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Highlights from the Spring 2008 ITP Show

by Josh Rubin
on 14 May 2008

Our pilgrimage to the ITP show yesterday yielded more than a few great finds. From musical interpretations of an individual "color profile" and automated paintbrush robots to oversize models of a scrotum and a digital version of Exquisite Corpse, the projects (as usual) ran the gamut from the sublime to the absurd.

Colorful Melody

Colorful Melody analyzes a person's color profile based on their skin color, clothing and other factors. Using that data, the interactive device maps the profile onto a grid. Units of the grid fall, creating a sound based on the color of the unit. As the subject continues to interact with the device, the melody changes.

The Spectators

Another interactive experiment, The Spectators, also involves an individual's behavior and the responses it triggers, but with a darker undertone. In this case, a person stands in front of a screen which generates a pixelated image of them. Every time the subject blinks, the image is disrupted by acts of torture, deforming the representation of their face. The work comments on our indifference to such atrocities, using a visualization to call attention to the ways torture is usually invisible in the popular consciousness.


Set loose on a piece of paper with a few drops of paint, BrushBots create abstract art, drawing loops and lines and mixing colors. Intended to offset the fear in making art, the result is a collaboration between the user and the single-function robot, where neither participant as full creative control. We also appreciate that the little guys are made using castoff vibrating pager heads and toothbrushes.

Other notables include Tom Gerhardt's Erkel the Circle Judger, a project taking on the idea of a perfect circle using a computer to judge a person's rendering and Tymm Twillman's LED Staff, called fLUX which creates gorgeous light patterns that change based on movement.

We also appreciated Ben Chao, Stella Kim and Jason Krugman's Teste Touch, a giant replica of testicles in homage to their involuntary physiological response, that predictably caused quite the stir. Mitch Said and Yaminie Patodia's MoBody is a great ongoing application allowing users to submit body parts via camera-phone to a website where the snapshots become an online Exquisite Corpse.

Last but not least, Shinyoung Park's Funji is a customizable device designed to foster more meaningful communication between individuals by using sound, vibration and color in an increasingly isolated digital age.

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