Knotty Objects



Curated by bunnie huang and Kevin Slavin. The phone lies at the foundation of 21st century human (and non-human) communication, and shapes these exchanges for the hand, for the eye, and in the mind.

Director: Matthew Charof
Director of Photography: Dan Witrock


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Curated by Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits, and David Benjamin, principal of The Living. The brick invites questions about modular building and construction practices across all aspects of contemporary life, and how these are changing as they come to incorporate living materials instead of constraining them.

Director: Sam Kuhn
Director of Photography: Sam Kuhn


Curated by artist and designer Daisy Ginsberg and artist-philosopher Koert van Mensvoort. The steak is a vivid reminder that all manufactured consumables have consequential origins, whether those origins are living, breathing animals, or cells in vitro.

Director: Jordan Fish
Director of Photography: Sam Kuhn

These three films, directed by Sam Kuhn, Jordan Fish, and Matthew Charof, were a collaboration between m ss ng p eces and MIT Media Lab for the Knotty Objects Summit, the first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to the knotty entanglements between design and technology.

Knotty Objects brought together designers, scientists, engineers, makers, writers, curators, and scholars around the discussion of complex and omnipresent objects. These objects were used as lenses through which to examine the transdisciplinary nature of contemporary design. We worked closely with some of the summit’s tech and design experts/curators to create playful, informative videos that raise some thought-provoking questions, exploring each of the objects and their many complexities.

The films were each devoted to a given “knotty object”: bricks, bitcoin, steak, and phone. The series raised pertinent questions: how does bitcoin bring currency control into the hands of the consumer? How has the humble brick concept led to astounding developments in technology? Can in-vitro meat remedy problems posed by industrialized food production? And who are designers really catering to when they think up new cell phones?