Festival of Art, Science & Technology (FAST)

The FAST Festival appeared throughout the MIT campus and extended  over the entire 2011 spring semester, punctuated by five special festival weekend events: FAST Past, FAST Thinking, FAST Opera, FAST Future and the culminating event FAST Light.

FAST Past explored MIT’s unique tradition in the media arts, systems theory in art and design, and electronic music. Events included the exhibition Stan VanDerBeek The Culture Intercom, and featured a forum on contemporary arts and cybernetics, theories of musical mind and emotion, and demos of the past and future of music technology.

FAST Thinking, a 12-hour boundary-breaking program, demonstrated the outcome of pioneering research on music, language, vision and neuroscience. Conversations with pioneers working on these frontiers gave the audience a rare opportunity to witness — and participate in — revolutionary advances in art and science.


FAST Opera featured the United States premiere of Death and the Powers, a musically and technologically visionary “robotic” opera created by Tod Machover and developed at the MIT Media Lab. The event launched a new era in opera production and expression with animated walls, a chorus of robots, and a musical chandelier.

FAST Forward’s music/media marathon brought together the Kronos Quartet, Bang-on-a-Can, Wu Man, and MIT’s own Gamelan Galak Tika and Chamber Chorus. An unprecedented convocation of MIT’s creative arts faculty, alumni, and students, the program considered how new creative practices emerge in the hothouse environment of MIT.

FAST Light, the finale event of the Festival of Art, Science and Technology, illuminated MIT’s campus and the Charles River for a crowd of thousands. The installations by MIT faculty and students — more than 25 in all — underlined how technology, invention, and fantasy transform the physical environment in unexpected ways.