Omissions and poor thematic continuity mar new Technique
Julia C. Hsieh, Spring Editor-in-Chief.
Judith L. Yanowitz, Fall Editor-in-Chief.
By ANDREW L. FISH
MOST CHILDREN have the misfortune of being compared to their elder siblings, and unfortunately the same applies to yearbooks. Technique 1989 provides a competent picture of MIT and is almost a must-buy for graduating students. Yet, the quality of this year's edition falls far below the standards Technique has set for itself in recent years.
Technique 1989 begins with a series of brown duotone photographs. Most are technically excellent, but the criteria used to select these photos are quite nebulous. Photos of graduation and some innovative pictures of MIT sites seem quite appropriate for this section. Yet, the staff also opted to include pictures as diverse as the door to a fraternity, a tree branch, and a (blurry) woman sitting with a dazed expression. The use of duotones was nice, but a better selection of photographs would have improved the introduction.
It turns out that the weak opening pages are an appropriate introduction to the book -- many marginal black and white shots were included throughout. Though even the marginal photos are not particularly bad, they seem out of place in Technique.
Technique 1989 does not have a journal of events, a departure from the past two years. This is the most glaring fault of the book, as the journal section is the one place in the book where students can look back to remember concrete events from the past year. Team and club rosters also disappeared from this year's edition. The photos in this section are of varying quality, with some far below the normal Technique standard. Compared with the last two editions, the activities section was unacceptable.
New to this yearbook is an essay section on Residence/Orientation Week and another about relationships. The sections are an interesting idea, yet the overall negative tone (especially in the R/O section) seems misplaced in a book that is supposed to provide warm memories for graduates. Also, the relationships section seems to be as much about women's problems at MIT as about relationships on the whole. Both problems are important ones, but deserve separate treatment. Many of the photos seem to have little to do with relationships, further confusing the issue.
The living groups pictures, shot (as always) in a variety of locales and states of dress, are as good as ever. Some are too dark and some too light, but that seems inevitable considering the often difficult circumstances. This section projects the diversity of MIT's living groups very well.
Most of the color photos make excellent use of color and are technically excellent (the photo of the July 4th fireworks taken from the Green Building is especially spectacular). But other pictures are not as crisp as they should be.
Senior photographs are significantly smaller than in previous years. It appears that larger photographs would have fit, judging from the surplus of white space in the section. At least one pair of portraits (Cheryl L. Blake and Risa B. Bobroff) was swapped, an unacceptable error. As usual, the senior statements provide a variety of viewpoints on life at MIT -- they should be mandatory reading for applicants to the Institute. Yet, the Technique editors allowed many long, indulgent quotes filled with in-jokes to be printed without editing. True, this section belongs to the seniors, but the yearbook staff should have cut some rambling, incoherent remarks.
Technique 1989 is likely to impress one who has not seen an edition from the past several years. But those familiar with prior Techniques will notice the deterioration of technical quality and thematic continuity, making this year's issue a mild disappointment.
The best original statement in the section comes from Dean E. Fiala; the graduate marching in front of him at Commencement should beware!