• This drawing by postdoctoral associate Max Beniker is part of his first exhibition, '10 Minutes With Max,' now on display at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery on the second floor of the Stratton Student Center. His charcoal sketches will be on view through Jan. 11.

    Image / Max Beniker

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Postdoc drawn to sketching

When not working with mechanical devices to mimic and echo human actions, Max Berniker is drawing the human form.

Currently a postdoctoral associate in the Media Lab's Biomechatronics Group, Berniker has studied theoretical issues in biological motor control. He's currently working to develop prosthetic devices that link directly to an amputee's nervous system.

But Berniker discovered another talent at MIT: figure drawing. Although he drew and sketched as a child, he had never taken an art class until he signed up for the life drawing class at the Student Art Association (SAA) seven years ago. Hooked, he's been taking the class ever since.

Now, his first exhibition, "10 Minutes With Max," is on view at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery through Wednesday, Jan. 11. Berniker is presenting 42 charcoal sketches of the human form.

"I like lines," he said in his artist's statement. "Some lines communicate the shape of the figure. Some lines communicate the edge of the figure. Combinations of lines convey tonality. I like lines that communicate all three at once, doing the most possible with the minimum necessary, telling the viewer: this bit of flesh is taut, this bit is soft, this bit is bony."

Each sketch took an average of 10 minutes to draw, Berniker said, explaining the title of the exhibition. None are complete works, he said; each is a compromise between the effort to create an accurate and well-composed rendering and the fear that additions will detract from what is already on paper.

"My proudest achievement is not the whole image, but the occasional event when charcoal meets paper with just the right pressure, speed and arch to justly convey tension in a forearm, the shift of weight onto a leg, or the strain in a twisted torso," he said.

The gallery is located on the second floor of the Stratton Student Center and is open 24 hours a day. For more information, call x3-7019.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 14, 2005 (download PDF).

Topics: Media Lab, Arts, Staff

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