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Andrea Frank
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Visiting Professor at the MIT Visual Arts Program

What are you working on here at MIT, or in general?

I usually work on a number of different projects at the same time. Some projects are at the very beginning stages of production, others are in the middle, and still others are ready to be shown. I’ve been involved with MIT, in different relationships and in different periods, since 1977. In a sense, I consider it my alma mater. I have always found it to be a good source and place for dialogue. The environment is unique and we who teach here have privileged access to information. Therefore, over the years I have developed many projects here, most of which have been interdisciplinary in their inception and growth.

In 1979, I developed a project called Subjectivity. It consisted of a book and videotape about TV and was exhibited at the Hayden Gallery as an installation. That was about the interpretation of images. The images I used were taken from mass media––from LIFE magazine, actually. I sent letters with photographs to 250 people in different parts of the world and asked each of them to write a subtitle, or caption, for the picture. The result was a book called Subjectivity: 50 Photographs from the Best of Life. It was published here at MIT and is an examination of how an image can be subjectively interpreted in so many different ways by different people in different parts of the world. At the end of the book I included the original captions, photography credits, and names of the contributors.

More recently, I have produced a number of separate projects all connected to the idea of translation. In this case, MIT’s main function was to serve as a base for research. One project, On Translation: Fear/Miedo, was produced at the border between Tijuana and San Diego. It is part of the larger On Translation series, which grew out of my interest to show how we live in a totally translated world. I’m not talking about translation from one language to another, but translation in terms of cultures, economics, societies, politics, and of course, media. Perhaps this project gives a better sense of the kind of work I’m doing now.

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Andrea Frank