The room is bubbling with conversation and an easygoing vibe as I walk into 56-114, where Comparative Media Studies regularly hosts its Thursday evening Colloquium. Students get shuffled to the front by CMS’s own William Uricchio, who exclaims that “it’s going to be a conversation.” The seats end up filling up to the back anyway, and with some unruly air conditioning, we’re all getting a bit cozy before the conversation starts. Later we’ll find out that “cozy” is often what director Guy Maddin strives for in his film practice, so perhaps it’s just as well.
I had never been in MIT LIST’s project exhibition room before. It was smaller than I expected, and yet somehow this almost claustrophobic quality lent itself to Ann Hirsch’s work. The darkened room was illuminated by the screens dotted about the walls, and the tiny crackles from the adjacent headphones were sporadically drowned out by the main speakers. With white fur rugs and black bean bags on the floor, it was easy to attach oneself to a screen and become immersed. This learned transportational quality of screens — our ability to willfully submit to their immaterial reality and allow it to transcend our surroundings — became more visible and reflexive as I explored each piece.