Turning Cars and Computers into Art

Rocketboom interviews Zach Lieberman on his latest projects. (3:57min video)

-I'm here with Zack Lieverman and I don't know exactly what to call you... What would you title yourself as?

-Like nerd, artist, researcher, hacker, yeah... I don't know.

-Renaissance man of technology?

-I guess so maybe.

-So how did you get your start in the field that you're doing right now?

-I discovered this community on-line, especially through Flash, people writing code to animate, and I've always loved animation... And for me it was just really beautiful this idea that you could write some lines of could and you could see something move, and then you could make really elegant types of motion.

One thing that I'm involved with now is an open source project called open frameworks, which is the C++ toolkit so... I said before I'm sort of a nerd artist, I you know, re-write software, we do sort of low level hacking, and this is making a tool for other people to make stuff with.

-For each individual use you're creating a brand new kind of software...

-Yeah, every time we have a new problem, a magician comes and says I want to do augmented reality card trick and then it's like, OK, let's make new software, about, you know, how do we track a playing card... we have a new problem and we come up with software to solve it.

-So I saw a really cool video on ... I think that it uses the open frameworks software with a car...

-Yeah, the project was in Belgium, and it was an advertising company that has the Toyota account and then, once they had the idea of driving and making a type face they contacted me through that... they needed to use software kind of real time software, in order to track the car to get a good sense of what the outcome would be. They did some experiments here, with, kind of , imagining on paper what the movements would be like. The driver would then take those drawings and try to interpret it driving, he would drive slowly at first and then drive faster, cause some of the things are really... involved wipe outs ... I software outputed in image and then the software designers took that image traced it and cleaned it up a bit, and then made the font.

We were making an eye tracker for a disabled graffiti writer, named Tempt, and Tempt has "Lug...ris" disease, and we were making a tool to help him retro feel again with his eye... Ok let's hook this up...

We're actually tracking the pupil, so as the pupil moves around we're following it, so we're like using open frameworks... write some code in order to find it and fitting and ellipse through it. There is data coming from the camera, and then we have some illumination from this infrared LEDs, your eyes are very good input devices, not a very good output device, and when you actually start to hook it up to draw, it's a little bit tricky.

And so we have to do a lot of work to make it easy for ourselves, and also easy for Tempt, it's all Tempt can use to communicate

-I guess this takes a bit of a learning curve ...

-It's a little quirky right now...

-I just closed my eyes that's the weirdest thing...

-So if anyone wants to look into using your software, how do they do that?

-Sure, so they can join the main list, it's at frameworks.cc and then we have workshops and events all the time.

-Somebody could learn from the master..

-No no, we're all learning so that's the exciting...everybody is in it together and learning and growing and evolving together.

-Very cool, thank you very much, that is cool stuff.

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