week 1-two cultures-erika cramer

It’s easy to tell geographically the differences between North and South Campus.  North Campus seems sunnier and more spread out while South Campus is clumped together all around a concrete quad.  I personally like to think of North Campus as having a warm humanitarian atmosphere, while South Campus is cold, competitive, and perpetually overshadowed by looming laboratories that block out the sun.  How can you deny the yin and yang of the two? Even in the nomenclature of their respective cafes; on South Campus you have the ominous sounding “Bombshelter” while North Campus is home to the overwhelmingly cheerier “Northern Lights Coffee House.”  It’s not actually that bad but then, I’m an art major, born and raised in the north, and therefore biased. 

            The relationship between the arts and the sciences on UCLA campus (even if I were able to remove my bias) would remain at a disjunction.  The stereotypes that art is wishy-washy and is ill-informed of science and technology and that science is all about facts and formulas and denied any sort of creative passion are harsh, but I believe they are stereotypes that UCLA has allowed to become the reality of the campus.  In my three years here, very few times have I witnessed the coming together of art and science to accomplish anything new or extraordinary.  In reality (by which I refer to the world outside UCLA) I believe art and science can function very well together and do so on many occasions.  Here, however, we are encouraged to specialize which often gets confused with honing in on one skill to the certain neglect of all others which is, in my opinion, exceedingly dangerous, not only for our futures but for our own mental well-being.  By cutting ourselves off into single groups we accelerate competition within those groups and as a result a large percentage of students are working themselves much harder than they probably should be in order beat their fellow students out of a spot at the best major-specific grad or med school.  The alternative to segregating ourselves?  We actually work together and diversify our knowledge rather than simply trying to regurgitate the same formulas, ways of thinking a problem-solving better than the person next to you.  To allow ourselves to become more than products for the gallery, the laboratory, the hospital, or whatever institution our major is funneling us into, we need to allow ourselves to broaden how we think and that requires we get outside our major and learn a thing or two about the “other culture.”  I think there is hope for a “third culture” if we learn to loosen our grip on what we already know and reach out for something new.  There’s a lot to be learned on both sides particularly in the current day and age.  For example, science can only reach so much of the population and the same thing can be said of the arts-but when it comes to the really important issues in our society (which these days is a global society–isn’t it nice how everything is broadening out already?), reaching only a limited population is a huge problem.  Science can tell us all the problems of our environment and convince us of their severity but art and design are what give us hope and inspire us to creatively problem solve on an individual level and are thus very strongly interconnected.  By coming together, we can learn how to become a functioning and beneficial person within society instead of merely becoming a cog in the gears of a machine that continues to pick up speed regardless of what lies in its path.

Here is an example of an artist using science and statistics about our environment and American consumerism to inform his photography and therefore inform us, his viewers.

Chris Jordan


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