Sunday, December 13, 2015

Soulution: ART 451 Student Exhibition

            Life Pixel is an animation interactive project I made for ART 451 (Problems in Digital Media). It was shown in the student exhibition Solutions on December 7th, 2015. The primary goal of this project was to make people to be interested in and appreciate biology. Since biology was a broad subject, I only focused on the food chain of Didinium nasutum. Didinium is a microorganism that is famous with its feeding behavior on paramecium. A didinium uses its "nose", or sensor organ, to detect any surrounding paramecium. Once finding one, the didinium captured the prey by injecting toxic materials to paralyze it. Then eventually, engulfs the prey. It is considered as an apex predator of its group. However, didinium is often one of the preys of the planktonic species copepod, which is about one thousand times larger in size.
            To interact with this project, the screen was divided into three parts. On the central area, a didinium was shown. When moving the cursor to the left side, it switched to a paramecium, which would be eaten by didinium if the space key was pressed. Then when moving to the right side of the screen, I placed an animation that showed the approximate size of didinium compared to a copepod, or in specifically, a Copepoda Calanoida. Same setting as the left side, pressing the space key would show how didinium became a prey of copepod.
            Life Pixel was set up at the second floor of DMV building in University of Nevada, Reno. Unfortunately, because the exhibition was hold at the final week of school, there were very few people around the building. Two of my classmates had come and interact with my project, and the reaction was quite well. For anything to be improved, I think I should have a clear sign to briefly introduce my project. And because I wanted people to interact with my project by themselves, I was intentionally keeping a little distance away from my project. But since there were not much people around, I should encourage anyone who passed by to play with it. Overall, I really enjoyed the process of making this project. Although it was struggling to learn coding from zero, the experience of making animation and knowing how to work with Processing were definitely valuable to me.

The complete file of Life Pixel is on Dropbox. To open and interact with the project, please click the file named

The demo video of Life Pixel.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Processing Programing and The Final

The process has reached to the end for this project. I had rearranged the ways to present my animations. I divided the screen into three parts (left-middle-right). The middle part is a single Didinium with animated swimming motions. If moving cursor to the left, the Didinium is changed to a paramecium. Then if the space key is pressed, an different animation comes out and shows that paramecium being preyed by a Didinium. In contrast, the right side is an animation shows how didinium are eaten by its predator Copepoda Calanoida. The two sides demonstrate a simple food chain of Didinium being a prey and a predator.
The center part

The animation of both sides

The animations of both sides if the space key is pressed

The complete coding for this animation project

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Exhibition Review: Endangered by Emily Arthur

            From the perspective of a Cherokee and European American artist, Emily Arthur explored the impact on natural environment due to humane activity in the exhibition Endangered. A series of printmaking pieces told the stories of how environmental changing affected the native species such as songbirds, deer, and butterflies in the United States.
Collaborating with Moore Laboratory of Zoology in Occidental College, Los Angeles, the works in Endangered were mostly based on scientific results. Arthur used different diagrams of the data like species distribution as the background of her works. She focused on the movement across geographic landscapes and we could see some works contained the animal migration patterns with sky map. Besides the printmaking pieces, the exhibition also had a small section introducing a threatened species Coastal California Gnatcatcher and displaying its specimens. This bird species has become endangered because of the habitat destruction for urban development and is currently under conservation.
 liked the way Arthur drew songbirds and butterflies in the pose as the specimens, which emphasized the idea of being endangered. As a biology major who is interested in bringing science into art, her works had shown me more possible way to combine these two subjects. Science discovered the fact in nature, and art expressed our thought of nature. Without science, we could be ignorant of the world we lived, but without art it would be challenging to express our appreciations to nature. Art and biology are not simply the distinct disciplines but are the two strong approaches for us to understand the Earth.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Presenting Location

I decide to present my project at DMS building in University of Nevada, Reno. On a hallway at the second floor of this building, there are a series of scientific illustrations on both sides of the walls. I think these drawing pieces will be perfectly bound with my projects because of the similar context.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Artist Lecture: Keith Knight

            On October 24th, the cartoonist Keith Knight had given a talk about his works and the stories behind them. As an African American artist, Knight mainly focused on social and race issues, commenting the problems directly on his strips. As Knight believed that we had to talk about reality to actually face racial issues, his comics were usually reflected to things happened around him or somewhere in the real world.
            Vet Mentoring is one of Knight's well-known comics, which questions about "don't ask don't tell" policy in military. This strip was run on the newspapers in San Diego, where a lot of military towns located, and had received many responses from soldiers and some readers about how it changed their views on this policy. Coincidence or not, the President repealed "don't ask don't tell" policy in the fall of the same year when the comic came out, and Knight showed a photo that the President was standing in his office, with the Vet Mentoring comics sitting on his desk.
            Knight had a great sense of humor which can be well seen in his comics. He believed humor made strong approach to the subjects like race issues. This talk was probably the most enjoyable speech I have ever had. He made lots of comments on social problems that I’m really agree with. Knight's comic Dog Poop showed how the racial problems were like the big pile of dog poop sitting in front of the apartment. No ones wanted to clean that poop because it seemed to be someone else's responsibility, then soon it just stayed in the same place, being ignored by people who passed through it. I think Knight had made a great metaphor to this problem that we are facing in this country. The racial issue has remained in too many years and it just keeps coming out again and again. People often ignore its existence until something happens but then forgot soon after time passes. Knight's works are not simply to be the comics that make things be humorous. They keep us in mind that there are plentiful issues still exist in this society. And they are urgent to be taken seriously and to be solved.

Vet Mentoring by Keith Knight
Dog Poop by Keith Knight

Animation Progress-2

Keep working on the animation frames for this week.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Artist Lecture: Shifting the Mainstream Narrative in American Art

            Artists can still make influence even though they are self-taught rather than a professional. The lecture was given by Leslie Umberger, the curator of folk and self-taught art Smithsonian American Art Museum. She introduced the five American outsider artists, Sabato Rodia, David Butler, Emery Blagdon, and James Hampton, and Lonnie Holley who had made contribution to the field of art and reinvented the American culture.
            Umberger began with the Italian American artist Sabato Rodia and his great achievement Watt Towers. Watt Towers regenerated the principle of architecture design. The tower had been constructed for approximately 30 years. Building materials included concrete and objects Rodia randomly found. The structure of the tower is strongly supported by its surface even though the center of the tower is completely hollow. The next one was David Butler, an African American artist. Butler's work involved 3D sculptures building by cut, shaped metal plates and paintings. Suffering from anxiety and insecurity, Butler placed hundreds of sculptures as spiritual protections in his yard. His work expressed the meaning of spirit and religion from the African American aspect.
Emery Bladgdon and James Hampton were introduced together due to their similarity in environmental installations that consisted with discrete pieces by using tin foil and found objects. Bladgdon's works were often built with electrical substances such as wire and battery. He created the piece Healing Machine and believed it could help to heal people. Healing Machine provided us a fresh, artistic way to view modern technology. James Hampton's sculpture pieces were found after he died. Similar to the Healing Machine, the Throne expressed Hampton's personal belief, but in the Christian aspects. For the African American artist Lonnie Holley, the last outsider artist in this lecture, connection is the core of his works. Holley recognizes art as a tool to evaluate identity to the reality and its challenges. He focuses on the beauty of things that people often mislabel or misunderstand.
Self-taught artists alter the idea of who and how an artist should be. Personally, I think what makes outsider artists unique is that they can often think outside the box and create artwork with various materials that we normally do not expect. Although the five artists were not art-educated, their works are still appreciable and have fully expressed the beauty of American art.

Watt Towers by Sabato Rodia
David Butler and his works
Emery Bladgdon's Healing Machine
the Throne by James Hampton was discovered after he died
Lonnie Holley's Ohio Woman