Just your type
Art installation challenges students to question what makes a university.
Lisa Babb, senior political science major, is one of the typists for the Alma Mater project. Christopher Whitten
Five women and a man dressed in '60s attire sat behind a series of tables and vintage typewriters Tuesday afternoon as a steady stream of student participants lined up to share their vision for the future of The University.
The interactive performance titled "Alma Mater in the Making" is part of a two-piece project the Art Museum at the University of Memphis is sponsoring in honor of The University's centennial.
For three days, artists Sheryl Oring and Dhanraj Emanuel will document answers to the question "What do you think the university could be?" on the UC Plaza from noon until 2 p.m. Thursday.
Students can become involved in the project by providing an answer to a typist wearing a secretarial dress or a man in suit and tie who then transcribes their response onto a postcard.
The installation offers a chance to experience a different level of communication uncommon in modern times, Oring said.
"I feel like the way it's set up with a typist really engenders a type of communication that is very different than social media like Facebook," she said. "Someone posing a question and listening so intently gives people a feeling of being heard; it's very empowering."
They chose the '60s attire to allude to the era's rich history of student-led protest movements and social change.
The second part of the project will be an exhibition in the AMUM gallery that will feature the postcard responses, photography, audio and video from the performance.
Oring said the postcards were "snapshots in time that can play a role in getting people to think about the future when universities are facing a lot of questions about the future of technology and the role of the classroom."
The contrast of 1960s technology within the modern university setting attracted the attention of passing students yesterday, many of whose responses addressed tuition increases and the desire for more affordable college education.
Emanuel said at its most basic level the piece seeks to explore the expectations students have for The University.
AMUM invited Oring and Emanuel because the couple's past work involving public input aligned with the museum's desire to involve student participation in its centennial exhibition.
"One-hundred years is a big number and the world is changing so fast," said Leslie Luebbers, director of AMUM.
She said the piece also raises the question: "What is a university? Is it just an education or is it a place where people come together that would otherwise not come together?"
As a U of M graduate, Emanuel said his affection for The University helped inspire the title "Alma Mater," but the title also serves as a way for people personally to reflect on their school.
"It is universal in a way - everyone probably has a school they've gone to and a personal connection to that institution," Emmanuel said.
The three-day performance piece ends Thursday, at which time students can type responses in the AMUM gallery through April 14. The "Alma Mater" exhibition will open in June.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More dailyhelmsman News Articles
Recent dailyhelmsman News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR DAILYHELMSMAN
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST DAILYHELMSMAN NEWS
- Austin Nichols picks Virginia
- Trump’s track record on race troubling, activists say
- Victims’ families push Senate for immigration crackdown
- Helmsman roundtable: Austin Nichols departs
- U of M's Austin Nichols intends to transfer
- Nichols' potential transfer leaves Memphis in bind
- Working Around New State Law Hampering Pre-Natal Healthcare
RECENT DAILYHELMSMAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Not Seeing a Chiropractor Could Cost You
- Steampunk Steamrolls Into Living Rooms Nationwide
- Modern-Day Party Do's and Don'ts
- Taking Care of Your Child's Eyes in Today's Digitally...
- Will the Movie Studio be the Next Heavy Hitter?
- Survey Shows Americans' Views on Dental Hygiene Differ by...
- Fire Away: How to Prepare For Hunting Season
- Novel Program Brings Hope to African Nation
- What Health Care Really Costs
- Millennials Cited for Rise in ETF Popularity
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- 18-25 Years Old? EARN $80 IN 90 MINUTES for Participating in Research Study
- truth® CELEBRATES SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY MOVE TO TOBACCO-FREE
- vitaminwater® Announces Project Hustle Finalists
- Supermodel Jaslene Gonzalez to Speak at Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority 25th Anniversary Sisterhood Retreat
- LEMELSON-MIT ANNOUNCES NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT PRIZE COMPETITION WINNERS