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On a black background are a few gradient colour patches that are soft-edged and irregularly shaped. The colour changes, for example, from white to blue and then purplish-red, or from black to brown and then yellow. The sizes and shapes of the black spaces between the patches vary.

Zachary Lieberman:
Atlas of Blobs

Zachary Lieberman:
Atlas of Blobs

14 Dec 2022

‘I have a sort of blob obsession.’ Zachary Lieberman affirms his fervent passion for the soft-edged, amorphous form through Atlas of Blobs. Blobs are prevalent in our daily lives and manifest profusely in visual culture from Baroque edifices and surrealist paintings to contemporary spherical lamps and cushy sofas. Known for his computer graphics, digital animations, and interactive designs created with code, Lieberman has been making daily sketches since 2016, exploring the formal expressions of shapes and objects—especially blobs—in the digital realm. In Atlas of Blobs, he created ten blobs and invited writers from the fields of science, technology, humanities, and visual art to respond to their characteristics. The work forms cross-disciplinary dialogue on the idiosyncrasies of blobs, expanding their meaning and articulating their cultural significance as symbols of creativity and innovation.

Explore the Work

Read the Written Response

The human affinity for blobs continues to grow as technology advances. M+ Producer, Digital Special Projects Kate Gu unpacks Lieberman’s artistic practice, explains creative coding, and elaborates on the cultural values of blobs in A Blobby Stretch.

About the Artist

Zachary Lieberman is an artist, researcher, and educator. He has a simple goal: to surprise us. His performances and installations take human gestures as input and amplify them in different ways. Lieberman makes drawings come to life, imagines what a voice might look like if we could see it, and transforms people's silhouettes into music.

He has been listed as one of Fast Company's Most Creative People. His projects have won the Golden Nica from Ars Electronica and Interactive Design of the Year from Design Museum London, and have been listed in Time Magazine's Best Inventions of the Year. Lieberman creates artworks through writing software and is a co-creator of openFrameworks—an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding. He co-founded the School for Poetic Computation, a school examining the lyrical possibilities of code, where he also teaches. He is a professor at the MIT’s Media Lab, where he runs the Future Sketches group.

About Digital Commissions

M+ is committed to providing platforms for projects by creative practitioners who propose new frameworks and discussions for visual culture. M+ launched its ongoing series of digital commissions in 2018 to address aspects of digital culture today, pointing to new, pressing lines of enquiry. The experimental, browser-based works in this series explore the intersection of visual culture and technology, encompassing data visualisation, interactive design, gamification, and creative technology.

Image at top: Zachary Lieberman. Atlas of Blobs, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of the artist