Eyebeam Starts Kickstarter for Public Renovation and Expansion in Chelsea

Eyebeam, a nonprofit organization that supports artists working with technology, occupies a giant ground-floor space on Manhattan’s West 21st Street that any commercial gallery would covet. The grey façade and the indeterminate space inside can be intimidating and confusing, though — there’s a front counter and a bookstore that continues into a mess of studio and gallery space. Eyebeam is now launching a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter to both renovate their space and expand their programming in the Chelsea neighborhood.

The Kickstarter is aimed at raising $25,000 to create a public hang out area in the front of Eyebeam, expand the bookstore into a full-fledged library with free Wi-Fi, and fund programming in the new spaces. Given the organization’s aesthetic, you can be sure that this will be the coolest, most tech-savvy coffee shop in Chelsea, and probably the most comfortable gallery in New York. Check out the rendering above.

The open-source campaign builds on Eyebeam’s spirit of sharing and collaboration. The organization is devoted to breaking down the boundaries between worlds, working across the fields of visual art, technology, design, and architecture through workshops and artist residencies as well as exhibitions, events, and performances.

But if you need other reasons to donate besides supporting an extremely worthy cause, there are plenty of excellent prizes. A $25 donation will net a special Yes Men edition of the New York Times, and for $75, donors will receive a limited edition card game by artist and video game designer Zach Gage. The coolest reward is at the $2000 level, which will get lucky donors a 3D-scanned Kinect portrait from artist James George.

Really, we can’t say enough about Eyebeam’s role in bringing the visual art and technology communities closer together. Though new media festivals and spaces exist in Europe that serve these needs, New York City and the United States as a whole is really lagging behind. By supporting Eyebeam, we have a chance to make sure our city (and our local art community) is at the forefront of artistic innovation. Happy funding! [Kickstarter]