The statement outlined here has resulted from our meetings with former Fellows and alumni of CAVS, with scholars who have studied the Center, with experts in related fields of MIT history and the histories of art, science, and technology, and with numerous other colleagues on the MIT campus and beyond.

We propose a curatorial reading of key terms that have emanated from the still-active histories of CAVS:

• art on the civic scale

• art and the environment

• intersections with futurity, and

• the locations of art in relationship to the histories of science and technology

At the outset, these terms defined a new field of artistic imagination and research—and they have been foundational to the social, cultural, and pedagogical visions of CAVS and ACT. Rather than undertaking to curate a historical exhibition, we propose applying CAVS/ ACT ideas and dynamics in the present, and in the meeting with contemporary theoretical and socio-cultural concerns. This undertaking is intended to create new spaces for action, while recognizing historical echoes of specific sites of knowledge production, and investigating material energies through a symposium and think tank, exhibits, performances, publications, and radically experimental artistic interventions and practices.

Engagements with civic scale and the environment as conceived at CAVS brought forth participatory events, large-scale installations and performances, and designs for parks, skies, satellites, and built spaces for human action. Characterized by collaborative authoring, this conception replaced an urgent awareness of the fearsomeness of military technology with a vision of art, science, and technology as equals.  

Since then, a negative anthropology has opened new spaces for acting, thinking and creating: a growing awareness of the ecological problems of the Anthropocene, the augmentation and supplementation of human agency by code (living and non-living), and the confederacies of the human and non-human.

These new spaces have led toward new questions:

How have conceptions of civic scale, the environment, and futurity changed since CAVS provided an unprecedented framework for the meeting of art, science and technology?

How do contemporary artists conceive of and grapple with proliferating dimensions of “scale,” “environment,” and “future”?

 

– Gediminas Urbonas, Lars Bang Larsen, Laura Knott