Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Visual Studies records
Scope and Contents
The collection document boxes contain documents covering the administrative records and facilities of the Center, its projects, individuals associated with the CAVS, correspondence, academic programming, publicity from events and exhibitions, and images of individuals, projects, and events. The collection also contains audio and videotape, as well as works on paper, which include portfolios of collaborative work and posters that trace the history of Center events, exhibitions, and academic programming.
- 1962 - 2009
Conditions Governing Access
This collection must be reviewed to identify any restricted material before access can be granted. Please submit your requests at least ten business days before your desired visit to allow time for this review. An archivist will respond within five business days.
Conditions Governing Use
Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.
The Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967 by Professor György Kepes. Kepes first arrived at MIT in 1946 to teach visual communications. Kepes’ arrival found MIT focused primarily on engineering and science, and not art. He noted that new directions in the world of art would rely on scientific expertise, and proposed that artists and scientists could bring a sense of balance to each others’ fields. This was a core concept behind the founding of the Center, which was ultimately dedicated in 1968 with the Center for Theoretical Physics.
Kepes’ goals for the Center included emphasizing collaborative across previously disparate fields in order to seek out the potential of emerging technologies in the process of creating works of art on a civic scale. To this end, artists, scientists, engineers, and designers would be selected to come to the Center as fellows, and pursue both individual and collaborative projects. Many of the first generation of CAVS Fellows focused on techniques and technologies such as light art and kinetic sculpture.
In 1974, the first international CAVS Fellow, Otto Piene, took over the role of director after Kepes’ retirement. Piene would direct the Center for 20 years until his own retirement in 1994. Piene’s leadership saw a new era of CAVS- a formalization of the academic program as the Master of Science in Visual Studies became MIT’s first graduate degree in the arts. CAVS Fellows took part in more frequent and higher profile projects, such as the Centerbeam kinetic sculpture featured at documenta 6 in 1977 and again on the National Mall at Washington, DC in 1978. The Center also hosted a series of conferences on Sky Art (a term coined by Piene to describe projects using the sky and space as a canvas and/or medium) in the 1980s. During Piene’s tenure, the scope of technologies explored by CAVS Fellows broadened to include steam, laser, holography, environmental sculpture, computer graphics and animation, video, laserdisc, sound, performance, dance, and more.
Following Piene’s retirement, CAVS had a series of directors that included previous Fellow and Director of Projects Elizabeth Goldring, Professor and Fellow Paul Earls, holographer Steve Benton, and Krzyzstof Wodiczko.
In 2010, MIT merged the Center with the Visual Arts Program (VAP) to form the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT).
194 Linear Feet (186 containers)
Language of Materials
The Center for Advanced Visual Studies special collection is the repository of a 42 year history of collaborative and time-based productions generated by or related to the tenure of over 200 internationally recognized artist-fellows. The materials include moving images in various time based media, posters and artists’ prints, photographs, and over 130 feet of documents including artists’ notes, sketches, and correspondence. Materials concern the processes and productions of artists including György Kepes, Aldo Tambellini, Stan van der Beek, Charlotte Moorman, Antoni Muntadas, Nam June Paik, Otto Piene, Yvonne Rainer, Maryanne Amacher, Alan Sonfist, Takis, Jack Burnham, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Judith Barry, and John Malpede.
The collection is arranged into three series:
Series 1 - Materials from CAVS Fellows, Series 2 - Administrative Records, Series 3 - Audiovisual Materials.
Digital files in the collection have been arranged intellectually with physical materials in topical series. When accessing the digital files they will reflect the original arrangement as presented on transfer.
Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.
Materials were originally held in the Archive at the Art, Culture, and Technology program at MIT and were transferred to Distinctive Collections in January 2023.
Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.
- Art -- Study and teaching Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Art and photography Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Art and science Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Computer art Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Graphic arts -- Technique -- Study and teaching. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Science and the arts. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- clippings (information artifacts) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- collections (object groupings) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- digital art (visual works) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001 (CAVS Founder and Director 1967-1974) (Person)
- Piene, Otto, 1928-2014 (CAVS Fellow 1968-1974, CAVS Director 1974-1994) (Person)
- Abel, Alan, 1924-2018 (CAVS Visiting Artist 2008-2009) (Person)
- Ackerman, Diane (poet) (Person)
- Adrian, Marc, 1930 – 2008 (CAVS Fellow 1980-1982) (Person)
- Allen, Rebecca, 1954- (CAVS Visiting Artist 2000) (Person)
- Akahori, Mitsunobu, 1932- (CAVS Visiting Fellow 1972) (Person)
- 16BEAVER (1999-) (group, CAVS Visiting Artist) (Organization)
- Alexenberg, Melvin L., 1937- (CAVS Fellow 1980-1982, 1984-1987) (Person)
- Amacher, Maryanne, 1938-2009 (CAVS Fellow 1972-1975) (Person)
- Bacon, Karin, 1940- (CAVS Fellow 1975-1977) (Person)
- Baker, Ken (CAVS Research Affiliate 1970) (Person)
- Baladi, Roland, 1942- (CAVS Fellow 1978) (Person)
- Navarro Baldeweg, Juan, 1939- (CAVS Fellow 1971-1975) (Person)
- Begleiter, Eric, 1958- (CAVS Student 1982-1984, CAVS Fellow 1984-1985) (Person)
- Bell, John, 1962- (Puppeteer, CAVS Visiting Artist 2006-2007, CAVS Fellow 2007-2009) (Person)
- Benoff, Mitch, 1946- (CAVS Fellow 1979-1980, CAVS Student 1991-1993, CAVS Research Affiliate 1993-1995) (Person)
- Benton, James, 1969- (CAVS Research Specialist 1998) (Person)
- Benton, Stephen A., 1941-2003 (CAVS Director 1996-2003) (Person)
- Bernard, Michael, 1926- (CAVS Fellow 1983-1985) (Person)
- Bichajian, Nishan, 1913-2013 (CAVS Staff Photographer 1968-1981) (Person)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Advanced Visual Studies (Organization)
- Guide to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Visual Studies records
- In Progress
- Jeremy Grubman
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2022 November 30: Revised by Thera Webb to remove aggrandizing language and update box numbers
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