Tag Archive for 'thesis'

Thesis Presentation


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 itp.nyu.edu/shows/thesis2010.

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

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.


As I was not fully satisfied with any of the ideas for thesis projects I have had so far, I have decided to move forward with an idea I have had for a while now: Scrape.

Scrape is an art piece that explores information privacy by focusing on the graphical data that is left behind on a computer. All computers store visual data. The graphics card is basically recording a history of all recent activity on the machine. The core of Scrape is a custom software that retrieves the data from a computer graphics card at regular intervals. This found data is interpreted and represented visually, creating a beautiful, abstract mosaic of sometimes chaotic and sometimes recognizable tiles of information. Continue reading ‘Scrape’

iPhone Zoetrope

Another thesis idea I had last semester was to build something I called an “iPhone Power Ranger”. I didn’t have a specific idea, but I wanted to build an app that required multiple iPhones to work. It is really interesting to see how the iPhone is such a ubiquitous device in New York, especially at ITP. It is something I found quite shocking when I first moved to this city, especially given the fact that I hardly knew anyone who owned any type of smartphone back in Montreal. Many companies simply assume everyone has an iPhone and therefore only offer services only for that specific platform. I wanted to take this idea further and push it to a ridiculous level, expecting people to have not one, but many iPhones in order to use my app.

I revisited this concept and combined it with the 3D zoetrope. I was thinking about some comments I got in class, specifically on how some people were interested in creating their own animations, and others were concerned that the same 12 frame animation would get old really fast. I started exploring the idea of using small LCD screens to hold the content so that it could be easily updatable. This seemed like a huge hassle because they need to be powered, receive content, look good, not get tangled up as they spin, etc. Then it hit me: The iPhone has a high-resolution screen, is battery-powered, has wireless networking capabilities, and can be programmed to do almost anything. It is perfect for my needs.


The idea is to create a disc that has placeholders for 8 iPhones. The disc is the same size as a 12″ record and can fit on any conventional turntable. These 8 devices are running an app which allows them to be directed by a 9th controller iPhone. The controller is used to draw frames, send them to the other phones, and keep the whole system in sync. The system is therefore not limited by a specific number of frames, as the 8 screens can queue up images and draw them in sequence.


I am pretty excited about this idea, a lot more than I have been about the other thesis ideas I have had so far, but there are still many concerns to be addressed:

  1. I have to learn a new programming language, Objective-C, to write software for the iPhone. I am also going to have to dive into lots of networking code, which is notoriously always a struggle.
  2. I must build a record that is light enough to be driven by the turntable, but solid enough to keep all the phones in place.
  3. I need 9 iPhones. It won’t be too hard to find 8 people who can lend me their phones for a bit, but it will be more difficult to find 8 people who will let me install software on their phone and lend it to me for an extended period of time.
  4. I have to make sure I can get a decent animation framerate from the system. The fastest my turntable can spin is 72rpm. At 8 screens per rotation, I get a little less than 10fps, which is not ideal.

Stereoscopic Updates

It looks like both thesis ideas on stereoscopic vision are going down the drain.

I lost interest in the 3D camera rig idea because I met 3 people in the last week who are working on very similar projects, and that pretty much turned me off.

In regards to the anaglyph drawing machine, I was a little worried about the technology as I have not seen red/blue 3D glasses in ages; most 3D experiences now use polarized glasses. After doing a little research, I found out that the red/blue glasses technique is out-dated as it doesn’t work super well, causes eyestrain, gives headaches, and doesn’t represent true colors. I found someone online named Sylvain Arnoux who worked on a similar idea and confirmed all this over an e-mail exchange. I do not really want to work on something that is already deprecated, so I am leaning away from this idea.

Another Zoetrope

A third thesis idea: Building a mechanical sculpture which creates a 3D animation when operated.

I have always been very interested in moving images, particularly animation. I studied traditional animation in college and became very fascinated with all types of stop-motion animation including claymation, pixilation, sand animation, etc. There is an extra dimension that is created when animating recognizable objects over drawings in that they come to life. It is enchanting to see something we can touch and feel start moving.

I love to teach and share my knowledge, and I want to share this fascination with everyone. I used to teach animation and cartooning in grade schools. When I started getting into computer programming, I always shared my code and built tools to show and help others build their projects. I strongly believe that you learn best by example, by seeing, touching, and experimenting with what you are trying to understand.

I also very much enjoy the process of designing and building an object. I had a great experience doing this last year with the Zoeprojectoscope, and I would like to do this again. It is very challenging for me to break away from the computer and to actually build something physical. This is the reason I came to ITP and working on this for my thesis will definitely help me develop this skill.

Combining these three interests resulted in this idea of building an interactive object demonstrating how animation works.


Toy Story 3D Zoetrope (via Adi Marom)
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Burning Man Monkeys (via Karla Calderon)
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We Got Time music video by David Wilson
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I would like to build a tabletop mechanical device which reveals an animation loop when cranked. The device would be a hybrid between a 3D zoetrope and a praxinoscope. I really like working with acrylic sheets so I would like to build the entire object using this material.

The mechanism would consist of two polygonal spools placed one above the other. A crank attached to both spools would be used to operate the device. The top spool will be made up of mirrored faces and the bottom spool will have the 3D animation “frames” installed on each face. In order to view the moving image, the participant will have to look at the reflection of the frames in the mirrored spool.

praxinoscope2 praxinoscope1

The animation loops can be swapped, so the same device can be used to create many different animations. I will build an abstract 3D animation and will also create a set of frames that can hold paper frames so that anyone can create their own drawn animation.

Thesis Updates, New Ideas

I made a quick draft of the vertical bars idea in Processing and concluded that the illusion is not extreme enough to create different patterns. The concept works, but the illusion is very subtle and I unfortunately don’t think my idea will work.

I have been reading The Intelligent Eye, another book by R.L. Gregory which focuses on stereoscopic vision and find the topic very interesting. Two new ideas came out of this:

  1. Now that 3D TVs have been announced by all the major manufacturers, the next step is to bring the ability to create 3D content to the everyday person. I thought of building a 2-camera rig which would allow the creation of stereoscopic content. I could open-source the whole process and create a step-by-step tutorial online, so that anyone who is interested can build his own rig.
  2. In the book, Gregory mentions an anaglyph drawing machine which works by drawing a red and blue stroke simultaneously on the page as you move your stylus. The further apart the lines are, the closer the shape appears to the viewer (when wearing anaglyph filter glasses). His machine was not explained in detail, but it appeared to set depth based on the vertical position of the stylus. I am thinking of building my own stereoscopic drawing machine, which would use a mechanism similar to that of a bicycle brake to set how close the red and blue strokes are to each other. I am thinking something along the lines of Rhonda, but as a physical device instead of software.

A Thesis Idea

I want to explore optical illusions made through persistence of vision.

I worked on an ARG a few years ago where we tried to come up with visual puzzles for the players and became very interested in the subject matter. I still get together with some of the people I worked with and discuss different visual puzzle ideas that we find interesting. This research led me to Eye and Brain, a book on the psychology of vision by R.L. Gregory, to better understand how our perception works.

My idea is to build a device that reveals recognizable images or messages by combining mechanical motion and human vision. I think this would be very compelling because it is not just a machine that works standalone, but a system that requires a human to function.

I have been exploring an illusion consisting of alternating black and white vertical bars. The bars scroll from right to left for a while and stop abruptly. For the next few seconds, our eyes are still “following” this motion, so the bars appear to be moving from left to right (in the opposite direction). Instead of stopping the entire length of the bars, my idea is to only stop some horizontal sections of the set of bars and keep the rest going, so that more complex shapes get created. By carefully picking which sections stop and which keep scrolling, I would try to create simple recognizable shapes like letters.

I am not sure this idea would work as the illusion might not occur if there is still motion happening, since our eyes will still have a point of reference to follow. My next step is to create a quick Processing sketch to see if this would work or not.


Bit.Code by Julius Popp (via Adi Marom)
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X by Y by Daniel Rozin