Functional Embraces

Brooklyn based ‘net architect’ and artist Eric Rieper, describes himself as an ‘Interaction Designer and Freelance Everthingist.’ An appropriate description, considering his entertaining, thoughtful and boundary-pushing artwork.

His work uses combinations of video, visual-projection, interactive sound, sculpture, generative art, music, programming, sensors, motors and lighting. It re-processes and reconfigures the artwork in interactive real-time. The art is not static but ‘participatory’ and responds to the viewers input.

Rieper invites his audience into his work, making them co-constructors. He provides structured pathways for them to follow, but allows them to insert elements of their own narrative. These elements can be composed sounds, movements, locations or images.

He accomplishes this, through clever combinations of generative programming, audio-visual interactions, code and mechanics.

Composites : 2012

His 2012 interactive installation,‘Composites’ explored what Rieper called, ‘the compound nature of self.’ It allowed the viewer to enter a room, inside of which stood a multi-layered projected figure in an open doorway. The figure spoke mechanically, through a television set placed outside of the room.

In the centre of the room, a microphone was placed. When the viewer approached it, the external sound faded, light activated in the doorway and the microphone became live.

This provided the opportunity for the viewer to become the external sound source. Anything spoken by them was repeated by the figure and amplified, to be heard by anyone else in the room. This effectively elevated the interaction of the viewer onto the level of the artwork making them (in a sense), it’s co-creator.

Embrace Object : 2013

His ‘Embrace Object’ sculpture, used Kinect and Arduino technology, to create what he labelled a ‘reactive sculpture.’ When left alone, the sculpture was dormant. Once reached out to, it reacted, by ‘reaching back’ at the viewer. The sight of a previously static object, reacting in a seemingly personal way, combined with the sounds produced by its mechanics, gave the sculpture a definite (and vaguely unsettling) personality.

Eyes Without a Facebook : 2013

His Eyes Without A Facebook’ project, explored the idea of a Facebook page as a series of social interactions, stripped of all marks of identity. What remained were a series of ghostly imprints, comments, images and icons. Separated from their authors, the carefully cultivated Facebook page, became an anonymous wall of social graffiti.

Wrekkin Bal : 2013

His complete deconstruction of Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ video, reduced the singer to a series of stuttering fluid echoes. Reconfiguring both the song and the visuals so dramatically resulted in something far more cutting-edge and altogether more interesting.

Wake Up With the World : 2014

His latest project ‘Wake Up With the World’ is a ‘collaborative musical waking experience’ for IOS. It uses the GPS coordinates of the anonymous participants smartphones to form the musical notes of their morning alarms. When combined, with others, waking at the same time, they form the ‘song’ of the morning alarm. Each participant, becomes a series of notes in a unique instrumental part. As more people join, the composition becomes more elaborate.

The piece is part of Rieper’s ‘Functional Embrace exhibition‘ due to debut at the Pratt Institute, Department of Digital Arts, on April 14th, 2014.


Much of Rieper’s work focuses on the intangible and intimate links between places, people and technology.  Rieper is a playful, clever and innovative artist, unafraid to subvert expectations. In his work, technology becomes a vehicle, holding both memory and possibility.  A means to explore and create. A pathway to the past and a road to the future.


%d bloggers like this: