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10 Questions: What is Space?

james turrell skyspace
Support Provided By

"10 Questions" is a collaboration with UCLA and is an interdisciplinary course/public event series featuring conversations with leading scholars that provides both students and the public a special opportunity to experience the conversations that drive innovation at the university. 

Every Tuesday for ten weeks UCLA faculty members from disciplines as diverse as dance, medicine, photography, astrophysics, athletics, Chicana and Chicano studies, law, philosophy and religious studies will join UCLA Arts Dean Brett Steele to explore a fundamental question such as: What is space? What is failure? and What is freedom? The goal is to stimulate dialogue and exchange, and to seed a greater understanding of the profoundly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge production in the 21st century. We present a discussion primer for each week's session to get the conversation started.

Art&Arc100: 10 Questions sessions will be held on Tuesdays through December 4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Glorya Kaufman Hall theater (room 200). Free and open to the public (RSVP required). Pay by space parking available on campus adjacent to Kaufman Hall (Structure 4).

This week, Dana Cuff, Andrea Ghez, Rodrigo Valenzuela, and Paul Weiss will join Brett Steele, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts & Architecture to explore the question, "What is Space?"

CityLAb, times 10 | CityLAb
CityLAb, times 10 | CityLAb

Dana Cuff, urbanist and architectural theorist

Professor of Architecture and Urban Design

Dana Cuff is Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA where she is also Director of cityLAB, an award-winning think tank that advances experimental urbanism and architecture. Since receiving her Ph.D. in Architecture from Berkeley, Cuff has published and lectured widely about spatial justice, the architectural profession, and affordable housing. She is author of several books, including The Provisional City about housing in Los Angeles, and a forthcoming book documenting her innovative cross-disciplinary project at UCLA called the Urban Humanities Initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation. Based on cityLAB’s studies, she co-authored a landmark bill that permits “backyard homes” on virtually all 8 million single-family properties in California (AB 2299, Bloom-2016), doubling the density of suburbs across the state.


In L.A.'s Regime of Speed: 'Change and Velocityz'

The ruined, suburban paradise of L.A. strains under Henry Adams' iron law of the acceleration of history. His own 19th century past he found barely comprehensible as a narrative of large political forces, and he despaired of the far greater velocity of the 20th century just beginning. Adams (1838-1918) was right about making sense of a life lived in a regime of speed. Our past dwindles incoherently, rushing from us like a landscape seen in the rear view mirror of a car fleeing a crime scene. Read more.


Rendering of the Star Apartments

Good Design Is for Everyone: The Evolution of Low-Income Housing in L.A.

The phrases "public housing" or "low-income housing" do not generally conjure thoughts of architectural innovation. Instead, one may envision rows of faded pastel cubes surrounded by dead lawns and tall fences, or looming concrete towers gridded with small windows. Read more.


Image from "New World of Space" by Le Corbusier
Image from "New World of Space" by Le Corbusier | Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier: New World of Space

Recommended reading on the topic of Ineffable Space. Read more. (Note: This document is a pdf)


The Architect's Lot: Backyard Homes Policy and Design
The Architect's Lot: Backyard Homes Policy and Design | Dana Cuff

The Architect's Lot: Backyard Homes Policy and Design

Dana Cuff, architectural professor and director of the cityLAB think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, outlines how cityLAB’s in-depth research and their development of a prototype ‘backyard home’ model have contributed to the establishment of the bill that enables the legal addition of a rental unit to all single-family homes. Read more(Note: This document is a pdf)

Andrea Ghez, astronomer

Professor of Astronomy and Physics

Professor Ghez is a world-leading expert in observational astrophysics and has used the Keck telescopes to suggest the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, with a mass 4 million times that of our sun. She is currently using and developing high spatial resolution imaging techniques to study star formation and investigate the proposed massive black hole at the center of our Galaxy. Using Interferometric techniques and Adaptive Optics, Professor Ghez has been able to produce diffraction-limited images of astronomical objects that has up to the development of Adaptive Optics been impossible to observe with ground based telescopes.

Mount Wilson Observatory

Tour a 150-foot solar tower overlooking Los Angeles at Mount Wilson Observatory, a facility dedicated to the continued study of astronomy and solar observations. The observatory was founded by George Ellery Hale in 1904. It is known for its vast collection of historic 60-inch telescopes that are able to capture stunning views of star clusters and the wonders of the galaxy. Watch now.

Creative Economy: The Intersection of Art and Science

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a hub for aerospace innovation. Artists, scientists, and engineers often collaborate and develop creative ways to solve complex problems. The goal is to better understand and visualize the movements of the earth, the land, the sea, and the sky, through a highly visual and digestible process. Watch now.


Andrea Ghez's TED Talk
Andrea Ghez gives a TED Talk on the idea of a supermassive black hole | TED

TED Talk: Andrea Ghez — The Hunt for a Supermassive Black Hole

With new data from the Keck telescopes, Andrea Ghez shows how state-of-the-art adaptive optics are helping astronomers understand our universe's most mysterious objects: black holes. She shares evidence that a supermassive black hole may be lurking at the center of the Milky Way. Watch now.

"Work in its Place" | Rodrigo Valenzuela
"Work in its Place" | Rodrigo Valenzuela

Rodrigo Valenzuela, artist

Assistant Professor, Photography

Born in Chile and based in Los Angeles, Rodrigo Valenzuela is an artist working in photography, video, painting, and installation. Using autobiographical threads to inform larger universal fields of experience, his work constructs narratives, scenes, and stories that point to the tensions found between the individual and communities. Much of his work deals with the experience of undocumented immigrants and laborers.

His work has been exhibited internationally, including in recent solo exhibitions at Lisa Kandlhofer Galerie, Vienna; the Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, KS; the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, TN; Klowdenmann Gallery, Los Angeles; the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; and Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago, Chile. Rodrigo has held several artist residencies across the US and Canada including a fellowship at the Drawing Center, New York; the Core Fellowship at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME and the MacDowell Colony, NE.

Kelly Burke: Reimagined American Flag | Tyler Stallings

Santa Ana's Artists Village: The Pros and Cons of Gentrificatio

Gentrified areas go through cycles of regeneration and decline, and the Artists Village is no exception. Joseph Musil’s theater gallery closed in the mid 2000s shortly after his death. Dave Barton shut down his Rude Guerrilla Theater in 2009, because, “The constant fundraising to pay a landlord high rents is something I'm no longer interested in." A number of galleries closed, with several spaces now occupied by businesses. Read more.


Artwork by Penelope Umbrico for the MOONS exhibition
Image of artwork by Penelope Umbrico for the exhibition MOONS | Williamson Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design | Williamson Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design

There Are Many Moons: The Unveiling of the Science of Moons Through Art

Human conventions, born of repetition and rhythm, and cycles and expectations, have yielded the notion that moons are of the night. But the Moon and everything else outside our circumference belongs to all skies, the ones sunlit as well as shaded. Reality beyond Earth disregards our circadian expectations. Read more.


Artbound: No Trespassing — A Survey of Environmental Art

Throughout its history, the natural beauty of California has inspired artists from around the world from 19th-century plein air painting of pastoral valleys and coasts to early 20th-century photography of the wilderness (embodied famously in the work of Ansel Adams) and the birth of the light and space movement in the 1960s. Today, as artists continue to engage with California’s environment. Featuring artists Richard Misrach and Hillary Mushkin. Watch now.


Rodrigo Valenzuela's "Work in its Place" installation
Rodrigo Valenzuela's "Work in its Place" installation | Rodrigo Valenzuela

Rodrigo Valenzuela's "Work in its Place" installation

Valenzuela asks us to visit his website and to consider: What does not having enough space look like to you? Learn more.

John Carpenter, Dandelion Clock.
John Carpenter, Dandelion Clock

Paul Weiss, nanoscientist

UC Presidential Chair, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Distinguished Professor of Materials Science & Engineering

Paul S. Weiss's interdisciplinary research group includes chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists, electrical and mechanical engineers, and computer scientists. Their work focuses on the atomic-scale chemical, physical, optical, mechanical and electronic properties of surfaces and supramolecular assemblies. He and his students have developed new techniques to expand the applicability and chemical specificity of scanning probe microscopies. They have applied these and other tools to the study of catalysis, self- and directed-assembly, physical models of biological systems, and molecular and nano-scale electronics. They work to advance nanofabrication down to ever smaller scales and greater chemical specificity in order to connect, to operate, and to test molecular devices. He has published over 200 papers and patents, and has given over 400 invited and plenary lectures. 

John Carpenter, Trailers Anemone.

Interactive Experiences: Artist John Carpenter's Haptic Media Systems

In one project, you can seemingly reach out and rotate parts of a brain visualization in order to see different areas more clearly. In another, earthquake data becomes information you can touch, move, twist and turn. Read more.



We Are All Eating Nanotechnology

One of the scariest elements of the article isn't that these pieces of nanotechnology are harmful to the human bodies. It's that no one knows if they're harmful. Testing has been nearly nonexistent. The FDA, the governing body we've put in charge to keep bad things from entering our bodies, doesn't even have a list of foods that contain nanotechnology. Read more.


Could Genetic Engineering Make Renewable Fuel Cheaper?

Biofuels advocates have long eyed the prospect of breaking cellulose and hemicellulose down into sugars and ferment that sugar into alcohol fuels. It has a much lower carbon footprint, doesn't compete with the world's hungry for edible starch, and could conceivably offer a way to reduce the amount of material we send to landfills. Read more.


Paul Weiss on Nanostructures
Paul Weiss on Nanostructures

Nanostructures created by UCLA scientists could make gene therapies safer, faster and more affordable

UCLA scientists have developed a new method that utilizes microscopic splinter-like structures called “nanospears” for the targeted delivery of biomolecules such as genes straight to patient cells. Read more.

Top Image: Work from James Turrell's Skyspace exhibition called "Dividing the Light" at the Pamona College Museum of Art | Sandi Hemmerlein

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A black, square-shaped piece of fabric with chain stitch embroidery reading the words, "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in white thread. The ends of the threads are long and loose. The patch sits on top of a multicolored, striped surface.

When Embroidery Stitches a Portrait of Our Times

These L.A. artists have been using the craft of embroidery to send messages of hope, renewal and justice. With designs inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the presidential inauguration, their pieces have become a way to protest and record history.
A man (left) and a woman (right) in masks work in a woodshop with coronavirus safety regulations in place such as clear plastic barriers between stations.

Report: Reducing Red Tape Key to Survival of L.A.’s Creative Economy

After record growth, L.A.'s creative economy has suffered much with the coronavirus crisis. Now, recovery is uneven, and experts say reducing red tape is a critical element of survival.
House No. 1, the R Cloud House is a crown-like house with decorative fencing

A New Case Study House Puts Black Architecture on Display in Watts

On a triangle-shaped lot near the historic Watts Towers and the beloved Watts Towers Arts Center, a new mixed-use project is underway to draw people from all over the city and beyond to experience the Black aesthetic through architecture.