Archive for March, 2008

Mark Tribe with Benjamin Mako Hill

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Mark Tribe with Benjamin Mako Hill

Please join us tomorrow, Monday, Monday 3, 2008 at 7pm for a lecture and roundtable discussion with Mark Tribe with Benjamin Mako Hill on Networks, Tactics, Breakdown in the Joan Jonas Performance Hall at the MIT Visual Arts Program located here. Mark Tribe will present a selection of projects, such as the Port Huron Project, that explore how tactical practices and public interventions use the internet and other networks as a means to instigate political discourse and public collaboration. This work addresses zones of emergency in a broad sense, raising issues related to the psychological condition of being politically oppressed. Benjamin Mako Hil will present his work on online voting machines for the masses as well as discuss his involvment as an activist in the free software movement.

Alfredo Jaar

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

We were fortunate to have Alfredo Jaar present the first lecture in the Zones of Emergency series. Alfredo’s talk provided a framework to consider the complexity of working across disciplines - art, education, and the public sphere - to address specific emergency situations. I have asked the students in my courses to contribute their thoughts to this blog as a means to begin an online discussion about many of these issues. Here’s what MIT Media Lab graduate student Adam Kumpf had to say about Alfredo Jaar’s talk last Monday night:

Alfredo talked about his political contemporary artwork, but from a very different point of view than is typical of such artists. Instead of forcefully dictating what he wanted his audience to feel, the pieces were all more reflective and subtle; inviting the audience to come to their own realizations and conclusions. For example, one of Alfredo’s most provocative pieces was a large collection of black archival photo boxes with text on the front describing a photo inside that was taken during the violence in Rwanda. From clarinets in wartime to enormous balloons that crossed country lines, Alfredo took on the often-overlooked details of communities in crisis. Another exhibit displayed a stack of one million passports that had never been issued as a way of opening a dialog about restrictive immigration policies. Using the audience’s imagination to trigger seeing the situation more vividly than with the eye alone was common throughout his work; grounded, influential, inviting, and reflective - political art revealed poetically.

Thanks, Adam!

Kayvan Zainabadi of MIT Amnesty International

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Kayvan Zainabadi was kind enough to join our discussion with Alfredo Jaar last week. Kayvan is the former president of MIT Amnesty International and brought his perspective on working here at MIT on the crisis in Darfur. Despite resistance from the administration, Kayvan led MIT to divest in companies related to genocide. Kayvan made the point that student advocacy is the most important factor in MIT’s development of an ethical investment standard. Here’s what MIT Media Lab graduate student Adam Kumpf participating in Networks, Tactics, Breakdown had to say about Kayvan’s talk:

Kayvan presented his work with the Amnesty International chapter at MIT, as well as his work with MIT-STAND supporting the divestment from companies potentially funding genocide in Darfur, Sudan. His story revolved around the closed nature of MIT’s investment decisions and the difficulty of trying to incorporate changes within it. After a year and a half of lectures, meetings, and demonstrations, MIT agreed to retract investments with companies related to the genocide in Darfur. Kayvan saw this as a small win, but closed his talk suggesting that there will be more battles like this to come if MIT does not make its investment policy open to the public.