Alex McDowell Joins Forces With MIT to Make Future Stuff


What’s the one thing you always hear when some inventive piece of modern technology comes out? It’s that same old “wow, remember ten years ago when we saw that sort of thing in that movie?!” If that rings a bell, then you’ll appreciate this story coming out of MIT about big time production designer, Alex McDowell signing on to be a visiting artist at MIT’s Media Lab. He’s done the production design work for “Fight Club,” “Minority Report,” and is one of Tim Burton‘s go-to designers. And what got him there sounds like this current project with the school:

Alex McDowell, production designer of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) and “The Corpse Bride” (2005), has two views of the future. He could just lock himself up in a room and dream things up for the screen. Or, he could sit down with experts working on actual new technologies. Add a dose of imagination, and he will have a fantasy of the future with believability.

…Across the table, graduate students Mike Fabio and Steve Pliam manipulate the image, which represents the centerpiece machine of the robotic opera “Death and the Powers.” “Powers” is composed by Tod Machover, professor of media arts and sciences, with a libretto by Robert Pinsky, former U.S. poet laureate; it is being produced by the Media Lab staff.