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NYU ITP's Spring Show is a techno-art explosion of creativity

Kevin Lee | May 27, 2013
Get a look at some of the best creations from what might be the most awesome Ph.D program you'll fund anywhere.

The Kinograph is an open-source film transfer machine, and it's as awesome as it sounds. Mathew Epler put together the Kinograph as a cheaper alternative to digitizing old 35-millimeter film, as well as the audio that goes along with it.

The whole rig is custom-built, from the laser-cut acrylic platforms to the 3D printed film reels. Of course, what keeps this thing ticking is an Arduino board programmed with the openFrameworks toolkit.

The Kinograph spools the film like a real projector system, except instead of projecting the video on a wall or screen, Mathew captures every frame using a Canon 7D DSLR camera. The captured frames then pass though an OpenCV program that pulls out the frame images stabilizes any shaky images.

The system also uses an open-source sound program called AEO Sound to extract the audio that goes along with the video and then splices it into the movie. All this software lives on single Raspberry Pi, allowing you to run multiple Kinographs with just one computer.

According to Mathew, a professional-grade film lab such as this would cost $480,000, whereas the Kinograph costs just $3200 and it works just as well. Mathew says that he might look into a Kickstarter project, not to commercialize the Kinograph, but to help fund a film restoration project.

Lisa Park created one of the more arty projects at the ITP Show by combining brain-reading tech with "visual sound." In her project Eunoia, Lisa devised a mind-reading system using a EEG sensor from Neurosky to convert brainwaves (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Theta) into an audio-visual art project.

Eunoia translates the EEG data into sound in real-time through five 15-inch speakers. While the speakers play the audio, they also transfer the resulting vibrations to a set of metal plates filled with water that ripple with the noise. It's a very cool meditative art project that translates thoughts into motion.

The Racist Door
Perhaps the most controversial--and important--projects I saw at the ITP Spring Show was the Racist Door. The project can essentially detect a person's race by way of a Microsoft Kinect.

It does this by looking at the parts of a person's face that aren't covered with hair and analyzing them for color as well as complexion. Specifically, the door looks for features of Caucasian people; when it spots someone with those particular traits, it triggers a series of solenoids attached to the door that drag against the ground to prevent it from opening.


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