On view at: The Dean’s Gallery MIT Sloan School of Management, Bldg. E-60-300, 30 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
Are we deterministic machines with no real freedom of action or do we in fact have some elbow room, some real choice in our behavior?
Daniel C. Dennett
This exhibition draws on work from eleven artists in the List Center’s collection that address freedom and fate, and consider artistic freedom in relation to the laws of science. How does this tension function in the context of making a work of art? Is the framed composition determined before a photographer snaps the shutter? Or is it perhaps the fluidity—the “elbow room”—between all the moments that preceded the exposure, the artist’s aesthetic decisions, and the subsequent chemical processes that constitutes the image? The exhibition features artists Rosa Barba, Nicole Cherubini, Hanne Darboven, David Taverner Hanson, Helen Mirra, Luther Price, Eileen Quinlan, Katrín Sigurdardóttir, Andy Warhol, Cerith Wyn Evans, and Brian Zink.
Rosa Barba, Nicole Cherubini, Luther Price, and Katrín Sigurdardóttir let scientific processes influence their materials and the outcome of their work. Luther Price, for example, buries slide film and subjects it to the impact of soil, water, and nutrients, while the unnatural colors in Rosa Barba’s aerial photograph are the result of a faulty chemical bath in a film lab. Hanne Darboven, Eileen Quinlan, and Brian Zink work creatively within the constraints of the laws of science, and at times define their own rules. Eileen Quinlan, who in her own, tongue-in-cheek words is interested in “photography’s scientific applications―it’s supposed ability to give evidence,” highlights photography’s capacity to deceive. Throughout her work, Darboven developed methods and systems to articulate her relationship to mathematics, time, writing, and music irrespective of scientific validity.
The artists in this exhibition, in a variety of ways, embrace chance and relinquish a measure of control in their artistic practice. This decision is a defined part of their process, suggesting that there is indeed some elbow room between intent and the resulting work of art.
Organized by the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Curated by Assistant Curator, Public art and Exhibitions, Alise Upitis.