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graffiti from a distance– I see, therefore I create.

new media art

Artists have always been amongst the most rapid adopters -and adapters- of the new. The emerging media technologies all the way back from the printing press in the 16th century to film and video in the 20th were welcomed by the likes of Goya, Dürer, Buñuel, Nam June Park and Andy Warhol and quickly incorporated into their work, coining new artistic languages and settinga aesthetic boundaries to cross.

According to Wikipedia,

New media art is a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies,including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation,
virtual art, Internet art, interactive art technologies, computer robotics, and art as biotechnology.

Zachary Lieberman is a new media artist based in NYC. According to himself he uses technology in a playful way to explore the nature of communication and the boundary between the visible and the invisible. He creates performances, installations, and on-line works that investigate gestural input, augmentation of the body, and kinetic response. He collaborates with Golan Levin, and recently they were nominated for Wired’s artist of the year award.

Take a look at his recent work: he helped create visuals for the facade of the new Ars Electronica Museum in Linz, Austria; wrote software for an augmented reality card trick, helped develop a 3d drawing tool and a typeface designed by a racing car’s tracks on the asphalt. In addition to making artistic work, Lieberman teaches graphics programming at Parsons School of Design.

eyeWriter

The project that I want to focus goes like this— In 2003, Tony Quan, LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (ALS) which resulted in total physical paralysis, except for his eyes. In August of 2009, Lieberman and a team of collaborators from London, Hong Kong, Madrid, and Amsterdam, met in California and began to work on something that would allow Tony, aka Temptone, to draw again.

They developed a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system + custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis to draw with light projected on large surfaces, using only their eyes. They worked for 10 days in a design that consists roughly of this:

EyeWriter diagram-- formed by cheap components

Before Tempt could start tagging, the system had to recognize his unique eye-alphabet. Check out the process.

In August 2009 TemptOne drew his tag again after more than 5 years without drawing. You can check out the video of the first eyetag on my last post.

phase 2

The next phase of the project began last August. The long-term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artist and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art.

Kyoto City Hall- tagged

Since the first eyetag, TemptOne has been tagging nonstop—and since digital tagging erases the geographical limitations of physical graffiti, his art has gone way beyond L.A. Take a look at his work in Kyoto’s City Hall

next step

I want to learn what is going on with EyeWriter— how has the project evolved? How has it influenced other new media artists? What are the limitations of the medium? How does it allow the artist from an aesthetic perspective? If it is open source, who else has worked on it, and how have they used it?

I will, of course, try to contact Zack Lieberman.  Stay tuned.

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3 Comments

  1. Harris 13:04, Feb 23rd, 10

    It’s certainly going places, including some on the other side of the globe:
    Eyewriter Gies to India [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCYwWqaxkNQ]

    But this parts-hunt, also in Mumbai, is even more interesting because it ‘nativizes’ the whole project:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTHLS2zG7Cc&
    It’s a very recent video, and the project is ongoing.

    It’ll be interesting to also see how this develops from the artists’ perspective.

  2. Leslie 14:09, Feb 23rd, 10

    Those are some really cool art projects- I can’t believe how intricate the EyeWriter is! I wonder how much the technology cost to create? Also, with how it works as graffiti outside, I guess a projector is needed to display the artwork onto a building, like in the case of Kyoto’s City Hall? Looks like it will be a fun project to follow!

  3. nadine 01:58, Mar 1st, 10

    Jimena, check out the Laser Tag project! It’s not about EyeWriter, but about digital graffiti, open source technology, activism, public space, etc. Lieberman must know more about it!
    http://graffitiresearchlab.com/?page_id=76
    Here also a youtube video with more Graffiti action and Laser Tag (part 2, after minute 8)
    Graffiti Research Lab Extravaganza:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur5kaa9BZ0A&feature=related