Suzanne Marshall: Kurzweil
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Suzanne Marshall studied behavioral psychology at Northern Michigan University in the 1970s. After graduating from NMU, Marshall’s interests led her to Harvard University, where she earned a Master’s degree in psychology. At the time, human developmental psychology was taught in a somewhat dull, safe, and conservative approach, but living in Boston presented gig employment opportunities and introduced Marshall to the burgeoning internet and software frontier.
Marshall began taking photographs in the 70s after she graduated from Harvard, and she began exhibiting photographs in the US and abroad in the 1980s. Marshall continues to show her work today, most recently at the Center for Art and Culture in Honduras. Her work is numerous publications and collections, including at the Ministry of Culture in Ecuador, the University of Vermont, Polaroid Corporation Collection, the Boston Public Library, and the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS
This photo series was created in 1983 – 84, while Marshall worked at Kurzweil Computer Products, a small software and hardware manufacturing business in Cambridge, MA. The company made cutting edge products based on AI, including the first reading machines (The Kurzweil Reading Machine), which converted text to speech, and optical character recognition machines (KDEM—Kurzweil Data Entry Machine). The machines that set the stage for this series.
The series, shot with a Rolleiflex twin camera, started as photographs of Marshall’s colleagues, “engineers from MIT and various other nerdy characters and their inventions [who] were utterly enamored with the technology and quite free-spirited.” However, it morphed into photographs taken after hours featuring the artist’s close friends. Marshall recalls the photo sessions being unusual because,
it was necessary to carefully work around the hardware, testing devices, wires, and cables. In addition, just prior to shipping, all reading machines had a copy of the Gettysburg Address placed on the scanning glass. The eerie robotic voice read it out loud, over and over again. Each machine was at a different place in the copy, so this produced haunting poetry of sorts which formed the backdrop to our photographic sessions.