Square Root of Negative One

making things interact final show

Posted in visual by cheng on May 5, 2010

Final Show of Making Things Interact this semester!

Inspired by the post board layered by all sorts of posters, I made this poster of posters…


Words from Beyond Hope

Posted in visual by cheng on March 26, 2010

Words from Beyond Hope is an attempt to visualize the last statement made by criminals shortly before they are executed.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains a list of executed offenders’ last statements, along with their gender, racial, photo, crime and victims, even their unappetizing last meal request. I keep a collection of related links on my blog post here. A sample of the statement is here-

It strikes to me how the simplest words repeat in all the statements. This is partly due to, as Golan pointed out, their limitation on education. Partly, I think, because it’s the most honest statement flowed right out of their mind, with no rhetorical decoration.

My design try to strike a balance between reserving the repelling reading experience and showing the similarity shared among all those executed. I envisioned a canvas with words appearing at the rate of heart beat, and a bit kinetic effect to resemble heart beat and life, and time elapsing. Then the words gray out and  scatter around the screen, disappearing a bit as the life did. With the font proportional to occurrence prequency, the piece immediately highlight the common words from all last statements at the first glance. If viewer stays with it, they could read the statement words by words, as if viewing the writing composing them. In this way new information are conveyed to viewer and the interaction can carry on for a longer period of time.

Although a number of compromises had to be made in the final piece, one detail comes out as a little surprise to me. The collection of the most common words seems to form a message that is almost the average of the statement themselves.

Image below: at a glance, you’ll read ” I love you all”,”god love you all”, “I love my family”, “thank you”… the very phrases that’ll stay in your head as you read the actual statement.


The discrete words popping don’t do a great job suggesting they’re actual readable sentences and lose the power of the raw statement. Giving them a smooth in and out and allow them to stay “in focus” for longer may be a quick fix to encourage actual reading.

Posted in visual by cheng on March 24, 2010

generating organic form

Posted in algorithm, visual by cheng on February 7, 2010

Visual Models of Morphogenesis (Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz et al.)

Grow more plants with algorithm

Ed Fella

Posted in visual by cheng on February 5, 2010

Every thing was done by hand.. Hand tools and … coffee

Detroit: educate workers at nights  (adult education)

automobile commercial

health brochure


bauhaus – art and commercial art are the same

abstract art

commercial – “We hack like mad!”

art – Art is an ethnocentric cultural construct that you don’t gott have

art deco

cd cover -play with irregularity

twist words

play with spacing for wording game

some graphical elements

Posted in visual by cheng on February 5, 2010



Type the Sky
Lisa Rienermann
Brilliant discovery of letterforms in
the negative space between buildings.
It reveals information where
there is none.


Posted in visual by cheng on February 2, 2010


Posted in baking idea, visual by cheng on January 27, 2010

Vik Muniz gave an amazing key note at the TEI conference. But what I’m talk about here is an idea inspired by his website.

A heat sensitive paper/thermochromic painted surface, in addition to a huge matrix of diodes/resistor or other heating electrical components should be able to do this. I envision it at the size of a wall paper … So that the viewer can enjoy both the gradual growth of dots, and, when stepping back, can see the emerge of the whole portrait. Might create a processing interface to take portraits, or image shot from web cam as input, or thingy people draw. Sounds interesting?

One related proj is briefly described here.

The Watch Paper is printed on ordinary paper and uses a heat sensitive coating to tell time. Each digit blurs from one into the other using the heat from the LED in the back which makes the coating transparent

Other related projects

Mies van der Rohe portrait.
2003, IIT
This halftone portrait of Mies van
der Rohe is actually comprised of
a a set of pictograms designed for
signage at IIT. This reveals both
the icon tha Mies is to IIT and the
communicative icons which appear
through the building.



Posted in visual by cheng on January 20, 2010

fortune coookies?

last statement

Posted in visual by cheng on January 13, 2010

“Warden I am ready.”

The opportunity to make a last, or final statement, has generally been offered to criminals before they are executed. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains a list of executed offenders’ last statements. The most recently executed offender, Michael Richard had this to say:

Yes, I would like for my family to take care of each other. I love you Angel, Let’s ride. I guess this is it.[1]

The inmate’s final statement is taken two hours before their execution, and they are allowed to amend the statement immediately prior to execution.


other infor about TEXAS criminal justice
A link to all death row infor- http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/deathrow.htm
excution processure http://www.fdp.dk/uk/tdcj/exe-proc.htm
Gender and Racial Statistics of Death Row Offenders

I don’t know but here is their last meal, literally
And visualization recommended by Suguru – http://www.privatehand.com/flash/request.html
some work done by others
many eyes’ work  http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/visualizations/4a6ff9dcd24e11debe10000255111976/comments/91e3737ad24e11debe10000255111976

Downloadable txt file of all last statements are accessible through ManyEys here



Posted in java, visual by cheng on August 26, 2009

Jubjub is an iconic programming environment developed in Robotics Institute, CMU. It helps beginner students to build an understanding of programming concepts and a mental model for the structure of procedural languages.

I designed the graphics for Erik Pasternak, the developer of jubjub.