The Center for Advanced Visual Studies, founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by György Kepes in 1967, was designed as a nexus of collaborative experimentation between artists, scientists, and engineers. Artists were brought to MIT from around the world to engage with the broader MIT community and bring about what Kepes described as the “absorption of the new technology as an artistic medium; the interaction of artists, scientists, engineers, and industry; the raising of the scale of work to the scale of the urban setting; media geared to all sensory modalities, incorporation of natural processes…and acceptance of the participation of ‘spectators’ in such a way that art becomes a confluence.” Under the leadership of Kepes and his successor, Otto Piene, the Center became a pioneering force of transdisciplinarity whose principles have become a foundation of practice and inspiration in today’s art-science-technology ventures. Ultimately, CAVS would merge with MIT’s Visual Arts Program to form the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), which now manages the legacy materials in the CAVS Special Collection, and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of CAVS during the 2017-2018 academic year.
CAVS fellows, 'MONOCLE.' Collaborative light and sound work. Yeshiva University Museum, New York, 1987. Photo: Walter Dent.