Computer programmers and artists Zach Lieberman and Molmol Kuo have created a magical, digital playground at this year’s Teknopolis, BAM’s third annual interactive digital art showcase.

Through augmented reality, virtual reality and coding, the Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife team created seven interactive installations that take human expressions and movements to transform people’s silhouettes into shapes and patterns, and to let drawings come to life.

”We explore how technology can help us make art and bring it to life through the viewer’s participation,” explained Kuo.

Visitors can experience that upon entering the first floor of BAM’s Fisher building, as they are immediately immersed in the couple’s first installation,” Body Sketches.” The installation consists of a series of screens that reflect the visitors’ movements back to them in form of colorful geometric shapes and patterns. At a station, participants first draw patterns on paper to create costumes, body sketches, that are captured by a camera and then projected back in real-time.

Weird Cuts by Lieberman and Kuo. Photo credit: M. Allan for BK Reader

Another installation, “Weird Cuts,” is an augmented reality piece that allows visitors to make collages using photography. Users collect a wide range of materials via photographs, cut them into shapes, and then arrange their cutouts in a 3-D space by moving and tapping the screen, creating a marvelous multi-dimensional art piece.

“Mas Que la Cara,” which means “more than a face,” utilizes face-tracking software and animated graphics to augment the user’s facial expressions, creating a living mask that reacts to head and facial movements.

Zach Lieberman and Molmol Kuo at Teknopolis. Photo credit: Shana Parker, BAM.

“We wanted to create a sense of wonder, of imagination and play,” said Lieberman.” It’s also a great way for kids to experience new types of art and technology.”

Lieberman employs this approach also as the co-founder of the School for Poetic Computation. The Manhattan school explores the creative nature of computers utilized in art and design, and teaches writing code like a creative writing class. His students also contributed to the installations on display at BAM and have, in some cases, been directly involved in them, Lieberman said.

“These projects really come out of the classroom,” he explained. “My students even helped make some of them.”

For the installation piece “Re-Coded,” the students reinterpreted the works of celebrated digital artists. The reinterpretations are presented alongside the code that drives them. Visitors can then manipulate the code and create their own visually stunning art pieces by simply turning a series of knobs.

“Even if you don’t read code, and it seems like a foreign language, seeing the knobs, and seeing that there’s a direct relationship between the text of the code and the image, can really help educate people,” said Lieberman.

“Re-Coded” lets visitors manipulate the code and create visually stunning by turning a series of knobs. Photo credit: M. Allan for BK Reader.

Lieberman’s and Kuo’s installation are a multi-sensory experience, designed to be equally as engaging and fun, as they are informative and educational.

BAM’s digital art playground Teknopolis, which includes installations, virtual reality storytelling, augmented reality and 360° film created by an eclectic lineup of artists, will be running through Sunday, March 10. For more information, go here.


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