Pay No Attention To Epstein’s Orb

The Orbs emerge from the intersection of expanded design space, material heterogeneity, and advancements in additive manufacturing.

The Orbs embody the proposition that the “anatomy” of objects can be designed through generative methods.

An Orb, from the website of Mediated Matter Group collaborator Christoph Bader

The Orbs represent significant design opportunities that lie at the intersection of digital modeling, analysis and fabrication.

The Orbs symbolize a research area that explores a hybrid approach to heterogeneous material modelling enabling the designer to augment current CAD workflows by combining them with heterogeneous material modelling methods.

Another Orb from the website of Mediated Matter Group collaborator Christoph Bader

The Orbs are created by Neri Oxman and the designers, researchers, technologists, and students she leads in the Mediated Matter Group of the MIT Media Lab, and from whom the tone and substance of the bulk of the preceding text was appropriated.

An Orb being presented to the inaugural winners of the MIT MediaLab Disobedience Award in 2017, as reported by Reuters and published, still, at The Peninsula Qatar.

The Orbs are trophies presented annually—ultimately, twice—between 2017 and 2019 to the winners of the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Awards funded by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman to recognize perpetrators of the disruptive good with a $250,000 cash prize and An Orb.

The Orbs are gifts for donors to MIT, gifts from the president of MIT Rafael Reif; gifts from the development office of MIT; gifts from the chief development officer of MIT Media Lab Paul Cohen; gifts from the director of the MIT Media Lab Joi Ito.

The Orbs are gifts because “Neri as the designer of the MediaLab was asked to produce nearly all, if not all, physical gifts for donors — using her and her student’s time and resources,” wrote her husband, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, in an urgent email to MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito in the summer of 2019.

The Orbs were reported in the Boston Globe in September 2019, when it became known that convicted sex predator and billionaire blackmailer Jeffrey Epstein met with Ito and Oxman, funded Ito and Oxman, and donated or arranged for Leon Black and Bill Gates to confidentially donate $7.5 million to MIT and the MIT Media Lab on the condition that his donations or involvement or the meetings, favors and influence afforded him by Ito and others at MIT not be disclosed.

The Orb being made for Epstein caused one of Oxman’s students being asked to fabricate it to speak out, then to cave, then to apologize in a public email for ignoring their pangs of conscience to complete the order, pangs their teachers and leaders were unaffected by, until the disgraceful connection became public.

The Orb differed “from the Disobedience Award as it had a different base, [T]he [O]rb had a different pattern, and it did not come with a certificate among other differences,” insisted Ackman in his email to Ito, as he tried to head off any disclosure of his wife’s involvement with Epstein, which only happened, he reiterated, because of Ito’s assurances that Epstein had cleared some kind of MIT donor vetting process, and also that anyway, Epstein’s donations would be kept confidential, neither of which panned out, leading to Ito losing his job as Epstein’s MIT and Silicon Valley pimp; Hoffman apologizing while condemning Ito and MIT, which ended the award; and Oxman releasing her own statement of regret after all.

The Orb, Epstein, Oxman, and Ackman are back in the news after Ackman published an open letter saying he’d had it with diversity at Harvard, up to and including the Black woman, Dr. Claudine Gay, recently appointed by the University as president, who was not returning his calls satisfactorily. Ackman, who attended Harvard as a legacy, found Gay, the trustees, and before her, the university dissatisfyingly non-responsive to his advice on investing, covid protocols, rooting out liberalism, and defending supporters of Israel’s post-October 7th attacks on Palestinians.