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Lauren, a fair to medium toned person with short medium hair, wearing a black short sleeve top and burgundy pants, stands in front of a white wall with shelves holding small objects of art.

Lauren Lee McCarthy, Courtesy of the artist

With Lauren Lee McCarthy
Date and place of birth
b. 1987, Boston, Massachusetts
Current location
Los Angeles, California
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
2013, Project Resident; 2020, Rapid Response Fellow

How do you characterize the media you work in?

I work with a lot of different media; performance is at the core of my practice, but I also work with software, film, installation, text, sound, objects, et cetera. I’m interested in art that takes unexpected forms and exists in media that maybe you didn’t realize could be a medium for art.

How does your practice engage with technology?

The focus of my work is how we connect or interact as people, which is shaped by the technology and systems we build around ourselves particularly as our lives become increasingly technologically based. While some of my work is not necessarily overtly technologically oriented, it is responding to the conditions of being a human right now, which implicitly engages with technology.

What was your focus during your time at Eyebeam?

For the first residency with Eyebeam, I collaborated with Kyle McDonald on a project called pplkpr, which was engaged with lifelogging and device tracking. The question we posed was: what if an app optimized social relationships, measuring and analyzing the emotional impact that each person had on you as you went about your day, and then blocked certain contacts or auto-messaging people to keep relationships going? The most recent Eyebeam fellowship during the pandemic involved a collaboration with Grace Lee and Tony Patrick called Beyond the Breakdown. We wondered how we might imagine the world we want to see in this crisis moment and made a scripted AI-driven experience that brought people together online.

Pictured is an installation, in a brightly-lit white walled-room with a light pink minimal steel frame traces the boundary of the work, like a blueprint of a small, intimate living space with furniture such as a white wooden coffee table, mirror with a webcam, TV attached to the frame, print outs of excerpts of conversations had during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Lauren Lee McCarthy, I Heard Talking Is Dangerous, installation view at EIGEN+ART Lab, Berlin, Photo by Eike Walkenhorst

Was there a culminating project?

There was a browser-based web application that people could join in real time and the AI would drive the experience and facilitate world-building conversations between the participants. 

How has dialogue or collaboration with Eyebeam artists and alumni factored into your work?

I moved to New York in 2013 for the residency, and Eyebeam provided me with an instant  network and community—many direct and indirect collaborations, projects, and community spaces came out of that for me. One person I met through Eyebeam is Taeyoon Choi, who was a resident before I was there, and we’ve since become close friends and collaborators and worked together in many different capacities. 

How do you think about the role of the artist in society?

I think artists can lead us to questions that haven’t crossed our minds or that maybe we were not quite ready to take on. Art gives us space to sit and grapple with these questions in all of their complexities as opposed to the way  we normally experience things online, in which we are asked to respond immediately with, for example,  an opinion like this, download this, agree to this. Beyond asking questions, I think artists can propose possibilities and alternatives, and by  just imagining them, they can begin to become real.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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