The Z Thing

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April Greiman talks about design as if it were an extreme sport or backcountry expedition. She uses words like fear, the void and adventure.

Greiman, head of the Los Angeles-based design consultancy, Made in Space, specializes in what she calls "transmedia design"—storytelling that takes a brand or design concept across print, architecture and video, from pamphlets and identities to color schemes and materials for buildings to large-scale digital installations. The School of Visual Arts has given her this year's Masters Series Award and will host a Greiman-curated, honorary retrospective of her category-bending work starting next month.

Greiman is touted as one of the first designers to merge digital and video imagery with print graphics. While heading the visual communication program at California Institute of the Arts in 1982, what she calls "frustration with 2D" led her to learn how to shoot video and work on an analog computer at the film school. Later, when Apple released the Macintosh, Greiman gained yet another tool for her design experiments.

April Greiman
April Greiman
Greiman says her next frontier for exploration is large-scale LED installations and digital images. Recently, Greiman turned a video image into an 8,200 square-foot mural, "Hand Holding a Bowl of Rice," at the Wilshire Vermont Station in L.A.'s Koreatown. Also, Made in Space is currently designing a more than 30-foot-tall interactive LED installation spanning the entire lobby of the Accenture Tower in Minneapolis.

"I'd like to think I've been somebody who is always willing to leap into the void," Greiman says. "As soon as I leapt into the technology void and left print, I went into the third dimension—buildings and space—and then the fourth dimension—video and movement. That for me is what I'd like to be known for—[working] back and forth and in and out of media. We're not just the X and Y axes, we're also the Z now, and have been since the early '80s. And so that's what I hope I'd be known for: the Z thing."

"April Greiman: Does It Make Sense?" will be on view from October 20 through mid-December at the Visual Arts Museum in New York City.

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