Tag: history

Remix: Old North’s Index

CCT student Liz Sabatiuk modeled this “index” on the Harper’s Index in Harper’s Magazine. The experiment was part of her final remix project, in which she explored what’s remembered and what’s forgotten in Georgetown’s history. Each Harper’s Index curates 40 facts expressed through numbers, rates, ratios, percentages, years, factors, and other quantities. Each point is carefully chosen and strategically…

Remix: ReMarking The Book

This remix project by CCT student Ken Wake sought to “ReMark” Georgetown’s history using The Old North Book as “the scaffolding for the play.” The project uses many of the same words of the original book, altering only “the cultural marking associated with given terms, names, etc.,” with the purpose of “moving the story towards…

Old North Ark

A man walks across the walls of the Old North stairwell. Pause and watch him wander the same space in which you now stand. If you watch long enough, you may catch the man as he suddenly travels back in time. Inspired by the film Russian Ark (2002), this project by CCT students Xuejun Bao,…

Heritage Drift (Robot Tour)

In this interactive installation by CCT student Danielle Storbeck, a seemingly autonomous robot will lead you on a tour around Dahlgren Quad. The robot was designed, built, and programmed by the CCT Robotics Group. The robot provides information regarding important spaces and historical facts related to Old North. But how can you tell if what…

Rebuilding Old North

Old North has undergone many changes over the years, both in its role and use on the campus and in its physical structure. This interactive game by CCT student Ziyan Liu uses a Microsoft Surface table and 3D-printed replica pieces to make these changes, and the larger history of Georgetown that they reflect, into something…

Ring, Ring for a Riot!

This project by CCT students Maria Elena Firippis and Sam Redd was programmed with Processing and used range sensors, Raspberry Pi, and arduinos to create a visual representation of the movements of visitors to the installation. A screen flickers wildly, shifting colors and shapes as two images fight for the same digital space. The images…

Heartwood: The Moral Compass of Old North

The Quad

“Moral Compass”

“Heartwood: The Moral Compass of Old North” raises questions about race in the context of Georgetown as a historical institution. Here, Ken Wake, a graduate candidate in CCT, intends to explore how we understand “sacred” space in the context of a sometimes “profane” past.

For much of its history, Georgetown—like many other institutions of its age and prestige—has ignored, often actively, the fact that its current reputation is at least partially predicated on a history that includes institutional slavery. In the case of Old North, the literal foundation of the structure was built, at least in part, on the backs of slaves. Recent developments have brought this long overlooked or ignored history to the fore and have led to, among other things, the work to rededicate two buildings previous named for past university presidents involved in the sale of slaves.

In this project, the artist hopes to juxtapose the image of Old North as a highly mediated, sacred space for Georgetown—the steps from which U.S. Presidents have delivered speeches and the halls where dignitaries are often received—with the profane history of slavery that exists simultaneously in the same space. To this end, he plays with the idea of a “moral compass” by constructing a new moral compass of Old North from padauk, bubinga, and ebony—woods sourced from Western Africa, the ancestral home of many of the slaves who found their way to the Hill Top—and hard white maple—sourced from Maryland and representing the privileged white students, faculty, and staff who have benefitted from this institutional slavery.

The McCourt School of Public Policy was officially dedicated on October 8, 2013. During the Foundation Exercises for the school, Frank McCourt spoke of his wish that the students be guided by a strong moral compass during their education, careers, and life. On May 28, 2015 and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of their graduation, McCourt’s classmates donated a “moral compass” to the school, on behalf of its named benefactor.

Given Georgetown’s history and involvement with slavery, including during the construction of Old North, the idea of a “moral compass” in the context of this space seemed one needing of exploration. As a reflection on this idea, I created by hand a new “moral compass,” constructed with a base of white hard maple, from Maryland and ebony, padauk, and bubinga from Western Africa, the former home of the majority of the slaves brought to labor in the new world.

— Ken Wake


Material Timeline of Old North

On a small landing at the top of the staircase you encounter a network of wires studded with stones and shards of brick and wood. Each node has a small label specifying a date, an event, or a material. The timeline visualizes Old North’s history in relation to its material foundation. This project by CCT…