Being Material

Augmenting reading with artificial intelligence
Lukas Debiasi
E Roon Kang
Skylar Tibbits
Marcelo Coelho
Minkyoung Kim
Marie-Pier Boucher
Stefan Helmreich
Leila W. Kinney
Rebecca Uchill
Evan Ziporyn

Being Material (MIT Press, 2019) is a book and website that use machine learning to conflate digital and material readings experiences. At the intersection of art, science, and technology, Being Material explores the world of materiality today: the unexpected convergences in the practices of artists, designers, engineers, and scientists who work with programmable matter, self-assembling structures, 3D/4D printing, wearable technologies, and bio-inspired design.

By pointing a camera toward the cover and interior pages of the book, readers can unlock films, music, images, and other dynamic content that complement and extend the book’s physical pages. Machine learning and computer vision enable communication with the website through the unique visual arrangements of images and text on various pages throughout the book. A classifier trained on over 30,000 images allows a mobile camera to recognize every page in the book and orchestrate digital content that can be played and controlled both physically and online, without the need of extraneous QR codes or visual markers.

Winner of the AIGA 50 Books Award. 2019.

Author/Editor: Marie-Pier Boucher, Stefan Helmreich, Leila W. Kinney, Skylar Tibbits, Rebecca Uchill, and Evan Ziporyn.
Book Design: E Roon Kang & Minkyoung Kim
Interaction Design: Marcelo Coelho, Lukas Debiasi, E Roon Kang, Skylar Tibbits
Publisher: MIT Press