Students rushing to the Athena cluster in Building 56 or traversing MIT's interlocking corridors to avoid winter's chill may have noticed a new eye-catcher along the first floor of the Whitaker Building.
Now overseen by the List Visual Arts Center , the "Media Test Wall" in the ground-floor Building 56 corridor will present continuous thematic compilations of videos by contemporary artists. The Media Test Wall is premiering with a program titled "Competitive Edges," featuring videos by artists Risk Hazekamp, Jesal Kapadia, Ingeborg Lï¿½ï¿½scher and Euan Macdonald. The exhibition looks at competition from a variety of viewpoints, including the individual's struggle to both compete and coexist with others, competition among comrades, sports as a metaphor for other endeavors, and endgame competition in which no one is likely to come away a winner.
"The Media Test Wall presents an exciting opportunity for the List Center to reach out beyond its walls and share contemporary art with the community," said Jane Farver, director of the List Visual Arts Center. "People will now have the opportunity to view works by world-renowned video artists whose creations are seldom seem outside of the confines of galleries and museums."
Jesal Kapadia's "The Space Between" features a series of stills, showing the image of a young Indian woman in a traditional sari jumping up and down. The artist describes the figure as "a dangling, frantic and hysterical body, neither down nor fully up, but drawing attention to the breathtaking moments between falling and jumping."
Risk Hazekamp's "Warm Up" depicts apprehensive young men wearing identical but ambiguous white shirts, red brocade jackets, and black and red ties. One might guess that they are groomsmen in a wedding party or members of a band, but their brilliant red cummerbunds identify them as novilleros, or novice bullfighters. Each of these rivals wants to be the best, but they must also show friendship and loyalty to one another. When a comrade is in danger in the ring, the others must rush to his aid at the risk of their own lives.
Ingeborg Lï¿½ï¿½scher's "Fusion" received acclaim at the 49th Venice Biennale in Italy last summer. Melding real action with dream sequences, "Fusion" shows two teams of Swiss soccer players competing while dressed in elegant navy and gray business suits. Occasionally the soccer balls morphs into instruments of the business world, such as a laptop computer, cell phone, financial newspaper and document-filled briefcase--all metaphors for the world of hostile takeovers and mergers.
Euan Macdonald's "Three Trucks" presents a deadlocked situation involving three ice cream trucks in a standoff. The three meet by chance on a roadway and each refuses to make room for the others to pass. For Macdonald, who is interested in simultaneity, "Three Trucks" represents "a humorous example of a minor convergence of urban chaos and noise."
The Media Test Wall operates 24 hours a day. The videos will change every few months.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 6, 2002.