular countries for plastic, reconstructive surgeries is China. Plastic surgery “sales to Chinese consumers [is] poised to double to 800 billion yuan ($122 billion) by 2019, up from 400 billion yuan in 2014” and China is “is set to become the industry’s third-largest market in the world” (Burkitt). The millions of apps available online to enhance the skin and structure of the face to create the “perfect selfie” is also significantly influencing the growing market for reconstructive surgeries.

Image: Chinese website that pairs individuals to plastic surgery clinics. 

            In addition to utilizing art to medically alter a person, there are also artists that utilize medical technology to create new forms of artistic expression. Diane Gromala, for example, utilizes biofeedback and virtual reality to create images of the inside of the human body.


Image: Digital Dervish 1993 by Diane Gromala

 Sources:
  1. Ingber, Donald E. "The Architecture of Life." Sci Am Scientific American 278.1 (1998): 48-57. Web. 3 July 2016.
  2. TEDxAmericanRiviera - Diane Gromala - Curative Powers of Wet, Raw Beauty. Youtube.com. Web. 3 July 2016.
  3. Tyson, Peter. "The Hippocratic Oath Today." NOVA. PBS, 2001. Web. 3 July 2016.
  4. Burkitt, Laurie. "Beauty and the East: China’s Plastic Surgery Boom." WSJ. N.p., 5 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 July 2016.
  5.  Sharma, Swati. "Surgery to Die For: Surgeries of Any Kind Come with Their Own Risks." Http://www.deccanchronicle.com/. Deccan Chronicle, 07 June 2016. Web. 03 July 2016.