Theo Watson’s EyeWriter was inspired by a LA graffiti artist named TEMPTONE. In 2003, Tempt1 was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that affects muscle movement. The disease left the artist completely paralyzed except for eye movement. Members of Free Art and Technology, openFrameworks, and the Graffiti Research Lab (all of which Theo is apart of), began working to develop a program that would allow ALS patients like Tempt1 to draw using only their eyes.
Watson’s website describes the project as, “The long-term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art.” (1)
After the program was developed, they took it one step further and projected TEMPT1’s tags onto the sides of buildings as laser graffiti, allowing him to continue a hobby he loved from his hospital bed. They’ve also developed a robot arm that can physically reproduce drawings made in the EyeWrite program. The EyeWriter is more than just an experiment in new media, it’s a fascinating example of how new media art can human needs and improve day to day life. Watson and his collaborators won the Design of the Year award from the British Design Museum and the first Future Everything award
for their efforts.
Source: The EyeWriter website (http://eyewriter.org/)