Archive for the 'ITP' Category

Thesis Presentation

ITP Spring Show 2010

The ITP Spring Show is happening this Sunday and Monday, May 9-10. Two of my interactive telephony projects will be presented at the show, Potato Sack Race and Chat Roulette 1988 (made with Meredith Hasson).

ITP Spring Show 2010
May 9 2-6pm and May 10 5-9pm
@ 721 Broadway, 4th Fl


Scrape is an exploration of information privacy focusing on the graphical data that is left behind on a computer.

All computers store visual data. A computer’s graphics card is recording a history of all recent activity on the machine. The core of Scrape is a custom software application that retrieves the data from a computer graphics card, interprets it, and represents it visually. This creates a beautiful, abstract mosaic of sometimes chaotic and sometimes recognizable tiles of information.

The software is used in the three projects that make up Scrape: an interactive installation uncovering traces left behind when using a public computer, an online social network rethinking the concept of constant status updates, and an exhibit of prints using information as a drawing medium.

On one hand, Scrape is a reminder of the amount of trust we put into computers. On the other, the project exposes the tell-all attitude characterizing our online social interaction. Scrape explores these themes through a re-interpretation of data, using information as a medium for creating beautiful visual compositions.

Read the Thesis Paper

Thesis Week

I will be presenting my thesis project, Scrape, on Friday May 7 at 1:40pm. The graduating class at ITP will be presenting their theses all week. For more information, see

Two of the Scrape modules, the interactive installation and the exhibit of large format prints, will be on display throughout the week at ITP.

Border Crossing Kit

The Border Crossing Kit is a device that you can add to any space to make you feel like you’re crossing the US/Canada border. It flashes a strobe light when you cross it, much like all the cameras that take pictures of your car do as you drive up to the customs booth.

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Walk Cycles: Bed-Stuy vs SoHo

Matt Richard and I made a study to see if there was a difference in the way people moved depending on which neighbourhood we were in. We shot footage of people walking in Bed-Stuy and SoHo and reduced the image to body movements by rotoscoping over the frames.

Scrape Network

The Scrape Network is live!

Once you make an account, you can download the desktop agent and run it on your computer (OS X 10.5+ only for now). The agent allows you to scrape your graphics card manually or at random intervals. You can then save the generated images on disk or upload them to the Scrape site. You can also set Scrape to automatically post your “computation state” to Twitter.

Conductive Fluid

Matt Richard and I decided to make a fluid that would allow us to create liquid circuits.

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We tried many different combinations of the materials: water, oil, salt, powder graphite, and glue. The best combination was water, salt, and graphite, which resulted in a mixture that gave a steady reading of about 100 ohms. We used the liquid to create both a drawn circuit and an irrigation circuit.

Bike Generator

In my thesis class this week, we spoke about how many people have limited access to electricity. Indeed, a quick Google search confirmed that an estimated 25% of the world population has no access to electricity (mostly in rural areas of the developing world).

I thought it would be an interesting challenge to design a system that provides sustainable electricity cheaply, without relying on any infrastructure.

I based my system on wind-up flashlights. The mechanism is quite simple. You turn a crank that spins a DC motor at high speed, through a series of gears. By spinning the motor, you generate DC power which you can then use directly or store in a rechargeable battery for later use. I used a similar mechanism in my Zoeprojectoscope; it was quite easy to set up and worked very well.

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The idea for my Social Design project is to build a stationary bike that generates electricity. It looks just like an exercise bike, but has a much different purpose. The bike would ship disassembled, but including all parts, instructions, and tools necessary to put it together. By building the bike themselves, the users would have a better understanding of how their machine works and how to fix it if it ever breaks. Because the mechanism is so simple, it is not likely to break easily. It can also be built very cheaply: some structural material like wood or metal, a bearing for the pedals, and a DC motor. The most expensive part would be the rechargeable battery, but that is optional in the system. The battery is also the component that is most likely to need replacement first, so the circuit will be built in such a way that the battery can be bypassed (and the energy generated is used on the fly).

This is obviously not going to generate enough electricity to power a refrigerator, but it should be enough for less power-hungry items like lights, a radio, etc.

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Food Triad

This week we had to build a piece on our relationship to energy. The type of energy I focus on the most is food, mainly because I eat everyday and because I have a choice of what to eat. There are three main factors that come into play when I decide what to eat:

  1. How good does it taste?
  2. How healthy is it?
  3. How much does it cost?

There are also other factors, such as the time it takes to make/eat and whether or not it is good for the planet, but I don’t think about these as much, so it didn’t make sense to include them in my piece.

My idea was to build a food triad illustrating how my food “rates” against these three parameters. Each parameter is a slider that moves in one dimension on a scale, and by connecting each point, I end up with a triangle representative of what I am eating. The larger the triangle, the better the food is. I also wanted my piece to have a history, so that I could see my progression over time and whether or not I am making better decisions about what to eat.

I initially wanted to build a physical object I could put up on my wall. It consisted of a marking device and a scroll of paper, which I would unravel gradually as I added more entries. I unfortunately ran out of time coming up with the design so I built a prototype of what the marking device could look like.

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I still wanted to build a piece that would display a history, so I built the following sketch in Processing (use the left and right arrows to navigate).