Catalyst Conversations: Art + Science in Dialogue
MIT linguistics scholar Kai von Fintel joins noted artists to discuss the "Language of Forms"

detail, work by Matthew Brand 


                     Wednesday, May 1 | 6-7pm
                     Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
                     Monadnock Room | Reception to Follow



Articulating the "language of form" 
Artists are interested in language as a metaphor for complex systems (the language of form, the language of color, etc.). To an artist, the phrase "the language of form" is typically about how to assemble individual elements into complex, coherent wholes. Whereas for scientists, it's the opposite: they take a complex, whole system such as human language and break it down into its component parts to understand how each element contributes to the whole.
At the event, sponsored by The Catalyst Conversation, two artists and one scientist will present their viewpoints on the relationships of form (both visual and conceptual).  A discussion will follow on the similarities and differences that may exist in the way scientists and artists approach these concepts.

Cut-paper artist Randal Thurston creates intricate wall installations, which explore mythology, history, memory and science. He uses sources both scientific and art historical, striving to achieve an underlying structural harmony in his overarching desire to map the world of ideas. Scientist Matthew Brand studies perception, learning, and control — what is optimal; what compromises does nature make? In the studio he exploits nature’s shortcuts to create ”optimized illusions” of unexpected beauty. Noted MIT linguistics scholar Kai von Fintel is interested in meaning.

By bringing them together, the conversation will move into unchartered waters as Thurston and Brand present their individual projects and then together with von Fintel, explore the notion of the language of forms.


details, work by Randal Thurston

Suggested Links

Kai von Fintel, MIT: Associate Dean of SHASS and MIT Professor of Lingusitics.
Randal Thurston, Suffolk University: Associate Professor, Foundation Studies and Fine Arts
Matthew Brand: Research scientist and Fellow at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories and founder of Zintaglio Arts, a studio where perceptual psychology and novel fabrication technologies are leveraged into new art forms.

The Catalyst Conversations
The mission is to "present provocative talks by Boston visual artists whose work resonates with science and technology, sparking conversations, synergy, and future projects with these communities and beyond."