4.314/4.315 Advanced Workshop in Artistic Practice and Transdisciplinary Research – Ground Control

Gediminas Urbonas

TA Gina Badger

Contemporary civilian life in the United States is paradoxically facilitated and threatened by technology developed during the Cold War. As a research institution, MIT has particularly intimate connections to the development of military technologies affecting our everyday lives. These technologies are thoroughly embedded in our work, play, and communications; the list notably includes nuclear power, microwaves, GPS, and the Internet. We can go further yet: Cold War social codes, gender identities…

In this studio-seminar class, we will investigate the critical challenges and possibilities created for cultural production in an environment of advanced technological research and development, ultimately developing ethical responses to this context. Using tools inherited from conceptual art, students will develop a series of projects that identify, rethink, and repurpose elements of the Cold War infrastructure particular to MIT. Throughout this process we will examine, adapt, and refine micropolitical methodologies for artistic practice as transdisciplinary research.

At the beginning of the term, each student will work with the teaching team to develop a research question as well as a projected methodology drawing on a variety of media – including video, audio, sculpture, performance/intervention, drawing, modeling, mapping, and photography. Students will consult institute archives and develop active interdisciplinary interactions with researchers in departments outside Course 4. Research outcomes destined for public presentation – such as performances and exhibitions – will be developed in support of an ongoing research process. Collaborative projects will be encouraged and supported where appropriate.

List of conceptual and theoretical references includes: artworks by Mel Chin, Paul Chan, The Center for Land-Use Interpretation, the Critical Art Ensemble, Martha Rosler, Simon Starling; films including Peter Watkins (War Game) Stanley Kubrick (Doctor Strangelove), Mika Taanila (Futuro); Gerard Byrne (1984 and Beyond), Andrei Ujica (Out of Present); and texts including David Crowley and Jane Pavitt, eds. (Cold War Modern), Beatriz Colomina (Domesticity at War), Brian Homes (“Extradisciplinary Investigations: Towards a New Critique of Institutions), Stuart W. Leslie (The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial Complex at MIT and Stanford) Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (“Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine”).

Open to graduate students and upperclassmen from all disciplines. Students from outside Course 4 should consult with the instructor by email prior to registration. Additional work is required of students taking the graduate version. Enrollment limited.

related people