A Special Edition of Musical Aesthetics and Media Technology (MAS.825)

Professor Tod Machover
Rebecca Kleinberger, co-instructor
Nikhil Singh, teaching assistant
Dan Novy, creative/technical collaborator
Priscilla Capistrano, administrator/producer
with the participation of Profs. Zach Lieberman and Ekene Ijeoma

Wednesdays 2-4 pm (online) / Units 3-3-6
First class on September 9

If you are interested in attending the first class, please fill out this form by Friday, September 4 to receive further information and instructions. Please contact artsml-admin@media.mit.edu with any questions.

The arts have been at the core of the MIT Media Lab since its inception—you can say it’s our middle name, as in Media Arts and Sciences—and have enhanced our culture through a powerful style of visionary thinking, the creation of awe-inspiring experiences, the interrogation of human values and meanings, and the inception of processes to both critique and to heal individuals and societies. ML Arts have always been thoroughly integrated with the Lab’s science, engineering and design cultures, have promoted an especially synergistic interplay with computation, and have inspired many unexpected inventions, all while providing some of our most compelling contexts for large-scale collaboration within the Lab, with the rest of MIT, and throughout the world.

ARTS@ML: Why Here? What’s Next? is an experience-rich, project-based course designed to study the history of arts culture at the MIT Media Lab, to explore explosive worldwide trends in artistic creation and presentation, and to plot some potential futures for artistic research, study and production at the Lab and in MAS. Through readings, discussions, experiments, and “behind-the-scenes” encounters with prominent artists and arts leaders, we will examine:

  • How can the arts analyze, critique, provoke, inspire and transform society?
  • How could multisensory experiences stimulate the mind and heal the body?
  • How are museums, concert venues, theaters, etc. preparing for a post-COVID world?
  • How might performances establish deeply empathic bonds across vast distances?
  • How could AI-enhanced arts augment—rather than replace—human discernment/discovery?
  • How can the arts simultaneously comfort/perturb, galvanize/connect, entertain/enlighten?
  • How could the arts best lead us through—and move beyond—these dark times?

All of these issues and more will be studied from a uniquely Media Lab perspective, with a view towards developing strategies and procedures that will serve our community well in the years to come. As part of this process, the class will jointly develop a Manifesto for Arts@ML. In addition, students will create several projects—including a substantial collaborative final project—that will help shape our arts culture, and each student will be encouraged to investigate how art can enrich whatever work they do. In this vein, students from every group at the Media Lab are invited to join ARTS@ML, regardless of previous background in the traditional arts.

Permission of instructor is required, with priority given to MAS graduate students.