May 17, 2010

MIT Sea Grant collaborates with artist Tavares Strachan on his major solo exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center through July 11, 2010.

MIT SEA GRANT AND LIST VISUAL ART CENTER COLLABORATION
MIT Sea Grant (collaborates with artists and cultural organizations in order to amplify the themes of MIT Sea Grant’s work. By collaborating with artists who use MIT Sea Grant technology, theory or research, we are able to reach audiences who might not otherwise come in contact with our work.

The List Visual Arts Center's residency program enables contemporary artists to engage with MIT’s students, faculty and staff to develop new ideas and new works of art. At the start of his residency, Strachan identified MIT Sea Grant as one of the programs and labs with which he was hoping to work. He was specifically interested in exploring the idea of creating an invisible autonomous or remotely operated vehicle from blown glass. MIT Sea Grant director, Chrys Chryssostomidis, met with Strachan in June of 2009 and introduced him to the engineers at the MITSG Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Lab. Research engineer, Mike Soroka, took the lead on Strachan’s glass submersible project.

CREATING THE GLASS ROV
After considering multiple designs and materials, Soroka and Strachan came up with a borosilicate (Pyrex) glass remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with a single electric motor controlling the vertical movement of the vehicle and an “offstage box” for all the components that could not be made from glass – computers, power supply, and pumps. Borosilicate glass was chosen for its optical properties which are similar to the optical properties of mineral oil, the fluid in which the vehicle be immersed. If they succeeded creating the vehicle as planned, the ROV would all but disappear inside its tank.

The result of this collaboration, the glass ROV, titled Purplish Blue Light, 2010, is now on view through July 11 as part of Strachan’s major solo exhibition at the List, Orthostatic Tolerance: It Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea if I Never Went Home (“Orthostatic” means to stand upright, and “tolerance” refers to the ability to withstand pressure). Combined, the phrase refers to the physiological stress that cosmonauts and deep-sea explorers endure while exiting, and re-entering our home, the thin surface of planet Earth. The vehicle floats and bobs in a glass tank of mineral oil as planned, its movement governed by live streaming data on wave period, frequency and amplitude from a NOAA buoy that is scaled for the size of the tank. Soroka commented of his experience working with Strachan, “I love doing this as it was an awesome challenge; it forced me to think about things you’ve always thought about in a new way, relative to the bigger picture.”

THE EXHIBITION AND RELATED PROGRAMS
The exhibit opened May 6th with a panel discussion featuring Strachan, Soroka, and the other MIT researchers with whom Strachan collaborated including Dava Newman, Professor I the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Associate Professor George Barbastathis, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering's 3D Optical Systems Group. A special gallery talk is planned for K-12 marine educators. MITSG Marine Educator, Sarah Hammond and List Visual Art Center educator, Mark Linga, will team up to talk about the value of teaching science and art hand-in-hand.

ABOUT TAVARES STRACHAN
Tavares Strachan, a young artist whose work has been covered in the Art in America, the New York Times, and Art Forum among others, was born in 1979 in Nassau, Bahamas and is based in New York. Orthostatic Tolerance: It Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea if I Never Went Home is part of a multiphase body of work that explores space and deep-sea training.

Support for Orthostatic Tolerance: It Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea if I Never Went Home was provided to the List Visual Arts Center by The National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency, the Nimoy Foundation, the Council for the Arts at MIT, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Media sponsor: Phoenix Media/Communications Group.

For immediate release: May 13, 2010 Contact: Nancy Adams email: nadamsx@mit.edu Call: 617 253-9305 ###

Contact: Nancy Adams
MIT Sea Grant College Program
Mail to: 77 Massachusetts Avenue, E38-300, Cambridge, MA 02139
To visit: 292 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02140
http://seagrant.mit.edu/

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The glass ROV on display at MIT's List Visual Arts Center (Photograph courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center.)

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