MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Center for Advanced Visual Studies

The past year was one of transition to new leadership and establishment of new directions in the Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

Elizabeth Goldring and Paul Earls acted as Co-Directors of CAVS until the new Director, Krzysztof Wodiczko, assumed his post in February.

CAVS hosted several meetings of the MIT Advisory Council on Art, Science and Technology.

Highlights of the year included "Light/Space/Time, a 25th anniversary retrospective" exhibit at CAVS and the MIT Museum, the establishment of the Charlotte Moorman Fellowship, the studio seminar Art, Science and Technology after the Cold War, and the response of potential Fellows to the Demilitarizing Technology proposal.


Krzysztof Wodiczko assumed leadership of the Center for Advanced Visual studies in February. He comes to the Center from teaching in the Visual Arts Program of the Dept. of Architecture as well as at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris while he was on leave from MIT.

A complete book of his writings, Art Public, Art Critique: Textes, propos et documents was published by the ensb-a Press. Major retrospective exhibitions were held in Warsaw in the Center of Contemporary Art that will travel to De Appel in Amsterdam and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. He had individual exhibitions at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and in Warsaw's Foksal Gallery. He participated in major international group exhibitions such as ARS 95 in Helsinki, Kulturhusset in Stockholm, National Gallery of Contemporary Art in Warsaw, and in Museums of Modern Art in Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo and at the Kunstmuseum in Bonn, Germany. He gave public lectures on his own work and public art in Kyoto, Sapporo, at Parsons School of Design, Stanford University and in Warsaw as well as participating the the Design and Culture panel discussion in the Department of Architecture and as a panelist and speaker in the Denaturalized Urbanity Conference at Harvard University, and at the Urban Interventions conference in San Sebastian, Spain. He continued working on his Alien Staff and Mouthpiece, the media instruments for the displaced in Warsaw, Helsinki, Stockholm and Malmo.

Professor Wodiczko partipated in the selection committee for graduate students in the program in Public Art and in the Search Committee for the Visual Arts Senior Faculty position, as well as in the Department Council, the Advisory Board for the List Visual Arts Center, and the MIT Advisory Council on Art, Science and Technology.


The first initiative of CAVS developed jointly by William J Mitchell, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning with Professor Wodiczko, was an open invitation to the art and scientific communities entitled The Demilitarization of Technology . Among many responses to the Demilitarization of Technology proposal which are currently under review is the "Metaphorming Military Technology" project by Todd Siler, a graduate of CAVS and the only artist who received a PhD from MIT. Siler says that "I share the belief of Professors Wodiczko and Mitchell who maintain that 'designers and artists can become catalysts, opening a dialogue between the human and technical sciences in directing the transfer of defense technologies into critical/cultural projects." His project is to create a complex intellectual and esthetic environment addressing the issue of demilitarization of technology. As he put it, "The words, images, objects and ideas presented in this project will encompass various fields of knowledge, including military sciences, civil engineering, cognitive sciences, social sciences and history, among other disciplines." This material will be presented in the form of a provocative art installation which will be designed to travel to a number of museums and cultural centers and to be electronically disseminated internationally.

A studio seminar on Art and Technology after the Cold War was taught by Krzysztof Wodiczko to provide an intellectual and artistic/design laboratory for graduate and undergraduate students of the Department of Architecture, Research Assistants from the Media Lab, and students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A joint session with students from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris and with Dennis Adams' Public Art class from the Visual Arts Program, with participation of invited guests became an important event indicating the new intellectual agenda and new pedagogical method of CAVS. Student work from this class was edited and designed collectively by the group to be accessible on the Worldwide Web, as a part of the CAVS home page at

The Demilitarization of Technology proposal as well as the studio seminar taught by the Center have sparked interest among potential graduate students and post graduate students who would like to complete their studies in the intellectual environment proposed by the Center. Storefront For Art and Architecture, and Exit Art,both leading emerging experimental design and art centers in New York, voiced their interest in curatorial collaboration in research and exhibitions inspired by this proposal.


Paul Earls is participating in the Kwang Ju Biennale in Kwang Ju, Korea, in conjunction with the Media Lab, and is also completing a computer/sound/laser work for the Sound and Light exhibit at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

Elizabeth Goldring's research on a Visual Language for the Blind using the Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope included the Imaging directly onto the Retina: The First Internet Access for the Visually Challenged project in which an interactive environment was established between CAVS and the Department of Architecture and locations outside MIT in which images transmitted via the Internet were projected directly onto her retina using the SLO, enabling her to see them for the first time, and direct images of her retina engaged in seeing the images were transmitted back to the other locations. Ms. Goldring also coordinated the CAVS Video/Poetry/Performance evening in December. Elizabeth Goldring's book, Without Warning: 49 Poems was published by Helicon 9 Editions and BKMK Press, Kansas City.

During the year, CAVS Fellows conducted research in projects in art and technology at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. Paula Dawson developed the prototype for her "Shrine" holographic installation. Robert Dell continued his research on geothermal sculptures through a grant from the Waterloo Foundation for the Arts. Susan Gamble conducted holographic research, Bertrand Ivanoff researched a laser installation, Mitch Benoff exhibited his Speed of the Earth light/time installation at several locations including at the Galerie Schoeller opening in Duesseldorf, Germany. Noah Riskin participated in the EPIIC symposium and exhibit at Tufts University as co-ordinator as well as performer. Seth Riskin received a two-month fellowship to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Seth and Noah Riskin both performed at the opening of the Shaddow Arkade in Duesseldorf. Christopher Janney completed a large commissioned installation for the Miami airport, Harmonic Runway. Ludmilla Sayenkova came to the Center from Belarus as a Fullbright Research Scholar . Mark Faverman was selected as a designer for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Other research in art,science and technology was conducted by Joan Brigham, Vin Grabill and Keiko Prince.

Director Emeritus/Professor Emeritus Otto Piene coordinated the CAVS 25 year retrospective exhibition, Light, Space,Time. He also served as the Chairman of the MIT Advisory Council on Art,Science and Technology. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and completed a sculptural architectural commission for the Shaddow Arkade in Duesseldorf, Germany.


Light, Space, Time, the 25 year retrospective exhibit of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, was held in conjunction with the MIT Museum from June until September 1994. The exhibit was sponssored in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Department of Architecture, and the Eugene McDermott Fund for the Arts. Electronics products were provided for the exhibit by Sony Corporation in celebration of 25 years of Trinitron television technology. Computer equipment was provided by Apple Computer, Inc.

In December, CAVS produced an evening of poetry, performance and video by CAVS Fellows and former Fellows together with outside invited artists. During the year, CAVS artists Krzysztof Wodiczko, Jennifer Hall, Seth Riskin and Beth Galston presented works at CAVS.


Former CAVS Fellow Nam June Paik endowed the Center with the funding for a Fellowship in the name and memory of his longtime collaborator and former CAVS Fellow Charlotte Moorman from proceeds from the sale of his Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer.


Today, CAVS continues to support research projects integrating art, science and technology. The Center not only offers Fellows and students access to advanced technologies but also challenges them to a critical engagement with the intellectual and ethical questions posed by the social construction of these tools.

The Center for Advanced Visual Studies is once again offering a Master of Science in Visual Studies degree this time jointly with the Visual Arts Program as a part of the graduate program in Public Art. The CAVS branch of the program focusses on the relationship of art to science, technology and contemporary culture with an emphasis on a critical engagement with intellectual and ethical questions posed by the social construction of advanced technologies as media through work that will integrate art with science and technology.


Academic year 1994/95 was a year of active transition for the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. The Center has consolidated its new identity and is re-establishing itself as a potential leader in the field of critical art and design thanks to its new emphasis on integrating ethical, social and cultural study with the innovative experiment inspired by and challenging contemporary scientific and technological developments. In doing so, the Center for Advanced Visual Studies has begun to redesign its educational and research methods and programs. The last year was a process of establishing personal contacts and professional plans towards future educational or research collaborations with other Centers and Programs at MIT, specifically the Visual Arts Program, History, Theory and Criticism, Film and Media Studies Program, Media Lab, Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Department of Engineering.Similar steps were taken to establish professional relations towards future colllaboration with contemporary art and design centers outside of MIT whose programs overlap with CAVS' intellectual and artistic agenda.

Krzysztof Wodiczko

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95