Art, Science & Technology | Syllabus

Course Description

Design | Media Arts 9. Art, Science & Technology (5) Lecture, two hours; outside study, 12 hours. Open to students of all disciplines. Introductory course to explore and survey the cultural impact of scientific and technological innovations, technology driven art inspired by science and art / science collaborative projects. Students will be introduced to the vast array of cutting edge research taking place on campus, and scientists leading this work will guest lecture. Emphasis will be on art projects that use technology and respond to new scientific concepts. P / NP or letter grading.

Course Objectives

Art, Science & Technology is an introductory course that explores how similar technologies are driving new forms of art and science. It broadly surveys scientific and technological innovations, using technology in innovative ways; it is art inspired by science and art / science collaborative projects. Art is taken to encompass contemporary forms of expression that are technologically driven.

The class is designed for students of all disciplines, including the non-declared, with a goal to inspire students to think outside of the box, explore divergent and convergent thought and seek out knowledge and inspiration from many different disciplines as well as encourage collaboration with their peers. Scientists will visit the class and will discuss their cutting edge research, discovery and innovation. The intent is to show that scientists describe their moments of discovery in similar terms as artists do about their creative breakthroughs and that, fundamentally, both grapple with identical questions of the nature of reality. Students also will be introduced to the world-class research conducted on this campus and will be encouraged to visit artists' studios and scientists' laboratories.

Every week will be devoted to a particular theme with required reading, and students will be asked to maintain a blog that incorporates their own ideas in relation to the subject. Midterm and final papers are based on the weekly lectures and blogs will be graded weekly. The final grade is based on the midterm and final paper, along with the blog.

Course Materials

An extensive course reader will be available on the class website as pdf files as well as links and selected archived video talks from the EDA lecture series: LINK


Weekly reading assignments with viewing of archived video streams are required for class participation and to complete the midterm and final papers effectively. Students should work with the professor and their TA throughout the quarter regarding their research topics for the midterm and final papers.


Grading is based on the assignments (midterm paper—40 percent, final paper—50 percent, blog journal—10 percent).

Midterm paper Students will take a one hour test where they write about an image presented that was discussed in weeks 1–4. No less than three and no more five double spaced pages are required.

Final paper Students will take one of the nine subjects presented during weeks 1–10 and elaborate on the connection between that subject and the other 8 subjects. No less than five and no more than 10 double-spaced pages is required. The final paper is due no later than Wednesday (6/13/07) of finals week and should be e-mailed to your TA in .doc format.

Blog Students are asked to do weekly blogging related to the topics covered. Specifically, they will be looking at the daily news and / or researching books or other resources related to the subject. The blog will be reviewed weekly and graded with the final paper.

Teaching Assistant Roles

Class will meet twice a week. One teaching assistant will be assigned for no more than 30 students enrolled. The entire class will meet for a two-hour lecture that includes a guest speaker once a week. The second one hour meeting will consist of groups of no more than 30 led by teaching assistants who will be checking attendance. Teaching assistants will hold office hours for four hours weekly. Additional lectures and events will be required as part of the course work. The instructor will hold regularly scheduled office hours.


Week 1
April 2: Introduction
April 4: Two Cultures/ the scientific method / the artistic "method"
April 5: Steve Kurtz lecture and movie - REQUIRED
Assignment: Read: C.P. Snow's Two Cultures / Blog: do you see two cultures on UCLA campus?

Week 2
April 9: Mathematics, Perspective, Time and Space
April 11: Guest speaker: Casey Reas
Assignment: View: Video stream: Buckminster Fuller @nano or Peter Pearce.

Week 3
April 16: Industrial age, Kinetic Art, Robotics
lecture: Benoit Mandelbrot, IPAM - REQUIRED
April 18: Guest lecture: Sean Dockray
Assignment: View: Ken Goldberg / Chris Csikszenmihayli

Week 4
April 23: Biology, Networks, Natural Systems, Artificial Life. Guest lecture: Edward Shanken.
April 25: Guest speaker: Professor Charles Taylor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Assignment: View: Natalie Jeremijenko

Week 5
April 30: Human Body - Medicine and the Cartesian System
May 2: Guest lecture: Roy Ascott
Assignment: View: Media & Medicine: Environment & the Mind

Week 6
May 7: Review
May 9: MIDTERM and viewing of Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution - documentary of an art exhibition.
Assignment: View: Eduardo Kac / Jens Hauser

Week 7
May 14: Memory, Consciousness, Computer Science, Artificial Life, Quantum Mechanics
May 16: Guest speaker: Professor Eric Scerri, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Week 8
May 21: Biotechnology, Human Genome, Animals, Cells
NOON: Elizabeth Wilson
May 23: Guest speaker: Professor Charles Taylor
Assignment: View: Oron Catts / Genetic Technologies & Animals

Week 9
Nanotechnology, Molecules, New Materials
May 30: Professor James Gimzewski, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
May 31: Tesla symposium - REQUIRED
Assignment: View: UC Digital Arts Research Network: Nanotech & Culture part 1 and 2

Week 10
June 4: Space Explorations, Gravity, Macro and Micro Cosmos
June 6: Potential guest: Professor Walter Geckelman, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Assignment: View: Marko Peljhan (Yuri event)

Critical Art Ensemble