Embedded within MIT’s experimental culture, our community of international arts professionals explores art’s transformative impact in the immediate world, thus complementing and updating our longstanding legacy of technological research.

The Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program at MIT is an academic program and center of critical art practice, intelligence and discourse within the School of Architecture and Planning. ACT is headed by distinguished artist-professors and supported by a dynamic cast of practitioner graduate students and staff, visiting artist-lecturers, affiliates, and guests.

Through an integrated approach to pedagogy, hosting, public event programming, exhibitions, and publications, ACT builds a community of artist-thinkers around the exploration of art’s complex conjunctions with culture and technology. It is not an art school in the traditional sense. The program’s mission is to promote leadership in critical artistic practice and deployment, developing art as a vital means of experimenting with new registers of knowledge and new modes of valuation and expression; and to continually question what an artistic research and learning environment can be and do.

Born out of a 2009 merger between MIT’s influential Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS, founded in 1967 by Gyorgy Kepes) and Visual Arts Program (VAP, founded in 1989), ACT shares a rich heritage of work that expands the notion of visual studies and pushes the capacity of art to enlist science and technology in cultural production, critique, and dissemination at the civic scale.

ACT offers a rigorous and highly selective two-year graduate program, the Science Masters in Art Culture and Technology (SMACT), as well as an undergraduate minor and concentration. It also offers a variety of introductory courses to the general MIT student population and courses tailored to undergraduates majoring in architecture. Advanced courses related to specific media and topics are offered as electives for both undergraduate and graduate students. ACT studio courses are complemented by practical workshops and discussions in theory and criticism, often provided by fellows and visitors to the program. Studios also regularly involve research field trips, which, in addition to their research/pedagogical value, help ACT promote new circuits of artistic and scholarly collaboration.

Relationships

The Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program is part of a vibrant arts scene at MIT and fosters and develops collaborative relationships with programs in architecture, urban planning, media arts and sciences, mechanical engineering, and other disciplines. The arts@mit website is a useful place to start to learn more about arts on campus.

Other programs

Department of Architecture

The Department of Architecture is a rich and varied educational environment for the study and practice of architecture and art. It has strong traditions of concern for human values, and for finding appropriate roles for architecture in society.

Comparative Media Studies (CMS)

Comparative Media Studies is the examination of media technologies and their cultural, social, aesthetic, political, ethical, legal, and economic implications. The CMS Program offers a two-year course of study leading to a Masters of Science degree and an undergraduate BS degree.

History, theory and criticism (HTC)

HTC’s mission has been to generate advanced research within MIT’s School of Architecture and to promote critical and theoretical reflection within the disciplines of architectural and art history. Commitment to depth and diversity is an integral part of HTC’s identity and one of the reasons for the success of its students, who come to Cambridge from around the world.

Media Lab – Media Arts And Science (MAS)

In its first decade, much of the Laboratory’s activity centered around abstracting electronic content from its traditional physical representations, helping to create now-familiar areas such as digital video and multimedia.  Increasingly, the Media Lab focuses on how electronic information overlaps with the everyday physical world. The Laboratory pioneered collaboration between academia and industry and provides a unique environment to pursue basic research and explore its applications without regard to traditional divisions among disciplines.

Science, Technology, And Society (STS)

This program attempts to increase understanding of the human-built world. In this world, science and technology have broken through the walls of industry and of the laboratory to become an inextricable and determining element of nature, culture, and history. Faculty and students in the Program address two basic, interrelated questions: how did science and technology evolve as human activities and what role do they play in the larger civilization?

Computer Science And Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)

The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is an interdisciplinary laboratory of over 200 people who seek to understand the nature of intelligence and to engineer systems that exhibit intelligence.  CSAIL’s intellectual goal is to understand how the human mind works. CSAIL researchers believe that vision, robotics, and language are the keys to understanding intelligence, and as such their laboratories are much more heavily biased in these directions than many other Artificial Intelligence laboratories