Courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections, Paul V. Galvin Library, Illinois Institute of Technology
A four-by-four-metre wooden cube equipped with twenty-four slide projectors and audio-suppliers is what Ken Isaacs called his Knowledge Box. It was initially set up in 1962 in collaboration with his students at Chicago’s Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and it is thought to have challenged traditional methods of learning. With this immersive installation, Isaacs intended to remodel information by exposing the viewer to a continuous flow of projected images, data, sound and light. In an interview he said: “Our aim here, partly, was to create a totally new, totally strange, even seemingly hostile environment . . . Here, all alone, a student is placed in an environment completely outside of his normal experience range and is exposed to rapidly presented information in an intense and exciting atmosphere.” Isaacs’s Knowledge Box can thus be regarded as a pre-internet machine that oscillates between art and design and challenges conventional ways of distributing information as well as traditional concepts of education.