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.
I was not present in the first week of this course, therefore, I am completing this blog retroactively based on what I have seen in the lecture slides on this website as well as my own research on the topic
Even though I missed the first lecture, I heard that the main topic discussed during the first lecture was Carbon and pencil. I think to take “Carbon” as the first main topic was a great start to the whole course, since Carbon is considered the most basic element in life, and we can say that Carbon creates our life and the Earth. Carbon is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. According to research, Carbon makes up 20% of the weight of an organism, and it is essential for them to live, grow, and reproduce.
The first day of class started by learning about the pencil. We began by talking about carbon as the building block of all life. We are 40% carbon and it all comes from the big bang. We learned about 3 forms of carbon: Graphite, Diamonds, and Buckee Balls. The third category is interesting because it is the most recently discovered.
In our first class meeting, we watched a video about bees, hexagons, pencils, and erasers. It was very interesting to see how hexagons occur in nature, what goes into the pencils I grew up writing with, and the erasers I used to scrub away my mistakes. For example, the native roots of the rubber used to make erasers. Then seeing the rubber in the eraser mill. I thought it was pretty sustainable how they add back in the defective erasers into the batch to create new ones.
On Tuesday, the class learned about the complicated processes behind the production of a seemingly simple graphite pencil. From the mechanical engineering of the individual pencil parts to the molecules of the graphite, there is almost endless information one may research about the pencil. We also explored the importance and prevalence of hexagons in our ecosystems and the history behind it.
(pencil graphite structure drawing)
In the first week, we explored the differences between graphite and graphene and their hexagonal nanostructure. We learned about the various objects/tools, technologies, and ecosystems that resemble the hexagon shape and how Bucky Fuller's geodesic dome visually represents graphite's 3D form. We watched a short film about the composition of pencils- the necessary materials used to create them (cedar wood, water, clay, and graphite) and the overall production process.