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International New Media Artist in Residency at MDI Bio Lab

  • February 16, 2024

Michael Takeo Magruder works at the intersection of art and technology: now he takes on the meeting of art and science at the Lab.

Michael Takeo Magruder is a visual artist and researcher whose career spans decades, continents and styles. His artworks and installations combine digitized, data-rich imagery with the details of exhibition spaces (whether real-world or virtual) to create thought-provoking aesthetic experiences.

“As a visual artist, I want to make every work that I produce aesthetically beautiful and engaging,” Takeo said, in an interview during his first weeklong visit to the Laboratory this month. “But it’s not just about making the beautiful thing; it’s about making the relevant thing, the provoking thing.”

Takeo works with heady concepts such as “computational aesthetics” and “digital formalism”, yet his art maintains accessibility. His residencies at major institutions consider their missions, histories, archives and infrastructures through exhibitions that engage viewers in unexpected ways.

Michael Takeo Magruder, The Horse as Technology, modular installation with horse skull, data light boxes, 3D printer and prints, led screen, computer, Leap Motion controller, and sound system, 2014. Installation as part of De/coding the Apocalypse, solo exhibition, Somerset House, London, UK, 2014. (photograph by Jana Chiellino)

Recent collaborative projects include residencies at the Henry Luce III Center for Arts & Religion in Washington, D.C., the National Archives of the UK in Kew, and the British Library in London. You can see some examples here. Takeo has won dozens of awards, competitions and grants, while his art has been featured in numerous publications and more than 300 exhibitions.

He plans to spend at least four periods at the Laboratory over the next year. He says his first on-site visit of the residency was a whirlwind introduction to the institute’s people, campus, culture, technology and, of course, its science.

“The science that’s being done here was a big draw,” Takeo says, adding that his initial concept will likely be structured around work and data produced in the Lab’s three research infrastructure centers: the Animal Resources Core, the Light Microscopy Facility, and the Comparative Genomics and Data Science Core.

It is very early in the endeavor, though. Takeo says his interest was first sparked by Laboratory President Herman Haller’s passion for stimulating rich and creative thinking through the Lab’s “Art Meets Science” initiatives. The most recent exhibition in that series featured one of his works.

“The initial meeting and conversations that I had with Dr. Haller really made me to want to collaborate with MDI Bio Lab,” he says. “His thinking about how aesthetics, environment, and community are so important to good research, whether it’s artistic or scientific, is absolutely true and quite insightful.”