Sunday, July 24, 2016

Extra Credit: Event 3

Me in front of Bodies: The Exhibition at the Hotel Luxor in Las Vegas

On July 2nd, I went to “Bodies: The Exhibition” similar to the Bodies World exhibit I learned about in week two. I was able to see fascinating specimens that were preserved through plastination. Plastination allows the preservation of the muscle tissue and organs of an organism by halting its decomposition. The polymer solution replaces normal body fluids cutting off any present bacteria’s food source thereby halting decomposition.
Cross sectional portions of the human body
Throughout the exhibit there were both full human bodies, cross sectional slices of the human body, individual organs and bone specimens. The preserves that most caught my eye were the the pregnant mother with her baby still in the womb and the preserved human fetuses displaying each stage of in utero development.
A Museum proctor and I

One of their largest displays was similar to the Visible Human Project which took images of a thinly-sliced body in order to create a comprehensive representation of each layer of the body. Although controversial, this technique seems to have lasted throughout the years because this exhibit’s final display was an entire body laid out on a table with each cross section displayed in stacking order. By preserving the human body, practices that could only be seen in the surgical room are now widely available to the public. The correlation of science and art is very clear in this exhibit. The use of medical technology to expand the knowledge of the public as well as make an art exhibit shows the beauty of the human body.


Exhibition, Bodies The. "Learn More." Premeirexhibtions. Premier Exhibitions, 2014. Web. 24 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Medicine Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Original & Copycat." Exhibitions. N.p., 2006-2016. Web. 24 July 2016.

"The Plastination Process." Plastination. N.p., 2006-2016. Web. 24 July 2016.

OriginalBodyWorlds. "BODY WORLDS - The Plastination Technique." YouTube. YouTube, 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 July 2016.


All images by Kaelyn Bowers

Event Blog 2

Last Saturday, I visited the Museum of Science and Industry located in Chicago between Lake Michigan and The University of Chicago. The museum is dedicated to the exploration and display of scientific and technological advancement. One of the most popular exhibits in this extensive museum pertains to genetics. Specifically, cloning and genetic modification of life forms.  

Me and a museum attendant at the Museum of Science and Industry

One exhibit displayed the cloning of mice. The mice all had identical gene sequences. The cloning process is accomplished by taking the nucleus of a somatic cell within an organism and inserting the genetic information of the donor cell into the nucleus of an unfertilized egg where the nucleus had been previously removed. The eggs are then activated and implanted into the the mother as an early-stage embryo. Three weeks later, the cloned mouse is born.  
A cloned mouse

The next exhibit focused on genetically modified organisms (“GMO”). I peered into a tank and saw a genetically modified frog and remembered the BioArt of Eduardo Kac who created the fluorescent bunny, Alba. The frog had a fluorescent green gene inserted into its genome, causing its eyes to glow. The ethics of BioArt are highly controversial and questioned in terms of its usefulness versus the harmful consequences to the affected animal, especially because an animal cannot consent to scientific manipulation of its DNA.  

The exhibit also highlighted the usefulness of GMO’s in food production. The process involves inserting genes to foster desirable traits in plants. Like the experiments with animals, the genes may come from a different unrelated organism or plant. The traits targeted through genetic engineering are deemed to improve the plant’s immunity from pests and disease. The goal is to increase the likelihood of a bountiful
harvest. The process is often more cost-effective than the historical approach of breeding. The exhibit focuses on herbicide-resistant soybeans and corn.

However, GMO foods have been criticized for their lack of flavor and the oddly gargantuan size of the resulting fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes were the first genetically modified foods to be put on the market in 1994. The advantages of genetically modified foods are that they can be resistant to pests, produce larger yields, and have a longer shelf life.  Many would assert that the larger, brighter colors that often result are more aesthetically pleasing than the organic variety of the same fruit or vegetable.

Alba the fluorescent bunny juxtaposed with the Genetically Engineered frogs exhibit


"Clone Process » In-Depth » Explore More: Genetic Engineering." Clone Process » In-Depth » Explore More: Genetic Engineering. N.p., 2004. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Tomatoes." Genetically Modified. N.p., 27 Nov. 2006. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Benefits of GM Food:." GMO. N.p., 2005. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery." - Museum of Science and Industry. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 July 2016.

Kac, Eduardo. "GFP BUNNY." GFP BUNNY. N.p., 2000. Web. 24 July 2016.


Alba the Fluorescent Bunny. N.d. Web. 24 July 2016.

Frog at the Museum of Science and Industry. N.d. Pinimg. Web. 24 July 2016.
All other images by Kaelyn Bowers

Nanotech + Art

Nanotechnology is prevalent in modern life.  However, few know this because of the invisible nature of the innovations that the technology spawns.  Everyday use of nanotechnology can be found in sweat-wicking socks, cell phones, airplanes, high SPF sunscreen, scratch-resistant sunglasses and wrinkle-free shirts. It can be credited with extending the longevity of many products and increasing their safety.
Examples of nanoparticles and their uses

The main reason why many do not understand the extensive implementation of nanotechnology is because of its microscopic nature - proving the old adage “out of sight; out of mind.” A nanoparticle is a small object that behaves as a whole unit in terms of its transport and properties. Nanoparticles are considered objects between 1 and 100 nanometers.  One nanometer is 10 to the negative 9th meters, making it 8 times smaller than a water molecule and completely invisible to the human eye.
The nanoscale

Technology such as the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, created in 1981 by Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig has allowed scientists to map the topography of nanoparticles and further understand their composition.  As stated by our instructor, Victoria Vesna, the unique properties of various nanoparticles has the ability to turn opaque materials transparent, make stable compounds combustible and turn insulators into conductors. Besides the use of nanotechnology in our everyday products, it can be found in medical commodities. Companies such as CytImmune are developing new cancer therapies that will deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells. Silicon nanoparticles will be inserted into the user and will degrade, releasing nanoparticles filled with proteins that directly inject medicine to kill cancer cells.

Video showing mice organs made transparent

The market for new nanotechnology is growing. Eric Drexler of the Foresight Institute, a futurist organization, stated, “In the long run, we will turn dirt into food, ending world hunger, which is another theme that propagated around some nanotechnology enthusiasts who believe it will give humans the power of telepathy. [11]”  As stated in Victoria Vesna’s paper entitled The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact and Fiction in the Construction of a New Science, nanotechnology has the potential to solve starvation as well as create new avenues of communication between the human race. Not only can nanotechnology affect materials on a small scale, it can also affect large scale endeavors such as space travel. A space elevator utilizing nanoparticles in its engineering would allow faster and efficient space exploration.

A film explaining space elevators

Nanotechnology is leading to innovations in artistic expression. Nanoart is an emerging media that utilizes scanning tunneling microscope to make a colorized nanolandscape which are then photographed and blown up to make it accessible to larger audiences. It’s possibilities and limits are unknown.
Nanoart created by  Cris Orfescu

Gimzewski, Jim, and Victoria Vesna. The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of Fact and Fiction in the Construction of a New Science. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Uconlineprogram. "Nanotech Jim Pt6." YouTube. YouTube, 21 May 2012. Web. 24 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Nanotech Jim Pt1." YouTube. YouTube, 21 May 2012. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Nanotechnology Project." PEN News. Project of Emerging Nanotechnologies, 2016. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Nanotechnology in Medicine - Nanomedicine." Nanotechnology in Medicine. Ed. Earl Boysen. Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, n.d. Web. 24 July 2016.

Manda, Ananya, Dr. "What Are Nanoparticles?" AZO Network, 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 24 July 2016.

"Making Organs Transparent to Improve Nanomedicine (video)." American Chemical Society. ACS Chemisty for Life, 11 May 2016. Web. 24 July 2016.


AmerChemSoc. "This Process Can Turn Mice Organs Clear - Headline Science." YouTube. YouTube, 18 May 2016. Web. 24 July 2016.

FDA. Nanoscale. N.d. Web. 24 July 2016.

Orfescu, Cris. Ego - Fine Art Print (Giclee). 2012. Nanoart. Web. 24 July 2016.

Nanotechnology in Everyday Life Nano Consepts. N.d. Nanobusiness. Web. 24 July 2016.

Kurzgesagt. "Space Elevator – Science Fiction or the Future of Mankind?"YouTube. YouTube, 08 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 July 2016.

Space + Art

During the Cold War between 1947 and 1991, the United States took part in their first space explorations. The Cold War spurred the United States to compete with the world’s other superpower, the Soviet Union, in an arms and space race to become the first to create an arsenal of atomic weapons, send a man safely to space and land a man on the moon. Literature and film influenced the era by exciting the public about the possibilities of exploring the universe and discovering a new scientific frontier.  Moreover, futuristic television shows such as The Jetsons  (original series from 1962-1963) and Lost in Space (1965-1968) and the novel, Logan’s Run (1976) exposed American youth to the wonders of scientific innovation, technology and the universe.

April 24, 1990, the hubble space telescope was released into space by the United States, giving us real photographic perspectives of what lies in the universe beyond our solar system. The telescope receives uninterrupted light waves from the universe which are digitized  and translated into photographs.  The first images from the hubble telescope revealed awe inspiring images of galaxies, planets, nebulae and stars that unsurprisingly inspired many artists to create renderings of our universe.
An image of the Mystic Mountain from the Hubble space telescope

Space art inspired by Hubble

NASA has now begun creating robots that can replace humans working in space -- saving many lives from the unpredictable dangers of space.  Despite the popular enthusiasm, space travel has proven to be dangerous for earthlings. Examples of this include the incident of the Russian dog, Laika, dying in 1957 after running out of food while in orbit, as well as the explosions in 1967 and 1986 respectively of manned-spacecrafts Apollo 1 and the Challenger. In contrast, NASA’s robots have the ability to take interplanetary samples to help us learn about our universe without putting human or animal lives in danger.

The ill-fated Challenger launch

The Mars Curiosity Rover

Companies such as Ansari X have begun encouraging people to contribute their ideas for space travel by offering $10 million to anyone who creates a spaceship that can travel to space twice a week and is non-governmentally funded. Incentives like these inspire a new market of commercial space travel. Virgin Galactic, for example, has begun offering travel into space for anyone who can pay $200,000 for a ticket.  The limits of space exploration are yet to be discovered and more possibilities seem to appear daily.  Therefore, the discussion of space exploration and its benefits for earthlings will go on long after our time.  Furthermore, future artist will be inspired by the technology used to explore space in ways that defy current convention.


"Hubble Essentials." HubbleSite. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2016.

"Space Disasters and Close Calls in Human Spaceflight." Space Safety Magazine. N.p., 2014. Web. 19 July 2016.

"Robotic Exploration Rover." NASA. NASA, 2014. Web. 24 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Space Pt4." YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2012. Web. 24 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Space Pt6." YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2012. Web. 24 July 2016.


Mystic Mountain. N.d. Wikimedia. Web. 24 July 2016.

Deltaforce5000tm. "Challenger Disaster Live on CNN." YouTube. YouTube, 24 July 2007. Web. 24 July 2016.

Mars Curiosity Rover. N.d. Nasa. Web. 24 July 2016.

Pastel Art Inspired by Hubble Telescope. N.d. Pinimg. Web. 24 July 2016.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week 4: BioTech + Art

Bio art is a topic that could easily be interpreted as unethical. Scientists’ ability to create lifeforms that do not naturally occur gives the impression that they can assume the roles of God and produce whatever they like with no negative consequences. It is possible that there are reasons why these life forms do not exist and the decision to bring them into existence should be highly questioned. Bio art often fluctuates on the line between science and absurdity. Its main intentions are to catch the viewer's attention and make a social or political statement, however it can be harmful to the animals involved. Failure to consider the quality of life of these animals is not entirely ethical, which is why many people are opposed to the practice.

In Ellen Levy’s article titled “Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classifications”, she poses the question, “Should living materials be used for artistic ends?” The answer to this question I cannot surely say, however, it should be noted that all animals other than humans are not able to consent. For example, cosmetic surgery could be considered Bio art, however the receiver choices whether or not to undergo the procedure. The opposite is true with Marta De Menezes’ experiment involving altering the coloration patterns on butterflies. Similarly, Eduardo Kac created Alba, a fluorescent rabbit, only to experiment on the transferability of DNA between species. I cannot say with certainty that these experiments have been more helpful or more hurtful in the long run.
The wings of a butterfly tested on by Marta De Menezes

A picture of Eduardo Kac and his bunny Alba

Some studies, such as growing ears on mice, have been beneficial for people suffering from disfigurement as well as the advancement of scientific knowledge. In many bio art creations the functionality is lost along the way. There is a great deal of art that doesn’t have a functional purpose other than to raise awareness, but the creation of art that is potentially harmful requires substantial ethical debate.
An ear grown on a mouse

People may argue that Bio art is a necessary form of research, but it should be noted that the subjects cannot elect their participation and the effects of these biological changes are uncertain. Therefore, although hazy, the line between scientific Bio art and provocative Bio art should be regarded with more hesitation when moving forward.


 Levy, Ellen K. Defining Life: Artists Challenge Conventional Classification. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF.

Uconlineprogram. "5 Bioart Pt1 1280x720." YouTube. YouTube, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "5 BioArt Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 17 July 2016.

Cook, Gareth. "Cross Hare: Hop and Glow." Cross Hare: Hop and Glow. The Boston Globe Online, 17 Sept. 2000. Web. 17 July 2016.

Menezes, Marta De. "Nature?" Marta De Menezes. N.p., 2012. Web. 17 July 2016. 


Alba Fluorescent Bunny. N.d. Genomenewsnetwork. Web. 17 July 2016.

Human Ear Grown on Mice. N.d. Wikipedia. Web. 17 July 2016.

Butterfly Wings. N.d. Genomenewsnetwork. Web. 17 July 2016.

Week 4: NeuroScience + Art

This week I was interested to see my favorite movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, mentioned in this week’s reading as a form of neuroculture in today’s society. The film follows the journey of a man (Joel) who undergoes a medical procedure that erases all memories of his previous girlfriend. The drugs he takes allows him to escape reality and cleanse himself of the pain of heartbreak.

Movie poster for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

There are many neurocultural products that have perplexed the human mind in recent history. In the document titled “Neuroculture” by Giovanni Frazzetto and Suzanne Anker they stated, “neuroscience knowledge partakes in our daily lives, social practices and intellectual discourse.” Popular films such as Inception, Interstellar and The Matrix have examined the neurological state of the human mind and its ability to go past its conventional limits to understand our lives on a deeper level.

One way in which people have tried to escape reality and experience an existential existence is by the use of LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). LSD, first discovered by Albert Hofmann, is a drug known for its psychedelic and mind altering effects. When introduced in the 60’s it was said to be a generalized remedy and many people wanted to test this theory. Timothy Leary, a professor at Harvard, created a club known as the Harvard Psychedelic Club and with the help of students, tested the effects of LSD trips on prison inmates. Throughout his trials, he experienced no negative effects on the prisoners, showing that in correct doses it was effective in reducing violent tendencies.
Psychedelic effects of LSD

Even some of the most famous artists and musicians have used LSD for creative inspiration in their paintings and music. Ray Charles, the Beatles, Eric Clapton and Steve Jobs have all been known to experiment with its effects.

The Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds refers to LSD

In recent times, the public’s opinion on LSD has changed greatly because of the psychotic effects it has had on people, such as Ted Kaczynski the infamous unabomber. However, through art and film, psychedelic experiences are still being studied and further understood. Nevertheless LSD has played a pivotal role in influencing the creation of popular culture.


Uconlineprogram. "" YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 17 July 2016.

Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Suzanne Anker. Neuroculture. N.p.: Macmillan Publishers Limited, Nov. 2009. Pdf.

"20 Most Notable LSD Users of All-Time." Coed. N.p., 14 May 2011. Web. 17 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "" YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 17 July 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "Neuroscience Pt3." YouTube. YouTube, 16 May 2012. Web. 17 July 2016.

Kasser, Tim. "Lucy in the Mind of Lennon: An Empirical Analysis of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - The Psych Report." The Psych Report. N.p., 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 July 2016.


GiGiandLex. "The Beatles - Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." YouTube. YouTube, 23 Aug. 2008. Web. 17 July 2016.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. N.d. Schmoeville, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 July 2016.

Effects of LSD. N.d. Http:// Web. 17 July 2016.