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Tour professor's digital 'Nature' in Paris

MIT Associate Professor John Maeda stands alongside stills from his 'Nature' series at the Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain in Paris. <a onclick="MM_openBrWindow('maeda-portrait-enlarged.html','','width=509, height=583')">
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MIT Associate Professor John Maeda stands alongside stills from his 'Nature' series at the Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain in Paris. <a onclick="MM_openBrWindow('maeda-portrait-enlarged.html','','width=509, height=583')">
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Photo / Luis Arenas

MIT-based graphic designer, artist and computer scientist John Maeda has his first European solo exhibition at Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain in Paris.

Known for digital design, Maeda, an associate professor of design and computation in the Media Lab, was one of the first to explore the visual and artistic potential of the computer.

Maeda has two series of images on exhibit. "The Nature" consists of seven "motion paintings" representing abstract forms in movement that recall natural phenomena -- trees, sky, grass, moon, rain, snow. The second series, "Eye'm Hungry," is composed of six interactive stations designed with children in mind; visitors can use basic interfaces such as a keyboard, microphone or mouse to make broccoli jump, anchovies swim and french fries sizzle.

"Food is something that I've been focusing on for the last couple of years," says Maeda in an interview on the Fondation Cartier web site. He chose food in part because of his children, for whom he wanted to explore an accessible topic. Also, Maeda said that after 9/11 he was "so depressed" he wanted to "create work with a lively and joyful spirit close to pop art."

The exhibition is on view through Feb. 19. If you can't make it to Paris to see the show, you can still experience it through a short video shot by Maeda available on his web site.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 14, 2005 (download PDF).

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