Patterned by Nature: Kinetic Art by MIT Alum Jeff Lieberman

Check out this post about MIT alum Jeff Lieberman from the Alumni Association’s Slice of MIT blog by guest blogger Erin Lee, MIT Alumni Association Intern.

How does a gigantic glass LCD display represent nature? The 90-foot long “ribbon” that slices through the atrium of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shows animated patterns inspired by nature, from flying birds to clouds floating across the sky.

Titled “Patterned by Nature,” the sculpture is an impressive crossover between engineering, art, and the natural world. Its creator, Jeff Lieberman ’00, SM ’04, SM ’06, has been studying the intersection of art and science for years and “Patterned by Nature” is the perfect manifestation of this belief.

Lieberman has loved art and science since he was young, but it never occurred to him to merge the two until he came to MIT. In an interview with The Tech Iris, Lieberman recalled a time when he visited the MIT Museum and was “blown away” by the exhibition of Arthur Ganson’s sculptural work. “Here was the first artist I saw merging the arts with a scientific/engineering knowledge, in a way that was both totally transparent (you can see every mechanism in his work) and totally magical,” he said. “I was hooked.”

Lieberman’s experience at the MIT Museum was just the beginning of a long process of enlightenment. “It took me almost 20 years of my life though, to start understanding that art and science could be considered as one — starting at the MIT Media Lab where I worked on projects like Cyberflora with Professor Cynthia Breazeal. Since then, I am learning more and more about how they fit together,” he said.

After MIT, Lieberman took up kinetic art to experiment with his new interest. In 2008 he built the music-making sculpture “Absolut Quartet” with Dan Paluska SB ‘97. Lieberman’s ventures in technological sculpting led to the creation of his design firm Plebian Design, which co-developed “Patterned by Nature.”

Back in 2008, Lieberman hosted the Discovery Channel show Time Warp which took a look at physics through the lens of a high-speed camera. In 2009, Slice of MIT highlighted some of the unusual phenomena shown on Time Warp.

Besides finding grand public spaces for his work, Lieberman has also ventured into Kickstarter campaigning in the past few years to create smaller pieces in private homes.

Other side activities of Lieberman include digital photography and making music in his two-man band Gloobic. More of Lieberman’s original photographs and music can be found on his personal sites.

Posted on August 5, 2013 by Anya Ventura