Haseeb Ahmed, The Wind Egg, 2016.
ACT at MIT

Haseeb Ahmed’s Wind Egg, a site-specific installation, performance and film created at the NATO von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) outside of Brussels, makes use of the language and methods of scientific experimentation and reportage. The project speculates on new narratives for scientific research, namely, the wind egg.

The wind egg is the thought that animals and people can reproduce with the wind much like plants do. Ahmed uses the state-of-the-art wind tunnel facilities at the VKI to realize this ancient thought, which existed for over 3000 years in ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Indian cultures. In the L7 Wind Personification Wind Tunnel  the “Face of the Wind” was visualized as a turbulence pattern trailing a delta wing model. Upon establishing communication with the Face of the Wind, Ahmed  introduced him to Sparta, a female African vulture. Ancient texts consistently state that vultures are exclusively female and procreate each Spring solely with the western wind, Aeolis.

Ahmed began his work with the wind in 2008, while at the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT), in the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel. He developed this research in conversation with the Size Matters artistic research group at the Zurich University of the Arts and now proceeds to create speculations on the latent factors that affect the selection of topics for scientific research and how their results are applied. Underlying Ahmed’s techno-poetic gestures is the possibility that scientific habits of thought might be re-directed, expanded, or extended by unconditional and open-ended experimentation.

The Wind Egg is presented by ACT as part of its recognition of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS). When Professor György Kepes founded CAVS in 1967, he provided a home at MIT for “artistic tasks that have authentic roots in our present condition.” Fifty years later, the CAVS lineage continues in ACT, an academic and research center for the visual arts.

ACT’s engagement with the CAVS anniversary examines the contemporary relevance of several key terms that emanated from CAVS, especially those concerning environmental art, “art on the civic scale,” (a term coined by Kepes to emphasize art’s public ethos and situated character), and the engagement of art with the future.

The presentation of The Wind Egg at the Keller Gallery has been supported by Swissnex Boston and by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. The curatorial team for ACT’s celebrations of the CAVS anniversary is Laura Knott, Lars Bang Larsen, and Gediminas Urbonas. Irina Chernyakova organized the screening for the Keller Gallery. The screening of the film runs from March 6 – 29.

Haseeb Ahmed and Florian Dombois, artist, leader of the Size Matters research group, and Professor at the Zurich University of the Arts, will speak about their work at the ACT Cube, MIT Building E15, Room 001, at 6pm on Tuesday April 3, 2018.

The Wind Egg
2016
Haseeb Ahmed
S.M. Visual Studies, 2010

Daniel Van Hauten, Director of Photography
Sound by Marc Mâfhoud
Choreography by Andros Zins-Browne