Credit: Courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center and The Bronx Museum of the Arts

Before reality television made ordinary people and places household names, Chilean-born artist and trained architect Juan Downey was documenting communities and cultures in an approach that was both anthropological and autobiographical. Video Trans Americas, which culminates Downey’s 1973 to 1976 car trips from New York to South America (video still from Inca I & II shown), is one of several video installations included in Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect, the first U.S. museum survey of his work. Downey lived in New York City for most of his career until his death in 1993. In 1973, he wrote, “[T]he invisible architect becomes one with energy and manipulates this wave material.” The exhibition—which debuted at the List Visual Arts Center at MIT, where Downey was a fellow—covers decades of his experiments in art and technology, including his 1960s paintings and etchings that feature robot-like figures, and his 1980s videos that explore the concept of invisible architecture by showing subjects lost in the pleasure of abstract space. At the Bronx Museum of the Arts through May 20. •