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.
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Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.
Life on earth strives everywhere, no matter how harsh the environment appears. From the waters thousands of meters below sea surface where sunlight never shines through, to hundreds of miles from the shore where rain seldom hits the ground, one can always find traces of life. All living organisms, along with the surrounding environment, constitute an ecosystem, and all the diverse ecosystems together forms the biosphere.
My three childhood homes presented me with very different perspectives of nature. I primarily grew up in a southern San Diego suburb where rivers of sidewalks perfectly divided plots of identically designed Spanish-style homes, each with a single oak tree surrounded by neatly cut grass in the front lawn. My parents encouraged my younger sister and I to play outside, and as long as we were in the backyard, shoes were optional. I enjoyed running through the dewy grass and gardening with my mom. These interactions with plant life, however, were always situated in a manmade setting.
I was always an inside kid. I loved classic movies and barbies, and hated bugs and dirt. I wasn’t allowed to be barefoot inside (bare feet would smudge the wood floors), let alone outside. I didn’t often follow those rules, but the outside remained a little scary to tackle without the protection of shoes - I was afraid to get dirty.
I had the incredible fortune that despite moving many times when I was young, my parents ensured my brothers and I all had abundant access to the natural world. I would call my relationship with nature a partnership more than anything else. I am endlessly inspired by the incredibly complex tiers of ecology, and I everything I do is geared towards a more beneficial integration of technology and the natural world. In fact, I am sitting in the Solar Decathlon Lab at UCLA as I write this, having just turned on the grow lights for the Hydroponics System we built this past weekend.
I grew up in a suburb around Sacramento called North highlands. In this environment, I was never really able to connect with nature. Of course, there were some occasions such as field trips etc. throughout my childhood where I was able to see the forest or more, but other than that nature was foreign to me. I wasn’t able to go around and explore outside, and if I was there would be nothing to find besides more buildings and roads. Along with these trips I previously mentioned, I also had a backyard that would let me explore certain parts of nature.
I cannot say that ecology and nature has fascinated me, but I will say that I do not dislike them. I would say that my relationship with the two would be a little laid back. Growing up in a small town in Florida there has been plenty nature and wildlife and after this week’s activity with Linda Weintraub's exhibit Welcome to My Woods I realized that I have kind of taken it all for granted. What really stuck out to me in all of this was the deprivation that my other sense’s and body sustained. I really enjoyed the pinecone sorting activity while keeping the eyes closed.
My relationship with nature has been on and off throughout my life. Growing up, my dad loved to take me hiking, to beaches, national parks, etc. We sampled a good majority of the national parks in the western United States before I was 14. Unfortunately, being a dorky, ungrateful child, I took all of this for granted. I loved to focus on playing Zelda or Pokemon on my game boy than to look out the window and enjoy the splendor.
The idea of “force majeure” being the occurrence of something beyond reasonable control of humans is an interesting concept that I was not familiar with before. Becoming more familiar with the idea, I am not sure whether “human generated climate warming” as in the context the Harrisons have described it, would be an example of something beyond control.
It never dawned on me that plants could have comparable behavior to animals. Though plants are animate beings that consume, grow, reproduce and eventually decease; I’ve always attributed non-thinking characteristics to them as this is what I have been taught in psychology classes.
This week in class, we visited Linda Weintraub's exhibit Welcome to My Woods, where we explored the ways that we, as humans, can find enjoyment in nature through various categories: Flavor and Aroma, Mass & Weight, Form & Beauty, Touch & Texture, and Volume & Dimension. Weintraub's exhibit, as well as a look into her work LIFE! Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet, has opened my eyes to an entirely new sphere of ecology and nature that I had no idea existed.
During our very interesting experience in Linda Weintraub’s Woods I was able to feel some of my body’s emotional and physical responses to the great outdoors inside the confines of a square, plain room.
Growing up in urban areas my whole life, I have fairly limited amount of experience with nature. However, every summer growing up I would travel to rural areas in Quezon Province, Philippines. I loved the outdoors and everything about it, but then I would go back into the city and forget the feeling. Standing on beaches, seeing the beauty of the mountains, and also the smells of nature were all evoked during the experience in Linda Weintraub's woods.
Nature and I have never been close friends. While I prefer to appreciate nature from behind a TV screen and narrated by David Attenborough, there is no denying that we rely heavily on the environment for food, water, and breathable air. Humans have had an enormous impact on the Earth as we exploit it for food and fuel, threatening many species through destruction of their habitat and pollution. While there are still people who deny it, the climate of our planet is changing and we must take action to prevent our planet from becoming inhospitable.
I don’t think about my relationship with the world around me enough. As a STEM major, I feel like its especially easy to get swamped in your own world of worry. We are all students in a rather prestigious university, trying to make a career for ourselves. However, it is so important to step back every once in a while and be mindful of the environment around us.
After this week, we had some experiences to touch, smell, stand and feel the productions of nature, people who live in the city with scattered green fragments between the high building or in the front of your yard are not enough to get sufficient pleasure from nature. Or we cannot say that those green fragments are parts of nature, we called a garden, a park or a green eco-shelter. Comparing with nature, human respects nature but expect its giving since too little was known about complex natural systems.