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Tomás Saraceno is Inaugural Visiting Artist in newly established MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology

  • CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts
  • /
  • September 06, 2012

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Tomás Saraceno, Vik Muniz and Don Byron are among MIT’s eight visiting artists.

 

Tomás Saraceno, the artist acclaimed for his utopian Cloud City,  a navigable, multi-level structure of interconnected modules currently installed on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, has been selected as the inaugural visiting artist for the newly established MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST).   

As a visionary at the cross-section of scientific and humanistic disciplines, Saraceno arrives at MIT in November to advance new work for the ongoing Cloud Cities series. An artist trained as an architect, Saraceno deploys theoretical frameworks and insights from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics and materials science. His residency at MIT focuses on advancing new work, including On Space Time Foam, a project created for Hangar Bicocca in Milan, Italy, that is inspired by cosmology and life sciences  Each level of the multi-layered, habitable membrane has a different climate and air pressure and will react to the movement of visitors through it.  Literally every step, every breath, affects each stratum of the brane-space he has created -- a metaphor for our interdependence and interrelated planetary existence. It will appear in a later iteration as a floating biosphere above the Maldive Islands, which is made habitable with solar panels and desalinated water.

Saraceno will participate in a panel discussion with faculty from the School of Architecture and Planning entitled “Moving Beyond Materiality,” on November 15 in the Long Lounge at MIT. This event is free and open to the public.

Other prominent artists headlining MIT’s Visiting Artists Program in 2012-2013 include Vik Muniz, Don Byron, Mel Chin & Rick Lowe, John Akomfrah & Lina Gopaul, and Guilherme Marcondes. Public events featuring the visiting artists will be held during each residency (schedule below).

Vik Muniz, the Brazilian artist best known for creating art from unusual materials such as garbage and chocolate, and then photographing the work as an exploration of image-making and scale, has come to MIT to embark on a new project.  Collaborating with PhD student Marcelo Coelho from the Fluid Interfaces Group, this work will develop the technique of using sand to laser-etch microscopic images onto millimeter-wide grains, which will later be captured as photographs.  His overarching purpose is to bring his ideas about visual literacy to students and faculty across the disciplines of biology, optics and engineering. In his first public program, MIT will screen the Academy Award nominated film Waste Land, a film about Muniz’s work described by the LA Times as “an uplifting examination of how art came to impact the lives of scavengers at the world’s largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro.”  His second public program will present a selection of projects relevant to his residency at MIT, providing a rare opportunity to learn what an artist sees “behind the curtain of science.”

Another renowned artist, Don Byron visits MIT in the fall of 2012 and again in 2013 -- the 50th anniversary of jazz at MIT.  Byron’s musical style is so inventive that, as Time Magazine put it, “Calling Don Byron a jazz musician is like calling the Pacific wet – it just doesn’t begin to describe it...”.  On October 27,  he will be performing a fresh mix of jazz and gospel at Kresge Auditorium with his New Gospel Quintet and students from the Boston Arts Academy and MIT. Byron will also work on new compositions while at MIT during his residency. He will engage in conversations with faculty and students about his opera-in-progress when conducts a workshop on this new work in April 2013. He will also premiere a new concerto commissioned and performed by the MIT Wind Ensemble on March 16, under the direction of Professor Frederick Harris. Evan Ziporyn, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music at MIT, will perform a clarinet solo.  

Other featured artists include Mel Chin and Rick Lowe, whose residencies at MIT will bring the artists together. These artists, active in their own communities and in national initiatives, both employ art in areas in need of rethinking, including lead-infected soil in New Orleans and depressed inner-city Houston. The artists will be at MIT to explore the potential of adapting their model of artistic practice to an urban studies curriculum. Over the semester, a group of MIT students will have the opportunity to work with Chin and Lowe to learn about the contributions artists can make to urban revitalization.  Along with Dayna Cunningham of the MIT CoLab, the artists will also present a public lecture, entitled “Artists in Urban Planning,” about their seminal projects, Fundred Dollar Bill and Project Row Houses.

Visiting artists John Akomfrah and Lina Gopaul, founders of the Black Audio Film Collective and Smoking Dogs Film Production, will come to MIT for several visits to engage in a multi-faceted investigation of the historic role of cinema from its earliest inception to its digital format. Known for being at the forefront of digital cinematography, Akomfrah received the United Kingdom’s Order of Knighthood, OBE, among other honors. The artists explore the many facets of European migrants and gained prominence with their film, Handsworth Songs, to be screened at MIT, about the tension in Britain during the period of 1982-1998.  Focusing on one topic per semester, Akomfrah and Gopaul will lead workshops, lectures, and panels on documentary filmmaking on cinema and social activism, cinema in local and global contexts, cinema as art installation, and cinema and technological change. The residency will culminate in a symposium in Spring 2014 that integrates these perspectives.

Questions about man’s relationship to his self-created environment are at the heart of the work of Brazilian animator Guilherme Marcondes, who will hold a two-week workshop at MIT to develop a video game prototype with writers, producers, programmers and others from across MIT.  This is a new project for the gifted animator and filmmaker, whose work has appeared on MTV, the BBC, Animal Planet, and in film festivals across the globe. Along with his animation and film screenings, Marcondes will present his video project during a free public program at the MIT Museum.

About MIT’s Visiting Artists Program:
The arts have been an integral part of MIT since the 1960s, with visits by Gustavo Dudamel, Trevor Paglen, Cai Guo-Qiang, I.M. Pei, Junot Díaz, Jason Moran, and Bill Viola. In this series, the Visiting Artists Program offers a rich exchange of ideas, problem-solving and creative dialogues within the community.  In addition, the establishment of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) has brought a new level of cross-disciplinary research and creativity to campus.  A joint initiative of the Office of the Provost, the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) and School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), the Center’s mission is to foster “a culture where the arts, science and technology thrive as interrelated, mutually informing modes of exploration, knowledge and discovery.”

The arts at MIT are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem-solving. http://arts.mit.edu


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