MIT Media Lab Computing Culture

Exhibition Dates: August 19 - September 2, 2006
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 19, from 6 - 8 PM

Fringe Exhibitions is pleased to present Play Nice an exhibition of works from MIT Media Lab's Computing Culture group. The group's research under the direction of Chris Csikszenthmihályi results in specific works of art, but also helps further an understanding of the relationships between art, technology, and cultural production. Some of the strategies they practice include interventions in consumer electronics, creating special events for public situations, and applying technical development to cultural agendas that wouldn't normally receive it. Their central interest is in physically embodied (rather than screen-based) work.

Ayah Bdeir

At the frontier, our liberty is stripped away... we enter the universe of control....We submit to scrutiny, to inspection, to judgment. We must be passive, docile. To be otherwise is to be suspect." ‹Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line

<random> search is a subtle, reactive undergarment. It records, shares and analyses the experience of invasive airport searches on behalf of our silent, abiding, fearful bodies.

Kelly Dobson Machine Therapy is a new practice combining art, design, psychodynamics, and engineering work in ways that access and reveal the vital relevance of gut-level subconscious elements of people's interactions and relationships with and through machines.

John Rothenberg

Project: They're Live


"They're Live" is a real-time remix of live television. It is a computer program that looks at the television signal as a stream of text, searching for products. It responds to this incoming feed by translating the Closed Captions into its own pseudo-language of brand names, and capturing video only when it thinks a commercial is showing. It presents this revised content graphically through dynamic typographic and illustration, and it's goal is to turn all of the television signal into one continuous, semi-legible commercial.

"They're Live" is designed and programmed by John Rothenberg of sosolimited, an audiovisual collective specializing in live cinematic remixes of broadcast media.

Kelly Dobson

Kelly Dobson's Machine Therapy is a new practice combining art, design, psychodynamics, and engineering work in ways that access and reveal the vital relevance of gut-level subconscious elements of people's interactions and relationships with and through machines. For "Play Nice," two re-appropriated domestic devices are offered -- a 1940's blender and toaster -- to interact with people. They are responsive to people who attempt to make with their own voices the sounds that these machines make.

For example, the physical violence, the implicit energy and indeed danger of many machines, so elegantly dissimulated by their physical design, escapes as a scream. The scream is an unintentional side- element of many machines, including our home blenders. Blendie, a vintage beehive blender altered to require a person interacting with it to make with their own voice the sound the blender makes, intentionally foregrounds this side element and makes it available for play and reflective use. Blendie will respond to a person's voice if the rough growling or screaming sound of the blender's motor in action is presented through the vocalization of the person. If so, Blendie will then empathize with the person by adjusting its own motor speed to match the dominant pitch and power of the person's voice.

Gemma Shusterman

"Manimal" is a series that situates the human as animal.

"SuperElephant" consists of a costume that allows people to experience a sense possessed by elephants that is not possessed by humans. The elephant-inspired costume investigates the pachyderms' ability to detect infrasonic and seismic vibrations.

"Faunacise: exercise for the animal behind the desk" is a series of exercises, based on animal movements, that intervenes against technologically based physical lethargy.

"SuperCloaca" A site specific piece in which the artist engages with the turtles in the pond.

Noah Vawter

Ambient Addition is a Walkman with binaural microphones. A tiny Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip analyzes the microphone's sound and superimposes a layer of harmony and rhythm on top of the listener's world. In the new context, some surprising behaviors take place. Listeners tend to play with objects around them, sing to themselves, and wander toward tempting sound sources. The pattern of audio processing is composed to create a song-like sense of anticipation. With Ambient Addition, I'm hoping to make people think twice about the sounds they initiate as well as loosen up some inhibitions.

Adam Whiton and Yolita Nugent

In our work, we attempt to develop technologies that perform desired functions yet act as vehicles for social dialogue. The tradition of clothing and fashion has tended to place women in positions of vulnerability. We are interested in exploring the boundaries of the clothing and technology and its transformation of the body; physically, socially and culturally.

The No-Contact Jacket is a wearable defensive jacket charged with high voltage electricity at the press of a button. The jacket consists of a multi layered system to insulate the wearer while electrically conductive fibers deliver the current to any unauthorized contacts. Designed to deter physical assault the Jacket functions as an implement for survival, empowerment, and identity.

The IPV Clothing System is a physical abuse sensing garment coupled with an artificial intelligence program to categorize the impacts and forces on the wearer's body. The physical abuse data is transmitted to a remote server where it can be viewed in near real-time, archived or distributed to one's friends and family, a trusted peer community or proper authorities. The wearer also has the option of "chatting" with the A.I. as a means to assist the victim in the process of self realization.