Ann Arbor nonprofit and speaker company collaborate on massive interactive sculpture in Grand Rapids

Ann Arbor-based Leon Speakers has teamed up with Ann Arbor nonprofit CultureVerse to build an interactive sculpture that debuted at Grand Rapids' annual ArtPrize competition last week.

The project, titled EIRO, is the creation of artist and Leon Speakers founder Noah Kaplan. Kaplan and the CultureVerse team conceptualized and built the sculpture, a three-story tower that responds to human interaction through light and sound.

“The greater good of art to me is always to make you feel something,” Kaplan says. “I want EIRO to stand out in that we want to push the boundaries of what you’re thinking about. You’re going to participate in the art and be able to call yourself a musician.”

When Kaplan brought the EIRO idea to CultureVerse Executive Director Aubrey Martinson, she immediately saw potential in the project. EIRO aligned perfectly with CultureVerse's goal of combining arts and culture with technological know-how “to make amazing things happen, big or small,” according to the nonprofit's website.  

“We knew it could be real. We just needed something to crystallize around,” Martinson says. “The nucleus is Noah Kaplan and his team, and we looped in to help bring it to life. We have a broad range of expertise that allows us to be fluid and flexible.” 

EIRO will be on display at ArtPrize through Oct. 2. An online live feed will also be available throughout that time at eiro.live, allowing visitors to look through EIRO and influence how it behaves. After ArtPrize’s conclusion, Kaplan has plans to not only use the physical sculpture in other locations like music festivals and concerts, but also to bring the experience into the virtual world. 

“There are so many things that are polarizing, and we want this to be something that is truly connective," Kaplan says. "Our mission with EIRO is to see through it, and through it, see.”

To learn more about the EIRO project, or to play with the sculpture online or in person, visit the project website.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photos by Bryan Esler.