Nader Tehrani and Gediminas Urbonas, Liquid Archive, 2011. Photo: Andy Ryan.

Integrating the arts and humanities at MIT, then and now

“In our increasingly complex society, science and technology can no longer be segregated from their human and social consequences. The most difficult and complicated problems confronting our generation are in the field of the humanities and social sciences.” This declaration, … Continued

Hacking VR, 7 ways

Ever since Ivan Sutherland, PhD ’63, developed Ultimate Display in 1965—a forerunner to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that uses tactile stimuli to mimic the physical world—MIT researchers have been engineering new forms of immersive media. Today, the … Continued

Active Matter, Published September 2017 by MIT Press.

Excerpt from Active Matter by Skylar Tibbits

Active Matter (MIT Press 2017), edited by Skylar Tibbits, Assistant Professor of Design Research in the Department of Architecture at MIT and the Founder and Codirector of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, is an essential guide to a field that could shape … Continued

DESIGN EARTH, Planetarium for the Anthropocene, 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Q&A with Rania Ghosn

Suspend disgust at the thought of trash; make it a compelling subject for designers and the broader public. That’s Rania Ghosn’s tactic for getting more people to improve our built environment and ask the necessary questions about landfills, oil rigs, … Continued

WEARABLE Panelist Hussein Chalayan’s Autumn/Winter Collection, 2007.

Leila Kinney Discusses “Being Material”

MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte predicted in 1995 that “being digital” would have us entering a realm increasingly unconstrained by the materiality of the world. Two decades later, our everyday lives are indeed ever more suffused by computation and calculation. But unwieldy … Continued

Grace Leslie. Courtesy of the artist.

Evan Ziporyn Discusses “Being Material”

MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte predicted in 1995 that “being digital” would have us entering a realm increasingly unconstrained by the materiality of the world. Two decades later, our everyday lives are indeed ever more suffused by computation and calculation. But unwieldy … Continued

Trevor Paglen, They Watch the Moon, 2010. Courtesy of the Artist.

Stefan Helmreich Discusses “Being Material”

MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte predicted in 1995 that “being digital” would have us entering a realm increasingly unconstrained by the materiality of the world. Two decades later, our everyday lives are indeed ever more suffused by computation and calculation. But unwieldy … Continued

Face to Face with The Enemy

When the Lumière brothers screened their 1895 film, The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat—so the famous anecdote goes—audiences frightened by the verisimilitude of the image screamed and got out of the way. As we enter a Virtual Reality … Continued

Activating an Archive

Now that new media has freed us from the tyranny of print, we can experiment with multiple publishing platforms to collect and disseminate texts and other cultural artifacts. “On the Record,” a series of programs focused on the public side … Continued

Tactical Beauty

How underwater photography serves conservation efforts Coping with climate change is such a profoundly new part of the human experience that a new word, solastagia, has been coined to describe the emotional distress caused by violations against the planet. Underwater … Continued

Don’t Let the Beaux Arts Facades Fool You

MIT Museum Exhibition Highlights What Was New About the New Tech You have probably stared at a blank screen, a white canvas or an empty stage and felt some mixture of anxiety and exhilaration over the prospect of beginning a … Continued

Dull your senses and expand your mind

Amphibian advances the field of VR while exploring the relationship between diving and disability “My diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly,” Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote in his agonizingly beautiful account of living with severe … Continued

Behind the Artwork: Tomás Saraceno’s Aerocene Project

“With Lodovica [Illari] and Bill [McKenna], we are trying to reimagine how human beings will navigate around the world,” says artist Tomás Saraceno, describing the lofty goal of his Aerocene project. These emission-free floating sculptures, made from silver and transparent … Continued

bioLogic’s Living Textile

Bio is the New Interface Textile production historically has been a bellwether for innovations in manufacturing—from such technological improvements as the spinning jenny and the flying shuttle at the dawn of the industrial revolution to recent developments in electronic and … Continued

Saraceno: Conversations on Cosmology

In Tomás Saraceno’s most recent installation On Space Time Foam, visitors are invited to enter three clear membranes of plastic suspended 25-meters in the air. The installation creates a new bodily experience, transforming everyday perceptions of space and one’s relationship to others. In this work, he takes as his material and inspiration the basics of physics: mass, energy, space, and gravity. At MIT, he had the opportunity to share his work with physicists Jerome Friedman and Robert Jaffe, Edward Farhi, and Alan Guth from MIT’s Center for Theoretical Physics.

Tomás Saraceno, Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2005. Image courtesy of Tomás Saraceno; pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa. Installation view: Villa Manin, Center for Contemporary Art, Codropio. Credit: Sillani.

Saraceno: Conversations on Atmosphere

The dream of Saraceno’s ongoing project, “Cloud City,” is not only to live among the clouds but also to create cities more like clouds – changeable, mobile, and responsive to atmospheric shifts. His experimental sculptures, expressing an aerial vision for the future, are often prototypes for incubating an interconnected existence in the sky. At MIT, Lodovica Illari, Adrian Dalca and Michael Rubinstein, and John Hansman shared with Saraceno their expertise on atmosphere and flight, representing the exciting possibilities in hinging visionary thinking to technical expertise, imaginative speculation to material realities.

Tomás Saraceno , 14 Billions, 2010. Credit: Studio Tomás Saraceno.

Saraceno: Conversations on Biomimicry

When asked who the audience was for his work during a public lecture here at MIT, Tomás Saraceno replied, “spiders!” Here we explore the artist’s ongoing interest in biomimicry –- the creative application of natural systems and processes towards human solutions -– through the work of several MIT researchers. Like Saraceno – whose aerial installations take inspiration from spider webs, soap bubbles, neural circuits, and cosmology – faculty Markus Buehler, Neri Oxman, and Dörthe Eisele are similarly interested in harnessing the power of nature to create new materials for a more sustainable future.