Former MIT lecturer robs bank

Former MIT lecturer robs bank

Former lecturer Joseph Gibbons, who taught in MIT’s Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program from 2002 to 2010, was arrested last Thursday after robbing a bank and recording the experience with a pink-and-silver video camera for a film project. Gibbons approached a teller at a Capital One branch in New York’s Bowery with a note that read, “This is a robbery. Large bills. No dye packs/ No GPS,” and fled after taking roughly $1000, according to press reports.

Gibbons is wanted for a similar heist in Rhode Island, where he told the teller that it was “for the church.” He was held on $50,000 cash bail for the New York heist, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for April 14, according to the Boston Herald.

Gibbons told the New York Post that he draws inspiration from French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who “believed a poet had to descend into the depths of all that was bad and report back,” saying that his actions have been “one long project about discovering the disenfranchised portions of society.”

He also told the Post, “What got me over the final hurdle was the desperation of not having any money and not having a place to stay, not having anything to eat, that’s what gave me the final desperation to do it.”

Joe Zane, also a former MIT ACT lecturer who worked alongside Gibbons, described him as “very eccentric” but “extremely smart” and believes that Gibbons was “just trying to get some good footage,” as reported in the Herald.

Gibbons has received several awards and fellowships from arts foundations including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and his works have been displayed at a variety of museums and shows such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Rotterdam Film Festival. He focuses on creative film and video that is “rooted in autobiography,” according to his profile, which is currently available on the ACT website.

—Sanjana Srivastava