Monday, June 6, 2016


In culminating this course, the third event I went to was the book release of Professor Vesna's collaboration project "Morphano: Works by Victoria Vesna - A Decade of Collaboration 2002-2012 with Nanoscientist James Gimzewski."

As a huge fan of Professor Vesna and her work, this event was very inspirational to my personal opinions towards art and science collaborations. I was extremely excited to hear her and her colleagues speak about open involvement to anyone interested in becoming a part of the movement.

It was inspiring to see a collaboration lasting a decade long and even still present. In my personal experience with working with other artists, it was hard to keep the passion required to succeed in place with lots of uncontrollable disruptions between other members of the groups, in terms of effort and recognition.

I think the "Brainstorming" piece where Professor Vesna and her colleagues made visual representations of brain storming by performance was accurate in reinstating the philosophical significance of putting minds of different creators, science and art, in a room together to work.

In quoting Linda Weintraub from the Professor Vesna's book, she states, "Like the experience of the sublime, frontiers of exploration are often identified with radical shifts of scale," I think she reinstates the comments made by Professor Gimzewski, where he said that the scientific method has been been explored and pushed to its limits, that we need artists now to innovate and make new leaps in science and art all together. I felt very emotionally connected to this idea and still think about how anyone could get involved if creativity has become more of a prerequisite than technical knowledge in this case.


I have stressed that there is a high level of philosophy in all of these lectures and events, that it is not just bringing two worlds together, but the possibility of doing so has existed for so long and is still undermined, and it offers more recognition to human intelligence and its possibilities.

(Crackled Neurons by Greg A. Dunn -

This course and event has motivated to do more research in neuroscience and art. In an article by Stanford University, they reinstate one of the class themes that it is "characterizes art as imaginative,
subjective, narrative, and often controversial, but very rarely scientific."

(Art piece of brain activity by Audrius Plioplys

The idea of bringing artists to scientific settings is something I constantly express admiration for. Take for example, artist Audrius Plioplys has "has transformed the artist's studio into a neurobiology research laboratory: he has merged neuroscience with art." It is interesting to see how controversial this idea is and how people write about it. Also, I came across the 'Neuroesthetics' movement that takes "a scientific approach to the study of aesthetic perceptions of art, music, or any object that can give rise to aesthetic judgments." I am excited to see how all these movements and collaborations expand to the mainstream in my lifetime.

How do we explain the origins of art without understanding the human brain that neuroscience attempts to do, and how do we neglect the possibilities that may result with careful applications of neuroscience and scientific data to artistic expression? These are a few of the things I've thought about. I do not have the answers to them, however. I feel like most people that are in the forefront of this movement are experimenting to find out. I want a place in this movement.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to learn and be exposed to truths I never knew existed before, as well as the potential I never knew I had. I really hope I find my way working in this field. I believe we are all capable of learning, some faster and easier than others, but I think for me specifically, I will find it challenging and rewarding to apply my learning skills to new concepts in both science and art. Thank you Professor Vesna, Symrin, and Professor Gimzewski again for all the values given to me in this course.

Paulina Shafir


VICTORIA VESNA. Victoria Vesna. N.p., n.d. Web.

Huang, Mengfei. "The Neuroscience of Creativity." Comic Art, Creativity and the Law (n.d.): 7-11. Http:// Web. <>.

"Art of Neuroscience." Society for Neuroscience. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.


Noe, Alva. "Art and the Limits of Neuroscience." Opinionator Art and the Limits of Neuroscience Comments. New York Times, 4 Dec. 2011. Web. <>.

"Neuroesthetics." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. <>.


For my second event, I attended a presentation by Maria Antonia Gonzalez Valerio on her interdisciplinary projects at the National Autonomous University of Mexico on May 26 at 6 pm.

I found this presentation very worth while and wish it was given at a large scale. I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned from it was the possibility to spread messages, political or social, through these experiments involving art and science, and the possibility to get involved without having expensive equipment.
(Professor Vesna and I <3)

For example, with her involvement in “Sin origen/Sin Semilla (first transgenic and biotechnological exhibition in Mexico)”, this sent messages to people all over Mexico that GMO crops do have some sort of toxicity in them due to the use of pesticides and the country should keep defending itself from the persuasive business intentions of Monsanto.


Maria stated her philosophical position very well in my opinion. I think the questions she posed about the logistical aspects of performing in the scientific method with the use of machines that constantly need to be updated and adapted to versus the consistency in performing individual methods in art, should artists have labs? As I research and search with keywords, "artists" and "labs" it is disappointing to see how few results come up. 

It seems that most art and science experiments are done as collaborations. There is nothing wrong with that, I collaborate everyday in different ways. But, the connotation in my opinion, is very voluntary and not expected, as if the only way we can get these two forms of expressing reality is by mutual desire and not as part of how we learn and create. I am not sure if this makes sense, I am still trying to figure it out myself.


I also tried to look up "kitchen labs" and see what is an example of the best at-home labs out there. There are not many examples to see, or I could find on the surface web. I came across an article about "biohackers making at-home labs" who found more benefits in making labs at home than using community labs. It stated, "Science is all about coming up with smart ways to answer hard questions. But sometimes getting those answers requires expensive machines." In relation to Maria's argument, she expressed the ineffectiveness of needing such equipment, when there are people out there who are using creative ways to make DIY science legitimate, such as the "Rock N' Roll" biotech group/event at Aalto University in Finland. 


The biggest take away I can express from this event to not surpass the word limit, is the potential to find answers unconventionally and be a part of this movement if the passion, curiosity, and philosophy is there. As an artist, I would love my own lab, in ways it could be a "studio" but I don't want to limit the use of its space just to paint and photography equipment, but as a space that anything can be made in. 


"Hic Et Nunc/News." MAGV. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

"Mexico's Transgenic Maize under Fire." Nature Publishing Group, n.d. Web. <>.

"Residency Program." Art/Science. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Biba, Erin. "Genome at Home: Biohackers Build Their Own Labs." Conde Nast Digital, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2011. <>.

Nicholson, Leigh. "Hacking the Body-the Scientific Counter-culture of the DIYbio Movement." Hacking the Body-the Scientific Counter-culture of the DIYbio Movement. N.p., 2 Sept. 2015. Web. <>.

"DIYbio." DIYbio. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Since growing up, I’ve always been fascinated by astronomy and space. I always enjoyed drawing or painting planets, stars, or even galaxies. I believe studying astronomy and quantum physics is a sort of religion, in which certain people use these sciences to make sense of their realities and fuel their imaginations.


For example, this lecture and assignment motivated to seek out specifically artists and astronomers and I came across the International Association of Astronomical Artists, who believe that “Space Art” is “is the genre of modern artistic expression emerging from knowledge and ideas associated with outer space, both as a source of inspiration and as a means for visualizing and promoting space travel.” Here is a photo of Titan’s surface by one of the contributing artists below.


Artists have paved the way for humans to visualize how space and the universe looks like. Our space explorations caused a paradigm shift in human possibilities of exploration and immensely heightened our curiosities. Author Leonard Shlain argues, “Art interprets the visible world. Physics charts its unseen workings. The two realms seem completely opposed. But consider that both strive to reveal truths for which there are no words––with physicists using the language of mathematics and artists using visual images.”


 Copernicus paved the way for either artist, mathematician, or scientist, to comprehend what lies beyond our physical space and planet. As our lectured showed, his influence still hangs over all of these disciplines and society to this day. All of his discoveries were translated in many ways and required artists to bring these ideas alive. For example, Jonathan Keats made an installation of "Copernican art" which shows a sculpture of hydrogen in front of beige canvases representing the universe.

 I believe that "Space art" is a perfect example of how both parts of our brains used simultaneously   over time has helped society and innovate our possibilities of human intelligence. These lectures and the research made by these ideas on this assignment reinstate my beliefs of its potential to expand. 


Uconlineprogram. "8 Space Pt1 1280x720." YouTube. YouTube, 29 July 2013. Web. 29 May 2016. <>.

"What Is Space Art?" International Association of Astronomical Artists. N.p., 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 29 May 2016. <>.

"Cool Cosmos." Cool Cosmos. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.

"Meet the Father of Modern Space Art." Atlas Obscura. N.p., 27 May 2016. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.

Shlain, Leonard. Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light. New York: Morrow, 1991. Web. <>.

"Nicolaus Copernicus Biography: Facts and Discoveries." N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016. <>.

"Artist Pushes for 'Copernican Revolution' in the Arts." N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2016. <>.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


NanoTech is a field of science that I had no idea existed until now. I was familiar of the measure of atoms using nano units from studying Physics. Seeing how much art has been made using nanotechnology is fascinating but not shocking to me; I’m inspired by seeing things up close. I’ve read a few books written by Stephen Hawking and he mentions Richard Feynman throughout most of his books.

I think most people are curious to see things that are far away or far from reach, up close. Perhaps this is the reason why camera companies are constantly improving their product’s capacity for more megapixels. Each megapixel is composed of exactly one milion pixels in an image, being sort of a measurement similar to macro, micro, and nano but in different dimensions.


After watching Dr. Gimzewski’s lectures, I wanted to delve more into the artistic innovations that have been created and influenced by NanoTech. Artist Cris Orfescu, who works at, makes artistic images by using Titanium-Carbon bond compounds and then using synthetic coloring. This image is called “Black Eye NanoOctopus” and was printed onto a canvas.  

PBS showcased a few works submitted in the Materials Research Society’s “Science as Art” competition. Below is an image of a flower only two micrometers long. In this way, I think nanotechnology reinforces the idea of repetition in matter and energy, showing that things we don’t necessarily see with the naked eye still exist, and even in familiarized forms.

Finally, I am curious about how much nanotechnology has shaped philosophers and authors in their views of society and the masses. The idea that we can take things a part at such levels, will allow us to see the world and even society much differently. As even in politics or economics, addressing issues at just the surface level will ignore much at the bottom. I believe those who understand the potential in using nanotechnology will allow people to create and innovate different technologies, products, or medicines, but also ideologies. 

As said by Axel Gelfert in the Sage Journal, "The emergence, allure, and implications of nanotechnology, it is argued, can only be fully appreciated if one looks beyond its immediate technical and scientific payoffs to its infrastructural and ideological aspects."

Lilley, Maiken. "The Art of Nanotech." PBS. PBS, 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

Feder, Barnaby J. "The Art of Nanotech." Bits The Art of Nanotech Comments. New York Times, n.d. Web. 25 Jan 2008. <>.

"Do More Megapixels Mean Better Photo Quality?" :: Digital Photo Secrets. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design. New York: Bantam, 2010. N. pag. Print.

Gelfert, Axel. "Nanotechnology as Ideology: Towards a Critical Theory of ‘Converging Technologies’." 17.1 (2012): 143-64. Sage Journals. Web. <>.

Uconlineprogram. "Nanotech Jim Pt1." YouTube. YouTube, 21 May 2012. Web. 23 May 2016. <>.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


I found this week’s material fascinating and inspirational. For my midterm project, I created a hypothetical microchip that could help some of the psychological disorders discussed in the LSD studies, such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, and criminal behaviors.

LSD has always been interesting debate for me. I have researched the effects of LSD in other courses and have always concluded it was generally not as harmful as its label describes and not as destructive as other drugs are like Cocaine.

Lots of artists have used LSD in their creative processes and have made huge discoveries of their potential while using the drug. This artist, with an unknown name, drew a series of portraits while taking LSD. The first image is 15 minutes after taking it, the second is after about 2 hours, and the last image was about 9 hours.



Marlene Dobkin De Rios writes in her book referenced below, about how LSD influences the imagination and the creative process using clinical research of Dr. Janiger. They claimed that LSD had a solid connection with spirituality. Other authors like Glen Hanson, who wrote Drugs and Society, have done experiments and showed adverse effects but most of the artists they gave the drug to, admitted to it making them more insightful.

Lots of the music I listen to like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Doors, were all musical ensembles that used LSD and used cryptic lyrics in their music to describe the experiences they had.


This lecture allowed me to revisit my preconceived notions about neurology, as well as opening my mind to some of the fundamentals of neuroscience as mentioned in the first lecture.


Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience pt.3" N.p., 16 May 2012. Web. <>.

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience pt.1." N.p., 16 May 2012. Web. <>.

Dobkin De Rios, Marlene. LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process: Based on the Groundbreaking Research of Oscar Janiger, M.D. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web. <>.

LeVert, Suzanne. The Facts about LSD. Tarrytown, NY: Benchmark, 2005. Web. <>.

Hanson, Glen R. Drugs and Society N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Sunday, May 8, 2016



Before this week, I was not aware of how much art occurs in the biotech world and I am extremely fascinated and also a bit morally challenged. I always felt that genetic modification that is used to produce wide scale profit, like Monsanto’s products, override the benefits that these experiments offer. I am also fearful of recycled hegemonic genetics to change natural culture. 

I was always bothered by the implications that genetic modification may have on the claims made by Social Darwinism, and how genetic cleansing may facilitate the production of organisms without “undesired genes” as George Gessert used in his experimentations with the Iris flowers. The idea that a set of genes may determine the success of an organism in an environment would ultimately create the option for people to use historical biases in justification of modifying genes.

However, I do believe that humans should have ultimate creative freedom. I guess we could only hope that there are more progressive consequences than destructive ones. I thought Alba the glowing bunny was really interesting and suggestive of medical advancements under careful and ethical standards. It amazes me how much we are capable of doing at this early point of our technological era. Just recently, scientists grew a human embryo in a lab for two weeks. The immediate question is what kind of genes was used in that embryo’s DNA.  


At the same time, I agree that further delving into biotech would bring advances in medicine. For example, Google proposes an injected eye mechanism that would essentially make a computerized “eye” but also helps people with issues that affect vision.

 I'm inclined to follow the progression of biotech and art for the years to come and take one of the lessons of this topic away that 'anything is possible' and use it for my future creations.

Dickens, Peter. Social Darwinism: Linking Evolutionary Thought to Social Theory. Buckingham: Open UP, 2000. Web. <>.

"Human Embryo Grown in Lab : DNews." DNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2016. <>.

Uconlineprogram. "5 BioArt Pt5." YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 09 May 2016. <>.

"New Google Device Injected Into Eyeball : DNews." DNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2016. <>.

"Products." Biotechnology. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2016. <>.