With a long, lazy weekend stretching in front of us, John and I decided on Saturday that we ought to do something cultural. Being cheap, we searched through our guide on how to get the most out of Boston for the least money (a book we love, Brenda and Tom!) and found that if we made it into Central square by noon, we could get into the MIT museum for free. Cheap enough for us!
Fortified with fresh cinnamon buns and orange juice, we took the train into Cambridge and managed to arrive at the museum at 11:45 along with a small wave of parents and kids who had the same idea we did. The first floor is also something of an acoustic nightmare that requires the solemnity of an art museum, which means that John and I tried listening to a number of the audio descriptions of the work on display only to look at each other and say, “Nope, I didn’t hear a word of that one either.”
It got better when the wave of kids got bored and moved upstairs to the more fascinating displays. We were able to see some neat technology, regardless of the noise—enough to convince me that MIT is the school I wish I were smart enough to go to. Among the projects on display were some amazing work with holographic laser imaging and a prototype for a “second skin” spacesuit which, clearly designed for a fit female astronaut, also deserved the title “sexy spacesuit.”
The truly intriguing displays, however, were upstairs in the robotics and holography galleries and the display of Arthur Ganson’s work. The robotics work is fascinating, especially the work going on with creating the motion of walking and running and hopping, but I had to restrain myself as we left the robotics section. They offer paper and colored pencils and a wall for kids to share their vision of what the future might look like with robots in it. I did not think the museum staff or parents would be appreciative of a massive mound of dead bodies being used to fuel the power plants for the new robot overlords…
Ahem. Anyway, the holographs—including an amusingly cheeky presentation of a woman who blows a kiss at you as you walk by—were a nifty collection of laser art ranging from straight up portraits to shape studies to abstract art, and the trip would have been worthwhile to see them alone. The real highlight, however, was the Ganson stuff.
Arthur Ganson‘s work is largely delicate, ethereal-industrial kinetic sculpture, most of which leaves you feeling caught between childish wonder and the existential crisis typical of the post-modern world. It is hard to put into words, and perhaps even harder to capture in a still picture. All the same, I was surprised that John, fascinated by kinetic sculpture as he is, did not even reach for his camera once. Although I understood the difficulty of getting a good shot and his uncertainty about whether photography was allowed, this is also the man who took approximately two hundred photos of waves on our honeymoon.
When we left the museum some time around two, glutted with interesting science and odd facts about MIT, we started reading off restaurant signs with names that sound funny if you say them over and over again. One sign made us laugh especially hard, and John whipped out his camera to snap a picture of it. The name? Pu Pu Hot Pot.
All I can say is that our photo album may not reflect our cultural experiences quite accurately…