Benjamin Grosser, an artist and a composer, earned an MFA in New Media from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Previously he earned degrees in music composition from Illinois before moving to the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where he directed the Imaging Technology Group.
Grosser’s focus is on the cultural, social, and political effects of software—that human-designed object at the heart of digital technologies that gives them agency and enables their interaction with us. What does it mean for human creativity when a computational system can paint its own artworks? How is an interface that foregrounds our friend count changing our conceptions of friendship? Why do we become emotionally attached to software systems and what does this attachment enable for those who made them? To examine questions like these, he constructs interactive experiences, machines, and interventions that make the familiar unfamiliar, revealing the ways that software prescribes our behavior and thus, how it changes who we are.
Grosser’s artworks have been written about widely, including articles by the Los Angeles Times, Creative Applications Network, Make, FastCoDesign, Gizmodo, Engadget, Corriere della Sera, Neural, and The New Aesthetic. The Huffington Post said of his Interactive Robotic Painting Machine that “Grosser may have unknowingly birthed the apocalypse.” His works have been curated into the Rhizome ArtBase, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, received a Creative Divergents Award in 2011, and a Terminal Award for 2012-13. His new work Facebook Demetricator is currently on view as part of The Public Private, an exhibition at Parsons in New York curated by Christiane Paul. Grosser’s music has also received recent performances at venues in New York City and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. His sound synthesis research was funded by the Illinois Campus Research Board and received an Arnold O. Beckman Award. His scientific visualizations and research have been recognized at SIGGRAPH, honored by the National Science Foundation, received NASA’s Software Award, and have been covered by the New York Times and National Public Radio.