How two years at the MIT Media Lab changed a student’s perspective of her art in the world
By Ani Liu
Memories of my first visit to the Media Lab are still freshly imprinted in my mind. Beyond the fabulous research that occurs there, the architecture of the Lab itself inspires wonder. Upon passing through its glass threshold and silver facade, you traverse a gleaming atrium six stories high. Riding the glass elevator, you catch glimpses of the enigmatic frenzy of creative work within. You might see a lab filled entirely with LEGO blocks, a drone painting a portrait, students stumbling inside their own virtual reality creations, or people in lab coats printing something enormous and organic, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. From my first visit, my heart filled with desire, wonder, and a deep intuition that I needed to study at the Media Lab.
When I applied, I felt it was a long shot but a worthwhile gamble. Every day for two years, I was immersed in my dream job: thinking deeply about technology and making art to express it. But soon after I started, I totally shifted my focus. Initially, I’d believed my path would be to continue my research in human-computer symbiosis, sculpting worlds in augmented and virtual reality, and designing extensions to our bodies and our sensorium. Instead, I filled my lab with bacteria, carnivorous plants, perfumes, microscopes, EEG headsets, and sperm. Yep, sperm—I’ll explain that later in this post.