A Musical Feat

You may have seen this Pipe Dream video before, but I keep coming back to it. At first I thought it was animated — and guess what, I was right. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic combination of animated engineering and artistic, nusical efforts.

This is the email that has been circulating for background reference and this is the snopes article that disproves it:

Who would even think up something like this???  Read this  first, then watch.

This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of  Engineering at the University of Iowa.  Amazingly, 97% of the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft, Iowa.  Yes, farm equipment.  It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment, calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see, it was well worth the effort.  It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.

Just so you are a little  prepared, balls (hundreds if not thousands) during the performance come out of a tube, hit an object (remember – tractor parts) and sometimes multiple objects before going back into another tube. Of the all the balls you will see, NOT ONE hits the floor!!

It takes a minute for it to load — but well worth the wait + you’ll like the jazzy music too!

engineered musical instrument, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Here’s the “real” version and video comparison, Industrial Concert Control by Intel. The original design, however, can be credited to the animated video by Animusic, however. This conceptual video was the inspiration to build the actual robotic controlled machine. The real balls are projecting so fast that you cannot see them except for the light display where they hit:

A musical feat indeed, regardless of how the egg hatched and if it came before the chicken or not. I investigated Animusic a little further and they bring a whole new meaning to ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), with their Beyond the Walls video:

They have quite a lot of videos uploaded but I’ll include this one, Cathedral Music, for my father-in-law.

I  like the Acoustic Curve for it’s harpsichord-like sound.

Artful Eyes

There are a small number of trained ocularists — only a few hundered in the country, as it is a niche industry requiring a “trained eye” and skill to create realistic prosthetic eyes.

I found this CNN story thought-provoking on Christie Erickson’s talent for painting and making prosthetic eyes It takes a lot of work and it’s something that often gets overlooked. As the article states,” people who want to enter the profession must spend 10,000 hours, or five years, of apprenticeship to become certified.The career blends the fields of art and science — as only people with a creative side and anatomical knowledge can duplicate the organ that gives the gift of sight.Click here to read more….and a link to the American Society of Ocularists for more information.

Ms. Erickson has an interesting toolbox.

Prosthetic eye toolbox, as seen on Art is Everywhere

And this is the result of one of her creations.

Prosthetic eye by Christie Erikson, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

With the way I’ve been spending time on the computer, I feel my eyes are giving out on me and this is tough for an artist and I hope it is not the case. I’m now using glasses to compensate and hopefully stop further progression of blurred vision.

There is a lot of music I could post in relation to eyes to Kick Start the Weekend but I think it’s always intriguing to see the actual band performing, so I like to post this when I come across such footage; even though there may be higher quality videos. Here’s The Black Keys with Them Eyes.

Cellular Art

Microscopic art that we would never see if artist Jo Berry had not brought them to light.

Berry describes his collection, “The project is celebrating the human body, the use of new technology, the collaboration between science and art.”


Cellular art by Jo Berry as seen on Art is Everywhere

Cellular art by Jo Berry via MutualArt.com

Cellular art by Jo Berry as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Here’s a link to some cell-like looking paintings from a previous post.

Here’s a true classic, Thomas Dolby’s Blinded me with Science, to Kick-Start the Weekend.


Math, Art & Science Connection

I believe there is a direct connection between art, math and science. Why, not because my last post proves the point on another level, but because artists think analytically, from how to get to point A (blank canvas for instance) to point B (painted artwork) and construct this process and composition for getting there. This often requires subconscious, abstract mathematical and scientific thinking.

The following articles further explain this interesting concept. Jesse Rosten explains using his fascination (mine too) with butterflies as an example in his article, Art & Science, that art would not exist without science and conversely, new scientific discoveries happen through creativity. [Love these butterflies. They remind me of some that I’ve painted.]

Jesse Rosten, butterflies - Art & Science as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Jesse Rosten, butterflies - Art & Science

Interesting that I found this next post, Math and Art in Education,  from the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate, a “liberal perspective on world, national and local politics.” I normally pass on political blogging because I’m surrounded by it daily in DC. I’m progressive enough, however to reflect on what might be views contrary to my own. I agree with this perspective, however,  and there’s a lovely drawing of Waikiki Beach to view here, as well:

We tend to view students in two very broad categories: “artistic” kids and “intellectual” kids. This is a crass generalization, but it’s true. Society, by and large, expects people to be one or the other. Rarely both.

Which is to say that there is not an expectation that an artistic kid will be any good at math, science, or engineering. Nor is there any expectation that intellectual kids should have any interest in or aptitude for art.

Frankly, I think that’s crap. I think that every kid has a creative side regardless of their skills in the sciences. And I think that every kid has an analytic side, regardless of their skills in the arts.

And I know, because I’ve lived it myself, that math and art can reinforce one another. Math can be used to teach art and strengthen one’s creative side. The desire to make art can be used as a springboard from which to teach math.

The Secret Art of Math is discussed in The Irish Times. I’ll have to check out the book The Secret Mathemaeticians as well, which describes how artists have used math in their creative process. You can watch the webcast of the presentation here.

The Chicago Art Magazine also explores the relationship between scientist and artist. Daniel Nolan was a nuclear engineer before he decided to become a resin painter, for example. He describes the original idea can be obtained by both artists and scientists but the difference is how it is applied in their work. Why, even the Lego exhibit is discussed in this article, which brings me full circle back to my belief that Legos have built the foundation for my son’s engineering career path.

adam-reed-tucker11 lego exhibit via Art Chicago Magazine, seen on Art is Everywhere

Lego exhibit via Art Chicago Magazine

Finally, I found my Kick Start your Weekend music, coincidentally, from a YouTube video of Marc Spijkerboch’s painting, who I posted on previously, and who must also happen to like Radiohead. Here’s his work filmed to Radiohead’s “All I Need.”

Hyperbolic Hyperbole not to be Gridironed

This is the second part of a previous post from when I went exhibit hopping while my son was in town over Winter Break. Since spring is officially here (thank goodness), it’s nearly overdue for posting.

Piers and I went to see the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, on view until April 24th. I was surprised how much Piers enjoyed it. It must have been the mathematical nature of it that struck his interest. It was pretty fascinating that all of the forms had been crocheted to represent a pretty accurate coral reef. The reason it is called hyperbolic is because it represents a  geometric form that cannot be replicated by a formula. Since many sea life forms, such as coral, represent this geometry, which maximizes surface area in a limited volume, it was technological feat to combine this math with art to represent what occurs in Nature. The entire coral reef was composed of individual crocheted elements by individual crocheters worldwide and assembled for the first time in this exhibit. I last wrote about wanting to see this last fall, so I was glad we had an opportunity to do so. Here are some of the pictures that we took.

A1_hyperbolic-coral_Art is Everywhere

Hypberbolic Coral Reef Exhibit. Photo by Piers Spencer

It was pretty amazing that the coral looked so real made out of yarn and in some cases was made with unusual materials, such as wire, confetti, bottle caps, metallic ribbon and plastic bags, etc.

2_hyperbolic-coral_Art Is Everywhere

Hyperbolic Crotcheted Coral. Photo by Piers Spencer

3A-3_hyperbolic-coral_Art Is Everywhere

Hyperbolic-coral. Photo by Piers Spencer

Other fun family activities. Piers was in town recently with his girlfriend and we all went to dinner at PS7 in DC. We almost didn’t make it because of the major hullabaloo caused by President Obama attending his first Gridiron dinner, which made almost impossible to get a parking spot because many of the streets were closed off, including the one where our restaurant was located. We finally made it and it was well worth the effort, even with a $25 parking ticket waiting for us when we returned to our car. The combinations of foods were so unusual and I’ve never had venison that tasted so divine. The deserts were also exceptional and the unexpected finish with little squares of strawberry and peanut butter flavored turkish delight made for a surprising P&B twist when eaten together. Piers thought it was one of the better meals he’s had. Just download these menus to see for yourself how artistically creative food can be. Modern, Eclectic, Innovative are all words I relate to and would use to describe this dining experience perfectly.

PS7 as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Since my husband and I went spontaneously dancing this past weekend at the Black Cat’s 80’s Flashback Night to blow off steam from a hefty few weeks of work that never stopped on the weekend, I thought playing a quintessential 80’s songs would be appropriate for Kick Starting the Weekend. This is  just one of the many that these youngster DJ’s didn’t deem significant enough to play — probably because they didn’t know what was really popular in the 80’s; although, they did have the hairdo, which was so ridiculous — even for back then. Only Boy George could have pulled it off.

Right Round by Dead or Alive:

Here’s a newer cover by FLO Rida and it’s not bad, but you have to give the credit to the original source.

Fall 2010 Art & Exhibit Roundup

It will be hard to remember amidst all the upcoming holiday activities but here is the latest roundup of exhibitions to keep your eye on and hopefully attend this fall. These are just three that I’ve parceled out from an ongoing list previously mentioned (still time to catch a couple through Jan 2).

1) Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey — National Building Museum until January 9

  • Featuring many of Palladio’s drawings and pairing them with American examples that used the style of his architecture, like The White House, for instance. In fact there so much of his Classical ideas pervade the great buildings of American Architecture that it’s easy to forget the origin. Thomas Jefferson, among many forward thinkers and builders during his time, brought Palladio’s influence to University of Virginia and Monticello
  • Andrea Palladio’s Influential Architecture, Washington Post article for further explanation
  • I’ve been stuck on Palladio ever since I learned about his work in Art History classes and then was able to tour the actual Italian Villas in the Veneto with my husband during our honeymoon. This exhibit will have special significance to me.

Palladio-Drawings_AIE, via Washington Post, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

2) Artisphere on Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn, VA — new arts venue with ongoing events. artisphere.com

  • One stop shop for theater, visual arts media, cultural center, and music

AIE_Artisphere on Art Is Everywhere

3) Oklahoma at the newly restructured Arena Stage — Ist play since the new construction playing through December 26.

  • I’m not a big musical fan but this play is one of my favorites. I learned all the songs when I first saw it as a young girl and it still makes me happy. The production is not your usual take on Oklahoma, however, since there is a mixed cultural cast, which might surprise your expectations if you didn’t know in advance. Nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit but this is a classic musical. Some things, like the Wizard of Oz for instance do not well when they are not changed. I’m sure the actors’ talent will make it interesting to see as will the Frichlander Theater in the round.
  • I cannot wait to see this newly constructed venue. I received some of my first experience in decorative painting when I worked as an intern on the set design at the Arena Stage’s Main Avenue location. This is bigger and better and there are three stages included in the Meade Center for American Theater. It’s the largest performance venue in DC since The Kennedy Center. It officially opens to the public on October 23…mark your calendars and click here to plan your visit.
  • Finally, my son Piers’ employer this summer, Clark Construction, built this theater and he’s already been inside. Lucky duck. He said it was pretty breathtaking.
  • The Post did a really great interactive and comprehensive online article on the Arena here.
Arena-Stage_WP, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Arena Stage Overview. Credit Wilson Andrews and Alberto Cuadra / The Washington Post

Here are some pictures for your visual interest but be sure to go to their website and photo tour to view more.

Arena-Stage as seen on Art is Everywhere

Arena-stage-inside, as seen on Art is Everywhere

Arena-snowmaggeddon2010_AIE, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

4) Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at the National Museum of Natural History, through April 24, 2011

  • It’s hard to believe that his coral reef is crocheted out of yarn. I’ll have to go see it myself. What an unusual thing, combining soft sculpture, marine biology and mathematical science.
  • Be sure to view the TED lecture by Margaret Wertheim at this link and learn about how she and her sister Christine, with many help of others filled a 3,000 space with crocheted reef creations as tall as five feet. Interestingly enough, the only way to model such real sea creatures and their hyperbolic geometry and amorphous is with crochet, surprisingly. She describes the math correlation very well and I found it pretty fascinating. See for yourself.

Crochet Coral Reef via National Museum of Natural History, seen on Art Is Everywhere

If you’re into Techno and I’m usually not, then you’ll like this choice. I can actually deal with this mix, Hold On with Amber Coffman, but I chose it for the performance. It’s pretty amazing what a following this DJ, Rusko has, coming to America out of UK to a music hall near you. He’ll be in DC on Oct. 24th. It’s a good song to Kick-Start the Weekend, starting early this week. This regular post is moving to Thursdays.

A Few Follow Ups

Thinking of last Friday’s post, I thought I’d post links as follow ups.

• I think Eric Maisel’s  blog on Creativity Central is interesting. I particularly liked this post by Beth Barany who describes the Artist Entrepreneurship pretty well. Putting the art first is a wise philosophy.

• Todd Henry of Accidental Creative describes the Paradox of Rejection in how it can provide growth for the artist.

• Since he quotes Michelangelo, this is the latest scientific discovery that “unlocks some of the Mona Lisa magic.” It’s no mystery that Michelangelo used multiple layers of glazes called “sfumato” (softening of contour lines) to create his subtle effect of this painting’s memorable smile, but modern x-ray technology shows the precises layers as they are built up as well as the exact pigments that were used.

• If you want to see some wonderful drawings and artwork by Michelangelo, go here — Michelangelo, the Man and the Myth. Although this exhibit is long since over, you can still tour it through a virtual gallery.

Syracuse University Michelangelo Exhibit on Art Is Everywhere

Syracuse University's Michelangelo Exhibit

• Because my father was a neurosurgeon, I can’t help but be fascinated by science that relates to the brain and this is just in the latest Science News: “Study finds a link between personality traits and the size of certain brain regions.”

Above-average conscientiousness was associated with a larger region of the lateral prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning and voluntary control of behavior…The only trait without a significant neuroanatomical relationship, according to the report, was openness/intellect, which researchers said reflects imagination, curiosity, and artistic and intellectual interests…genes and the environment play important roles….When it [personality] does, that change is accompanied by changes in the brain.

I’m ready to get my brain scan...

Ending with some strange new music to Kick-Start another heat wave of a weekend, “…And the World Laughs with You,” by Flying Lotus from their Cosmogramma Album. Thom Yorke of my favorite band Radiohead sings the lyrics. Another interesting thing about this musical choice is that my son Jackson has told me about Flying Lotus for over a year. We listened to sound tracks on the long, long roadtrip back home from Sewanee last year. Even though, this is not my favorite song on the album, their other work is very interesting and it’s really nice to share musical interests with your children. On another side note: I have to give high marks to David Cameron, the new prime minister of England, who exchanged art gifts with Obama, during his recent visit to the States, including music by Radiohead and the Smiths….Good taste.

Engineering and Art

This post brings several aspects of engineering together with relation to art.

1) Teaching art and creativity can be done through “Reverse Engineering” — thinking backwards from the final product on how the artist created/constructed it and his or her creative process in the making to improve upon, rather than copying the object or artwork.

2) Reading about Tony May’s work on ArtShift SanJosé, made me think of the engineering needed to construct his sculptures, some of which are made with books.

Tony May_good-reading-light_courtesy ArtShiftSanJose, seen on Art Is Everywhere

Tony May_good-reading-light_courtesy ArtShiftSanJose

Tony May_third-variable-construction_via ArtShiftSanJose

Tony May_third-variable-construction_via ArtShiftSanJose

Tony May_red-branch-books-open_Via ArtShiftSanJose as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Tony May_red-branch-books-open_Via ArtShiftSanJose

Tony May_open-red-branch_via ArtShiftSanJose as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Tony May_altco-open-red-branch_via ArtShiftSanJose

3) The late  George Adams was an engineer and a self taught artist, who helped restore many murals in the US Capitol. His engineering skills helped him decipher the best innovative tactics for this important restoration work.

George Adama_via WashingtonPost. Photo by Paul Vignola, seen on Art Is Everywhere

George Adams via Washington Post.

4) Murals entitled, The History of the United States Locomotives, which were painted as part of the 1930’s WPA government program to employ artists, have been returned to the original owners, The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. They are on permanent display at The Standard building in Cleveland, after a circuitous route of finding their way back home.

Train Murals via Cleveland.com as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Train Murals via Cleveland.com

5) I like how in this article, The Art and Science of Innovation, by Jeffrey Phillips on Blogging Innovation describes how the innovation of science requires thinking like an artist. I’ve long believed this! On a side note: I recently introduced my younger son to Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain to help him “break down / decipher” basic drawing skills and my older son is practicing the art of innovation by solving problems daily as a civil engineer intern with Clark Construction this summer. Great opportunities for both boys.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that ABC News chose Luke Jerram as their Person of the Week last Friday, due to his public art installation, Play Me I’m Yours. Click here to read my previous post on artist,  Luke Jerram‘s technical, artistic and engineering skills to achieve his other interactive and innovative  public artwork.

Some music from this traveling exhibit to Kick-Start your weekend:

The Physics of Origami

I’ve already written a post on origami, featuring Dr. Robert Lang, but he was profiled recently in The Washington Post, and Rachel Saslow’s article, When Origami Meets Rocket Science, was so informative, I thought I’d do a follow up. At 49 he’s the quintessential origami master. He quit his career as a laser physicist and semiconductor laser and fiber-optic researcher while working for NASA in their Jet Propulsion Laboratory. As if these professions weren’t “heady” enough and lucrative once going into private technology in Silicon Valley, he decided to give it all up for paper folding. He is doing well, traveling giving lectures, and being the go-to origami guy. His love of physics and mathematical relationships exist in origami when patterns are discovered through paper folding. He used origami concepts to collaborate on a project with The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to develop a telescope lens for space. The “Eyeglass” lens was designed with correlating panels as the premise, similar to origami. Other science/origami related projects include: folding car airbags and medical stints. As Lang describes, a fun project can have a practical purpose.

The art historical aspect of the article was very intriguing describing the origins to be believed as early as the 1700’s, with cranes and boats in Japan and then was catapulted in to popularity by Akira Yoshizawa in the 20th century. There was a craze that took hold in the 1990’s. Lang published the book., Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Methods for an Ancient Art, in 2003. This has become the origami bible of sorts. His artistic origami designs are just phenomenal.


The article also profiled, Tom Hull, an associate professor of mathematics at Western New England College, who uses origami in his calculus, number theory, geometry and algebra instruction. His book is Project Origami, published in 2006. It demonstrates projects teachers can us in their math classes.


Erik Demaine, another origami enthusiast, who was 15 at the time when he was starting a PhD in computer science at the University of Waterloo (!) when he discovered Lang’s work, has paired up with Lang to devise computer software called Treemaker that transforms origami sketches into a crease pattern as a template to follow.

In addition, Dumaine is working on a project that links origami to possibly understanding and maybe even finding cures for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Dumaine also has paper sculptures in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Lang gives lectures at the Waters Art Museum in Baltimore. Both not too far a trek for me to check out.


Coincidentally, in the same paper is a blip about visiting several new art exhibits. One being, Veritas Obscura at Flashpoint Gallery. This is showcasing the photographic work of Marc Roman, who creates three dimensional pieces that show the 100-year timeline of the history of the electron. Now, I never did well in chemistry, even though my father (and father-in-law, I’ve discovered) were both chemistry majors, it didn’t seep into the genes. I have every intention however of following in the footsteps of my father and long line of Jackson family members in being pre-med when I showed up on college campus. That quickly changed. Anyway, maybe this visual would have helped me get through chemistry. Funny, I was so scared to take it from the hardest teacher in my high school that I took it as a summer course at Tulane University. What was I thinking? I needed a tutor. Although, I appreciate the sciences, I’m a visual person not a math/ science one. I like math when I do not have to use it.


Health Care

“I lived in a time in which there was liberty in America…” This is what I’ll be telling my grand kids. I normally don’t offer political commentary in my blog. There is a time and a place and with the recent Obama health care bill passage, now is the time. If there is one issue that I have felt strongly about (as so many others do), this is it. I can see the writing on the wall of what is to come.

Actually, this post has an art mention. This is the email that I sent out recently to those who care about this health care issue. If you don’t think it won’t affect you, it will eventually and when you need it most.

Dear family and friends,

I saw a report on ABC news the other night regarding a concert master’s brain surgery operation. The atypical thing about this was that he was asked to play his violin during the surgery so the surgeon could pinpoint where to embed an electrode to counteract the electrical pulsations that were causing him to have tremors and not be able to play his music. He can now play his music again.

I’m weepy when it comes to neurosurgery for several reasons. My father was a neurosurgeon and friends who have required brain surgery and in this case, art being saved by medicine. But despite these emotions, what really brought tears to my eyes was simultaneous and contradictory: 1) the innovation of this medical technology and surgery here, in America and 2) the fact that this kind of incredible outcome due to the advances of medicine will disappear as the quality of health care will change as we know it and stifle innovation — once the full effects of this health care overhaul legislation are realized.

Please do not accept the outcome. Work hard as I will to help patriotic members take back The People’s House and repeal this decision and then do the right thing for health care fixes.

Reading this Wall Street Journal editorial, The Obamacare Crossroads, might fire you up!

Since I’ve sent this, this article, Capitalism Gone with a Whimper by Stanislav Mishin in the Pravda Russian paper has come to my attention. I’d say this Russian author knows socialism from personal experience. I have to say that all my fears about Obama becoming President are coming true. We are heading in this “Nanny State” direction as socialists measures slowly, yet with a bang, as in this Health Care case, set in.

More reasonable legislation to control costs with tort reform, portability, affordability and Medisave (Health Care Savings) accounts were offered by the minority but simply disregarded as “incremental” changes. Yes, but they address the major cost issues. Health care is not a problem that can be fixed in one fell swoop. There is no fiscal responsibility with the government to pay for this. They leave it to the taxpayers, who for the majority do not want it.  I think this bill will do the exact opposite of what it has claimed to do: It will further stifle the economy; further increase our national debt; increase health care premiums in order for insurance companies to pay for procedures; businesses will not be able to afford these higher rates for their employees (already Caterpillar, AT&T, Verizon have announced their employees’ health care plans will be reduced); small businesses can’t hire readily; it will lock you in your job because otherwise, you’re put into a pool of those without health care and you’re fined if you don’t purchase it; and it will further disparage and separate the poor from the wealthy in the type of health care they receive. The government will become the same “big bad insurance companies” that they rallied against in passing it. If they now are controlling the funding, they will have the power, rather than the patient, to determine what type of medical procedure to use.


Charles Krauthammer said it so well when he stated in his article, The Vat Man Cometh:

By introducing universal health care, he [Obama} has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. He will have succeeded in reversing Reaganism…Liberals have long complained that Reagan’s strategy was to starve the governmental beast in order to shrink it: First, cut taxes — then ultimately you, have to reduce government spending. Obama’s strategy is exactly the opposite: Expand the beast and then feed it. Spend first — which then forces taxation. Now that, with the institution of universal health care, we are becoming the full entitlement state, the beast will have to be fed. Taxing consumption [with the VAT / value added tax] makes infinitely more sense than taxing work. VAT must be added on top of the income tax…Ultimately, even that won’t be enough. As the population ages and health care becomes increasingly expensive, the only way to avoid fiscal ruin (as Britain, for example, has discovered) is, heath-care rationing…It will take a while to break the American populace to that idea. In the meantime, get ready for the VAT. Or start fighting it!

I choose the latter!

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