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Analog and Digital Collide in a Burst of Text and LEDs at the ITP Spring 2009 Show

by Josh Rubin
on 11 May 2009
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Twice each year students from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) exhibit their final projects. Ranging between artistic and commercial, conceptual and pragmatic, the work is always inspirational. With every show there seems to be an emergent theme—this year's collision of analog and digital isn't unprecedented, but does deliver new interpretations to get excited about.

AL-gorithm, by Alex Kauffmann
Alex Kauffmann, the artist behind AL-gorithm, wanted to wrap his head around the Unix search command: grep. To do this he started with a passage from All the King's Men and then systematically cut out all but one letter from the printed page, leaving it behind wherever it appeared. He then repeated this with the same passage across many more pages for each letter and symbol, a process which he said completely abstracted the text from the meaning and made him feel a little more like a computer. The pages are suspended such that they can be stacked closely or with distance lending a range of ways to view this incredible piece.

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Check out this video Alex made of himself working on the piece (click on the image below to play).

Video thumbnail. Click to play

8 Light ASCII Display Terminal Terminal, by Taylor Levy

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For her thesis, designer and technologist Taylor Levy created this sculpture to be the most basic computer display possible. Attached via USB to a keyboard, the neon tubes illuminate with each key-press to show the binary equivalent of the ASCII code for that letter. Though quite simple in concept, it's her precise form and methodical construction that make this piece stand out.

Her process photos are also amazing. Selections below.

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Firefly 870, by Jason Krugman
In an 8 foot by 8 foot grid Jason Krugman connected 870 LEDs to wind switches he constructed by hand. Looking at this piece in still-form it resembles a close-up view of sequins as the base of each wind switch is a clear, round disc. As soon as you blow or otherwise move the air around the piece, however, the LEDs spring to action and elegantly reflect the pattern of the breeze.

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Here's a video Jason made to show the piece in action.

Flittr, by Vikram Tank
Somewhere between Twitter, Flickr, Haiku and old-school MMS is Vikram Tank's project, Flittr. Enabling short-form multimedia, Flittr is an iPhone app (still in beta) that allows you to sequence three images and provide a 15 second voiceover. These slideshows can be sent to other Flittr users or posted to your favorite social sharing service.

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Streetforms, by Mitch Said
Enabling a sort of virtual graffiti, Mitch Said's Street Forms allows users to write on the Google Street View images for any available address. I've always wanted an Invader to call our own so I drew one next to the front door of CH HQ.

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