About Being Material

At the intersection of art, science, and technology, the book Being Material (MIT Press, 2019) and its companion website explore the worlds of materialities and materialisms today: the unexpected convergences in the practices of artists, designers, engineers, and scientists who work with programmable matter, self-assembling structures, 3D/4D printing, wearable technologies, and bio-inspired design.


Designers E Roon Kang, Skylar Tibbits, Marcelo Coelho, and Lukas Debiasi grappled with the material forces that create the objects of such assemblages as the internet of things, as well as those other material-digital devices around us every day, beginning with the form of the book Being Material and its interaction with the companion website.

If you open beingmaterial.mit.edu on any camera-enabled phone, laptop, or desktop computer, and then point the camera toward the cover and interior pages of the book, you will unlock films, music, images, and other dynamic content that complement and extend the book’s physical pages.


Sample Interaction:

Machine learning and computer vision enable communication with the website through the unique visual arrangements of images and text on various pages throughout the book. The camera recognizes the graphic pattern of the printed page and then orchestrates digital content that can be played and controlled online. The content can be as simple as a soundtrack that plays as you read through the book, videos that extend the written text, or a variety of other digital elements.

We think this book offers something unique: a way of employing graphic design, printed ink, machine learning, and computer vision to create a book that is a hybrid of being digital-material.

Step-by-Step Use Instructions: