2012 New Visual Artist: George Michael Brower

WebGL Bookcase interface for Google (art direction and programming), 2011

“I make images, music and software,” the top of George Michael Brower’s website says. That’s as good an introduction as any to the 23-year-old designer’s body of work, which has been cross-disciplinary from the start. “My first act of graphic design was a Geocities website,” he says. “I became interested in programming shortly thereafter but never stopped making images. Even if the output is static, there’s usually custom software in my work at some level.”

Age: 23
Creative Technologist
From: Chappaqua, New York
Lives in: San Francisco
Website: georgemichaelbrower.com

Currently working for Google’s fledgling Data Arts Team (led by Aaron Koblin, a 2010 New Visual Artist), Brower is part of a group of designers and developers who have been tasked with “harnessing the web as a platform for artwork”—in other words, using the Internet itself as a medium. “We’re always trying to figure out what we can do with new web technologies,” he says. “The hope is that by putting these sorts of experimental projects into the wild, the response will be: ‘That’s awesome—I didn’t realize you can do that, and it totally gives me an idea!’ ”

"The Wilderness Downtown" video for the Arcade Fire song "We Used to Wait" (interaction design and programming), 2010

Brower’s personal projects, such as a visual identity for his band, George & Jonathan, often sport neon colors and playful shapes. (“I like rainbow gradients and fat letters,” he says.) The centerpiece is an animated wagging finger whose motion he can change by manipulating its data “springs.” “It’s nothing terribly complicated, but I enjoy making tiny custom tools like that with code,” he says. “It’s software as a means to an end—in this case, an animated GIF—but I like exposing the software as both a piece of the process and the final product.”

Infographic for Science on civilian casualties in Afghanistan (art direction and programming), 2011

nGram sculptures for Science (art direction and programming), 2011

Working in multiple disciplines also keeps Brower from ever feeling like he’s repeating himself. “I hate being confronted with my old ideas,” he says. “I’m continually embarrassed by the version of me that existed about three months prior. I imagine that stops eventually.”

Girl Talk concert poster (2009)


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