“He thinks about visual identity as a living and breathing organism”
Even a cursory glance of Zach Lieberman’s most recent projects is very much a “woah, really?” sort of experience. New York City-based artist, educator and coder Lieberman is the guy making the sort of projects we thought only possible in action thrillers, or in our wildest imaginations. Take the eyewriter project, for instance: a low-cost, open source hardware and software toolkit that helps people draw with their eyes. Or the IQ font, a project where a stunt driver drives a typeface. Yes, really.
“I want to make visual forms that are playful, whimsical and absurd and that engage and extend the body and space,” says Lieberman. “I think the round trip from body to brain to body is interesting. I also am interested in creating visual forms that are ambiguous, where your brain has to work a little harder — 3D that feels like 2D, and 2D that feels like 3D.”
One of Lieberman's most admirable achievements was his role in helping create the School for Poetic Computation in 2013, having been teaching for a decade at Parsons School of Design. This idea was to create a “low-cost, alternative school” where students study for short 10-week sessions — a “mixture of an artist residency and an intensive seminar” exploring how electricity, code and theory can come together to make poetry.
At the heart of Lieberman's practise is interactivity: making the viewer an active participant. “Interactive work is about asking questions of the audience, about inviting the audience to become performers, and I find often they bring their creativity and visions to the work I do,” he tells us. “I build systems, not objects, and when you invite people to play and engage with these systems you can see the boundaries more clearly. I learn so much about my work seeing other people engage with it.”
Wolff Olins New York design director Jan Eumann can't get enough of Lieberman's “amazing experiments” with tracking and generative design. “He keeps it rather loose but with an obsession to explore and iterate around a single approach,” says Eumann. “That's something we, and branding overall, should and could aspire to: thinking about visual identity as a living and breathing organism — something never implemented by anyone, but super exciting as future opportunity.”
This page: Lieberman’s 3D animations are made using openFrameworks, a creative coding toolkit he helped co-develop.
Clockwise from top left: Blob reflection colour submission for bottled water brand LIFEWTR; experimenting with spheres and lines in openFrameworks; Lieberman’s ‘noise stacks’ give off the impression of ripples and ribbons; Extruded Blob #1, sold as a print in Lieberman’s online store; Blob Family, also available as a physical print.