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Schnitzer Prize Winners! by ARTalk

[by Ken Haggerty '11] Buildings with eyes, a drum for the people, and a house that walks—all here at MIT.

[by Ken Haggerty ’11]

It’s summer! Which means that yet another academic year is completed, and as such, it’s also the time of year that MIT doles out various awards and honors to those who’ve made significant contributions to MIT life, culture, and academics.

In the realm of [email protected], this means recognizing the winners of the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts. So without further ado:


FIRST PRIZE: Richard The (G)
SECOND PRIZE: Jaekyung Jung (G)
THIRD PRIZE: Sam Kronick ’10

Last Friday I had the chance to check out all three recipients’ art as part of the annual exhibit of Schnitzer Prize winners at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery in the MIT Student Center.

Richard The (G)

Appeel (Richard The)     Omnivisu (Richard The)
ABOVE: “Appeel” (left) and “Omnivisu” (right) by Richard The (G). (Photos provided by Richard The)

Richard is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab and is a part of an art collective called The Green Eyl, named after three of its five members (Richard The, Gunnar Green, and Frédéric Eyl, + Dominik Schumacher & Willy Sengewald). As part of the Schnitzer exhibit, Richard showcased three of his pieces. The first, “Appeel,” was a large wall covered in peelable orange stickers. Viewers were allowed to peel, replace, and take the stickers as pleased, resulting in an ever-changing amalgam of graffiti, text, and images, all made from the presence or absence of the stickers. The wall has been displayed at a bunch of venues, including the famous Ars Electronica. When it was shown at Ars Electronica, some people even took the stickers with them and replaced them thousands of miles away. Richard told me that when he was in London, he found one of the stickers on a street sign. It’s a kind of viral art, so to speak.

Another of Richard’s pieces was “Omnivisu,” a temporary installation atop an interchange station in Berlin. The piece allowed an observer to look into a box which would then project the observer’s eyes onto the exterior windows of the currently-vacant office space which had once been owned by Narva, a light-bulb manufacturer and company that was part of Berlin’s “new economy boom.” The piece gave a literal face to the building that gazed out over the city at night, using the eyes of the city’s inhabitants. That’s pretty cool.

Richard’s last piece (not pictured here, unfortunately) was a giant mural assembled on a plaza using pennies, which was really beautiful and intricate. After the mural was unveiled, people were allowed to interact with the piece much like “Appeel,” but apparently a concerned citizen later called the police, who then came over and swept the piece away in an odd effort to preserve it.

Jaekyung Jung (G)

Video Piece (Jaekyung Jung)     Hit Here If You Feel Victimized (Jaekyung Jung)
ABOVE: A video piece (left) and “Hit Here If You Feel Victimized” (right) by Jaekyung Jung (G). (Photos provided by Jaekyung Jung)

Jaekyung is a student in MIT’s graduate program in visual arts (formerly VAP, now ACT). He showed two pieces at the Schnitzer exhibit. The first, an untitled video piece (or at least, I didn’t catch the title) is a six-screen video of Jaekyung listening to comedy programs in six different languages (as rated by his friends). The video shows his reactions to the programs. For most, the expressions are subtle–more reflections of an appreciation that something funny is happening without understanding the precise nature of the joke. In the bottom left screen, Jaekyung listens and reacts to a Korean comedy program, and as a native Korean, you can immediately see the difference in reactions. Jaekyung told me that the piece reflects how he feels when trying to integrate in America. Headphones are provided so that you can listen along. I wish there was a mirror, though, so that the observer could compare his/her reactions to that of Jaekyung while listening along.

Jaekyung’s second work was a performance art piece he did for a VAP class back in September of 2008. He and friends walked around Boston with a drum bearing the phrase “HIT HERE IF YOU FEEL VICTIMIZED.” Anyone who wanted to could come up and take a whack at the drum. I asked Jaekyung about the people he met. He told me that most struck the drum in good fun rather than in frustration, although there were a few who stood out, including a homeless veteran who, despite his good demeanor, may have felt a greater emotional relation to the piece. As Jaekyung notes, “The act of hitting the drum becomes the healing ritual.”

Sam Kronick ’10

Walkinghouse (Sam Kronick)     Microdot (Sam Kronick)
ABOVE: “Walkinghouse” (left) and “The Microdot” (right) by Sam Kronick ’10. (Photos provided by Sam Kronick)

Finally, the undergraduate! So I’m a bit biased, of course—both because it’s wonderful to see an MIT undergraduate doing art (and for fun!) and because, as a former architecture major, I’m acquaintances with Sam. Sam’s work is really awesome. “Walkinghouse,” which he did as part of N55, an artists’ collective in Copenhagen, is a modern day Conestoga wagon. It’s solar powered, surprisingly roomy, and even has a wood-burning stove. It reminds me of something Buckminster Fuller would dream up.

Sam’s other piece (his Senior thesis) was the Microdot, an impromptu “micro-nation” he organized this past spring on MIT’s McDermott Dot. In addition to founding the nation, he and fellow friends used the opportunity to conceive of a novel culture, history, and politic, based on Sam’s previous studies and various precedents. Once it’s all done and published, you should check out his documentation of the Microdot project, which should be available in one of MIT’s libraries for public viewing.

4 responses to “Schnitzer Prize Winners!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Guys, where do you find such cool ideas? smile
    And this second photo of Richard The – great!

  2. Justin says:

    ‘Appeel’ is ridiculously creative. Same goes for the projecting-eye thing. And Jaekyung’s video, and Walkinghouse. =)

    HIT HERE IF YOU FEEL VICTIMIZED should come with a warning to users at home: do not attempt if monitors are not insured.

  3. Genius ('18) says:

    That is AWESOME! The sculptures are so…(at a loss for words-AMAZINGLY THOUGHT PROVOKING…) Congrats to all the winners! My personal favorite is “Walkinghouse”.