Vik Muniz

Shifts in scale, photographic manipulation and unexpected materials


Brazilian artist Vik Muniz radically transforms our understanding of image-making by using shifts in scale, photographic manipulation and unexpected materials — from dust and chocolate to grains of sand and industrial garbage — to explore the nature of visual cognition.  At MIT, Vik Muniz has pursued his interests in image production and visual literacy, working with researchers in biology, optics and engineering.

Read more.

Past Events

Artist Presentation
Vik Muniz, Visiting Artist
October 3, 2012

MIT Visiting Artist Vik Muniz presents a selection of projects relevant to his residency at MIT, providing a rare opportunity to learn what an artist sees “behind the curtain of science.”

Film Screening
Waste Land
October 2, 2012

Filmed over nearly three years, the Academy Award-nominated film Waste Land follows MIT Visiting Artist Vik Muniz from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There, he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they re-create photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to reimagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker and Co-Directors João Jardim and Karen Harley offer stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.

Learn more about the film.


(For public events, see above)

Class Visits
October 1, 2012

Fab Lab
October 4, 2012 and February 27, 2013

Exploratory Research
Lunch Symposium on Imaging and Visual Literacy
October 1, 2012

High-Low Tech, MIT Media Lab
October 2, 2012

Fluid Interfaces, MIT Media Lab
October 2, 2012

Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT
October 2, 2012 and February 26-27, 2013

Camera Culture, MIT Media Lab
October 2, 2012

Tangible Media Group, MIT Media Lab
October 3, 2012

City Design and Development Group and SENSEable City Lab, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
October 3, 2012

MIT Center for Bits and Atoms
October 4, 2012

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
February 26, 2013

In the Media

New York Times:  Art & Design At M.I.T., Science Embraces a New Chaos Theory: Art

The New York Times: Gates Foundation Uses Art to Encourage Vaccination

The Creators Project: Creating Sand Castles With a Single Grain of Sand

This is Colossal: The World’s Smallest Sandcastles Built on Individual Grains of Sand by Vik Muniz and Marcelo Coelho

Design Boom: vik muniz + marcelo coelho etch microscopic castles on grains of sand

Gizmodo: These Sand Castles Are Actually Castles Carved on Grains of Sand

Wallpaper: Eating out of the petri dish: Vik Muniz and Tal Danino’s bacterial tableware for Bernardaud

Cnet: Turning cancer cells, bacteria into amazing art (pictures)

Creators Project: Colonies | Vik Muniz And Tal Danino Turn Living Cells Into Art

Boston Magazine: MIT Bioengineer and Photographer Team Up to Make Pro-Vaccine Art

The New York Times: Where Art Meets Trash and Transforms Life



Marcelo Coelho, PhD candidate, Fluid Interfaces Group, MIT Media Lab; principal collaborator on the Sand Castles project

Tal Danino, Postdoctoral Researcher, Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies, Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Director; principal collaborator on the Bacteria project

Neil Gershenfeld, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and Director, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms

Patricia Maes, Alexander W. Dreyfoos Professor of Media Technology and Associate Program Head, Media Arts and Sciences, MIT Media Lab

Libby McDonald, Program Director, Global Sustainability Partnerships, MIT Co-Lab, Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Jennifer Jacobs, PhD Candidate, Research Assistant, High-Low Tech, MIT Media Lab

Steven Keating, PhD Candidate, Research Assistant, Mediated Matter, MIT Media Lab

Natalie H. Kuldell, Instructor of Biological Engineering, Department of Biological Engineering

David Robert, S.M. Candidate, Research Assistant, Personal Robots, MIT Media Lab

Eric Rosenbaum, PhD Candidate, Research Assistant, Lifelong Kindergarten, MIT Media Lab


CAST Blog: Painting with Bacteria

CAST Blog: This is Not a Ball: New Doc by Visiting Artist Vik Muniz Features MIT Alums

CAST Blog: Studio/Lab: Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies

Flickr Album

MIT Visiting Artist Video

Tel Aviv Museum of Art: Pictures of Anything

The Creators Project: Etching Sand Castles On A Single Grain Of Sand