Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Wonder: The Impossible Is Possible

[T]hat was the first time I've drawn anything
for seven years. I feel like I've been held under water
and someone finally reached down and pulled my head up
so I could breathe.
~ TEMPT1, August 2009

TEMPT1 (his real name is Tony Quan) is a Los Angeles-based graffiti artist who has ALS (he was diagnosed in 2003). As is the experience of a friend of mine with ALS, TEMPT is paralyzed and, until recently, could only communicate one letter at a time, one blink of the eyes at a time, because his insurance would not pay for the kind of device that, for example, Stephen Hawkings, who also has ALS, uses to communicate. His mind, fully intact, is "locked in" the body he cannot move. He has not lost his talent for drawing, only the means to create his art. . . until Mick Ebeling, his friend, got inspired.

Design and branding expert Mick Ebeling is the founder and CEO of New York- and Los Angeles-based The Ebeling Group, a creative think tank and international production company that represents leading design and directing collectives. (TEG's clients have included the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, Sony Pictures, and Sundance Film Festival.) Ebeling is also the founder of The Not Impossible Foundation, which, formed on the fly and with money out of the group's own pockets, found a way for TEMPT1 to draw again. He and a team of programmers, hackers, inventors, and other artists created EyeWriter, a low-cost, design-it-yourself eye-tracking device that can be built using the team's free open-source code and locally obtained materials, including a pair of sun glasses from the drugstore. How Ebeling and his team came to be introduced to TEMPT1 and develop EyeWriter for him is the subject of today's video (it's just under 8 minutes in length). It's an inspiring story of how an "ordinary problem of an extraordinary person" finds a solution.

TEMPT1's work, by the way, is included in "Art in the Streets", which opened April 17 in Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you see something that isn't possible, make it possible.
~ Mick Ebeling

Video Link:

EyeWriter was named by Time magazine as one of The 50 Best Inventions of 2010.

I included an item about the EyeWriter project in my April 10, 2010, Saturday Sharing column. You'll find in the post a video that highlights what The Ebeling Group and other project collaborators are doing to make it possible for artists, writers, and others paralyzed by ALS or other neuro-degenerative diseases or spinal cord injuries to draw, write, and communicate using only their eyes. The development team has worked with engineers in Mumbai, India, to develop from parts obtained locally a variation of their original EyeWriter design: MumbaiWriter. (Learn more about MumbaiWriter here.)

In May 2010, EyeWriter received the first Future Everything Award for innovation in art, society, technology. In March of the same year, the project won the Prix Ars Electronica - Winner Interactive Art _ Golden Nicas and Grant. The latter is one of the most prestigious awards for creativity in the field of digital media.

Mick Ebeling on FaceBook

The Ebeling Group on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo

The Not Impossible Foundation on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo
Future Everything (Manchester, United Kingdom) on FaceBook 


S. Etole said...

this is remarkable ... what a gift

Kathleen Overby said...

This reminded me of the excellent "The Butterfly and the Diving Bell" - having trouble with the TED link though- might be my end.

Joyce Wycoff said...

Louise asks us to write a letter to life ... this video says it all. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

good post, mo.

Padmavani said...

Amazing Maureen...and so inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.