I really enjoyed having class outside this past week. The setting was especially fitting because we discussed the idea of nature. Previously, I had not thought deeply about the concepts of nature and of the natural. I was surprised to discover that even though we, as a society, tend to view natural things to be better, many of us do not realize how little we interact with nature. Sitting in the Sculpture Garden our class was surrounded by trees, grass, and shrubs, but these plants are not nature.
From the start, the project that interested me the most was Jimmy Zhi’s “Plant DNA” project proposal. As a molecular biologist, the idea of using DNA as a medium is very cool. DNA is something that we learn about in great depth and that we work with very often, yet most of us have never touched it or seen it with the naked eye. I think the creation of an art piece that brings DNA to our scale would be really fascinating.
This lesson challenged me to reevaluate my own relationship with a material so common in the modern world that we throw away tons of it every year without a second thought. Dr. Gimzewski, a chemistry professor at UCLA, gave us a lecture about the chemistry of plastics and its use in modern society.
From this week’s lesson, I found bread to be a perfect example of art and science coming together. Browsing the bread aisle in the grocery store we forget how complex bread is. From a few basic ingredients, we can bake many different types of bread by tweaking various aspects of the process (Rubin). Great bakers learn to fine tune their ingredients and methods to perfect their bread. This process of trial and error to produce a great loaf of bread is surprisingly similar to the scientific method of trial and error.
Last week I attended artist and author Linda Weintraub’s keynote lecture about eco-materialism and some of her workshops which demonstrate concepts from her new book What’s Next? Eco-Materialism and Contemporary Art. Weintraub proposes a new movement in art that involves interacting with materials and mediums in new ways. Human society nowadays is disconnected from nature, and Weintraub argues that this disconnect causes the divide is detrimental to our relation to nature.