"I am a nerd artist, an artist who uses technology," says Zachary Lieberman, assistant professor of computational design in the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons. "Whether the end product is software or hardware, the work I create is not, in the end, about technology itself but rather what it means to be alive; it is about life’s poetic moments."
The imaginative interplay between artistry and technology is an unmistakable feature of Lieberman's projects. He helped develop EyeWriter, a low-cost device created with customized open-source software and hardware that enables people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to create images using a projection apparatus. This groundbreaking device, cited on Time magazine's list of the 50 best inventions of 2010, also won the Brit Insurance Design Award 2010 (Interactive) from London's Design Museum and the Golden Nica (Interactive) award from Ars Electronica, an art and technology organization based in Linz, Austria.
Named one of the "100 Creative People in Business" by Fast Company magazine in 2010, Lieberman has also worked on live performances, music videos, outdoor projections, and museum installations. An advocate of open-source and free software, he is one of the creators of openframeworks, a toolkit for the artistic use of computer programming code that was developed at Parsons.
Despite his passion for technology and the significant role it plays in his artistic endeavors, Lieberman is quick to point out one of its downsides to his students.
"Technology can be very sexy, but it also can be absorbing and remove you from real life," says Lieberman.
"While I teach students the technical skills that they need, I also want them to be fully engaged in the world, visiting museums, attending conferences and lectures, and interacting with one another. More engagement with the world leads to more opportunities for serendipity and wonder."