During the first half of class, we explored how new research in mushrooms could change the world as we know it. Scientists turned artists, and artists turned scientists are helming the movement on sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products. While leather is a byproduct of the beef industry, plastic leather is produced to meet the unrealistic scale at which fashion suppliers manufacture their products. MycoWorks is a California-based company that has been developing a type of mushroom leather that needs very little post-processing.
The lecture on microscopy that the class received from a researcher at the UCLA facility provided a deeper understanding of the technology and its evolution. The lecturer introduced the earliest version of a microscope, which could only magnify something by 20 or 30 times. Today, however, we have small cameras that are capable of achieving the same level of magnification. The huge microscopes that the class saw in the previous session were capable of observing structures on an atomic level, which is several orders of magnitude smaller than the width of a hair.
2023 is the year of the rabbit. I am not personally very familiar with Chinese New Year and how it is celebrated. Beyond sitting around a table with loved ones and googling our corresponding zodiac animal, I haven't thought of it. This class was much more about the sharing of culture and the breaking of bread. Perhaps tying well into our previous class where we baked and shared bread with one another. We began the class by watching recordings of a talk hosted by several artists discussing a book they had all participated in creating featuring recipes from their own cultures.
We had the privilege of exploring a research facility at UCLA. The long journey between the Broad Art Center and the more science-oriented south campus served to highlight how segregated art and science are at our school. I have taken a few classes on the south side of campus, being interested in biology. It felt like the other students and faculty had preconceived ideas about my ability and effort in the classes as an art major. Similarly, I've observed a sense of superiority from students on the north campus. Maybe if the campus wasn't so segregated, this art vs.
Drawing an image of graphite using graphite felt a little romantic. You form a relationship with the objects you use regularly, even more so when an object supports your livelihood. Sketching out the molecular structure and creation of the pencil was almost like it was revealing its story to me. It was an exercise in mindfulness, not dissimilar to the meditation we practiced later in class. The sketching became a way to acknowledge how resource and labor-intensive it is to create something that is taken for granted.