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When Andrea Frank came to MIT in 2003, she found exactly what she expected, and more: World-class minds were conducting cutting-edge research throughout the Institute, and they would eagerly discuss their work when she asked them about it.
A photographer and lecturer in architecture, Frank set out in 2005 to weave together those voices and faces in a collective portrait. Two year later, the result is "Visions: MIT Interviews," a book of Frank's photographs and interviews with 33 MIT professors and researchers.
An exhibition of the work opens with a reception and book launch at 5 p.m. tonight (March 18) at the MIT Museum's Mark Epstein Innovation Gallery, 265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge.
Frank had a larger vision for "Visions," one that transcends MIT's boundaries.
"We're facing a difficult moment in history. Urgent global challenges are now converging on the human race, and I wanted to learn how MIT researchers looked at the world's problems," she said in an interview at MIT. "'Visions' was designed to illuminate where we are now and where we may be going."
Frank used economical means to achieve her goals for the book and exhibit. All 33 interviews were recorded and based on the same four topics--current work; recent changes in the interviewee's field; the global context of current research in that field and its possible implications, including any downsides.
Frank photographed each subject in "Visions" in his or her office, using a Nikon D2x with a wide-angle zoom lens and relying on natural light.
"'Visions' was full of unexpected, super-interesting tangents. I had material for many more books," Frank said.
The March 18 event is funded by the Associate Provost's Office.
"Visions" was edited by Jerry Adler and produced at the MIT Visual Arts Program. It was funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT and supported through a grant by the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Fund at MIT.