Vision in Art and Neuroscience.

Vision in Neuroscience and Art

Instructors: Professor Pawan Sinha, Sarah Schwettmann, Seth Riskin

9.S52/9.S916 Vision in Neuroscience and Art seeks to introduce and engage students hands-on with core concepts in visual perception through the lenses of art and neuroscience. The material has been selected both to expose students to the study of brain and cognitive sciences and to engage those already within the neuroscience community in the use of art as a medium to explore and visualize core principles of perception. A combination of seminar-style and studio work will create the foundation for fostering valuable interdisciplinary dialogue between art and visual neuroscience, culminating in an exhibition of students’ semester-long projects.

Fall 2017

Nancy Turner, "Sun Tunnels." Photo: Jessica Varner.

Landscape Experience

Instructors: Caroline A Jones and Rebecca Uchill

This seminar explores “land” as a genre, theme, and medium of art and architecture of the last five decades. A major opportunity afforded by the course is an optional field trip to visit major works of land art in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas during the summer preceding the term. Focusing largely on work in the United States, the course seeks to understand how the use of land in art and architecture is bound into complicated entanglements of property and power, the inheritances of non-U.S. traditions, and how the term “landscape” is variously deployed in the service of a range of political and philosophical positions. The work of artists, architects, and writers on art and architectural theory can offer rich insights into the tangled nexus of phenomenology, pilgrimage, and property development that has been conjured by landscape, in history and at present.

Watch “The Travelogue of the Undocumentable,” a video created by Landscape Experience students or read PhD student Jessica Varner’s personal reflections from the field.

Fall 2016

Skylar Tibbits, critique, 4.022 Architecture Design Fundamentals I, Spring 2015. Photo: S. Lacey.

Architecture Design Fundamentals I

Instructor: Skylar Tibbits

This studio class aims to develop students’ understanding of architecture by studying the intersection of art, design and materials science. Through three primary exercises, “Generative drawings,” “New material formations” and “Living objects/growing structures,” students develop their techniques of drawing, making and organizing structures. This course is specifically created to play off students’ non-architectural education by introducing a domain of investigation whereby students can learn to design through the lens of cross-disciplinary experimentation. Throughout the semester students investigate generative art, design and materials science, looking at “pattern formation” in an attempt to extract principles, learn techniques and develop strategies for design.

Spring 2015

J. Meejing Yoon, School of Architecture and Planning. Credit: MY Studio

Design Across Scales

Instructors: J. Meejin Yoon and Neri Oxman

Inspired by Charles and Ray Eames’ canonical “Powers of Ten,” the course explores the relationship between science and engineering through the lens of design. It examines how transformations in science and technology have influenced design thinking and vice versa. It offers interdisciplinary tools and methods to represent, model, design and fabricate objects and systems across physical, economical and social scales. Structured as core lectures and labs, the course is organized by “systems” such as design of information, design of fabrication, design of intelligence, design of play and design of innovation. Leaders in the fields of design, material science, artificial intelligence, and mechanical engineering will contribute through guest lectures. We will learn design tools, digital and analog. We will develop design methods, disciplinary and anti-disciplinary. And we will design things, material and immaterial.

Spring 2014

Spring 2015

Student installation for “The Harmonic Archive,” 2014. Photo: L. Barry Hetherington.

The Harmonic Archive: Music, Sound & Installation Art as Artistic Research

Instructor: Arnold Dreyblatt

The course is taught by Composer and Media Installation Artist Arnold Dreyblatt who is a CAST Visiting Artist. Dreyblatt’s musical and artistic practice has ranged from composition and performance to permanent installations, digital projections, dynamic textural objects and multi-layered lenticular text panels. His visual artworks create complex textual and spatial visualizations about memory, reflecting upon such themes as recollection and the archive. Students will develop projects related to musical minimalism, microtonality, harmonic resonance and musical instrument building. In response to Dreyblatt’s installation work, students discuss artistic and technical modes of visualization of archival practice and memorization. The conception and execution of a final group project is an essential component of the course.

Fall 2014

Exhibiting Science

Instructors: John Durant, Seth Riskin, Allan Doyle with Visiting Artists Arthur Ganson, Anne Lilly, and John Douglas Powers.

With the advent of the MIT Museum’s “Year of Kinetic Art,” students create their own kinetic sculptures for display in the museum. Working in the newly re-located Museum Studio, students will receive mentorship from artists Arthur Ganson, Anne Lilly, and John Douglas Powers, whose work is currently on display in 5000 Moving Parts, and from the Museum’s technical team. The aim is to conceive, design, fabricate, test and mount kinetic sculptures in the Museum, for display as part of summer exhibition of MIT student work that will be opened in time for commencement 2014.

Spring 2014

Scanner at Resonating MIT. Credit: Andy Ryan.

Sound Installation and Sonic Practice

Instructor: Gediminas Urbonas with Visiting Artists Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) and Stephen Vitiello

This course explores the connections between sound, architecture, urbanism, and contemporary art, inspired by interdisciplinary artistic practices and precedents. Students receive mentorship from sound artists Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) and Stephen Vitiello. After students research the complex intellectual, social, and historical ecology of the MIT campus, the course culminates in site-specific sound installations and on-site interventions. These “sound pavilions” function as testing grounds investigating the links between visual, experiential and sonic cognition.

Spring 2014

Either/Or performs Alvin Lucier Chamber Music for Instruments and Sine Waves at the MIT Chapel, 2014. Credit: L. Barry Hetherington.

Music Composition

Instructor: Keeril Makan with Visiting Artists Either/Or

Through a progressive series of composition projects, students investigate the sonic organization of musical works and performances, focusing on fundamental questions of unity and variety. Weekly listening, reading, and composition assignments draw on a broad range of musical styles and intellectual traditions from various cultures and historical periods. The course culminates in the acclaimed chamber music ensemble Either/Or performing students’ original compositions, an exciting and instructive opportunity for students to benefit from masterful contemporary musicians performing their work in public.

Spring 2014

Cinematic Migrations

Instructor: Renée Green with Visiting Artists John Akomfrah and Lina Gopaul

Cinematic Migrations is a two-year collaborative research and production project focusing on the work of filmmaker John Akomfrah and producer Lina Gopaul (Smoking Dogs Films, and founding members of the seminal UK-based Black Audio Film Collective). Speakers include filmmakers, artists, and thinkers who explore and engage with cinema in a variety of formats, genres, and contexts. Their work often raises provocative questions regarding aesthetic, cultural, national, and economic borders. The discussions in this series explore a variety of cinematic spheres—essayistic, documentary, experimental, independent, activist, and commercial—designations that are experiencing redefinition and permutation. Cinematic Migrations is a multi-faceted look at the role of cinema’s transmutations over time and its worldwide and circuitous shifts.

Spring 2014

Scumak no.2, by contemporary artist Roxy Paine addresses the automation and computerization of contemporary life. Credit: Creative Commons.

Automatism in Art and Architecture

Instructor: David Mather

While automatism is closely associated with the French surrealists and their method for composing texts and images via psychic automatism, the term likewise refers to a centuries-old concept connoting a spectrum of self-directed, mechanical, or uncontrollable processes across historical, social, and cultural contexts. This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on iterations of the deeply-rooted concept of automatism, including mechanized automatons; philosophical discourses of materialism and metaphysics; the legal definition of individuals; various psychological and physical disorders; as well as spontaneous social and political disruptions.

Spring 2014

Credit: Melissa Shumacher

Objective Narratives: Portraits of Science through Material Culture and Photography

Instructors: Anne McCants and Ellan Spero

This course gives students the tools for thinking and communicating about the material culture of scientific practice through a combination of written work and photographic practice. Students to use photography to support a more creative and conscious writing process by using its power both to observe and to communicate. Guests include photographers Felice Frankel, Essdras Suarez, and Jan Kostecki. The course culminates in an exhibit open to the MIT community, curated by the students, featuring their own photographic work. Objective Narratives is co-presented with MIT’s Concourse program, a Freshmen Learning Community dedicated to exploring fundamental questions that lie at the intersections of science, social science, and humanistic inquiry.

Fall 2013

Pamela Z, Ars Electronica, 2008. Photo: Rubra.

Music and Technology

Instructor: Christine Southworth

The Music and Technology seminar series presents weekly lecture/demonstrations by twelve prominent sound and multimedia electronic artists, who stretch sound-making to new dimensions. Their work explores mechanical experimentation, algorithmic modes of composition and performance, playful and improvisatory processes and the material, spatial, and kinetic properties of sound. With these lecture/demonstrations as a point of creative departure, students in the course design original instruments, software and compositions. The series culminates in a marathon concert featuring five-hours of genre-blending and experimental new music and a demonstration of the glass instruments created in collaboration with Visiting Artist Mark Stewart.

Spring 2013

The ExpandaBot's expanding wheels allow the robot to rapidly adapt to various kinds of terrain. Credit: Sarah Southerland, Bianca Homberg, Jason Gao, and Shiyu Wei.

Mechanical Invention Through Computation

Instructors: Daniela Rus, Erik Demaine with Visiting Artist Chuck Hoberman

Featuring Visiting Artist Chuck Hoberman, the inventor of many folding toys and structures, this hands-on class considers the creation of mechanisms with a focus on the inventive process itself. Topics include kinematic analysis and synthesis, self-actuated form-creation through origami and other means, and the design of transformable structures that change size and shape. The class explores various techniques to conceptualize these innovative devices. Student groups organize semester-long projects to develop interactive software applications to facilitate “invention through computation,” and to enable the fluid, intuitive development of surprising and unique mechanisms.

Spring 2013