PSFK Conference Speaker Interview: Zach Lieberman

Zach Lieberman will be one of the speakers at our upcoming PSFK Conference 2010, taking place on April 9th. Zach is a creative technologist whose work...

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on March 17, 2010.

Zach Lieberman will be one of the speakers at our upcoming PSFK Conference 2010, taking place on April 9th. Zach is a creative technologist whose work bridges the real world with the digital. He currently teaches at Parsons, and helped to develop the EyeWriter project – “an ongoing collaborative research effort to empower people who are suffering from ALS with creative technologies.”

PSFK talked with Zach to see what he’s been up to lately.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment, I’m working on the next iteration of the eyewriter (, an open source eye tracking device that helps paralyzed people draw and communicate using their eye movements.  I’m teaching a collaboration studio at Parsons School of Design where a group of extremely bright and talented hackers and researchers are looking at new designs for the hardware, software and interaction of the device.

In addition I’m working on my own art projects, openframeworks, the C++ toolkit for artists I helped create and a few ongoing installations.

What has been the most interesting response or reaction to your project?

Besides the great level of good feedback for the eyewriter project, we’re getting people taking our instructions and building and improving on the device.  That’s exciting to see.   It was amazing to open up my inbox and see the first eyewriter built by a stranger.  Now there is a growing community of hackers from all over the world and we’re trying to bring them all together as best we can.

It was also quite cool to win the design of the year award for interaction category at the Design Museum.  It’s always great to get recognition from your peers.

PSFK Conference Speaker Interview- Zach Lieberman-2

What projects, people or ideas are currently inspiring your thinking these days?

I had an expert in assistive tech come into my classroom last week and he said something quite elegant, “Empathy not sympathy,”  that quote has really stuck in my head.  Besides his work and research, I’ve been thinking about William Kentridge’s work which is up at the Moma — I heard him speak a few weeks ago and he said he makes, “images that defy rational cross examiniation.”  I found that description quite moving.

What developing trend, idea or technology makes you most excited or hopeful for the future?

I’m quite enthusiastic about open source hardware and better tools for artists.   Lower barriers to entry and more voices will lead to new stories, new messages, new solutions which the world very much needs.


Zach will be speaking at the PSFK Conference 2010 – a Gathering for our Future. Come listen to likeminds as they share their ideas to make things better on stage and off. Find out more about the full line of of speakers at the PSFK Conference 2010 here.