MLTalks: Theo Jansen in conversation with Neri Oxman and Trevor Smith
MLTalks: Theo Jansen in conversation with Neri Oxman and Trevor Smith
Date and time: 
Sep 10 15 3:00pm - 5:00pm

Theo Jansen first came to prominence in 1980 when he flew a "UFO" across the skies of Delft, Holland. For the past 20 years Jansen has been creating and exhibiting his dramatic, kinetic Strandbeests. He has appeared on multiple TED Talks, been the subject of a profile in The New Yorker and shown his work in Asia, Europe and now the United States. A trained physicist, Jansen’s Strandbeests bridge the gap between art and engineering, attracting a broad array of followers: from engineers, biologists, and philosophers, to environmentalists, writers and makers.

Designer Neri Oxman is the Sony Corporation Career Development and associate professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded and directs the Mediated Matter research group. Her group explores how digital design and fabrication technologies mediate between matter and environment to radically transform the design and construction of objects, buildings, and systems. Oxman coined the term “material ecology” to describe the study and design of products and processes integrating environmentally aware, computational, form-generation processes and digital fabrication. Her goal is to enhance the relationship between the built and the natural environments by employing design principles inspired by nature, and implementing them in the invention of novel digital design technologies. Areas of application include product and architectural design, as well as digital fabrication and construction. Oxman was named to ICON's list of the 20 most influential architects to shape our future (2009), and was selected as one of the “100 most creative people” by Fast Company (2009). In 2008, she was named "Revolutionary Mind" by SEED Magazine. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA (NYC) and is part of the museum's permanent collection. In 2012 the Centre Georges Pompidou Museum (Paris, France) acquired her works for its permanent collection. Other exhibitions include the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, DC), Museum of Science (Boston, MA), FRAC Collection (Orleans, France), and the 2010 Beijing Biennale. She is included in prestigious private collections and has received numerous awards including a 40 Under 40 Building Design + Construction Award (2012), a Graham Foundation Carter Manny Award (2008), the International Earth Award for Future-Crucial Design (2009), and a METROPOLIS Next Generation Award (2009). Oxman received her PhD in design computation as a Presidential Fellow at MIT, where she developed the theory and practice of material-based design computation. In this approach, the shaping of material structure is conceived of as a novel form of computation. Prior to studying at MIT, she earned her diploma from the Architectural Association (RIBA 2) after attending the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the Department of Medical Sciences at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Trevor Smith is PEM’s Curator of the Present Tense. Prior to joining the Peabody Essex, Smith was Curator in Residence at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College where in 2006 he co-curated Wrestle, the inaugural exhibition at the Hessel Museum and in 2007 presented is Martin Creed: Feelings, the first large-scale survey of this artist’s work. From 2003-2006 he was Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City where, among other projects he co-curated the widely acclaimed exhibition Andrea Zittel: Critical Space and presented a major survey of the work of Brian Jungen. From 1992-2003 he was based in Australia where he worked first at the Biennale of Sydney, then as Director of the Canberra Contemporary Art Space, and from 1997-2003 as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Trevor has produced over fifty exhibitions and has published widely in exhibition catalogues and journals in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Photo: Lena Herzog