MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The Center for Advanced Visual Studies continued its research and teaching under the direction of Krzysztof Wodiczko over the past year. The Center now has a web page at


Krzysztof Wodiczko had retrospective exhibitions at DeAppel Center for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam and Galerie Lelong in New York, as well as an exhibit at Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie in Paris. He participated in the Next 5 Minutes Exhibition and Conference on Art, Politics and Independent Media in Rotterdam, and was the keynote speaker at the Veiled Histories Conference in San Francisco. He and Josh Smith completed media research and implemented his new Porte-Parole, an immigrant instrument, in France with support from the French Ministry of Culture. Reviews of Krzysztof Wodiczko's work appeared in the New York Times, ArtForum, New York Magazine, Time Out, New Yorker, Flash Art and Art In America. He gave lectures at Columbia University, Parsons School of Design, Ryerson Polytechnic and the University of Iowa.

Professor Wodiczko participated 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 and the MIT Advisory Council on Art, Science and Technology.


Design, Technology and Ethics, a studio seminar taught by Krzysztof Wodiczko, was developed 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. The seminar focused on building cultural instruments that could address contemporary urban problems.

A Freshman Seminar, Ethical Media Art, offered in the Fall semester conducted with Warren Sack of the Media Lab, provided new students to MIT with an introduction to art and technology and the means to use technology to address current socio-cultural problems.

In collaboration with Josh Smith of the Media and Physics group of the Media Lab, extensive research was completed on a new project, interactive Porte-Parole and Alien Staff , the immigrant instruments. See on the web.


Paul Earls has produced a laser work for the Kwang Ju Biennale in Kwang Ju, Korea, in conjunction with the Media Lab. He composed a piece of music for Otto Piene's sky events in Duesseldorf, Germany, at the Kunstmuseum im Ehrenhof. He also had a large installation at the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, PA and did considerable preparations towards the upcoming ISQ-Portugal project for Expo '98. He received an award from ASCAP for his work as a composer. His composition, "And on the seventh day" was re-released on compact disc by BMG. His UROP student, Brian Chamberlain, completed an intereactive audience-controlled installation.

Elizabeth Goldring continued her research on the Visual Language for the Blind project, with the assistance of UROP students and collaboration from the Visible Language Group at the Media Lab, mounting a web page that includes computer animation word-poems at In addition, she presented poetry readings at The Writer's Place and Poets At Large in Kansas City, MO, and presentations on Creating a Visual Language for People who are Visually Challenged at ISEA in Montreal and the College Art Association Conference in Boston.

During the year, CAVS Fellows conducted research in projects in art and technology at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. Robert Dell exhibited his thermal sculptures and lectured on them at the Carpenter Center for the Arts at Harvard University. He conducted research towards a geothermal sculpture for Yellowstone National Park, using the thermal springs of the park. Susan Gamble installed a holographic piece, The Form of the Visible, at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and also presented a paper, Science: Not Just a Source of Imagery For Art/ An Artist's Experience in a Scientific Institution, at the Royal Society, London, England. Piotr Kowalski, with the collaboration of graduate students in the Department of Architecture, built a transatlantic communication installation, in which web sites at MIT and the Lyon Biennale were connected, offering video, written and speech communication between the two sites, including computer translations between French and English. A web site for the project is at

Director Emeritus/Professor Emeritus Otto Piene held retrospective exhibitions in Boston, at the Suffolk University Gallery, in New York, at the American Academy of Arts and Letters where he received the Sculpture Prize, and at the Kunstmuseum Duesseldorf im Ehrenhof. The Duesseldorf exhibit included sky events and an extensive retrospective catalog. He also served as the Chairman of the MIT Advisory Council on Art, Science and Technology.

Initial work towards a CAVS presence at Expo '98 in Lisbon, Portugal is underway and includes coordinating an international art-science-technology collaboration.

Preparations were made to host Kyong Park, a current Rhodes Scholar, and the Emergency Broadcast Network to complete their research and digital presentation, Nuclear Heritage Park; as well as Shu Lea Chang and Muriel Waldvogel, an artist in residence at the AI Lab, as CAVS Fellows.


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 1995/6 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 collaboration 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 1995-96