Special Topics in Design | Media Arts: Biotechnology and Design

Bio-designers use cells, DNA molecules, proteins, and living tissues to highlight ethical, social, and aesthetic issues that influence contemporary life. Introduction to how bio-design blurs distinctions between science and design through combination of design and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. Introduction to new sciences that influence food we eat, clothes we wear, and environment in which we reside. Students challenged to think outside the box, explore divergent and convergent thinking, and seek out knowledge and inspiration from ideas that drive nano- and bio-technology. Peer collaboration encouraged to develop speculative design projects that address issues covered.
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Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.


(Air) How MIT & Stanford Are Creating Life

As many of you may know, ventilators are in high demand in most parts of the world. There are both issues with the number of ventilators available to health care providers, but also with the number of ventilators that are operational. Severe cases of COVID 19 are almost requiring patients to use ventilators which could be problematic if we do not have the proper supplies.

[POLLUTION] Pollution is decreasing. But will it LAST?

As more cities undergo lockdown, and people actively take part in social distancing measures, many countries and its cities have reported a significant decrease in pollution. Of course, this all sounds good on the surface, especially since air pollution is linked to higher COVID-19 death rates. However, I couldn't help but think that the effects might be temporary. After things start to slowly come back to normal, would the pollution come back as well? 

Graphite Mining

A pencil is a common tool that people use to write and draw. Since people have been using pencils for a long time, I do not think of specifically about what elements contain in the pencils and how they are made. During the lecture, I want to know about where graphite, a major component of the pencils, comes from. Through the research, I am able to found where and how the graphite is extracted.

Nanostructures and Delivery

     After our introduction in class, followed by further sifting of the literature, carbon nanostructures have taken on an air of infinite potential in regards to the fields of electrical engineering, inorganic|O-Chem, pharmacology, bio|nano chemistry|biology – the list continues. The result is a group of compounds which subvert totalizing examination, carrying on as a fittingly architectural base for [design] speculation.

AI Driven Robotics Used to Create Pencil Art

One interesting project I found while researching pencils as a tool for generating art is a project lead by art impresario and gallerist Aidan Meller. Meller created a humanoid artificially intelligent robot named Ai-Da and “is claimed to be the first robot capable of drawing people from life using her eye, and a pencil in her bionic hand.” Ai-Da has a “RoboThespian” featuring an extremely impressive range of motion and movement.

Pencils - Ink

As the economy progresses, it also brings a lot of burdens to the environment, such as car exhaust pollution. The researchers have to wonder about how people can reuse pollution. The "AIR-INK" is designed by "Graviky Labs." 

"AIR-INK is the first grade of materials made entirely out of carbon emissions. After capturing carbon-rich emissions through pilot trials of KAALINK™ and several other pollution sources, the researchers re-purpose carbon-rich pollutants into tools for art. 

Pencil Art (Sculptures)

During the lecture on Tuesday, Dr. Gimzewski briefly mentioned the type of artworks that can be created with graphite or a pencil. Specifically, he mentioned that there were artists online who have been carving micro-sculptures out of a standard pencil. Before Dr. Gimzewski mentioned this, I had somehow never come across this surprisingly popular art form that seems to have been on the internet and in the art world for quite a bit.


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