At the Poster Presentation session, I talked to the following presenters:

The Paleo Diet, Katie Chow:

Katie told me about the Paleo diet, and the way that humans are trying to improve the function of their own bodies through manipulating the foods that they eat.  She called it a fad diet, just like any other fad diet.  It allows people to lose a lot of weight because of the way that the body metabolizes meat, it allows people to lose a lot of “water weight”.  We discussed the similarities and differences between the Paleo Diet and the gluten free diet.  The way we talk about these diets differs, because the Paleo diet is generally talked about as making a person more healthy, whereas the gluten free diet is often prescribed to many people as a way to make them less sick.  The gluten free diet also can be considered an allergy, which legitimizes it in a way that the paleo diet is not.

The Culture of Narcissism, J.R. Farthing:

JR described his process of looking back at all of the great accomplishments of communities around the world, and what motivated them to do these things.  He determined that all of them were motivated by narcissism, and that these communities wanted to prove that they were superior to all other communities.  We talked about the reactions to recent events in our own global community, such as the ability to change one’s profile picture on Facebook to the French flag, and the ways in which this promotes narcissism as well.

A Massive Timeline of Art and Nature, Rachel Bird:

In Rachel’s presentation, she created a very large poster that walked me through the ways in which humans have been manipulating nature into art.  She first talked about art in the ancient world, such as the Sphinx in Egypt.  She argued that since these were carved out of bedrock, this was a perfect example of humans interacting with nature and modifying their environment.  Later, much of the fine art was landscape painting, which is a direct dialogue between humans and nature.  Finally, we discussed the work of a conceptual artist who created a large scale permanent sculpture in the Great Salt Lake in Utah that is now part of the permanent landscape there.  It was interesting to investigate the ways that humans have been making art a part of their lived environment over the years.

Clocks, Time, and Nukes, Olivia Amber:

Olivia talked to me about the ways in which daylight savings time and time zones are direct evidence of human interaction with nature.  The very ability to decide what time it is, and who daylight is best for (farmers?) is entirely a social construct.  We talked about how time zones were created when humans got to a point, originally through railroads, where we were able to cross enough land in a short enough time that we needed to know what time it was going to be when we got there.  Our perception of time has evolved with our technology.

Neurological Responses to Contemporary Technology, Theo Satloff:

I learned a lot of neuroscience by talking to Theo.  He told me how a culture of instant gratification and high-stimulus video/tv/internet etc gives us a dopamine release that is actually changing the way that our brains chemically perceive the world.  We talked about the role this plays in identity formation, especially for young people, with the example of “if you send a snapchat and get one back, you get a dopamine release.  If you don’t get one back, your brain is expecting that dopamine release and doesn’t get it, which leaves you unsatisfied”.