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As Eyebeam Turns 20, the Arts Nonprofit Moves to Bushwick

Known for innovation, Eyebeam will mark its two-decade long history with a move to one of New York’s art hubs.

Exterior of the new Eyebeam space at 199 Cook Street in Bushwick (all photos courtesy Eyebeam)

Eyebeam, the longstanding arts and technology incubator, has moved from Sunset Park to Bushwick, and this week it launched a Kickstarter to support its new home. Described as “a power station for ideas and invention,” the 6,000-square-foot space at 199 Cook Street is a vital workplace and accessible creative hub in a city where artists increasingly struggle to find affordable studios and exhibition space. Running through the end of the month, the Kickstarter is aiming to raise $15,000 to support its residents and maintain an active schedule of public programming, from panel discussions to tech workshops.

The doors to the new space officially open to the public on November 30, when Eyebeam is throwing an opening party (and you can bet it’ll be “the techiest art party of the season!”). Tickets to attend are just one of the rewards that donors to its Kickstarter can receive (with a $25 pledge); other options include digital art sent from Eyebeam alumni to your inbox and a portfolio review by members of the Eyebeam family.

Exterior of the new Eyebeam space at 199 Cook Street in Bushwick

The nonprofit, which will turn 20 next spring, has spent the last three years in Industry City, where it migrated after 17 years in Chelsea. That location was always intended as a temporary one, and Eyebeam was initially considering to move into a permanent home in downtown Brooklyn, opposite BAM, before settling on Bushwick.

“Eyebeam is at its best when it is oscillating between present and future through the visionary work of artists and technologists coming together with the community — and that vibrant community is centered in Bushwick,” director Roddy Schrock told Hyperallergic. “Hardly a day goes by when we don’t learn about an Eyebeam alum, startup, or friendly organization with studios within walking distance of our new community hub for invention and ideas. And that feels great.”

The three-story development from the Mann Group occupies a former warehouse and was actually built specifically for artists, envisioned as an “industrial arts complex.” Eyebeam occupies the ground-floor space, which boasts soaring ceilings and ​custom-designed​ ​facilities​ ​for​ ​residency​ ​and​ ​education​ ​programs.​

Moving in tomorrow, November 2, its new residents will be the first to experience the new digs and warm up the new in-house equipment. As announced earlier this year, they are American Artist, BUFU, Stephanie Dinkins, and Dhruv Mehtora, and will all make work responding to the theme of Trust.

With the opening of the new space, Eyebeam is also introducing a new pilot program, the R&D Program for the Future of Journalism, which invites journalists and artists to grapple with the rise of fake news. The inaugural residents are artist and engineer Surya Mattu and Eyebeam alum Ingrid Burrington, who previously produced a field guide to New York’s internet-related infrastructure as part of her 2014 residency. Eyebeam is also continuing its summer program for public high school students, Digital Day Camp; every additional $1,500 it raises beyond $20,000 from its Kickstarter will be dedicated to the two-week intensive course.

Clearly, the nonprofit will be turning 20 in style as it enters a new chapter of limitless experimentation and innovation.

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