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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Peter Girardi, 33

Funny Garbage

Peter Girardi calls what he does "translation." What he means is that he’s moving words written in traditional media--cartoons, theater and music, for example--into the digital realm. Girardi is well placed to do this work, because the transition from conventional media to bits is one he has made himself. At 16,Girardi was spray-painting New York subway cars. In 1987 he moved from graffiti artist to student at the School of Visual Arts, where he began exploring what computers can do. At Funny Garbage, the company he founded in 1995, he is helping bring interactive technology to many established art forms.

For instance, in his earlier work as creative director of CD-ROM developer Voyager, Girardi produced an interactive CD version of Art Spiegelman’s dark "Maus"--the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon epic Spiegelman based on his father’s experience of the Holocaust. In addition to participating in digital artistic collaborations, his company also does Web site design. Clients range from the popular search engine Alta Vista, for which Funny Garbage created a new interface, to David Byrne’s world music label, Luaka Bop. According to Spiegelman, "Peter is the best of the new gardeners landscaping our new virtual jungle."

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