I recently stopped in for a studio visit with Moore Pattern project creator Jeff Lieberman. As Jeff describes it, the Moore Pattern is a “kinetic optical-illusion sculpture,” a meditative piece of rotating wall art that Jeff’s offering at $150 a pop. With three days left in his Kickstarter campaign, Jeff is nearly 200% over his goal with 182 backers pledged for 192 sculptures. Not sure if I was drawn to the hair, voice, synthesizers, sculpture, or achingly silly vibe, but some combination of the elements made me think, “hey, I happen to be in Boston, and I would like to shake this man’s hand.”
I quickly learned the hair (and voice) are fake; the electronica and trippy sculpture are only 2 of approx. 200 awesome creations, the goofiness is really just a cover for other-worldly enlightenment, and shaking Jeff’s hand turned out to be one of the top 10 casual decisions of my life.
Like many artists, Jeff’s studio doubles as his apartment, and it is flooded with light. The Moore Pattern spins (non-stop for the last five years) next to his front door, and amidst a sea of original artwork and recording gear is an immaculate upright piano, which Jeff has been playing since age 14. He’s currently working on Chopin’s first ballade with the hopes of “effortless mastery.” (He’s pretty close. No.Big.Deal.) Across from his kitchen sink is a framed array of 30 pink plastic doll hands, each one with a different note on it written in ink, apparently recreating the 30 notes Jeff had jotted down on his hand the 30 times his best friend saw him before his 30th birthday.
Next to that glass box of paws is a massive piece of construction paper with the kind of brainstorming web I hadn’t seen since middle school, except instead of “5 paragraph essay” connecting to thought bubbles like “intro” and “thesis,” “Life” is mad philosopher-scientist linked to “Evolution,” “Self/Ego,” “Thinking/Thought,” “Perception,” and “Happiness.”
Jeff has received 4 degrees from M.I.T., where he studied for 10 years and was influenced by artists like Arthur Ganson, whose Gestural Engineering exhibition (permanently on display at M.I.T.) made Jeff realize he didn’t have to choose art or science, he could just make art that involved science! He developed and starred in the Discovery Channel series Time Warp, a show that used slow-motion photographing technologies to reveal the limits of perception that otherwise prevent us from seeing the truly magical biology, chemistry, and physics of things (like the popping of a champagne cork or a boxer’s jaw as he’s getting clobbered).
Limits of perception and revelation are key concepts for Jeff, who sees his technology-based art as a means to bring people to meditation, which he describes as the act of “trying to think of everything you can until you give up, and that’s the moment when you let go and actually start to see.” He believes we are in the midst of an epic Renaissance right now (“—you mean in music?” I offer. “I mean in everything!” he exclaims). He refers to the arduino as “the new paintbrush” and open-source access as “the model everyone will be working off of within the next 30 years.” (The Moore Pattern is an open source project, as is everything Jeff does, and he is about to release his own arduino library for strobes.)
Jeff believes “celebrity will disappear, and all that will be left are micro-cultures” (cough Kickstarter projects cough) that can and will sustain themselves. He believes that for an artist, it’s the process not the product that is the art (cough Kickstarter projects cough). Jeff says the process of his art is to “find two forms of magic and combine them. Then wait to reveal the second one.” For me, the first was the Moore Pattern. The second was just Jeff.
The Moore Pattern project ends at 6:40p ET this Sunday, May 15th. Click here to support it.