Technology Day 1994—"For the Wonder of it All: The Arts at MIT"
HECHT: Good morning. For the two or three of you out there who don't know me, I'm Bill Hecht, class of '61, and I'm your senior employee as head of the Alumni Association.
You might wonder how a guy from the class of '61 got a red coat. A number of years ago the class of '24, which is celebrating its 70th this year, had some issues that needed settling. And somehow or other I was able to settle them for that class. And as a great privilege and tribute, they made me an honorary member of that class, insisting that I always wear a freshman tie. So I now have my own two connections, a six and a one. My graduate degree was in '76, and my undergraduate in '61. And a 24, which I'm just as proud of. And I'm busting my buttons to say that in '95, my daughter will get a master's from this place, so I'll have another MIT connection.
I wonder if you all know that last night's Pops was not only a very special night for us, but it was actually a test for the potential new conductor of the Pops.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
It is said that he practiced Arthur Fiedler's hand motions studiously before the mirror. And I think that I'm going to take on the job of being his agent and represent him because I think we can get a hell of a good contract. Finally, it's my great pleasure, in addition to welcoming you all here today, to introduce Chuck Vest. Chuck is president of MIT, as you know. He came to us about four years ago, and he may be a little wistful today. As you know, many people who come in the fall of four years graduated about a week ago. His class, the class of '94, did leave. Chuck, I guess fortunately for us, but perhaps not so fortunately for him, still remains with us. So let me introduce Chuck Vest, president of MIT.
VEST: Thank you very much, Bill. I'm just signed up for the new five-year master of engineering program, that's all. I've been for years wanting to get up the nerve to ask Bill exactly what this great favor he did for that class is, but, because I'm not sure of its legality, I've been afraid to ask. On a more serious note and a very happy one, I understand that we have a record number of alums and families here for reunions on Technology Day. You are over 3,000 strong. My congratulations. And we all have an exciting day ahead of us.
The speakers for today's program are truly a stellar group of men and women who will talk about art and culture and the academy and specifically at MIT. Here at MIT, where the arts have evolved over 100 years. From a single extracurricular activity in 1884, the MIT Banjo Club, to a panoply of artistic and cultural endeavors that you're going to have a chance to sample here today in 1994.
Special thanks go to Jorge Rodriguez, chairman of the Technology Day Committee, and to all the members of the Technology Day Committee, the Council for the Arts, for putting together such an astounding and exciting program. I might add that the watercolor reproduced in the Technology Day poster was painted by one of our graduate students in the School of Architecture and Planning, Lian Quan Zhen, and there are other examples of his work on display today in the lobby.
Now to some it might seem odd that in this bastion of science and engineering we bring together our alumni and alumnae to celebrate the arts. But most of you probably had at least a brush with the arts at MIT, and many of you, I'm sure, became more deeply involved in our music and theater arts programs. And now more than ever, our students and our faculty are engaged in a wide range of artistic and cultural pursuits, in visual arts, in architecture, music, theater, creative writing, and photography, as well as in the emerging media of interactive video, holography, and hyperinstruments. Still, some of you might ask why.
Well, it is true that MIT is best known throughout the world for the caliber of the engineers and scientists we send out from this place. The Institute has in fact produced a steady flow of artists, architects, musicians, dancers, actors, and others who are best known for their artistic endeavors. We have string players and wind players, composers and conductors in orchestras around the country. We have actors on Broadway and in Hollywood. And we have MIT graduates on the faculties of music schools in many other universities.
Of course, most MIT students continue to pursue traditional careers in engineering and science. But we are no less serious about teaching music, theater, and the arts to these students. The arts, when taught seriously and deeply, offer our students opportunities to expand their imagination, broaden their perspective, and imagine ever-widening new possibilities. This is true for all of us. When we develop our ability to think creatively, we are able to find new solutions to the problems on which we are working, both in our laboratories and in other aspects of our lives.
Take, for example, the fields of engineering and particularly engineering education. We are moving very dramatically toward a more integrative style of education, with increased emphasis on design and synthesis and a little bit less emphasis on analysis and reductionist science. I think that art and an appreciation for the aesthetic components of all that people do is very helpful in this regard. As we work to improve the quality of designs and products, it is going to be increasingly important for engineers to cooperate with artists to tackle the visual, tactile, and aesthetic qualities of their work.
But quite aside from their role in scientific and engineering endeavors, the arts should, of course, still be an important part of our lives and of our education. Why? Because they are part of our humanity. They reflect our human experience. The arts give us a different kind of connection with the world, and they can help us to understand the many cultures that make up our community and our world. The arts allow people from very different perspectives and backgrounds to communicate and to interact with an almost built-in degree of mutual respect.
This is important for our graduates as they take their skills into an increasingly interdependent, global, and multicultural world. And this is very important for MIT. The more innovative we are in celebrating and encouraging the richness and diversity of our community, the better off all of us will be. In sum, the arts at MIT are essential elements of our education and of our community life. Not only are they healthy here, they are thriving. This is great testimony to the talent, the dedication, and the enthusiasm of a great many faculty and students.
And it is particular testimony to one person who has done an extraordinary job in stimulating and supporting the arts since she arrived here at MIT in 1989. I refer, of course, to my colleague Professor Ellen Harris, associate provost for the arts at MIT. Ellen is a distinguished scholar of music who is also known widely as a soprano soloist. She came to us from the University of Chicago, where she was a professor of music and head of the Department of Music. As a scholar, she has been recognized for her work on the music of Handel. As a singer, she is best known for her dramatic stage performances. Those of you who were here for commencement last week and heard her sing the national anthem know precisely what I mean.
Ellen's arrival on campus was the final fulfillment of a set of recommendations made in 1987 by an arts review committee, which recommended the appointment of a senior officer who would also be a faculty member in either the performing or visual arts, someone to take broad responsibility as an advocate, leader, and coordinator for the creative arts program here at MIT. Believe me, Ellen Harris serves superbly in that role. Ladies and gentlemen, Professor Ellen Harris.
HARRIS: Thank you, Chuck. Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
HARRIS: Oh, good. It's often been said that at MIT, one's education is like taking a drink from a fire hose. What I have noticed is that so is Tech Day. We have here before 9:00 in the morning after having you out very late last night, and I appreciate seeing you all here so bright and raring to go. I'm proud and privileged to welcome you to The Wonder of It All, The Arts at MIT, Technology Day 1994. And I want to add my thanks to Jorge Rodriguez, the chair of the alumni Tech Day Committee and also to Eliza [? Dame, ?] who does so much, more than I could possibly say, to make Tech Day work year after year.
Many people like to talk about the arts at MIT as if it's an anomaly, as if it's a surprise, or as if it's something new. But of course, you know better than anyone else that that is not the case. The arts have been a part of MIT since its founding. MIT was the first school to establish a School of Architecture in 1868. It actually began offering courses in architecture in its first year, 1865.
In that same year, we were offering courses in photography and in drawing. In 1884 we not only established the Banjo Club, but we established the Glee Club. In 1928 we established Drama Shop, the forerunner of our theater curriculum today. And in 1948, John Corley came to MIT to establish the MIT Band, an organization that he continues to conduct today.
In 1950, the Hayden Gallery opened, which was the forerunner of our now internationally renowned List Visual Arts Center. But perhaps most importantly, in 1944, 50 years ago today, MIT first established its eight-semester sequence in humanities. Those of you who have been at the Institute since 1944 will remember your eight courses in the humanities. They used to be different than they are today. But in 1944 they included, I think, a first-year course in writing and English literature, second-year course in history, third-year course where you could choose from a number of subjects, including economics. And in the fourth year, a wider selection of courses, including a yearlong course in music.
Because of this eight-semester sequence of courses, which parallels the eight semester courses in science, MIT has had for many years a program in education which has been referred to here as dual literacy. MIT students have been asked to be literate not only in science but in humanities and in the arts. In fact, MIT may be one of the few educational institutions in the country that asks this of its students. It is very, very easy at many liberal arts institutions to avoid the sciences. Not so easy at MIT to avoid the humanities.
In fact, this dual literacy has meant that we have within our students and alums many people who have gone on to careers in the arts. In fact, in the class of 1994, I can think of four cases immediately. Two young men who have double majored in mathematics and music, both of whom are going on right now to graduate school, one to the University of Chicago and one to Duke in music composition. We have another student who majored in civil engineering who has received a full scholarship to pursue writing at Boston University. And we have another student who majored in theater at MIT who is going on to pursue his work in theater who hopes to establish his own theater company in the countryside of Mexico. I sometimes think we must graduate the most scientifically literate artists in the world.
But this is not something that was just true of the class of 1994. And I was looking at the reunion classes for some other examples. And obviously, we have a lot of people today here from the class of 1944. Right?
Well, one of your members, John [? Bevicki, ?] who graduated with a major in management, has gone on to be a very well-known composer and conductor who has been for many years on the faculty of the Berkeley School of Music. From the class of '64. '64? Do I hear the class of '64? We have John Miller, who double majored in humanities and engineering who has made his career as principal bassoonist with the Minnesota Orchestra. Class of '69.
You had with you for some time James Woods, who was majoring in political science before he went on to become a very well-known actor. In '79--
I think we need more energy, folks. Liz Maruska, who went on to become a practicing artist on the West Coast who paints beautiful canvases in watercolor and gouache, expressing time and space. And finally, class of '89, five years.
Ken Goodson, who majored in both mechanical engineering and music, received his master of science in '91 in mechanical engineering, his PhD in '93, is now studying and performing as a baritone soloist in Germany. I love about Ken that when he performed at Tanglewood as an MIT grad, it is only appropriate that, when singing in Stravinsky's work "The Flood," Ken Goodson played the role of God.
But obviously, MIT does not graduate all of its students to go on in the arts. You don't need to be an arts professional to benefit from the arts. And whether you worked in Doc Edgerton's strobe photography lab, or perhaps became interested in physics through Berenice Abbot's extraordinary photographs of physical phenomena that were published in many high school textbooks and that were taken at MIT, or whether you played in the symphony, or sang in the Glee Club, or acted in a theatrical production, I'm sure that at some point art touched your life at MIT and has continued to touch your life thereafter.
Arts offer us discipline. Anyone who has practiced the piano knows that. Arts offer us imagination. They offer us the flexibility of a pursuit where there is not one right answer. But they also offer us new ways of organization, of organization of sound and space and time. The arts offer us a doorway into cultures other than our own that enable us not only to tolerate but respect difference. The arts challenge us, surprise us, sometimes they anger us. But the arts also bring us wonder and joy. And today we hope to explore through our presentations the wonder and joy of the arts today at MIT.
This, of course, leads me directly to our first speaker, Philip Morrison, Institute professor emeritus at MIT. You are probably familiar with his work in astrophysics and cosmology, maybe less familiar with his work as a filmmaker. I first came to know Philip through a copy of a keynote address that he gave in 1986 for the 15th anniversary of the Council for the Arts at MIT, an organization founded in 1971 to advise and support MIT in the expansion of its arts programs. At that time he said, and I quote, "It's clear that if an institution like this one which deals with the material world did not have the side of art, it would be a self-defeating proposition which in the end would be all genetic seed and no fruit to the apple. And an apple is not made that way."
I think that I can do no better in introducing Professor Morrison than to quote his colleague Victor Weisskopf, who said of him, "Scientific knowledge and understanding is not a purely cerebral affair. It is soaked with emotion, excitement, and nervous tension, as everybody knows who has ever heard Professor Morrison speak." Ladies and gentlemen, please help me to welcome Professor Morrison.
MORRISON: Thank you very much. I'm going to talk to them about it, I think. I have much equipment here, all of which seems to work. Especially impressed by the video projection system. The Wonder of It All at MIT, Arts at MIT is a very nice title. Doesn't say much. Commits very few speakers. I would certainly like to affix firmly onto the word "wonder" because clearly that's the kind of motive which lies behind nearly all the things that go on at MIT. Translated, as eventually they are, into the hard tasks of earning a living and making this world work.
The old classical Chinese scholars always like to pretend that the ideas they had were very old. So they found some mysterious figure of the past who nobody knew much about, typically the Yellow Emperor. And they said, well, the Yellow Emperor first said, and then they made up their own books. We don't do that now. We have a much more forward looking. And we don't look back in general. It's always new.
That's the same error in reverse. People have this tendency for bipolar positioning, bipolar stability of large axes because everything is both-- has something old and something new or it's not been pursued very far. That's the typical lesson. Ask a historian, he'll take it back for you. Ask a projector of the future, he'll push it forward. Both things lie in time.
I wanted, however, and I didn't always know this. And I became more and more convinced of it in the past recent times, a few years, maybe, the proposition that this issue that we now debate is extraordinarily old. I could invoke no newer a phrase for it than this Latin tag of the Institute, mens et manus, mind and hand, to talk about it. Because, of course, that is the exquisite pleasure of the MIT ambiance that minds and hands are equally well occupied.
That means to say that a lot of mechanical things are done, a lot of things in the material world or with the refractory symbols of the world that are hammered away at, whether it be metal or melodies or whatever it is, but that's not done by and large by rote. Obviously some rote goes into all operations, experts become routinized, but thought is at the basis.
And it turns out that that unity, which is a profound unity between art and the triune quality of modifying and knowing the world physically-- craft, engineering and science in their relationships-- goes back a very long time. And I brought along a few slides to justify that and to get us well started. So it's not a new task that we're looking into.
This wonderful picture in the center, collection of rocks, deserves some close attention. Those rocks are not natural rocks. The fact that they are quite similar, I think, is pretty evident. It's also quite evident if you look more closely, not easy to see, perhaps. It's better to handle them. We can't do that. But I think it's enough to suggest it in a context like this.
You can see the three edges here, the double ones there. Every one has faceted edges. This one has, in fact, a slight double kind of blade-like edge and so on. This is a pile of rocks, a section, a collection, made by the excavators in Olduvai Gorge in the rift of East Africa. These were not found that way. They were found stratum after stratum carefully located, carefully arranged in position so they could be dated. But the photographer had simply gathered a lot of them to give us an impression of how many hundreds, indeed many thousands, of these stone tools are found.
Now the remarkable part about them. This, of course, is mens et manus. Mens is pretty thin still. These are not even our own species. These are our distant forebears. They were poor. They first walked the Earth fearful of the beasts. Pretty soon that stopped, and the beasts tended to avoid them. Before that, perhaps even they scavenged on the kill of the lion.
But sooner or later, this kind of operation symbolized here, mind and hand, began to change where they were. And they did marvelous things on a very slow time scale. The pieces represented in this collection, just that arbitrary piece of a large collection, are measured not by centuries but by thousands of centuries. Yes, by hundreds of thousands of years. A few hundred thousand years corresponds to a typical collection at Olduvai, which might extend a million years or more. But to be generous, we'll say a few thousand centuries.
Now the striking part of this is that these tools, without very much change, are found over a very large part of the world, as the next slide will show. There it is. Here are famous sites. Anyone who has read anything about early archaeology will recognize these kinds of locations. From Britain up here into Europe, France at the Pyrenees, especially very important in there, all across Africa, East Africa. Here we have Olduvai itself. And down to Cape Town. So from Britain to Cape Town and from Cape Town across Asia, Central Asia, India, North China, Peking, further north still, and into Java.
All these, the major sites, each site feathers out into many, many little excavations. And from all of these places about the same kind of tools are collected. Yes, the experts argue a bit, and they can somewhat classify them. But it's really quite hard to date them except by the attendant pieces of mineral, which can help you to date them by radioactive means. But you'll notice that not one site is found in these islands or Australia.
And I've left out the Americas. No use to put it on the map because not one site of this kind has ever surely been found in America. No, Australia, the great islands near Australia, and the two Americas do not belong to these people, who I don't wish to say are-- they are our ancestors. Cannot speak ill of them. They were, in fact, the Prometheans. Because somewhere in the middle of their span, Homo erectus figured out how to make and control fire. And the hammer at MIT is entirely secondary to the fire and all that goes with that symbolically.
So I don't show you those sites, though, of course, there are very many sites in America. But none of them show the bones or the tools of these ancient folk. We truly, like the Australians, Australian Aboriginals, the Native Americans, are the modern humans, like all the rest of this place has also been filled in by modern humans. I don't mean to say that we're, of course, we're not-- most modern humans live in this part of the world. But the same species occupies this whole region.
And only after a long time, after thousands of centuries, it managed, they managed, in the course of some internal change, which is what we would call a change in species to Homo sapiens, they managed by means that are not-- can be well debated, interesting to study-- they managed to be able to cross the then much shallower coastal seas. And finally the great gulf of the Timor Trench and come somehow by canoe or raft to Australia. And in the same way go across the relenting Arctic, where the glaciers were melting, and follow the coastline of America. And go down the full length of both continents rather quickly. And that completed the occupation of the world by modern humans.
So we are the new world, not because of Columbus or any feature of historical importance. Those are small matters. The real thing was, we were new because the new people, who filled up the old lands very well, had a way also to get to new lands never before occupied. So our histories go back only a few hundred centuries, not a few thousand centuries. There's an order of magnitude difference between the kind of thing you saw in the Olduvai rocks-- bifaces, choppers, hand axes, they're called-- and the kind of thing that came when a new set of persons of whom we are all descended. We can prove by the deepest of biological means how united the whole world is in our single species, with subspecies, as we well know.
And the next slide will show what you find in these new sites. Now please compare these, which are nice American pieces. They were made about 10,000 or 12,000, well, 12,000 or 14,000 years ago. These are found in a region in Montana. And of course, they're specialized for killing big game. And if you'd like to know what the big game was-- probably you do know-- it was elephants. Pieces quite like this, spear points like this, have been found in contact with the bones of bison and mammoth. And of course, where the other rocks had 10 or 20 rather cunning blows struck, which you and I could not do, which people can train themselves to do today, these have many hundreds of knowing strokes to chip the blade just correctly. And even along the edge you can see to sharpen it with a wonderful thing, very detailed marks up there, all of which are significant in producing a handy and useful blade.
So I have no doubt to say this is craftsmanship, possibly even engineering. At least it's high-quality craftsmanship because we know now that many of these blades have to be heat treated in order to allow the chert and the flint to respond to the chipping.
But now I'd like to go a little farther and show what they did. And it happens that the preservations I have now are again the same new people, our people, but now coming from France and not from Montana, the following. A bone object used for working sinew and straightening arrow shafts. You can see the hole there. But it wasn't enough to make it utilitarian. It has this marvelous leaping horse worked into the same material. And this is about 200 or 250 centuries old from Bruniquel Cave in France. We have art so much from France and Spain because the caverns are so well protected there. They guarded the art behind stalactites for many thousands of years.
And the next slide perhaps even more striking. An image itself, an elk of the period. The biologists will find fossils that fit it quite well. Beautifully drawn in charcoal and ocher on the wall of the French cave, this on the famous cave of Lascaux.
So I rest the case that the relationship, the change, that came to human beings, we don't exactly know what it is. Most likely it was the acquisition of a powerful language, which enabled them to work cooperatively and to model the future, gave rise to the craft and the art, which you unmistakably see here which goes back not merely thousands of years but tens of thousands of years. This particular piece is dated about 15,000 or 18,000 years ago, the previous one about 20,000 years ago. And all from that same flood of persons who occupied the world maybe in all not more than half a million of them by the time the Americas were settled. And we've grown, then, from that half million to half trillion, a very large number of powers of 10 in population. Thank you.
Now the linkage between the craft-- engineering, science, art-- between hand and mind expressed in this way, I maintain this is demonstrably old. Indeed, we can see it even in the beginnings of science, in the time of the Enlightenment in the late Renaissance. You couldn't buy a microscope that wasn't worked up and chased and engraved to bear some art. Partly that was style, I'm not denying it. Partly that was royal patronage, I'm not denying that either.
Nevertheless, the work of the hand was to be admired. And it was rare to have such skilled craftsmanship in these new materials with a new purpose. And to some extent, we've lost that feeling because of a high utilitarian quality and the already great expense of making the complex instruments, which now replace the sledgehammer of the MIT seal. Or augment the sledgehammer. I don't want to run down the sledgehammer. Still a very indispensable instrument.
What I would like to emphasize, though, is that this connection is a profound connection. And I'd like to describe a little bit why I think it's so and why it parts the hand/mind relationship from a more symbolic one, which is not absent from either. Any of you who have tried to learn a craft or a skill or, above all, an art knows how very close the reaction of a hand and the mind must be to make anything work the way you choose. And if you don't do that, another draft is to be made.
Now of course, those who deal in symbols alone have some of the same quality, but the hand is much less present. The symbols are, by nature, more conventional. What is characteristic of art and science and engineering together is they represent-- almost always they're presented to us, and they need to be presented to us, in concrete form. In single concrete examples. Perhaps something more than the poet Blake called "minute particulars," which he felt all art and science were compacted. But certainly not generalities.
Generalities edge towards philosophical description. True, there's a big domain in between. There are theorems and propositions that are indispensable that come out of thought and which govern many of the things we do. But I think it's fair to say that works of art and the data of science and works of the engineer are all concrete examples. And if you don't have those, you have a very dry subject indeed that consists of nothing of theorems about mechanics without motions or diagrams or examples or particulars, which I suffered through as a graduate student once long ago at another university when I was studying mechanics. We couldn't ask questions, and we also couldn't understand the propositions. We sure could learn the words quite well.
Now there are differences, of course. I think of the principal characteristic of art, which I admit is somewhat rapidly losing that hasn't [? lost ?] yet. It can be seen in almost all parts of it. Its products, its particulars are perceptual to the human being. It's very hard to imagine art translated through-- it's not impossible, we see it today-- translated through some intermediate device, which turns it into printouts and numbers. Then you have to regraph it. This is hardly art.
The immediacy is gone, though, of course, a great deal of the world of science, great deal of the data of science go beyond human perception, involve intermediation by instrumentation of complicated kinds and auxiliary calculations to bring together the reading of the instruments or program inside the computer, which is doing the same thing. And by and large, that's the biggest distinction I can see on the side of how the work is done.
It is also true that they are united in this. Niels Bohr defined science not only as effort to order the world, which surely it is, but there it does not deal-- it does not differ from philosophy or, for that matter, from poetry. But it seeks to bring in new experience, which again is close to art, though perhaps rather different from the philosophers' work. And if we talk about engineering, I think we have to say to bring new means for the game you've experienced. This too is necessary. But all of this definitional style would very much connect these two or three-- it's hard for me to think of them as three-- but certainly multiple view of these matters.
I'd like to go still further and talk about their internal-- the way it appears to practitioners a bit. All of you, as students, were practitioners. All of you now are practitioners in some direction or another. And I think you'll recognize, feel sympathy with what I say when I say that there are a couple of apparently poor divisions, contradictions, opposites, which have to be united in each of these things. A curious but quite realistic account of what people do.
For example, the passive absorption of information to learn a language, to learn mathematical formulation, to learn the use of a pen or a brush, to learn the language of the stage, whatever it might be. To learn the notes of the scale and the keys. All of those things are done, can be done as a passive game where someone feeds the information, a book, a program, a person, and you gain it.
But of the other side, activity is indispensable, especially if you learn those things with that beautiful word productivity. So it can again recombine them for yourselves. We know people who teach physics at MIT and everywhere else that the solving of problems, onerous as it may be, is a way to secure the active knowledge of the things passively observed, underlined in yellow marker, the big propositions in the textbook.
You've got to put them together. You've got to make them work for you. You have to feel somewhat what we say at home with them. Until that's happened, no genuine understanding will come in. The answering of multiple choice tests in familiar language, choosing the right one of six, is not a very powerful test for science, for engineering, or for art. It may be good enough for learning certain received bodies of truth, fine. I'm not against it entirely. But it is clearly in our day, it's a basis of controversy and surely overused.
So we have to combine the passive and the active, and activity is the sine qua non of the hand and the mind. The same similar dichotomy goes between the analytic and the synthetic. It was said in popular psychology only a few years ago-- it was quite popular in the magazines-- there were halves of the brain, the left and the right. And one attended to the holistic things, the organization, the concepts. And one attended to the details, the rigorous, logical thinking. One was suitable for children, one for grownups, and that was the general idea.
People who said that, of course, were mostly writers. They understood writing very well. They knew how hard it was to formulate good sentences and paragraphs. And they said, well, in the kindergarten they can draw quite well and make images, and that's enough for that.
Of course, this is a caricature. It's a very bad proposition. Analytics and synthetic again are together. The analyst indeed may take things apart. But the tools he uses were themselves synthesized by earlier designers who synthesized the scalpel or the method of least squares, whatever it might be, by putting together something new that had not existed before.
So I reject that as a harsh division of the world and say no, both halves of the mind are necessary. All parts of the mind, like both hands. And the unitarity of this is visible in the sense that we all know that for every geometrical statement in Euclid, an algebraic equivalent can be formed and vice versa. The symbols of language, the symbols of x and y and plus, are no more foreign than the lines and the angles. They're just different ways of presentation, and they have a one-to-one correspondence.
Of course, the symbolism of our world is so powerful now it extends, it goes beyond what we can easily draw. You can do n dimensionality. I accept that and use it daily. But this is the issue.
Now there is a feeling that there's a difference in tone. And there is some difference. The scientists and the engineers seem serious. They're concerned with matters of prosperity and penury or sometimes life and death or sometimes peace and war. And this seems more serious, perhaps, than the more playful activity of the artist.
But I recommend you, thinking through our own language, the word "play" has wide connotations. The player may play Medea or Hamlet, hardly a lighthearted affair, something plumbing the depths of human behavior. Lightness of heart is not the whole story. The primary colors and the cube, the sphere, are fine things for the elementary school, indispensable for the small child. But they are not the whole story of play.
Play, which is unique in the vertebrates and best developed in those closest to us, is profound. I worked a lot with Charles Ames, who said that one of the most serious activities in life was play, and he demonstrated it every day by what he did. Play is a means of-- clearly what the word implies-- model making of the future. What would it be to do like that? Not to carry it out? Not to make that full investment?
But to acquire the mastery in a more benign, a more acceptable, a more easily entered environment. And that is what play is. And since you cannot master the world in a stroke, play is an indispensable feature of human behavior. From word play of the infant and the mother in the home to the most profound thought of an Einstein or a composer of great value, Bach in the course of his work, as any exposure to art demonstrates, these things have and the scientists too must have it.
I'd like to say a word for playful engineering, which I think is an important issue of our time that we have not yet fully engaged. It's not new. There always has been such a thing. I'd like to show an example of it in a slide. I hope you can recognize this slide. It's a very unusual slide.
It was made in 1936. It shows the greatest-- one of the greatest-- works of playful engineering, the Eiffel Tower. You can perhaps recognize the Avenue [INAUDIBLE] down here and the arches of the Eiffel Tower there, all heavily illuminated in this time exposure from 1936 where, of course, what you see is a pyrotechnic display, fireworks, off all parts of the Eiffel Tower. But of course, the Eiffel Tower was built strictly as a playful operation, a decoration for Paris for the 1889 World's Fair there by a great structural engineer. It worked 10,000 tons of wrought iron, not of steel, of wrought iron and rivets. And made playfully. Of course, managing to extract a fee from the people who come so it can keep going, keep itself painted, and, indeed, pay the shareholders quite a considerable income, I understand, over the years.
But nevertheless, that's its foundation. It doesn't do anything but stand there magnificently. At first, of course, attacked by half the artists and writers in Paris and now inseparable from the nature of the city. And I'm sure that you could not possibly tear it down without a major revolution swirling about the base of the tower.
Now playful engineering is not enough practiced in our time. It is practiced some. We all know about it. We know about it in sports, where it's become a specialty and almost lost its playful quality because of its heavy rewards. And at MIT, from the impromptu and very lighthearted hack, of which I need not give you any examples, through the pedal-driven aircraft of great renown. To the wonderful stroboscopic work of Papa Flash, the late Doc Edgerton. To the sophisticated work, whose 25th anniversary is being celebrated tomorrow at the Center of Advanced Visual Studies, which I remember for sort of three or four works of grand works, not single works, but whole campaigns of playful engineering, mechanisms of extraordinary wit and pleasure.
The use of aerial photography as an art form, not as a geodetic study or a way of measuring crops. And sky art, lasers and balloons on grand scale just beginning in this world in the last few years. And I'm quite sure also that the Palais du Louvre has been recently subjected to something which is architecture and playful in its qualities and at the same time profoundly purposeful. And I'm sure that IM Pei and Dean Mitchell will describe something about that in their talk of recent work just to come.
Now I'm going to close, and I want to close with a somewhat novel end, which I had not really planned but it was forced out of me as I went through these thoughts in the last few weeks. I see one danger. The danger is an extraordinarily clear one, and I think we have found the best way to avoid it. I'll tell you what that is and see if you agree with me. Please think about it. It's something novel. It's something of great importance to all of us. And it needs widespread attention.
And that is, it's clear that nowadays art produces its own truths. The artwork is not judged by its comparison with another canon, necessarily. Yes, it might be of the School of Beaux-Art, it might not. The schools are various. The techniques are innumerable. The subject matter, the minute particulars, are as wide as can be. And I think we should accept that as the freedom that the artist has. Of course, he may follow a strict form. He may wish to do that. Or he may break loose into something quite new.
But in any case, there's no other criteria, no external one, the scientist must-- the input is what counts. The data must be reliably presented. The engineer, the object must work for the purpose of which it was intended or some purpose close to that. But the artist, it is the output that counts. Does it work for the purpose he intended it, to amuse, to entertain, to teach, whatever it might be? It doesn't matter how he got there. He isn't responsible to show you the data on which he worked.
And on the other hand, this leads to a great danger, of which a very tiny example. My wife, Phyllis Morrison, has helped me produce for the next, last slide. Well, it's the Eiffel Tower again, right? In fact, it's the same-- you see it's the same pyrotechnic picture. But spontaneously, with the matter of a few seconds, Phyllis has managed to give the kind of impression that there's a colorful pyrotechnic display coming from the great tower. And of course, you are all well sophisticated enough for the images and with now markers to recognize that of course that's nothing to do with the Eiffel Tower at all.
What does it have to do with? It has to do with a 35-millimeter slide that represented the Eiffel Tower in 1936, which she has then modified with just a very small, spontaneous artistic work to make the point here. The image, however, is itself, it is there, and it means something that is actually quite striking. And now the trouble is, we make images so well today. We make so many. We can make them so seamlessly. We can change their appearance in every way, not only visual images but even, speaking more metaphorically, auditory and the rest, that there is a cut-off between the world represented, may not be represented, but even those things when they are represented, well represented of the image, are no longer good maps of each other. The artist's intervention is so powerful that he has ended that.
Now that is not new to us. We all experience it internally, and it is probably indispensable to the human mind and the way we have evolved. It is what we call the world of dream. In dream, visual images are produced, which have maybe some semblance of your experience, sometimes not perhaps. But when they have semblance, we know very well that those dreams are not the relatively close approximations to what is going on, that the eyes, which are always limited, and the video screen, which is equally and similarly limited, bring to you approximations of the real world.
Now what I am trying to say is a danger that, if we have, as we do have, the growth of the greatest 20th century arts, the one that attracts most people, and I think has gradually, gradually increased its salience is the cinema. And I strongly suspect the 21st century will make the video equivalent of the cinema, with its music, with its changes, with its probable 3D nature, and its motions and change, will probably transcend all previous visual experiences, will make an enormous push upon the world. Whereas the capital of this world is only going to double or triple and plateau out. There isn't room for more. There's not room in the atmospheric balance and the heat sources for more.
These sources of information and image are enormous, and they will continue. And the real question is that we not be swamped in a dream world where we no longer pay attention to what the representation was of but only the nature of the representation itself. That is, after all, the artist's task.
And I cannot think of a better way of understanding that problem, of conquering it, than by having people know both sides of the operation, who have studied the arts to see how much you can do to make entertaining and wonderful things that didn't exist, but also how much you can do to represent scrupulously and meticulously the data of the real world, the actual performance of engineering without hyperbole and public relations and the rest. To take only one side, well, stay away from the other, that will not work because people are too clever and they'll transcend it.
What is the best is to expose them both, come right up front and say, yes, this can be done. The artist has one direction, the engineer scientist has another. Both recognize their enormous similarity. But by their mutual understanding, we can have a world which both contains dreams but is not solely based on it. And I think that's the only kind of a world which is safe for us to try to carry on the legacy of the canyon at Olduvai. Thank you.
HARRIS: Can I help in any way?
MORRISON: I think just by holding there.
HARRIS: Well, I thought I was being really smart to take back the relationship between mens et manus, mind and hand, to the establishment of MIT. But as has happened to me many times since coming here five years ago, I was put to shame by one of my colleagues who has now taken it back tens of thousands of years and has put that relationship into the perspective that we must view it. And has not only taken it back tens of thousands of years, but has told us and warned us of the future and of the continuing importance of the relationship.
May we remember Professor Morrison's words and continue to pursue playful engineering and serious art. Our next speakers will in fact talk about a specific relationship between mens et manus, between art and engineering in the world of architecture. We are very honored today to have with us architect IM Pei, class of 1940, formally with the firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.
Of course, Mr. Pei is very well known for many, many buildings, and I will not list them all. Some of them are particularly important for the arts, including, of course, the Louvre, the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, DC. And many MIT alums are familiar particularly with the Morrison Hall for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a remarkable building. At MIT, Mr. Pei has not only designed the Wiesner Building on Ames Street but the arch to that building, which is a gateway into East Campus as you cross Ames Street. Also, not, I think, coincidentally, when you are walking toward the campus, frame his three buildings in the main quadrangle with, in perspective, the MIT Dome overall.
The three buildings on the main campus with their very stark geometry of verticals and horizontals, triangles and rectangles. Most recently, or not most recently, but among Mr. Pei's most recent works are the Bank of China in Hong Kong and the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City. And I think we will be hearing about some of these works today. Mr. Pei has also been affiliated with MIT since 1972 as a member of the Council for the Arts at MIT. And we appreciate his years of membership on that group.
Talking to Mr. Pei today will be Dean William Mitchell. Dean Mitchell has been at MIT since 1992, and he is particularly well known for his book, published by the MIT Press, The Reconfigured Eye, which deals with digital photography and in fact visual images that do not represent the real world. Dean Mitchell is working very hard in the School of Architecture to lead the School of Architecture into the 21st century with his virtual design studios and the design studios of the future using computer technology to create a seamless process from the initial designs through to the communications with clients, engineers, and others. Please help me to welcome IM Pei and Dean William Mitchell.
MITCHELL: Well, it's truly a wonderful privilege to have you here and talk about architecture with IM Pei. We're going to [INAUDIBLE] we're going to after a while. And then if there are questions from the audience, we will be delighted to take them. [INAUDIBLE] conversation ongoing. Now when we were talking about [INAUDIBLE] So we decided we would be [INAUDIBLE] that project was unfolded over a number of years before the Louvre in Paris. Now I think everybody who knows the arts at all knows that at the Louvre, IM Pei created an extraordinarily [INAUDIBLE]
CREW: Should we just walk them out or what?
MITCHELL: What made [INAUDIBLE] so obvious [INAUDIBLE] extraordinarily large and complex [INAUDIBLE]. Redoing the Louvre is in fact--
CREW: Excuse me, can I just place this microphone?
MITCHELL: Could anybody hear what I was saying?
MITCHELL: Okay. Redoing the Louvre is-- this sounds much better. Redoing the Louvre is an extraordinarily large and complex project involving technical problems, organizational problems, political problems, certainly. Problems of very complex cultural symbolism. So what we thought we'd do today is to ask Mr. Pei to describe a little bit of his thought processes, what the problem is about, the solution that he finally derived. And then we'll take some time to discuss this truly magnificent project. So Mr. Pei.
PEI: Professor Morrison talked about hundreds of centuries. I'm talking today on the subject of the Louvre about eight centuries, the history of 800 years. But these are very important 800 years, for the French at least.
It's the building of the period during which French nation was born. It's a period that I would say is roughly parallel, the recent French history. In fact, it's also a wonderful symbol, for them at least, of French civilization. So therefore, the problem of the Louvre for the architect is not just a technical problem, architectural problem. But it's a problem that has many, many challenges.
I would like to start off by telling you something about the history of the Louvre. Now I don't have too much time, but I'll try to make it very brief and therefore incomplete. It started in 1202 by I think you can call him a French king, Philippe Auguste, who built this fortress on the right side of the Seine to protect the Ile-de-France, which is now the Ile de la Cite, which is the place where the French, the heart of French life at that time in Paris took place.
It was built as a fortress, la dungeon, as they call it. And it's important because I wish I had taken some slides to show you what it is like today. But anyway, it was a wonderful building where they put prisoners, where they put ammunition. It's a very important place to protect, let's say, something that they considered to be very important.
It lasted as a dungeon or as a fortress for roughly, I would say, maybe 200 years. It did not become really a place for the kings to live in until about the end of the 14th century. And I think Charles V was the king that one should remember because that's the beginning of Louvre. Not only as a place for the king to live in but also the beginning of French art. The first library of France was there and the collection of many, many objects of Charles V was displayed there.
Now for how many years since then? 1400 to today, I would say, 500 years, 600 years. Nearly all of the French kings that you know of of any importance have either lived there, died there, married there, and born there. So therefore it's an important place. So therefore this is not really surprising that when someone like myself-- I guess I can consider myself an American of Chinese descent-- asked to tamper with a very important part of French history.
So I'm going to go through this in two phases to show you what I went through. Phase one lasted five years, from 1983 to 19-- six years, to 1989. And during those six years the plan was laid, how to deal with the problem as a very complex problem. And the pyramid was built. But before the pyramid was built, we had a lot of trouble. We wasted two years. It's the media that I had to deal with at that time, and I was totally unprepared. And my French language is just not adequate for that purpose. But I had to deal with the media to try to convince the French that this was the right thing to do.
So therefore, even though it took six years, but only four of those six years were devoted to architecture and the building of the phase one. Now phase two is less spectacular in the sense of public information. But it's perhaps the more important of the two because it completed a wing called Richelieu. And without that wing, there would be no Louvre today. And we couldn't get that wing until 1985.
The wing, I'll tell you what the wing is. The wing was occupied by the Ministry of Finance ever since, oh, I would say, Napoleon III. Only 200 years, 150 years. No, less, 1856, 150 years, yes. And they refused to move. And at that time the pyramid was already discussed and some people would say, okay, if you must have it. Mitterrand must want it. Okay.
But I said, look here. There's no point to build the pyramid if we don't have the Ministry of Finance. So that gave the president another headache. But a long story short. We moved them out in 1989. So the second phase is the building of the Richelieu Wing. It's architecturally not at all spectacular but very important because why? Because I had to keep the facade. Only thing I could do is inside. And we demolished everything inside except a big suite of Second Empire rooms, very beautiful rooms-- you must go and see it-- and two or three staircases. And the rest of Richelieu was completely gutted.
So it was a major engineering project, but not very spectacular except there are some interesting things inside, which you will see when you come. So because of time, I'm going to start with phase one quickly.
MITCHELL: Do you have your slide changer?
PEI: Oh, yes. I'm going to have to learn how to use this.
MITCHELL: That's the top there.
PEI: No. Oh, yeah.
MITCHELL: And this one for the other side.
PEI: Excuse me.
MITCHELL: We have to sort out the technology here.
PEI: Oh. Oh, I see.
MITCHELL: There we go. Right.
PEI: Oh, I see. Now I understand. Okay. Now Louvre as you know it, perhaps without too much debate among architects and planners, is perhaps the most important urban composition in the world today. There's no other that can compare with it. Its history, 800 years, in the building. It started as a fortress and then was added on by kings after kings. But the important kings to remember that built the roof are probably, I would say, Charles V, Francis I, Henry II, Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and eventually Napoleon I and Napoleon III. And there are many other kings in between that added something to it, but those were the important kings.
And it can also be said that perhaps every important French architect, nearly every, from Lescot to Mansart to Le Vau and Louis XIV, many, many others. And then eventually [INAUDIBLE], they all participated in the building of it. So therefore it's not surprising that you come into this wonderful complex, which was already formed, and to try to do something with it.
Now the reasons why something had to be done to the Louvre is for the reason that you know, that it was built first as a fortress. And it was added on and added on to try to make it more comfortable for king after king. And to turn it into a museum in 1793 at a convention is a move that was correct, interestingly, because Louvre became a public museum for the first time 200 years ago.
But it was not at all suitable for a museum because it was meant for life, for kings to live in. So Louvre has never really worked as a museum. I was there for the first time on a fellowship, not MIT but Harvard fellowship. I did receive MIT fellowship, but it was during the war. I couldn't do anything with it so.
I lived across the street from the Louvre in a tiny little hotel, and I went over there every day to look at it. And I tell you, in those years you really have to have time to see the Louvre because you get lost in it. And you don't know where anything was. There are no toilets, no restaurants, nothing of that sort. But it had a wonderful collection, and you have to go back time and time again to find surprises. And that was the way Louvre was to all of you, to many others, until something happened in 1989.
So therefore Louvre was a wonderful complex of buildings. But Louvre Museum was not. Louvre Museum happened to be a tenant in the Louvre. That's all. It was occupied by the Ministry of Culture running the Museum of France. It was occupied by the Ministry of Finance. Occupied by many others.
Louvre Museum occupied a long, long wing along the Seine, and it's about, I would say, 800 meters long. And that wing was almost impossible to go from one end to the other without going up and down. And so therefore most people who went to the Louvre as I did probably only saw maybe 25% of it. The rest you just miss. You have to have a guide. And I didn't have a guide, so therefore I had to go back time and time again to find new things, new surprises.
So Louvre did not work as a museum, and the French knew it. But they wanted finally, under Mitterrand, to do something about it. And the one move that was perhaps the most important move of all, I mentioned earlier, it was the recapturing of the Richelieu Wing from the Ministry of Finance.
Now this is perhaps not a very good slide. I apologize. But you can see the importance of Louvre in the heart of Paris. Because it's situated perhaps in the most important, really, the center, the heart of Paris. And yet it's separated, the left bank from the right bank. There's no way to penetrate except by car from the left bank, which is below, to the right bank. So it became, actually, a barrier. And that became an urban design problem of first magnitude. Because we have to open up the Louvre.
To open up the Louvre, then you rejoin the two parts of Paris. Not by car, you can always drive around, but on foot. And this is one of the challenges that is least talked about, but perhaps, in my opinion, the most important.
The axis of the Louvre leads all the way to Saint Germain. And it all probably is, again, when I say the most important urban composition, I really should say that it's the most important axis of the world. There's no axis like that, that leads all the way from the Louvre to Saint Germain. It went through the garden of the Louvre, which you all know, Place de la Concorde, up Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, and then on to La Defense, and then La Defense beyond.
Now the Louvre. This is a diagram of the Louvre to show you. The grey area on top was occupied by the Ministry of Finance. The ocher, the yellowish color wing, 800 meters long, half a mile long occupied not just by the museum, by the museum and by the museum administration of France. And French bureaucracy, I tell you, takes up a lot of space. So it's not all busy.
You can see that people come by the one side of the courtyard and enter there while you're waiting in line if you're lucky, a good day, you don't mind. But then you'll be pestered by people trying to sell you all kinds of things that you don't want. But nonetheless, there are people, 3 million people, continue to come. Why? For its collection. But you really have to go through really a very uncomfortable experience in the process.
Now what I saw at that time when I was asked by the French government to say, can you do something about the museum? I said, I don't know. But anyway, I'll try. And the one thing that became apparent to me when I looked at this problem, I said, the Ministry of Finance has to go. And I said, the reason is simple.
I said, when you want to build a modern museum, what Louvre is-- why it is not a modern museum for a simple reason, and that is, in modern museums, which I knew well then because I finished the National Gallery already, so about 50% of exhibit space has to be matched by 50% of supporting spaces. Reserve, conservation laboratories, restaurants, auditorium, lecture hall, public's reception spaces, toilets, things like that, which it didn't have. Tiny little toilets.
In fact, I remember very well when I went there, I frequently had to leave the Louvre because I had to find a place to go. And then when you leave the Louvre, some people don't come back again, you know. So they lost a lot of people. And it's not really surprising that the average stay of visitors to the Louvre is only one hour and 1/2. Whereas the National Gallery is 3 and 1/2 hours. Metropolitan Museum, about the same.
So I said that the key to making Louvre function as a museum is to change the Louvre from 800 meters long, up and down, up and down, to something very compact. But you can give up this wing, the floor where the Spanish paintings were, or still are, and give it to other uses, but you must move the Louvre to that part. In that way you accomplish two things, which is essential to making Louvre Museum function.
Number one, you can excavate that court, which is in grey area, the Napoleon Court. We can go down two levels, to the level of the Seine, which is about 10 meters down. You can go down two levels, and you recapture half a million square feet of space just by excavating that. And why not? You can use that space for reserve. You can use that space for all the infrastructure support that a modern museum needs.
Because under the old Louvre there's no foundation. There's no space. There are some pipes and that's about all. But nothing there. There are some sewers that go through. But that is the key to making the Louvre into the modern museum.
Second reason is that if you put the center of the Louvre not on one side, down below, but really in the middle of the grey area, you've got the center of gravity of the Louvre right there. And from that point you can go to the three wings. Louvre has three wings, Denon-- Venus de Milo is there and Mona Lisa is there-- and to the Richelieu and to Sully. Very short distance. Not 800 meters anymore. It's going to be only about something like 50 meters. The difference, so that you can divide Louvre into really three parts, even though they're interconnected upstairs. Three parts, and each part is at least several days' visit.
So a big museum, you may wonder whether you need a museum this size. But be that as it may, it's a big museum, and that's the only way to solve the problem. So therefore I told the president, I said, you've got to do two things. You've got to let us dig under the court because there may be relics there. The project could have been stopped if they'd found something important there. And then you also have to find a way to move the Ministry of Finance.
At this point-- it's not so funny at that time because-- but this tells you something about the man who is still the president of France. I don't know of any heads of state in the world that has the kind of breadth of understanding of the history and culture not only of France but of the world. He's really a remarkable man. He may not be the greatest politician, I don't know. Time will tell. But he was and he is a really exceptional leader when it comes to art and culture. And I could not have done anything there without him. That's obvious.
The court, before we did anything with it, was a parking lot. It's a parking lot for the bureaucrats that occupy the Ministry of Finance. The court, after excavation, finding-- one year archaeologists were digging, with really literally with brushes. And they found things, all right, but nothing terribly important. Because this court, unlike the court which I wish I had slides to show you, with a marvelous dungeon foundation, is now on display, which when you go there you see it.
This court was inhabited by people who served the kings. Their bakers, their cobblers, there's a little church, and that's about all. And therefore there's nothing that is so important that they say, stop. We were very fortunate. From '84 to '85, that year we were all waiting to see what happened. We wished they discovered nothing. And the archaeologists, of course, wished they found something. But anyway, they found nothing of importance, and we proceeded to get the green light.
Now here I want to show you the organization of the Louvre. This is the court. The rest of the Louvre is not shown here. It's only the Napoleon Court. By putting an object, something, in the center of this court, let's say, in the Napoleon Court, you can connect the three pavilions in a very short and direct way. And very understandable. You can see it. When you're in the court or in the hall below, you can look out and you can see Denon, Richelieu, and Sully. And that clarity of orientation is key to a big museum.
This is an urban studies. To try to ventilate Paris, you must first ventilate the Louvre. To ventilate the Louvre you have to do several things. You can come over from the left bank over Pont des Arts, which is a pedestrian bridge, wonderful bridge architecturally. From an engineering point of view, a wonderful bridge. And then you enter into cour carree and then turn left.
But you have to do two things in order to make it truly open. One is that you have to open that passage under Richelieu, called Passage Richelieu, to lead you to the Place du Palais-Royal, which is right there. And then from then on to Palais-Royal, and then to Pompidou Centre, which you know.
Second thing that you must also do is to open up the garden. A new bridge is being built. I think it's about to start construction here, so that you can walk from Orsay, which is where the wonderful impressionist collection is today. From Orsay all the way to the Louvre. And that will open up the Louvre. And once that Louvre is opened up, it no longer is a barrier. It becomes a connector.
This was a drawing done by Steve, who's here, Steve [? Ohs ?]. I showed this drawing to the president, and he was not shocked. Perhaps he was the only man that was not shocked. But when I showed it to the press, they were shocked. And I tell you, from that point on, as I said, 18 months of just nothing but harassment by the media.
But still, we got the green light. And the president as well as his official, who was in charge of the Louvre, an important man, Biasini, said, let's dig. Because the archaeologist has already said it's okay. Let's dig. And this was what you see. And that was the beginning of another furor. And people demonstrating and everything, except trying to-- they didn't do anything really serious like committing suicide or anything like that. But very close, very close. There were a few.
Now I'm going to go quickly because of time, quickly. To show you how the building processed. And the building of this part is remarkably fast. French contractors are incredibly good. I have to-- they're very, very good.
These are slides that shows the construction, the whole-- this is the Napoleon Court, by the way. This is not the rest. Only one part, the important part. This is the part where the pyramid must emerge. And the square grid that you see, the structural steel member there, they're all on bearings. It can move. They move. And they're supported on four columns, and that's all.
We had about 60 or some sides because from one vantage point they took pictures every so many months. But I'm only showing a few. So that's very quick. But it took about--
It took 18 months to reach this stage. And at this point I would say it's the end of phase one. It was opened in spring 1989. And Mitterrand was there to cut the ribbon. And it was rather well received by then. But still, I would say there were maybe 30% or 40% people still not very happy with it. And for any number of reasons. But nevertheless, it was built. And since this is MIT, I thought I have to bring this diagram. If I show it to another audience, they would not be interested in it.
And I'm going to show you some of the slides of the construction. But one thing that should also interest you, that the French government made no secret of it. They want everything to be made in France. And the only exception, which I asked the president to allow us, is to have all the tension elements made in Massachusetts by a small rigging company that did the America's Cup yachts. I don't know whether Bill Koch is here or not, but he would know.
And we are the best. And I showed him some samples of the rigging, how the turn buckle was fit into the cable and all that. And he was fascinated with it. Because he liked it so much that he didn't even bother to say, is there a French equivalent to it? We just say, go ahead. So we did it.
On the other hand, as a passing-- the glass problem. You see, glass has to be white, has to be clear. If the glass is not clear, this is laminated, you know, it's double layer. It's very thick. It's about almost 3/4 of an inch thick. If it's not clear it would be green. And if you see it through the corner of this glass, it will be very dark green, bottle green. So therefore that is not acceptable because the Louvre, you see, the composition of the Louvre must be seen. And the ocher-colored stone shouldn't look green.
So therefore I requested the French manufacturer Saint-Gobain to make this glass. They say, no, we no longer make them. And then finally they say, well, if you built 1,000 pyramids, we'll make them for you. So I didn't report this to the president. I went to a German firm, SCHOTT Glass. I say, can you make it? Yes, we can. Saint-Gobain said, we'll make it.
I'm going to go very quickly. Making of the pyramid. The pyramid has one virtue. It's a very stable form, you know that. And consequently, it requires the least amount of steel in order to support it. And consequently, if you use the finest technology available to you, technologically, to build it, it will be the most transparent of form. And it must be the most transparent form because you want to see that composition. That composition is so important to the world, not just to France.
So you may ask, do you need something that projects? Many architects in France as well as abroad suggested, why not just have a glass sheet on the ground? And you bring light in just as well. But I said, no. I said, you have to have space. You go into the lower level 10 meters down, 9 meters down. And you don't want to have a glass ceiling. That word may mean something to some. Don't want a glass ceiling. You want space. And so something has to project.
And I defended the pyramid. And the pyramid, for those of you who know France, is a very important symbol to French. I think the French are probably more conscious of pyramid as a form than any other people because from Napoleon, I guess. They really went to Egypt. They took a lot of things away from Egypt.
So the pyramid form is necessary to give you space, so when you-- give you light, give you space, but at the same time transparent. You can see through it. And also you need it simple. Because if this is going to be the main entrance to the Louvre, it cannot be just a subway entrance. It just simply cannot be.
Glass was put in this manner. And for a long time there was a debate, can you clean the glass? And we tried different ways. They hired some Indians from Canada to clean it. They even tried robot. Eventually we cleaned by robot. But finally we got some alpinists to get up there, hang the rope from the tip of the pyramid, and wash it. And it only took two days to wash it. But now it took less. Now one day is all we need.
So the washing problem no longer a problem. But for a while that became also a problem. Because the French wanted to find any reason to object to it. And cleaning the pyramid also kept us quite involved. Now you're inside the space. And you can see the Louvre. You can see the Louvre through it.
Ah, that was D-Day. But no booing, no booing. Lots of applause. No booing. That was-- ah, I like that photograph. You don't see anything.
There's a story about this statue during Louis XIV's time. Ah, I'm short of time. I will try to go quickly. Louis XIV's time. They invited-- this shows that in those years the kings of France are already very cultured people. He invited Benini from Rome to come. Benini had just finished the Saint Peter's arcade, the wing that enclosed that space. Perhaps [? Dandonne ?], he and Borromini were the two most important architects of that time. And the French king wanted the best, so he invited Bernini to come to do something in the back of the Louvre, not this part, in the back of the Louvre. And he was there six months, and he did not survive the French architects.
And the only thing he left behind-- there are a few things he left behind, not of importance-- but the only big thing that he left behind is the statue of Louis XIV. But that was made in Rome, and it was shipped to France afterwards. And Louis XIV never liked it because it was his image, at that time, was 25 years ago. He was a young man then. He's no longer young. So he banished it to Versailles and it remained there. And because it was not known, it was never vandalized and never broke-- never, I mean, never vandalized. It was never destroyed during the war because it was just left there.
So, but it was marble. It was vandalized by a man from Brittany, anarchists, I guess, and no longer salvageable. But I persuaded the conservator of Versailles to let us make a cast of it, the only way. And they did. And it's made in lead. And I thought he should put it there to remember him as someone who tried.
But very important, that location. I needed something there to terminate the access of Champs-Elysees because Champs-Elysees-- that axis of La [? Note ?], the La [? Note ?] axis was not terminated at the Louvre. Because the Louvre is a little bit like this, like this. So it has to be terminated not by the pyramid, by something else and something strong. And I was fearful of commissioning a French sculptor at that time. You don't know what's going to happen. I'm perfectly frank about it. You just don't know what to-- so that was my escape from a responsibility.
Now second phase of the Louvre. Not spectacular, not at all polemical, but extremely important. Because now it opened only a few months ago. If you go there now, you understand why the pyramid was put there in the first place. And I think the vindication of the whole plan is now made possible through the completion of this wing. And for that reason, even though architecturally it's not spectacular because the facade had to be kept and everything has to be internalized, done inside.
Number two, I had to work with two French architects, which is reasonable because, after all, you know, can't hog it all. Now you see the end of the Napoleon Court, and this is what it looks like. This is 10 meters below ground. You go up three sets of escalators to an intermediate level, still below ground, and you can enter into the three wings of the Louvre. And the fourth wing going this way goes to shops, parking, bus terminal. Eventually, all the buses that you see on Rue de Rivoli as well as on the Quay will disappear, as they have now. They're all underground now. So urbanistically, that's another very important contribution.
And below at this low level, we have auditorium, we have restaurants, we have a reception area for the young people, and we have a bookstore, enormous bookstore, and shops, and meeting rooms, and conference center. Everything is there. But below this level is all circulation. There's a truck way to connect all the departments underground. And there's a large reserve so that all the collection, nearly all the collection, of the Louvre now comes back home.
Now we have to talk briefly about Richelieu Wing, even though architecturally, as I say, is not very spectacular. The two courts were proposed way back to be covered. They were parking and trucking for the Ministry of Finance before, so not used. By covering it, we can turn it into an exhibition space for French sculpture. And further, we also proposed to dig down below the Richelieu Wing, as you see, so that the two courts are connected at the lower level. And this was a trucking area, which now become exhibition area for French sculpture.
This wing housed four departments, the sculpture department, the Oriental antiquities department, the objet d'art, which is probably the most important objet d'art collection in the world, and paintings. I put this in mostly, again, because this is MIT. This is a pyramid about 50 feet square inverted. Why inverted? Because its position at the place where the circular rotary is. And you don't want to see any projection there coming up because one pyramid is quite enough. But we used the same theme, and we wanted to bring light in. This is the intersection.
If you go to the bus terminal, to the parking, and to the shops, you have to go through this point. So therefore it's nice to have something to make people feel they're still in the Louvre. So now this suspended pyramid is a major engineering project. It was designed by a man, Peter Rice of Arup Associates in London. And too bad I don't have the drawings. It's actually a very brilliant design.
The whole thing is-- there are only four rods in the center all suspended, and the rest are all cables. It's cables and four rods, and that's all. And it has one other very exciting byproduct. Clearly I was very proud of it. Another very important byproduct of this is the prismatic effect of the glass. You see the glass. Because we don't have to keep water or rain out of this because it's inside, we can polish the edges of the glass and bevel it. By beveling it, a spectrum of colors came out. So at times you see on a sunny day like this, it's just a rainbow inside. It's really quite spectacular. If you go there, make sure you go there on a good, sunny day.
Now the Richelieu Wing. One thing has to be done to the Richelieu Wing because it's about the painting collection. It's perhaps the most important French painting collection in the world. Not perhaps, definitely. And yet people don't go there because the French conservators want it upstairs because of daylight. They are very, very insistent on using daylight. Our conservators are less so. Very insistent. And for that reason they take the attic space. They have a ceiling not very high.
But to get up there, you have to walk up 75 feet vertical space. And most people don't walk up there. So they miss a lot of visitors. I was told only about maybe at the most 10% or 15% of people go up to the top floor, and that's a great pity. So I proposed to put in escalators. I hate to do that. It's a 19th century building, and you don't install something like that unless you have a good reason. That was a big battle, but it was won. And today nobody disagrees that it is absolutely needed because otherwise the interconnection up and vertically, it's very, very difficult.
Object d'art. I showed you the sculpture already. I'll show you the objet d'art. These are the Maximilian Tapestries. . Never shown before. No place to show it. Now they have a place. And it's a must, the Maximilian Tapestries are a must to see. They're very dimly lit because of the color of the threads.
Now before I go into this, this work here was done by architect Villemard of France, of Paris, France. And my role in the sculpture garden and this is what they call, really, a mandaterre, so like a coordinator. I participated in all the decision making. I chose them as my architects. I had that responsibility. But they should get the credit for it.
Now this was old Louvre. The lighting of paintings is really a very special science, it really is. And it's extremely important. It's never studied enough. It just hasn't been. We don't have good daylight galleries in America. We don't have it in the National Gallery. We don't have it in Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
They are all like this. They are lay lights with skylight on top. And even though it could have been artificially lit and you wouldn't know the difference. And another disadvantage is that the skylight is very bright. And therefore the brightness is the ceiling. The second brightest is the floor. The walls, where you want the light to be, looks dark. And consequently, we decided this is something we want to do a piece of research on. And I think one of the major breakthroughs, I consider, in this wing is in the lighting.
The lighting solution is this. We make the ceiling into three layers. The first layer is glass, skylight, with a UV filter, of course. And then below the glass is an egg crate. An egg crate is carefully calculated so that the orientation is such. So no direct sun rays will come in. It would have been better if they were movable because then we get good light all year around, all seasons. Unfortunately, the French have experience with maintenance crew. They say, it won't work here. And they're right, they're right, they're right.
So we use fixed louvers that don't have to be touched. We cut off a lot of light, a lot more light than we wanted to. But it does remove the headaches of the gardien doing their job. And the reason of the big cross is that people have to walk there, so it has to be wide enough for people to walk, to clean, to re-lamp, and that sort of thing. But you can see the sky if you are walking on one side.
But the light, as you see now, is deflected to the walls. It's no longer coming down to the floor. So the walls now are bright, and they get light. And that has turned out to be something that the French conservators are very conservative, and they accepted this. And they now claim this is the best in the world. They have this-- something has to always-- and this they like.
And this is the very important suite of paintings by Rubens celebrating Marie de' Medici's journey and eventually to apotheosis. All the way, and you can see again, the light is no longer bright on the ceiling. It's directed to the walls. And this is another version of it. Depending-- this is an octagonal room. That's a long room. And the previous one I think is a square room. And this is the way the light looks. No reflection. No reflection. I guarantee you that, no reflection.
All right. Richelieu Wing was finished in November, opened in November 9, 1993, exactly 200 years after the founding of the Louvre. And the Richelieu Wing, together with the Napoleon Court, is now complete. And therefore Louvre finally functions as the way we had planned to. And some of these slides are mostly to show you what it looks like when it's all finished. And young lady is celebrating the event. So there you are. I think that's-- oh! I used up too much time. Well, sorry.
I'm sorry. Ellen, I apologize. Sorry. I think we better go, huh? We'd better go. We're running out of time. Oh, oh.
I'm not a professional, as you see. Like Professor Morrison. Absolutely on time.
HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you. Well, you will see that we are slowly moving through MIT. We've had the theoretical construct for the relationship between art and science from the School of Science. Now we've had our presentation from the School of Architecture. And we are moving on to the School of Engineering.
There's probably no better representative from the School of Engineering and representing mens et manus, mind and hand, than Richard Polich, class of 1965, who is president of the Tallix Foundry for Arts Casting. At the Tallix Foundry, sculptures, monumental sculptures, by many of the best known artists have been casted, are being casted. Works by de Kooning, Stella, Nancy Graves, Joel Shapiro, and many, many others. I think to describe what Dick does there, I've been privileged to be to Tallix twice. And I'd really like to take all of you to Tallix to see the foundry, but we will have Dick come and show us pictures of it. Maybe next time we should go to the Louvre and go to the foundry and--
But there was a profile about Dick in the current Technology Review, which I hope that you were able to see. And I want to quote one passage from that. It says, "Dick is multilingual. He speaks structural engineer, sculptor, and welder fluently." Please help me to welcome Dick Polich.
POLICH: Well, good morning. We all need a little second to let all that settle down. That was just a wonderful talk. And what I'm going to talk about is a little bit different. I'm an engineer, a metallurgist. 30 years ago I worked on a project with Merton Flemings, head of the materials science department, the goal of which modestly stated was to unite technology and art.
We did indeed have a resident sculptor, Al Duca, who still lives here in Boston. We all worked together to adapt and modify industrial techniques to the making of art. 24 years ago I started Tallix, a place to make art, whose very name comes from the material we deal with, metallics. In that 24 years, Tallix has grown to be the largest caster fabricator in the world, with over 100 people working in 85,000 square feet making art for artists all over the world.
In fact, in the past year we've installed art in Luxembourg; Munster, Germany; Rome; Vancouver; and Tokyo. My hope today is to accomplish three things. First, to give you a tour of the foundry and show you what we do. Secondly, to talk about a specific problem for artists, going from a small maquette to a monument, the problem of dealing with scale. And then finally, end up with a discussion of how artists, engineers, and fabricators work together. So let's begin.
The artist who wants to make metal sculpture needs to find at least four things, space, tools, technology, and craft. The artist will always make art, but where he makes that art, the place he picks, will affect how the art looks and how it is made. Let's look at the first slide. Is there a pointer here?
CREW: Yes, right on there. Underneath the equipment.
POLICH: This is it. Okay, space we have plenty of. We have about 85,000 square feet. We have 46-foot ceilings. The next slide. Let me see now. Not sure where that is. Oh, there we go. Thank you.
The next slide shows the main bay of Tallix. We have some Frank Stella stuff over here. There's a Lichtenstein over there. That's Audrey Flack. That's a stainless steel sculpture by Jeff Koons. The scale of the place. It's about 65 feet across here and about 300 feet down to the other end of the foundry. The cranes have about 35 foot clear under the hook and can lift up to 100,000 pounds.
Tools also we have plenty of. The next slide. Here you see us out in the yard assembling a sculpture by Alex Lieberman. It's a Cor-Ten steel sculpture. Its dimensions are 50 by 50 by 40 feet. It's an extraordinary sculpture in that you can walk inside this sculpture, and it's very unusual in that way.
The next slide. We show some technology. This is a sculpture that's in the National Gallery, a quite famous sculpture. And its surface is terrible. And this is one of the things that we have worked on at Tallix to help sculptors achieve their goals. The next slide.
These are the grain sizes of three different cast bronze alloys. And while I was at MIT, I did work on bearing steels. And it turns out that the same kinds of things that make better bearing steels also make better surfaces for sculptors. And so on the next slide, you see some of the stuff we have done where the cosmetic appearance of the surface, the perfection, is so vital to what the artist is trying to get across.
In the next slide you see craft. I mean, this kind of story is really the story of Tallix. We have analyzed and identified those interactions between artists and craftsmen, where they are really working together to make art. We have also got processes, steps in the process, that really are very little different than making an engine block. And so we have tried to separate those processes, mechanize them, use the latest techniques, and try to keep this marriage of technology and craft going along.
In the next slide you see a triptych by Helen Frankenthaler. And these really are lithographs set in a cast, a stainless steel frame. These are about 7 feet high. One of the problems in this sculpture was what to do with the back sides. And we tried putting fabric and putting wood and various other kinds of things.
And then-- the next slide, please-- we went to using patinas. And patinas are very painterly kinds of things. And you use brushes and solutions. The solutions are chemical, but the techniques are the same. In the next slide you see Helen working on the bronze backs that went onto the triptychs.
And this process is very much like using watercolors. The colors are transparent. They blend into each other. And there's ample opportunity for accidents, happy accidents, to occur. In the next slide you see one of the triptychs. And this now is the back side, and you can see the incredible designs and colors that she has done for the back of the screens.
In the next slide is another one. And then in the next slide again another design. And colors. And I must say that at the exhibit where these were shown, only one of the triptychs had the lithographs facing out, and then the lithographs were all facing the wall as they showed all the backs. And so there were some happy foundrymen at that show.
In the next slide, this again is a little bit of technology and a lot of craft. One of the things that is going on here is that we are brush plating gold onto the bronze. What happens then is that the patinas will not take on the gold, and so the artist gets this kind of extraordinary transition from here, a green, into the rich goldy color. I think the next slide shows a-- oh, no.
This is another case of craft coming through to help the artist. The woman there is Mary Frank, who does clay sculpture. One of the things that really troubled Mary was that she wanted to do marble, and, of course, fired clay is very fragile and the possibilities for putting it outdoors are limited. She wanted to do metal sculpture, but the surfaces were hard and just reflective and really bothered her. And so we worked out this approach where we got a kind of matte surface with a patina that came close to the original clays.
In the next slide I'm going to now talk about some of the problems with scale. These are 35-foot figures in Rosslyn outside of Washington, DC. It's what you see as you come up to this building. The thing that goes on when an artist is faced with making a large-scale monument, and, as Professor Morrison talked about, the hands and the eye working together. Artists invariably work at a size somewhere between a foot and 3 feet, something like that. I think the hands and the eyes coordinate well, and that's the size.
Now you've got to make something, though, that can be outdoors, something that can go in the world. And the world is a big place. Well, typically, if I took a piece of paper, crushed it in my hand, and threw it on the table, you would sense the force that had crushed it. You would see the folds, the lines, the kind of energy that's in that piece of paper, in that crumpled paper. I now take it, and an artist says, well, make it 10 feet by 10 feet.
What happens is that somehow now all of those folds and creases and lines have moved apart. And there's a lot of information that has to be put back in to make that work. And what is possible to have happen is that this large model, it becomes an imitation thing and it really doesn't work. In this case-- the next slide, please-- we were taking as a starting point a painting, and we're working with kind of big geometric simple shapes.
The next slide. We have here again in the bay of the foundry, and we are making this structure. We've got the problem of hurricane winds. You'll see that it's quite delicately poised on its toes, so we have to put a lot of structure inside this. The next slide, please. Here we are in the main bay of the foundry. The figure is standing together for the first time. You can see all of these are really weld points where the surface skin is welded to the structure inside. And there indeed is a copy of the original painting. And that is the artist admiring her work.
The next slide. This is what you see as you leave the building. And I think this is just a very successful project. It's a wonderful kind of thing to see coming and going. In the next slide we have a sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein. And this is a brush stroke. The next slide shows this sculpture at, I think it's 22 feet in the foundry. And then the next slide shows it going into a building in Paris, of all places.
But again, you can see that they're big, simple forms. The colors are well defined. And this sculpture goes up to a larger scale quite readily. The next slide. This is a two-dimensional painting by an artist named Richard Pousette-Dart. And I was really quite amazed to see in one of Mr. Pei's slides, which showed a topographic map of Paris, how this related to that. It seems close to me.
One of the things-- I don't know if that was Mr. Dart's, Mr. Pousette-Dart's inspiration. But one of the things that we had to do now in consultation with the artist was to figure out what's up and what's down. How do we make this three dimensional? And so we made it into a clay model. Next slide, please.
And you can see now, this is the modeling clay. It's gone from a painting about, I think it was 5 feet by 6 feet to a 12 by 12 door. This door was for the museum at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. And in the next slide you see the door set in a limestone wall. The next slide shows the inside of the building, and the door is pivoted in the middle, and so it rotates on a central hinge. And I think we have one more slide, which shows again the door set in the building. Again, I think a very successful enlargement.
Next slide. This is a sculpture by Tom Otterness, which went to Germany. Here is the maquette. This is about 3 feet high, and we're enlarging it to 8 meters. The construction here is quite simple, stainless steel tubes with bronze elements inside them. The next slide, please.
Here you see it in the main bay of the foundry at its full height. I think that is the model there. And again, here is the sculpture. Again, this sculpture lent itself readily to being enlarged. Next slide.
Here we are in Washington, and what's going on here is that this is the installation of the Joel Shapiro sculpture at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. This sculpture was 23 feet high. The next slide shows the sculpture in the foundry. Shapiro uses wooden forms. The sculptures are almost minimum. They're these simple wooden forms that go together. This is a figure that is a double figure that represents a kind of resurrection theme. You see here the actual size of the elements that we cast.
There was a real problem here in that, when the sculpture got this big and we used wooden beams to cast off of, the wood grain did not carry. And Shapiro finally went back to the sawmill and dinged one of the teeth of the saw and then ran it through the sawmill and left a pattern that was strong enough to come through at this scale. The next slide shows Joel-- that's Joel the artist there now-- adjusting locating the sculpture. And this is just interesting that it shows the kind of involvement that goes on between artist and fabricator engineer.
Next slide. This is a sculpture by Gifford Proctor. And this sculpture is about 30 inches high. And it's Washington at Valley Forge, very dramatic. It was on its way to 20 feet. In the next slide you see the enlarging machine at the foundry. This is a pointing device. The original sits on this table. The thing you're making in clay works over here. There are two styli. The center line of the tables and the center line of this arm is on the same point. There's a pivot back there. And so this makes one similar triangle that's similar to this.
So if this distance is one and this is five, you can get a five times magnification. This technology goes back to the Renaissance. So it's being displaced by lasers and devices like that. But computers [CLEARING THROAT] excuse me. Computer-driven cutting machines at this scale, it's just very difficult. The equipment is so expensive. Next slide.
Here we have the body. These are Washington's elbows. And what happens now is we really start to get into trouble because we've got this enormous expanse of fabric or cloth or whatever it is, and it's a real problem as to what to do to keep the sculpture interesting, to keep your eye moving. This sculpture was really never cast at that scale. Let's go on to the next slide, please.
Here we have an artist, Willem de Kooning. And de Kooning did this sculpture, which is 9 inches high, and then it was enlarged four times to 3 feet and then four times to 12 feet. In the next slide, the kind of technique that de Kooning was using was really working these things in his hand, squeezing clay in his hand. And you can see in the next slide, you can see this kind of very tactile thing that's going on. In the next slide again, you see it even better.
Now these sculptures, when they were first enlarged, the first enlargements were really scrapped because the information from there to there was not there, and the artist had to come back and work very closely with the enlarger to get something that kept your eye moving, that kept your interest. The next slide, please.
This is Frank Stella. And Frank Stella is certainly one of the top artists of our time. And Stella's here working on a clay. And he looks like he's working with a rake. Well, he is working with a rake. And Stella is a really cerebral, available guy who will discuss with you and tell you what his problems are. And he's got a clay here. The total clay is about 12 feet across, and he's trying to make a mark on it that's appropriate to this scale.
And Stella feels that the hands are too small, too weak. The gestures they make are too timid. I mean, what he's looking for is something that will show force and movement and energy. And so I've actually seen him go in there and jump on the clay with both feet. I mean, it's a real problem.
And in the next slide you see how Stella is starting to approach it. This is part of a sculpture, which you'll see in a minute. It's about 25 feet high, this one element. And in it we have an enormous number of new forms, of new surfaces, of things that Frank is trying to do to keep you interested, to have a surface that's dynamic and changing and interesting.
In the next slide, here's another sculpture, and I'm going to talk a little bit more about this. But this dumpster is actually part of the sculpture.
I agree. But I'm going to talk about that, about where an artist gets his images. And one of the things that Tallix is is a resource image bank for artists. And almost everything we use in the foundry, Frank has put in one sculpture or another. The next slide.
This is another sculpture. And these are also painterly things. I mean, Stella started out as a painter. And a painter can take a 12-inch-wide brush and go in and cut out big parts of his painting by overpainting. And Stella is looking for that same kind of energy and possibility for change. The next slide, please.
This is that sculpture. One reviewer described the sculpture as looking like an airplane crash. And that's funny in a way, but it's also true. I mean, Frank is looking for gestures. And you take a big steel tank, and you crush it, and so you put the history of that event in there. And we respond to it, and sense it.
In the next slide, again, some of these things that are going on. And then closer, in the next slide, closer to my heart, here we are trying to make one of these forms. And Stella is so experimental and so open that I'm going to talk some more about him in a minute. But here we are. He has assembled this pile of junk. And sometimes there's no other word for it. It really is a lot of junk.
But we are pouring 5,000 pounds of aluminum on this sculpture, on this stuff, to make a new kind of form. I mean, this is a kind of casting without molds. And what happens is, we get directional patterns. The things get knit together. And we have here really a new mode of expression. And again, going back to Professor Morrison's talk about the real world, this is very real world, but it's also dreamland. So I think that's the last slide? No, I have some other slides.
And again, going back to Professor Morrison's talk. And we did not discuss each other's talk. But here, one of the things that really binds me as an engineer to the casting process is the process itself. And in early times people who worked with metals were shaman, they were magicians. I mean, after all, the first metals, meteors from heaven and Mother Earth disgorging gold nuggets. So metals have always had a very powerful role in our lives. And these are ceramic shells that we're going to fill with metal. And we preheat them because they're so impermeable. And we have to keep the metal molten long enough to fill out.
The next slide shows us pigging off-- not pigging off-- tapping off into a crucible of molten steel. And then the next slide is the actual casting process, which is violent and wonderful and dangerous. Next slide. Again, more of that. And then the last slide is the molds have been poured, and they're set aside to cool. And the next slide is just entropy taking over and everything getting back to the same temperature.
OK, I think that's it for the slides. I want now to talk a little bit. After now we've seen how the foundry looks. I want to talk about how it works. But first it should be understood that the art being discussed is limited to the plastic arts and sculpture in particular. We'll begin by making a clear distinction between creating, fabricating, and engineering.
Creating, while difficult to understand, is fairly easy to describe. It's what the artist does when he works, when he expresses himself. What it is not is something made as a means to an end, something made to a preconceived plan, or something made by imposing a new form on a given material. In other words, art is made deliberately and responsibly by people who know what they're doing, even though they don't know in advance what is going to come of it.
To create a work of art, the artist must have in him certain unexpressed feelings and the wherewithal to express them. Making a sculpture, then, has two stages. Making the plan, which is creating, and then imposing that plan on certain materials, which is fabricating. Thus, when the engineer makes a plan, he, like the artist, is creating. It is not art, however, because it has a preconceived goal. Remember, in art you don't have a preconceived problem to solve. You're trying to express something.
Sometimes the engineer, as in my case, wears two hats. He makes the plan, but then he also serves as the fabricator. Let's look at fabricating. The fabricator needs an idea of what is to be made. Typically, the artist presents an artifact in a plastic medium and wants it transformed into metal, perhaps at a larger scale. In the simplest case, the engineer's not needed at all. The deal is really between artist and fabricator.
In this case, the artist has a very specific problem, which can be solved by the application of an existing technology. So when does the artist need the engineer? Well, under at least five instances. No artist, and probably no engineer, can be familiar with all the material processes available and the number of materials an artist can use. In my own case, I listen to the artist's intention and then describe a number of different ways, different processes, to achieve the artist's goal. This conversation often occurs very early in the process of creating a work of art.
Then there is the near obsession to be novel, to do something never done before. Casting and fabricating are really fairly straightforward. New technologies appear and are used, but for the most part solutions of this type combine unusual or offbeat ways of doing things. For example, casting aluminum or bronze around stainless steel, stopping the anodizing process at a point where the artist can paint colors rather than dipping, using plating techniques selectively, welding metals together with different color welding rods. These suggestions sound simple, but they can be of great use to an artist in achieving a unique effect.
Then there's the exchange of information between artist and engineer. The artist wants to know why something happened, what things can't or won't work, and perhaps, most importantly, which things might work. It is sometimes difficult for an artist to explain what he's trying to do, for it may not be completely clear to himself. The engineer fabricator must be a good listener, able to pay attention, and intuit what the artist wants.
Providing a source of imagery. Tallix is visually a fantastic place. Artists come to Tallix to see all the different work being made, feel the energy of the place, and are enormously stimulated and motivated to create new works. And finally, make it all cost effective. In the end, everyone has to deal with the costs.
Let's return to the fabricator who wants and needs an image of what is to be made. The artist as creator sometimes does not have a strong sense of how important it is for the fabricator to have that final idea available. Minus it, confusion and muttering result as artist and fabricator slip past each other pursuing their common but different goals.
Fabricating is important to the artist but in a different way than for the fabricator. Fabricating gives the artist the opportunity to identify elements he may want to use in his composition. The fabricator works from a model, a drawing, a sketch, some kind of guide, while the artist has none of these and only gets exact when he's completed, when the sculpture is finished.
Another sticking point in the push-pull between fabricating and creating is that the fabricator cannot provide the artist with elements of imagery. Only the artist can decide what images he wants. He may recognize and use some images from the work of the fabricator, but only after he has understood what has been made can it have a place in his work.
To summarize, the artist is expressing an emotion, a feeling he is not conscious of until it is expressed. The engineer participates in the process by making a plan to accomplish the artist's vision. The fabricator follows a plan with a clear objective, an artifact as the goal.
I want now to talk about how different artists work. Most artists come to the foundry looking for advice and consultation on how to achieve a specific result. These artists have mostly resolved their work in the studio and have well-formed ideas of what they want. Often they will have discussed with the foundry particular aspects of a project long before it is completed. In fact, the discussions often affect how the sculptures are fabricated, as technical advice becomes a compositional element which the artist may use or discard.
Some typical foundry responses for artists are as follows. Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artist, wanted his sculpture to have an industrial finish like a galvanized trashcan to keep the pop image even while using the very permanent and expensive process of casting. Nancy Graves loves color. Nancy comes to sculpture as a painter. And so we did enameling of the cast bronzes. And she also liked direct casting. And so we figured out ways to cast lobster claws and flowers and other flora and fauna with her signature touch of fragility and [? metastability. ?] For Richard Prousette-Dart, we've already seen how we took that two-dimensional painting and turned it into a 12 foot by 12 foot door.
These are some of the things we've done for various artists. But the artist I'm going to focus on is the afore-- [AUDIO OUT] with his assistant, Earl Childress, chooses to work directly and at scale at the foundry. This is a bold, expensive, complicated work. But what it does is give Frank the possibility to assert artistic influence at every possible stage of fabrication and therefore clarifies how one artist can and does work.
For Stella, a major goal is to include as much information as possible in his work to make it as rich and full of character as possible. He wants the complexity of history and chance, and he is not bothered by the source of the richness. For example, human beings always bring the promise of enriching work, not only by their actions but by accident as well. Frank will ask for something to be done. Bend that piece of metal, cut that piece into four elements. The logical question is, okay, what angle is the bend to be? Do you want it symmetrical? Are the cut pieces to be equal sizes?
These questions Frank never answers. He says, bend it, cut it. He's looking for richness. Frank is open to everyone's ideas and suggestions, looking for that idea he could never think of himself. Perhaps the cutting or bending of the material will be done in some new and interesting way. If it doesn't work, if it isn't interesting, he dumps it. He will not compromise.
Working for some artists is like making a product. This group of artists is trying to achieve a specific result. But Frank Stella is composing images, building the sculpture, feeling it go together. When Frank is at work, making images, accepting some, rejecting others, there's a real sense of fitting the specific elements to each other, making them feel right as well as look right. Historicity of elements is what Stella wants, not in the traditional way but in a new way. The old way was go to the studio and do trial and error experiments. Now there are too many possibilities, too many complexities. The artist needs help to understand the possibilities, so he goes to a fabricator like Tallix.
Even so, Stella is very unusual. In his quest for richness, he is eager to use any possible imagery the process of fabricating offers. This is not what most artists seek. Frank thinks that the process of testing does not give people ideas. People get ideas by thinking. Frank says, if the artist has a novel idea, he feels good. If he has an original idea, he is happy. People value expression. They don't have enough of it. Art gives back something, a notion of the nature of the material, of casting, and man using tools to shape and form materials. A sense of all the forces, a lot of them at work. To make something is to act like God. To make, you must use force and your mind.
One of the big differences for Stella between art and engineering is the value of an original idea. An idea in art is only good once. Thereafter, it is repetition. But a good engineering solution can be used many times over and over until a better solution presents itself. Sometimes engineers feel artists are capricious and self-indulgent when really what they are responding to is this fact that they must avoid repetition.
What are some of the ways Stella works that can be applied to engineering? For starters, take his openness to ideas other than his own and his own quest for richness. Stella doesn't care where ideas come from. He wants work rich in ideas. To some, this might sound like plagiarism, but it isn't. There's a difference between using what exists as a springboard for your work than as the basis for your work.
In my personal experience over the past 10 years, I can report that everything we use at the foundry-- tools, cutting tables, work benches, dumpsters, drops; that's what's left after a form has been cut out of a metal sheet-- all of it included in Frank's imagery. Of course, the ultimate drop is another artist's scrap sculpture, which, of course, no one can use, but it is tempting. For what could be a better foil, a better alternative view, than another artist's sculpture?
Next is Frank's effort to stay uncommitted, to keep as many possibilities open as possible, no matter how many problems this causes the fabricator with his need for a final vision, a goal to be achieved. Remember, the fabricator's skills are his knowledge of the means necessary to achieve a given end. There the artist is, substituting images, testing, trying to see what works best, sometimes unsure until it is done while the fabricator writhes. How can one work for someone, he thinks, who doesn't seem to know what he's doing? While in fact the artist is doing exactly what he must do to complete the project.
In conclusion, I want to do two things. The first is to review what the artist as typified by Frank Stella does, and then to draw some conclusions as to what might be applicable to the education of the young engineer. First, what I see Frank doing, what I will call the artist's way.
Get as much history and richness as possible into the art, including the processing and the evidence of man working with tools. Do not commit too soon. Stay as open as possible as long as possible to other solutions, for it is in the making that one sees fulfillment of his ideas. Be aware of changes and the effect those changes have.
A brief tale. We were making a lot of stainless steel castings for Stella in 304. A project for another artist came in that required 316. As an engineer, I'm accustomed to looking at these materials finished. And finished, it's almost impossible to tell them apart, and the differences in composition are not great. So to give someone 316 is like being moved into first-class seats if the tourist section has been overbooked.
We made castings in 316 for a while and then switched back to 304. Almost immediately a cry went up. What's going on? It turns out that 316 in the as-cast condition looks very different from 304, something we engineers had been totally unaware of, but not the artist.
Finally, invest self. If the artist's idea fails, the artist fails. If you want to get more out of something, give more of yourself. That's the way of the artist. All of them make sense to me and deserve serious consideration by young engineers. But there's more. Bright young people come to MIT to learn, to learn the latest and the newest technology, what works and how it works. In the study of science and engineering, a discarded or disproved idea is just that, discarded, interesting, perhaps, only in where it was wrong.
In engineering, there's also a real-world test. Questions totally inappropriate to works of art get asked of the engineer, like, what's it for? Did it work? Did the bridge fall down?
Contrast that to art, where discarded ideas and artists can and do reappear. And certainly in art, there is no sure test for the quality of art. What can happen, then, to the young engineering student which has not happened to the artist is that he may overvalue the contribution of his teachers and either ignore or not develop awareness of his feelings and the importance of expressing those feelings. We need to, and I hope are doing so, as evidenced by all of us here today, make young engineers aware of the importance of including their own feelings, their own expression in the solutions to problems they will face in their careers. We can make that more possible by providing opportunities and making sure that these opportunities are important to our community for our students to express themselves. Or failing that, provide them with frequent opportunities for aesthetic experiences.
Whether or not this will make better engineers can and will be debated. But art and aesthetic experience will do what it always has done. Enrich the individual and give a historical and aesthetic perspective, an artistic dimension, to our students' understanding and aspirations. And given the ever-growing power of engineering, perhaps it's not too wild to suggest that this new engineering will give creators like Stella compositional liberties unimaginable not so long ago. Perhaps one can even imagine students being taught, as I have learned working as an engineer for artists, function can follow form. Thank you.
HARRIS: As we continue our journey through the schools at MIT, we have arrived at the School of Humanities. And my five years at MIT are nicely bounded by the MIT performance of Professor Tod Machover's opera "Valleys" in June of 1989 and the premiere of John Harbison's cello concerto at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in just April 1994. And speaking of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, let me take this opportunity to offer them a special thanks today to the orchestra, to the players, and to the Boston Musicians Association of the American Federation of Musicians Local 9535 for their permission to tape the final rehearsal of John Harbison's concerto and to play portions of that this morning.
Both Tod and John represent the broad spectrum that exists not just across the arts at MIT but even within single arts. While Tod works with and develops new interactive technologies that have included a new series of hyperinstruments and a wired conductor's glove that interacts electronically with the players instruments, John works with pen and paper and conducts the traditional way, as recently when he conducted Handel's "Messiah" for the Handel and Haydn Society.
But both composers have written viola concertos for the same artist, Kim Kashkashian, and both have written cello concertos for Yo-Yo Ma. Both explore and create sounds and structures that have never before existed. And both are steeped in the continuum of historical music making.
Helping to tie this discussion together today is Lloyd Schwartz, professor of English at University of Massachusetts Boston and classical musical editor of the Boston Phoenix. He's a regular commentator for classical music on National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Just this April Mr. Schwartz was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in music criticism.
John previously has won a Pulitzer Prize for his oratorio. And this spring, I have to say, won the Killian Faculty Award at MIT, the highest award given to faculty members at the Institute, an award that was previously won by Professor Morrison. And I am delighted that John is the first professor in the arts to have won that award. And it gives me great pleasure to introduce Professors Machover, Harbison, and Mr. Schwartz.
MACHOVER: Which side to you want?
SCHWARTZ: I'll just [INAUDIBLE]. Good morning.
MACHOVER: Just, I guess.
SCHWARTZ: This is-- part of this is the entertainment part of the program today because you'll get to hear some brief selections of some wonderful music. Certainly one of the joys of being a music critic in this city has been to experience the new works of these two marvelous composers, who also happen to both be on the faculty at MIT. We'll hear two clips of recent pieces. John's brand-new cello concerto performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Tod's cello solo piece, which is solo and for cello and computer, "Begin Again Again, " which had its premiere at Tanglewood in 1991. And I'll ask each of them to introduce the brief clips.
HARBISON: In the talk show format, I'm supposed to be very surprised there's a clip. But actually I-- I know that there is one. What you're going to see and hear is three minutes, no more, I assure you, by our contract with the Boston Symphony, of-- actually less-- of a segment from the first section of my cello concerto, a rehearsal tape, which we were allowed to take with available sound and available light and one camera angle.
That being the case, and this being a much more visual than oral world that we live in, as has been pointed out by various of the previous speakers, there's attached to it right at the beginning 50 seconds of somewhat more lively visual material from a documentary from Wisconsin Public Radio. Which I guess sort of quickly flashes by you, various parts of my life to the accompaniment of another concerto, "Concerto for Brass and Orchestra," on the Los Angeles Philharmonic recording. So you'll hear all together four minutes a little sampler of this and that and then a bit of the Boston Symphony rehearsal. Guess that's it.
SCHWARTZ: Can we have that clip?
[MUSIC - JOHN HARBISON, "CONCERTO FOR DOUBLE BRASS CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA"]
-I think the artists can't be only on their own side. They have to look for a voice that says what's not being said. We have to be terribly connected to the strongest things in the tradition in order to be able to make something that's new.
[MUSIC - JOHN HARBISON]
MACHOVER: Now we'll see a clip of about equal length of the piece that I wrote for Yo-Yo Ma about three years ago called "Begin Again Again." Yo-Yo is, well, he's almost alone on stage. You'll notice that there's only one musician, but there are a series of computer technicians on stage. And Yo-Yo is playing something like a cello, but not exactly.
One of my interests in general has been to make technology be in the service of human expression, to make it easier for people to communicate and express themselves because of technology. And we designed here at the MIT Media Lab a special cello for Yo-Yo for this project. The general category is called hyperinstruments, and this is therefore a hypercello. The cello itself is somewhat different. It's made out of wood, but it needs to be amplified to be heard. And you'll notice Yo-Yo has cables coming out of his bow. He has a funny thing on his wrist. And there are other little antennas poking out.
The idea of all of this work is to amplify and expand what can be done with a normal instrument by using technology and to allow the musician to be as natural as possible in using this new instrument to use all the skill and musicianship that a performer like Yo-Yo has. That musicianship is then interpreted by the instrument itself, and different layers are added. So what you hear is a solo piece. But through Yo-Yo's playing, the notes he plays, the way he phrases them, the color he gives to his instrument, the computer responds and adds to the various different layers that you'll see.
At the end of the clip you'll notice that he goes back to his normal instrument. In this piece, part of the idea was that there's kind of a struggle between the artist and the technology, which becomes reconciled. We monitor his instrument at the end just with a microphone. So this is a little bit from "Begin Again Again."
-And last month they premiered their piece "Begin Again Again" at Tanglewood.
[MUSIC - TOD MACHOVER, "BEGIN AGAIN AGAIN"]
-The whole goal of my artistic work is to make connections between things which seem to clash when you first look at them without making the effort. And in some ways about how hard it is.
[MUSIC - TOD MACHOVER, "BEGIN AGAIN AGAIN"]
-And listening to any piece of music is like going into a different country. You go there, you're stimulated because it sounds like a different language. But yet some things are the same. So you figure out what the values are in that new place. And essentially you go on an adventure. And this piece is not so far out that it's incomprehensible to anybody. Anybody that likes music, that responds to it, I think, is going to be able to find something in it to hold onto as a point of departure. And then the adventure begins for them.
[MUSIC - TOD MACHOVER, "BEGIN AGAIN AGAIN"]
SCHWARTZ: Yo-Yo Ma is another Boston-area resident. And I think until just a few years ago he was really far better known for his performances of traditional classical music written for the cello. I think that reputation is changing.
One of the things that I've been eager to ask you is, what was working with or for Yo-Yo Ma really like? And maybe the more serious side of that question is, how much of the work of composition in these pieces was inspired by the fact that you knew you were writing it for a performer like Yo-Yo? John?
HARBISON: Well, we were joking before we came on that, just once in these talk shows, someone should say, he's a terrible fellow and he was uncooperative and difficult. Because usually they say, it's just-- life on the set was great and we all loved each other. Well, in truth with Yo-Yo he is a wonderful colleague. He's very genuine and direct and tremendously committed to what he does.
And it is a very wonderful experience to write for a performer who's eager for what he's going to get. I'm sure Tod had that experience too. I mean, where is the piece? Let's have it. Let's talk about it, is definitely the attitude that he takes.
And by the time I wrote my piece for him, he had played, I think, five or six, maybe more, cello concerto premieres and was clearly very gripped by the idea of spiriting pieces into the world, as you say, rather different from the earlier part of his career, where this was a very rare event. So just his excitement at that part of his musical life is, I think, very infectious to a composer.
SCHWARTZ: How much of what's on the page, what's in the score do you hear as Yo-Yo Ma, if anything?
HARBISON: In this case, I'm sure in Tod's case, that Yo-Yo was the whole thing. It was extremely direct. In my case, this concerto is much more centered around the soloist than other concerti that I've written. Probably only my violin concerto is equally so. I've been more interested in fitting the orchestra together with the soloist in other pieces. Here I really wanted the soloist to be the central focus. And I think it was partly because I knew that, no matter what happened, he would hold the stage, both on virtue of his presence and the way he plays. So I really thought I should just go with that.
And I, in fact, even in the themes thought I was dealing with him somewhat biographically. But he didn't particularly like that idea, so I dropped it rather quickly in terms of talking. But I think there is some element of that.
SCHWARTZ: Do you think his sound is in the contours of the music that you've written for the cello in that piece?
HARBISON: It probably is. I think at the same time you also hope that other cellists will play it so that I think you go not so totally into the particularities of the player that you rule out other approaches. But I think very much, yes. And his sound has also had some influence on other cellists by now.
SCHWARTZ: You were writing something for Yo-Yo that was completely new to him because he was actually playing an instrument, the hypercello, which he hadn't played before. What was your experience with that?
MACHOVER: Well, many things. One of the reasons that Yo-Yo was interested in the project was because he was very concerned about thinking about the future of string instruments and thinking about how they could evolve. He was actually quite interested in knowing about new things about computer programming. Just hanging around the Media Lab, for instance, and finding out what the students were doing. And at that time he was interested in CD-ROMs and where that would go.
I agree totally with John that one of the things that struck me about this project with Yo-Yo is, here we were starting from scratch, designing a totally new instrument with new ways of playing it, took longer than we expected. But from the very beginning of the project, Yo-Yo would always come and say, so what's the piece about? What am I meant to convey? The instrument's fine, that'll be great. We'll make it, but what will it leave the audience with? And actually got me to talk about that earlier in the process, while I was still planning and writing it, earlier than I usually talk about that to other people.
Another thing about Yo-Yo. A lot has been said today about different styles of thinking and engineering and intuitive things. Yo-Yo is one of the very rare performers, maybe-- I can't think of too many other people-- who is both incredibly gifted physically, just like a great athlete. I think he probably started playing the cello. And I would guess he probably didn't have to practice incredibly hard. I'm sure he did practice hard. But he just has an amazing natural gift. He can pick up an instrument and learn things very quickly. It's just phenomenal.
At the same time, he's truly an intellectual and has always been very interested in figuring out why physical gestures bring out certain results, how music works. And for a project like this where we're trying to take a lot of things which musicians often take for granted, how do you express phrases through the bowing, how do changes in pitch convey little different bits of meaning? It's not obvious when you stop to think about that how you can break that down, let's say, in an engineering way so that you can teach that to a computer. And Yo-Yo is one of the few people I know who is such a great performer and also is both interested and capable of thinking through those problems.
One of the side problems of that, because of the fact that he's so naturally gifted, is that in the early stages of the project when our hypercello was pretty lousy, actually, it didn't feel good, didn't sound good, we could give him anything that we'd come up with. The original things looked like black pieces of plastic and they sounded like electric guitars. And he'd come into the studio and we'd say, okay, Yo-Yo, is this good enough? What do you think about it? And he'd sort of play it and play some Bach suites on it and say, oh, yeah, it's great. Feels wonderful.
So in some ways he wasn't so demanding because he could play anything. But he was very, very easy to trade ideas with.
SCHWARTZ: So did he actually affect the composition of the piece while you were working on it? Or was that separate in some way?
MACHOVER: I actually don't think he affected the actual composition. But I think since we were talking about it while I was writing it, I think he did make me aware of certain things that I'd put in the piece. For instance, when we had the first rehearsal where there was actually a bit of a few themes here and there. I'm a cellist myself, and when he started playing through the piece, he said, you know, this reminds me-- maybe you didn't think of this-- but it reminds me of the second solo suite by Bach for cello in D minor.
And when he said that, I realized that in many ways he was true. It wasn't just in the kind of feel of it. But in the tonality my piece also centered around D. In the sense the piece is called "Begin Again Again," and it's a set of variations. It's kind of about the performer trying to break out of a certain mold. He keeps trying to have the melodies go up, and they keep turning around and going down. And there's a kind of circular process like that in the Bach.
And when he put his finger on that, I don't know that it changed the rest of the way I wrote it, but it definitely clarified what I was working on. And I never in a million years would have thought of that, for instance.
SCHWARTZ: Have you performed this piece now at this point?
MACHOVER: Yeah, not for too many people, but. Also, I must say, I've written other cello pieces, which I do perform. One thing about this piece is that, because he's such a great virtuoso, I didn't kind of restrain myself in terms of how difficult the piece was, which was really a problem when I decided to perform it myself. It was quite a bit harder than what I usually write. And another thing is that, since I knew it was for Yo-Yo, somebody who tours a lot and also learns many different pieces, I really wanted to write a piece where this hyperinstrument would really do something new but also would feel incredibly natural, would not be so hard for him to learn how to make the transition from normal cello playing to this different kind of instrument. So it was a certain way that I changed it because it was for him.
SCHWARTZ: The reason we're here, you're here, is that you're both on the faculty at MIT. And John, how do you see yourself fitting into musical, cultural, academic life at MIT?
HARBISON: Well, the simplest answer is, of course, that I don't fit in.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
There's more to it, though. The idea of fitting in is, in some situations, terrific. And for someone like Barry Vercoe or Tod, the resources of MIT are obviously phenomenal. For me, the resource of MIT was really the difference, that is, the sense of not fitting in was, at least for a lot of my life, tremendously salutary for me. I've always loved that feeling. And even probably begins back at the time I told my parents I wanted to compose an orchestra piece one summer and they sent me to baseball camp.
MACHOVER: Did you write the piece anyway?
HARBISON: I did. I did. But I think some of us who started out here in music at MIT a long time ago in Klaus [? Lipan's ?] days were aware that though the core of us were the kind of musicians that Ellen described of sort of Stone Age technology, with not even mechanical pencils, you know. We were aware that MIT would need to develop in directions appropriate to the resources of MIT. And that was part of what-- one of the first things I did at MIT was participate in the search for Barry Vercoe, who came and started the computer music at MIT. And I think Tod's first appearance here was in the summer course that Barry held for a number of summers here.
We also saw fairly early on that we needed to go in the direction of world music. And we began, actually, in the mid-'70s and that direction. So I think some of us who are of the dead white male persuasion, of which I've been told I was already part, have in some more or less visionary way tried to see how the resources of MIT could connect to the arts as well as preserving a place for some of us who are obviously involved in doing essentially what I was thinking of when I was five years old, which is adding some pieces to a repertoire, which at that age I already thought was extraordinary. And I've stayed so interested, really, in string quartets and orchestral music that that's really where I expect I'll probably wind up.
But MIT is incredibly hospitable to all kinds of activity in the arts. And our students are extraordinarily diverse. Some of them really just want to learn how to play a Schubert trio, and others really want to find out on day one how the computer can help them as artists. And I think that that diversity is something that we're trying to, with the resources we have, we're trying to respond to here.
SCHWARTZ: Do you have any impulse or temptation to take advantage of the electronic facilities here in your own music?
HARBISON: Well, in 1971, I think it was, I rented the largest Hammond organ I could find, and I wrote a piece called "Bermuda Triangle" for amplified cello, Hammond organ, and amplified saxophone. And using those draw bars, I felt like I was in my own computer studio. And I was very excited. I really thought that was the direction I was going to go.
But my one early experience in the very early days of the computer studio, I think I was environmentally somewhat averse to the smallness of the rooms and so forth. I don't think that's true anymore. People work in nicer environments. But I may be at this point so filled with projects in what we call the acoustic world, which when I started out was-- I was amazed to be told I played an acoustic piano a few years ago. I always thought it was a-- that I may be occupied that way to such a degree that I may never wind up. I always have in the back of my mind I should really try this out. And every once in a while when I see Tod he says, come over and we'll plug you in.
SCHWARTZ: I think your role here is more expected and understandable. What do you do? Tell us some of the things that you do here. You do more than just compose music.
MACHOVER: Yeah, well, most of you probably know about the Media Laboratory, which is one of the newer parts of MIT. It opened up in 1985. And the Media Laboratory has kind of as a central goal to find ways of making technology so that it responds more to what human beings want to do, either in communication or in expression. And hopefully to find ways of developing new forms of what might be expressed when the technology and the tools change.
So it's true. I try to-- it's funny. As John says, he has projects for quite a while now that, because of what he's already written and because of his interests, are acoustic projects. I think because I'm at MIT and because I work so much with technology, most of the projects that I see coming my way are projects that involve more technology.
I sometimes-- before I came to MIT, I used to sort of work for a couple of years with new technology. And then I always wanted to take a break. In fact, I have a new CD coming out soon with one piece for piano and computer and another very large piece for piano all by itself. And I don't do that so much anymore, and I sometimes miss it.
But one thing that we do at the Media Lab is we do big projects to make different kinds of music and art pieces that involve technology. We also spend a lot of time thinking about the technology, the tools themselves, that can be used by musicians. For instance, I mean, for John, I think in some ways this technology is terrific right now, but it has so far to go. It really isn't quite at a stage yet where John would probably be satisfied with it, quite honestly. I mean, there's just so much to do to make technology be as sophisticated as traditional instruments, both in the way they sound and the way they feel.
One thing that-- I teach at the Media Laboratory. I give a two-term course. The first course is kind of everything you've always wanted to know or maybe not know about computers and music and technology. And the second term is a project course, which is kind of interesting. One thing that I find at MIT is that all the students I -- I really mean this-- the students are the most open-minded, intelligent, and kind of nice people that I've met anywhere. They're really-- no, they're fabulous.
They also have incredibly different backgrounds. And especially when you find people coming to a music class, nobody knows the same thing. Many people have bits of things they've specialized in. But since they haven't been to conservatory, they've often played an instrument, and they've done a lot of their science, they're often-- sort of, I see them almost as pieces of a puzzle. When you put them all together, you have an enormous amount of knowledge.
So I sort of go out of my way when I choose people for my class to pick people who are very different from each other. I usually pick people who are both graduate students and undergraduates, people who are engineers, and hardware builders, and composers, and performers, and sometimes visual artists. And in the second semester we often end up doing things which I don't think really could be done anywhere else.
My students just this last weekend put on-- the idea was to find a new form of concert where there were no performers and the public who came in were the performers. And we took a big, open space at the Media Laboratory and designed something with a whole set of new instruments where people came in with no instructions, no guides to tell them what to do. And by using their voices and by using their gestures, they became part of this music piece.
And it was incredible because it was all done by students. All I really did was teach them what they needed to know to do it and then kind of managed the project. But all the work was theirs. And it really stacks up to anything of that-- if you think of interactive entertainment and where Hollywood is going, this is an example of how that can be done with kind of substance. And I can't imagine that really being done anywhere else.
SCHWARTZ: How rapidly is the technology itself changing?
MACHOVER: It goes in fits and starts. The huge change in music technology happened about 10 years ago, really literally 10 years ago, when three things happened at the same time. It was the big boom of the personal computer, so all of a sudden you could get your own computer without a lot of money. The second thing is Yamaha in particular bought the patent for a way of making computer music very cheaply. It was developed at Stanford. They bought the patent. And all of a sudden computer synthesizers came out. Then instead of only being in places like MIT and Stanford, you could buy for $1,000.
And the third thing, which was remarkable, is that all the people making these computer music instruments developed a standard way of basically a cable called MIDI of hooking together any computer and any synthesizer to send computer information back and forth. So all of a sudden computer music, instead of becoming kind of an abstruse thing, became something which is so common that even if you don't know it, probably all of you listen to computer music all the time in Hollywood film scores and most advertising and more and more classical music.
What we all found in the last few years is that that was also very constraining. And now there's a whole new revolution where basically, especially because of interactive entertainment, you know, what you see happening with communication companies and cable companies and computer companies and the whole Hollywood industry, all trying to figure out what it is they're going to do together. I've never seen a period of such rapid change as in the last six months or so, not only in terms of people investing in new interactive entertainment, but trying to figure out what to do.
And it's one of the first times I've seen where we at the Academy have had to be incredibly fast on our feet to think of new ideas because there are very smart people in the commercial world who are thinking of stuff every day. And a lot of it's at least as good as what we're doing. So it's a very stimulating time, I think. It's changing very, very fast right now.
SCHWARTZ: Do you have any questions for each other?
HARBISON: Well, we can talk to each other here at MIT.
SCHWARTZ: But not in public. In that case, I think we're hungry, and we've had a rich morning. Thank you very much.
MACHOVER: I guess you're right.
HARRIS: If I could have your indulgence and attention just for a moment, please, we will get to lunch, I promise you. I feel a little bit like a camp counselor. However, there are a few announcements that I would like to make about this afternoon's programs. Very briefly, I promise.
One is that-- now remember, the workshops for those of you who will be here are from 3:00 to 5:00 this afternoon after lunch. On this stage will be the sing-along with John Oliver, who will be conducting "Jesu, meine Freude." All of you who have acoustic voices are welcome to come and give this a try. This is something that the alums have asked us to do for years. We're going to do it this year and hope that some of you will come on stage.
In your program booklets it says that, during this workshop, a videotape of John Harbison's Yo-Yo Ma concerto will be played. Of course, you have just seen it, and it will not be played again this afternoon in Kresge. I wanted you to know that.
I also must announce with very deep and personal regret the sad news of Professor Muriel Cooper's unexpected passing last week. She was one of the speakers who was expected to speak at another workshop this afternoon, the one at the Media Laboratory entitled Arts [? Bytes. ?] However, members of her laboratory have stepped forward enthusiastically and generously so that the work from the Visible Language Workshop will still be presented at the Media Lab this afternoon.
The other workshops are a workshop on theater, which we will be able to participate and view an ongoing rehearsal of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Downstairs in Little Theatre from 3:00 to 5:00, a creative writing workshop in Killian Hall, where you will hear MIT faculty read from their recent work, including Alan Lightman reading from his New York Times bestseller Einstein's Dreams. And Bill Mitchell will have a chance to talk this afternoon at a workshop on design, New Directions, which will be held across the street.
Don't forget, for those of you who are in town, there will be tours tomorrow morning at 9:30 and 10:30 at the MIT Museum and the List Visual Arts Center of current exhibitions. There will be tours of the new biology building at 9:30 and 10:30, leaving from the Wiesner Building. There will be a tour at 10 o'clock of the outdoor sculpture collection at MIT, which has been named the best in New England.
Tomorrow afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00, there will be the opening of the Center of Advanced Visual Studies' 25th anniversary retrospective exhibition at the MIT Museum. And Sunday afternoon, for those of you in town, the spectacular opportunity to hear a performance of AR Gurney's love letters. Gurney, who has been a member of our faculty for many years, with the parts read by Gurney himself and Kitty Carlisle Hart, who has been a member of the Council for the Arts at MIT since its founding in 1971. I thank you all for participating in this View of the Arts at MIT, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your reunion weekend.