ACT | 2016 Centennial | Open House

Photomontage by Azra Aksamija, 2016. Original photo of the MediaLab Steve Mann Photomontage of the Memory Matrix installation at night in front of the Wiesenr Building, MIT campus

The MIT Program in Arts, Culture, and Technology Celebrates the Centennial

MIT2016: Celebrating a century in Cambridge commemorates the Institute’s 1916 move from Boston’s Back Bay as it honors MIT’s special relationship with the City of Cambridge and looks toward the frontiers of the future. On Saturday, April 23, the entire campus will be open for a day-long participatory Open House, including the following events and installations sponsored by the Program in Arts, Culture, and Technology, the Department of Architecture and the School of Architecture and Planning

Sediments / a running display of Islands in the making / at MIT

By the spring of 2018, the MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology (ACT) is aiming to produce a new piece of water-bound cultural infrastructure on the Charles River—a future learning environment on the water. The MIT Island will be offered as a prototype to stimulate our collective imaginations about the possibilities for civic and educational spaces that support site-sensitive cultural activity and bring us closer to waterways increasingly strained by climate change and industrial negligence.

Leading up to this 2018 installation, the ACT corridor on the second floor of Building E15 will host an evolving display of plans, sketches, and other ideational materials for the Island, as well as archival materials from ACT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies Special Collection (CAVS). Indeed, ACT’s Island project draws inspiration from a series of collaborative installations proposed by Fellows at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, collectively named the Charles River Project (1971–1974). With the use of large-scale wall-mounted vitrines and monitor displays, Sediments layers this fascinating CAVS material into ACT’s vision for a path-marking facility on, in, and by the water.

With these Island projects, ACT is proud to carry forward the CAVS legacy of bringing together players from the visual arts, architecture, and engineering to engage with MIT’s neighboring waterway.

Saturday April 23, 2016 

ACT corridor, E-15, second floor, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge

For more information visit: Sediments: a Running Display of Islands in the Making

Memory / Matrix 

The Memory Matrix is a living monument that explores the possibilities for future heritage creation, employing new fabrication techniques and transcultural collaborative workshops. The Matrix takes form of a giant screen made of border fences carrying over 20,000 small fluorescent Plexiglas elements. These elements are laser cut in the middle with holes in the shape of vanished heritage from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond. Arranged into a larger matrix, these pixels collectively reveal an image of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph.  This collaborative making process is a seed for a longer-term mission of the project – to benefit the education of Syrian refugees. As a research project, the project explores how communities threatened by war can document their material and immaterial heritage as indestructible evidence.

The project was conceived by ACT Assistant Professor Azra Aksamija and is co-developed and produced with the help of a diverse range of partners within the MIT community and participants from the Maker Faire in Cairo and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. More than an art installation, the Memory Matrix is a solidarity-building and educational enterprise.

Memory Matrix is produced with support from a number of different departments and entities: Office of the Dean from SA+P, Office of the Dean SHASS, ACT Program, Center for International Studies, Arts Initiatives of SA+P, Center for Advanced Urbanism, CAMIT, MIT Libraries, AKPIA, Global Studies and Languages, Comparative Media Studies / Writing, Literature Section, Office of the Dean for Student Life, Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Women’s and Gender Studies at MIT. Other forms of support are provided by: Department of Architecture, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT, MIT Alumni Association and MISTI.

The Memory Matrix is on display in front the Wiesner building, E-1520 Ames Street, Cambridge 

Saturday April 23, 2016 – May 7, 2016 

For more information visit: Memory Matrix

Infinite / Footsteps

Conceptualized by ODGE Graduate Community Fellow Ron Martin, Infinite Footsteps is a multi-layered and dialogic engagement with the theme of mentorship against the backdrop of a fragmented history of racial discrimination in the world of academia in the US. Exploring the notion that over time architecture registers cultural identity and social change, the site-specificity of Infinite Footsteps becomes a key investigatory tool. Formerly known as the Center for Space Research, the SOM designed MIT Building 37 was rededicated as the Ronald E. McNair building in 1986. This exhibition explores the ramifications of this act of re-naming in the wake the Challenger NASA mission disaster, now in its 30th anniversary, where MIT Alum Ronald McNair lost his life.

The Infinite Footsteps exhibition is a unique collaboration between the ACT Program, the Blacks at MIT History Project, M.Arch Program, MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and contributors from the greater Boston community including Salem State University and a local street breakdancing crew.

The exhibition of archival materials from the Blacks at MIT History Project will be accompanied by artworks and experimental spatial interventions along with a set of nightly events including a reading group and production workshop, a panel discussion and live dance performances:

Wed 4/20, 6-7pm: Live breakdance performance with multimedia installation

Thu 4/21, 6-8pm: Reading Group and Production Workshop with special guests

Fri 4/22, 5-7pm: Reception and panel discussion

Sat 4/23, 10am-3pm: MIT Open House programming

Funding for the project is provided by The Council for the Arts at MIT, The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education and the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (SA+P).

Infinite Footsteps exhibitors and guest speakers include Clarence G. Williams, Nelly Rosario, Daniel Delgado, Stephanie Lee M.Arch’18, Joey Swerdlin M.Arch’18, Arthur Musah, Meredith Tenhoor, Rainar Aasrand SMACT’18, Crazy 88s Dance Crew and Ron Martin SMACT’17.

For more information visit Infinite Footsteps

kinetic / speakers

“Kinetic Speakers and Experimental Sound Creations“ generate a creative sound space that acts as stage, a workspace, a thinking place, a gallery and an archive.

There is a profound relationship between sound, body and space. To explore these concepts, this class connects traditional and theoretical knowledge with hands on experimentation to experience sound as an unstable yet sculptural art form. We reject the notion that recorded or acousmatic music is best reproduced on traditional mono or stereo speaker systems. We diffuse and listen to sound in relation to the variety of spacial properties and learn that sound and space react with one other in very complex ways. Thus we gain new perspectives on sound and performance. The class actively takes part by learning and inventing production techniques, understanding basic principles of acoustic & experimental music, and inventing new strategies for sound perception.

The Kinetic Speaker and Experimental Sound Creations class’ performance is arranged into one continuous two-hour performance that will repeat itself throughout the day.

The performance will take place Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 in the ACT Cube E15-001, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge

For more information visit ACT Kinetic Speakers

parkour / by / heart / setting a / performative / frame 

With Rosa Barba,

TA: Neil Sanzgiri

In this exhibition, we observe the journey from cinema to another kind of film through a materialization of a filmic ontology into a hyper-space whose nature and limits remain to be defined. The results are experiments of expanded time-based forms into sculptural objects or speculations. Starting from a base reference point of research, whether through an enticing piece of archived material, or enigmatic cultural phenomena, students expand their practices through a sort of artistic parkour. Grappling with questions of how to navigate image sound and narrative, this one night only group show is the result of the semester long process from the class “Setting a Performative Frame and Intersecting Fact and Fiction” taught by visiting artist Rosa Barba.

The exhibition will take place SaturdayMay 72016 in the ACT Cube E15-001, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge

Featured Artists

Ursula August, Gedney Barclay, Andrea Carrillo, Martin Elliott, Alan Kwan, Mary Lynch-Lloyd, Sophie Maguire, Samantha Alder Oliveira, Alaa Quraishi, Maya Shapova, Bjorn Sparrman, Eunice Wong and Malcolm Wyer


For more MIT Centennial Events