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Sometimes more like a photo album, Technique captures a part of MIT life


By Saul Blumenthal and David D. Hsu
Staff Reporters

Technique 1998

Bob P. Lee '98, Editor in Chief

Jeremy J. Sawicki '98, Managing Editor

Yi Chuang E. Huang '99, Photography Editor

Berta L. Liao '00, Design Editor

416 pp.

Technique sells itself as "a photographic essay which attempts to capture a year of life at MIT." As in previous years, this year's Technique excels in photographic quality, in particular, the introductory color photographs. While certain aspects of MIT life are covered well, we would like to see a yearbook that better represents the complete MIT experience.

The cover of Technique features a color photo of the Lobby 7 windows. The eight-piece metalwork on the windows is effectively used as a running theme to indicate the various sections of the yearbook. Several sections begin with a creative two-page collage, capturing the essence of the section topic. For example, the spread for "Life in Hell" presents the necessary ingredients for MIT survival, including textbooks, course guides, bottles of Jolt and Mountain Dew, and the How To GAMIT guide.

The ode to MIT by Lin-Ann Ching '98 on pages 48 and 49 similarly encapsulates the MIT experience, as do the student responses to questions posed on pillar posters on pages 60 and 61.

The photographs taken as a whole, however, are not as successful in providing a slice of MIT life. Ironically, the "Life in Hell" section begins with four pictures focusing on inanimate objects. As in previous years, there are too many pictures of buildings and other scenes, rather than the students who bring the campus to life. Too many of the photographs, like those of the Boston skyline, Kresge Auditorium, and Killian Court, could have been taken in 1988 just as easily as in 1998. Building 20, the only building we know will not be here 10 years from now, is nowhere to be found.

Even though we have seen similar photographs in past yearbooks, Technique maintains its high standards in photo quality. The color is put to good use, as in the picture of the sun aligning with the Infinite Corridor on page 46.

We wonder how some of the photographs have any connection to the MIT experience. When looked at 20 years from now, the photos of a girl with a flower and a woman on the beach on pages 14 and 15, while artistic, will bring back no memories of MIT. Similarly, the color photograph of a man on a mountain on page 28 looks like it belongs in someone's photo album rather than the MIT yearbook.

To its credit, Technique does have photographs that portray student life. The pictures in "Clubs" show candid shots of students participating in activities, often giving us an insider's view of the group. The trade-off is that a candid shot will not include all the activity's members, as a group shot would. Many of the living group photos convey the personality of the group's residents while also showing a majority of the residents.

In a solemn reminder of the loss suffered over the past school year, Technique includes a tribute to three undergraduates who died, Michele S. Micheletti '00, Umaer A. Basha '01, and Scott S. Krueger '01. Close friends of the students provide poignant remembrances.

One of the more humorous parts of the yearbook is President Charles M. Vest's letter to the Class of 1998. In his first sentence, he says, "There is a high probability that some subset of the Class of 1998 will change the world." Any Course XVIII major will tell you that the empty set is a subset of the Class of 1998. We hope this was not Vest's intention.

Technique's challenge is to capture the vast range of the MIT experience in a finite number of photographs. This is a daunting task, and it is inevitable that some subjects and events will be more represented than others. With this in mind, the final product is a satisfactory portrayal of some parts of MIT life.