What Creativity and Courage Look Like
This year, Eyebeam honors Thenmozhi Soundararajan and Zachary Lieberman; their practices show how artists lead in creating social change through technology.
Soundararajan, a Dalit-American transmedia storyteller, technologist, and journalist, has dedicated herself to the eradication of caste oppression. By using digital tools, artful thinking, and community organizing, Soundararajan encourages people to control their own stories and make meaningful change—projects she has contributed to include the transmedia collective Dalit Nation, the human rights startup Equality Labs, and the hashtag #DalitHistoryMonth. As she phrases it, “the story is the most important unit of social change.”
Lieberman, an Eyebeam alum (‘08), has shown time and time again that computation is a beautiful art form. He has consistently sought to empower others to play, invent and dream with code through building new infrastructures—whether it be a school like the School For Poetic Computation, a programming language like Open Frameworks, or a daily practice of art-making as can be seen on his Instagram. By showing that, as he puts it in his exclusive interview with Eyebeam, “technology should be in service to the poetry,” he has modeled a new relationship to technology that is more deeply creative and fulfilling.
Every year, Eyebeam alums nominate creative practitioners across the world and at every point in their career for this honor. Previous winners include Ayah Bdeir (2015), Trevor Paglen (2015), Not An Alternative (2016), and Barbara London (2016).The Award is 3D printed in stainless steel as a gift by Shapeways, and was designed by MSHR, the art collective of Eyebeam alums Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy, who build systems for ecstatic sensory experiences.
The Eyebeam Awards for Creativity and Courage, now in its third year, originated as a means to celebrate outstanding achievements in technology by artists—winners are chosen because they exemplify Eyebeam’s core values of openness, invention and justice. When it comes to art and technology, Eyebeam is proud to focus equally on both technical creativity and societal contribution.
About the Award Winners
Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a transmedia storyteller and technologist who believes the story is the most important unit of social change. Her work has been recognized by the Producers Guild of America Diversity Program, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Chicken and Egg Foundation, The Annenberg Innovation Center, Slamdance, MIT Center for New Media Studies, The Sorbonne, Source Magazine, Utne Reader, The National Center for the Humanities, The National Science Foundation, The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Follow her work at her blog www.dalitnation.com or on twitter @dalitdiva and @equalitylabs
Zachary Lieberman is an artist, researcher and hacker with a simple goal: he wants you surprised. In his work, he creates performances and installations that take human gesture as input and amplify them in different ways — making drawings come to life, imagining what the voice might look like if we could see it, transforming people’s silhouettes into music. He’s been listed as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People and his projects have won the Golden Nica from Ars Electronica, Interactive Design of the Year from Design Museum London as well as listed in Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year. He creates artwork through writing software and is a co-creator of openFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding and helped co-found the School for Poetic Computation, a school examining the lyrical possibilities of code.
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