This project is Due Thursday, March 9, 2017 at the beginning of class.


You are an alien probe sent to explore Earth. You land — someplace; you set up your devices; and you begin to investigate. Your job is to:

  • build a machine or system to answer a question about that place, and then
  • create a media object which presents your findings.

Note: you might be very small; you might be able to sense magnetic fields; etc. etc. The only thing we’re certain of is that you are not human. (If you would like some more ideas or constraints, consider these prompts from Keri Smith’s “How to be an Explorer of the World“.)

Regarding your site, consider places like:

  • Pittsburgh’s bridges, pathways along the waterways…
  • Unique bars like Take-a-Break, Gooski’s, Squirrel Cage…
  • Historic sites
  • CMU Steam tunnels
  • Boring anonymous places (Dunkin’ Donuts, Eat & Park…)
  • Allegheny Cemetery, public parks…
  • The inside of your mouth, the palm of your hand..
  • Large internet databases, such as the Archive of Many Outdoor Scenes (ask for more..)

Regarding your capture system, here are some possible ideas. (This is not a comprehensive list):

  • A high-resolution panorama, created using an otherwise invisible part of the spectrum (thermal, NIR, UV), or at an unexpected scale (e.g. microscope, telescope)
  • A multi-channel image exploring the same site, seen in different ways (polarization, lighting conditions, etc.)
  • A time-lapse or light-painting, created with a 360º camera
  • A 3D scan of an environment (Kinect, LIDAR, depth-from-stereo, etc.)
  • An environment, as perceived by a non-traditional sensor (e.g. barcode sensor, motion-capture position probe, RF sensor)
  • An image stitched from a camera moving in or through an environment, or collected from an unusual point of view
  • A collection of 2D images
  • An image created through a database query

Regarding your media object, your eventual project might be one of the following (this is not a comprehensive list):

  • A map
  • A collection
  • An immersive experience (e.g. VR, game…)
  • A video, animated GIF, or high-resolution image


Please be sure to complete all of the requirements below.

  • Create a blog post on this WordPress site, in which you will document your project.
  • Title your blog post: authorsNickname-place. For example, my blog post would be entitled, golan-place.
  • Categorize your blog post with the WordPress category, Place. This helps make it easy to find your project later.
  • In your blog post, write approximately 300 words (a page) discussing your process and results. Be sure to address the questions below.
    • What site (or sites) did you select for your project? Discuss: why did you select this location (what opportunities did it present)?
    • Discuss the system you developed to capture this place. Describe your workflow or pipeline in detail, including diagrams if necessary. Why did you develop or select this specific process? What were your inspirations in creating this system?
    • Discuss the form of the media object you created to present your findings. (Is it a map? a collection? an immersive VR? an animated GIF?) Why did you select this form?
    • Evaluate your project. What aspects of your chosen site does it successfully convey? What does it omit? What findings does it make clear? That is, what question about your site does your process help address?
  • Embed an image of your portrait in the blog post. This might be a screenshot, rendering, etc.
  • Include a scan or photo of any relevant notebook sketches, if possible.
  • If your media object is time-based, create a video of your project. Upload this video to YouTube or Vimeo. (If you or your subject would prefer that this video were uploaded to an online account that preserves your anonymity, please speak to the Professor.) Embed this video in your blog post.
  • If your portrait is time-based, create a brief animated GIF of your project, no larger than 800 pixels wide, and ideally under 5MB. Make sure your GIF is set to loop infinitely. Embed this animated GIF at original resolution (a WordPress option) in your blog post. Be sure to preview your blog post to make sure that your GIF plays correctly.