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Inverted Platform, 2011. MIT Lobby 7 Design Competition. First place entry with Ann Woods.

Inverted Platform flips MIT's Lobby 7 in unexpected ways.  Enter into the hallowed hall of marble and concrete, at once aglow and heavily shadowed through the play of light off  column and coffer; the past alive in each capital. Snapped into the plastic present, pedestals each anchoring the base of four towering walls are topped with strange, yet somehow familiar objects. The cherry red is alarming but the forms entices.  Suddenly, one word pops hugely onto the surface behind one of the objects; a shimmering "HELLO?" races up the wall and disappears as if exhausting through the dome's hovering oculus. Approaching the pedestal a response is encouraged by the mouthpiece, comical and utilitarian. Speaking into this instrument of amplification, one expects a voice to be doubled or tripled by the form only to bounce around the resonant Lobby 7 for all to hear.  However, in place of this projection of sound, words are transcribed into light and scroll up after the "HELLO?" Often the words align with what is spoken; sometimes not.  Stories shared through these odd megaphones are distorted by a technology that interprets as much as it translates, creating future stories rich with humor and surprise.

Inverted Platform seeks to offer new perspectives of MIT’s Lobby 7 to visitors and members of the MIT community by defining the plinth as a new platform, both for viewing and storytelling. The project achieves this aim through a series of three "inversions". The notion of the pedestal as stage for art object is reversed as the story of the viewer, and in some cases the viewer herself, is placed atop the plinth. The art becomes the interaction between viewer and instrument, story and audience. Sound itself is subject to inversion as words spoken into a receptacle for amplification do not produce a louder sound, but rather a larger text. Words spoken into the horns are digitally transcribed and projected for all to enjoy. Technology itself is responsible for the final play on translation as glitches, or ghosts in the machine, edit words at will and produce unintended riffs off intentional tales. Results can be surprising!

Watch the project video here.