The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to announce The End of Signature, a new MIT Percent-for-Art commission by Agnieszka Kurant. Kurant’s newly commissioned public art work will be realized on two sites in 2020 and 2021 as part of MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative, a mixed-use development that will comprise multiple new buildings and open spaces in the heart of Kendall Square. This development will serve as a gateway to campus and a space of exchange between MIT, the Kendall Square innovation hub, and the Cambridge community.
The End of Signature uses artificial intelligence to create two different collective signatures to be realized as large-scale animated LED sculptures that appear to sign and re-sign the facades of two new buildings in Kendall Square. The project is part of the artist’s exploration of how social capital could play a more significant role than financial capital in the twenty-first century. Kurant considers communities, social movements, and societies as super-organisms or collective persons with personality traits. The End of Signature establishes a novel way of visualizing their collective identity through an AI-led aggregation of the signatures of hundreds of people, while also alluding to larger cultural shifts as the individual signature becomes a vestigial convention, often reduced to a touchpad scribble or digital stamp.
Kurant developed these site-specific iterations of The End of Signature in collaboration with three doctoral students in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)— Katie Lewis, Divya Shanmugam, and Jose Javier Gonzalez Ortiz—as well as their advisor, Professor John Guttag. The computer scientists and the artist used artificial intelligence to create two collective signatures for two communities—one for the academics and students working at MIT and another for the Cambridge residents.
Agnieszka Kurant (b. 1978, Lodz, Poland) lives and works in New York City. Kurant’s work in systems, sculpture, and film has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and Europe. She operates at the intersection of art, science, philosophy and technology, and questions the epistemological assumptions that are fundamental to those intellectual and institutional territories.
Kurant is an artist fellow at the Berggruen Institute’s Transformations of the Human program. From 2016-2018, Kurant was the Ida Ely Rubin Artist in Residence at the MIT’s Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), where she collaborated with the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and MIT InfoLab. In 2015 she was commissioned to realize a project on the façade of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Her work has been presented in a solo exhibition at SculptureCenter (2014) and included in the Istanbul Biennial (2019), Milano Triennial (2019), Performa Biennial (2013), Cleveland Biennial (2018), and in exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo (2014), Moderna Museet (2014), Guggenheim Bilbao (2017), MOCA Toronto (2019), The Kitchen (2016), and Witte de With (2011). Kurant represented Poland at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale with a pavilion entitled Emergency Art, which was realized in collaboration with the architect Aleksandra Wasilkowska, and has recently been awarded the 2019 Frontier Art Prize by VIA Art Fund and The World Frontiers Forum.