I visited Rachel Bird’s poster about human/nature and art, combining art history and exploring the ways humans at the times were connected to or disconnected from nature through art. In Romanticism, there is a beauty of nature found in the vast landscapes of artists, the vivid detail of rolling hills and deep valleys. The romantics were focused on an idealized and loving version of nature.

Painters like Frans Janszoon Post made paintings of vast skies and rolling landscapes. In his Pernambuco, Post paints a grayish sky with lush landscape. However, there seems to be something wrong with the landscape – it seems to have been tainted with some sort of grey – and the sky is very large – almost half the painting is filled with sky – this same sort of almost blue skies, but with a looming grey. Maybe this grey symbolizes the coming of humans, the impending destruction and degradation that could happen on a landscape so fine, untouched, and beautiful.

On JR’s poster, he studied narcissism in the world – essentially asking the question “why?”. He studied Roman, Incan, Mayan, Aztec, and Mughal civilizations, and asked, “why did they do the things they did?”. Not only does this question relate to past civilizations, but it also relates to modern-day civilizations, and, on an individual level, it relates to how we choose to use our time here on earth. JR found, in his research, that humans do things to prove that they can. The Romans fought wars in gaul, they built enormous colosseums, and held flags up in war-rage against France in order to prove that they can. Similarly, today the US is against war in the middle east to prove they can. We continue to build infrastructure within and outside our country to prove that we can. On an individual level, we do things to prove to others that we can. In JR’s conclusion, he says that the cost of this human progress – over centuries of “proving that we can” – is the planet. I think that this is more of an ethical and moral argument that JR makes. Maybe there is a different answer for everyone – why do you do the things you do? Why do past, present and future civilizations do the thins they do? Hearing JR’s argument for “proving that we can” is convincing, however, what happens when there is no one to prove anything to? What if nobody really cares? What’s the point in doing anything? For me, it is not because I want to prove anything to anybody – I do things for the love of doing it. I do things out of my own want to do things – and help others, and in turn help myself. I take a joy in making things and helping others. Maybe there is a reason beyond just “proving that you can,” and a second reason of joy, helping others, or understanding – or maybe it is a little bit of everything that makes us do things.

Finally, I visited Theo’s poster, who was studying the differences between the brain today an the brain 100 years ago. Theo stated that 100 years ago, there was much less technology, much less distraction, and much less constant stimuli. His core question was, “how has the brain changed because of the rise of technology and constant stimulation?” He used teenagers’ brains as an age-based experiment. Theo concluded that with the rise in technology, there are new pathways that make us able to stay attentive, and also there are functions in the brain that make it more pleasurable to have more stimuli (dopamine releases). I wonder that since he studied teenagers’ brains, how the simple nature of studying teenagers’ brains might be unpredictable. Since teenagers are, at this time of development, still making a lot of physical growths and new brain connections, does this have any impact on the results of the study? Can we be sure the effects of technology on a teenager’s brain, when things like diet, exercise, and way of life might have also changed in 100 years, also changing a teenager’s brain?