This course studies how bioart blurs distinctions between science and art through the combination of artistic and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. It explores the history of biotechnology as well as social implications of this science.
Some content are only accessible to registered users.
Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.
For this assignment, I took a walk around Westwood near the ice cream shop Saffron & Rose. The farther I walked from the shopping center, the closer I got to a residential neighborhood, and in that neighborhood was more nature compared to the shopping center.
I once saw an NCIS episode in which a blind character could detect one of the detective’s emotional state, just based on a tiny change in his voice. The detective was surprised how she essentially figured out his facial expression and emotions without seeing him, and she replied that blind people could hear better. I was very interested in how blindness could indeed be compensated for in a way by having other senses become more sensitive to stimuli.
In this week’s lecture, we learned about different types of rhythms, sounds, and frequencies within our body. We explored topics like the circadian rhythm, brain waves, heart rhythm, and sound frequencies that we could hear. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that runs in the background for our essential functions and processes.
This week's lecture topic excites me, both as a psychobiology student AND as a music industry student. I have been a singer my whole life, so breath and rhythm have always been at the forefront of my creative process.
These past few weeks in Biotechnology and Art I have grown in an understanding that there are more connections between our biochemical state and natural environmental state that are intrinsic to how we function and internalize life events.
I didn’t realize how noisy my home environment was until I got to experience the silent study halls and libraries of UCLA. When the COVID-19 pandemic started and I moved back home, I was bombarded by different noises in my household. I don’t have my own room and all the desks are in a “study room” of the house, but it is also right next to the kitchen and the backyard where my mother would go back and forth from.
Something that deeply resonated with me from lectures was the concept of noise bleaching in our oceans. I’ve always imagined these large bodies of water to be an ecosystem thriving in silence. When I jump into a pool, I am instantly muffled from the bustling that occurs above water level. I derived great joy from the brief escapism, so for as long as I could long my breath, I would swim along the pool floor.
I currently live in a studio apartment in Westwood with my sister and another roommate. So one thing that I have noticed is that there is constantly some kind of sound or noise happening in the apartment. Whether it is the microwave, the food sizzling on the stove, the kettle heating up, or the clicks of the keyboards on our computers, there is always some kind of noise or rhythm everyday.
In class we discussed noises in the form of a heartbeat (a connection to my anatomy course last quarter in which we needed to be able to analyze electroencephalograms, or EEGs), frequencies, vibrations, and the scale of a sound. As my life is constantly filled with music and exuberant voices, the sounds of walking in a bustling city, and birds chirping outside my window, I decided to focus a little bit more on the larger scale in order to dissect my life and the way it relates to the noises I constantly hear around me.
I've always been fascinated by the nature of sound, so for my project, I decided to capture the sounds of nature right in my own backyard. As I began walking around my backyard, the first thing I heard was the crunching of leaves right below my feet, so I decided to record a couple of seconds of walking upon these dry leaves. What first came to mind while doing this was the Mycelium sound walk from Week 4 and how we often fail to notice what is right beneath our feet - whether dead or alive.
As a pianist, I feel like I’m quite attuned to sound, especially rhythm and harmonies in music. But I wanted to use this assignment to catalog sounds from ordinary, everyday life. I decided to go on a “sound walk”, similar to what we did for our serendipity expedition in Week 2 and mycomythology walk in Week 4, only this time with sound. I kind of created a sound map, using each interesting sound as my next destination.
Sound 1, Sunset Village:
This week made me consider noise and how my world is constructed around noise in a way I never had before. I've given some thought to how noise is used in movies and TV: a pounding heartbeat in medical dramas to amp up the tension, ominous minor-key music in thrillers. A recent horror movie I watched, Muted, in which the protagonist is deaf and to highlight how this impacted their experiences in the movie most of the movie was silent, made me especially conscious of how noise or the lack of noise impacts life and interactions.
Being someone who very much enjoys listening to music, I was wondering what kinds of sounds I should be recording in my immediate environment. After all, other than actual music or voices from the television or from the videos I watch on my laptop, there’s nothing inherently interesting or important about the sounds around me, right? But as I ruminated more on that thought, and on the lecture, I started to notice more and more of the sounds that surrounded me in my own room.
In order to gather my recordings for my blog I recorded them using 'voice memos' on my phone - as such the quality is perhaps somewhat lacking, but I think it does the job well enough.