Created Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Added Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This was the first project for my image processes class.  The general idea was to create some type of apparatus that made markings of some sort, whether they by physical or digital markings.  This was a collaborative piece as students had to partner up with at least one other person.  My two friends, Joel and Chase, and I decided to work together.  I remember one of our first ideas was to create some kind of remote control vehicle and attach a camera to it and see what kind of images that would produce.  I know we thought about a remote control car and a remote control blimp.  Instead of making an electronic, remote control blimp, we also thought about attaching a small camera to a kite.  The problem then was how to activate the shutter.  If we were to use a video camera, it would have to have its own power source (batteries) as well as being light, small, and inexpensive (in case something went wrong and it ended up breaking…).

We bought a remote control car in order to kind of gauge how likely using something like that would be.  The only remote control car we could find was one at the local Radio Shack.  Mainly, we were testing how far the range of the remote would reach.  We figured that if it the range was long enough, we could gut the car and try to build a blimp.  Unfortunately, the range was maaaaaaybe 10 feet…  It was pretty terrible.

I then suggested that perhaps we try a Wii remote.  Since I had used Wiimotes in a few of my previous projects, I had become familiar with how they worked and how to manipulate and use them outside of the Wii.  Because Wiimotes use bluetooth, we thought we would see if its range was any better than the R/C car.

I don’t remember why or how, but we eventually moved past our original idea (attach a camera to an R/C vehicle).  However, we still wanted to use the Wiimote as part of our apparatus.  We soon decided to try using just the Wiimote as our apparatus and have it make some kind of digital markings.  We came up with in idea.  Many Wii games use the Wiimote to control an onscreen cursor while others use it to control actions of onscreen characters (and some use it for both).  Why not try to do something like that, but take it, at least partially, out of video games?  Could we use the Wiimote to control both a video game and something else (presumably to make markings)?  As it turned out, yes, yes we could.  However, since a Wiimote can only be synced to one device at a time, we ended up using two Wiimotes that we attached together with rubber bands.  One Wiimote would be synced to the Wii and control a video game while the other would be synced to a computer and control Photoshop’s brush tool.  Because the Wiimotes were attached to each other, the markings being made in Photoshop by the one Wiimote would be a visual recording of the movement of the user’s hand while he or she was playing the Wii game.

The final video had just a little bit more added to it.  The marks being made in Photoshop would reveal the game being played behind the user as he or she played.  We had Chase’s younger cousin, Noah, use our apparatus.  We figured a younger kid who was more interested in the game than the mark making would provide more intense arm motions as he or she would “get into the game” mores o than, say, one of us.

Original Project Assignment

Relating the apparatus to the content of the work

In this project you and a partner/s will create an apparatus for recording an image or make a mark. Then you will use this apparatus to create a piece. The piece and the apparatus must be related in terms of content. For instance if you make a periscope type lens to attach to a digital camera, then what you photograph must be related to the idea of a periscope and what periscopes do—look around corners, look above water etc.


  • Create and use a device or apparatus for image manipulation and generation.
  • Experiment and make work using your device

The format of this project will be whatever your device does. It may be a set of digital prints or a images on screen or even a video. You may want to document a person using the apparatus as well as the work itself or even documentation of the work if the device capture a performance.

This project involves both making a device that works and experimenting with the device so that you become facile enough with its operation to make something worthwhile.

Think about or ask yourself the following as preparation or during this process:

  • What is the effect of or feelings that result from the quality of images that created by the apparatus?
  • Does the device make images in one way or are there different sets of parameters that you can control when you make this device?
  • What happens to my images when I change the setting of the apparatus?
  • How does this particular process of creating images relate to the apparatus?
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment.


  • You should record (on the blog) what you did so that you can duplicate it again if you need to, BUT in the final project the effect of what you made and how it works with the rest of the piece is paramount. Cooking is an analogous way of thinking about this. The recipe is very important because it helps you to make the cake and if the cake turns out to be tasty you will want to duplicate the result, but ultimately you want your guest or friends to enjoy and remember the taste of your cake. It does not matter so much on the specifics of the recipe.

After you have collected all of your images, LOOK at them. Play around with them. Do they follow a sequence? Look each set of images separately. Look at them mixed up together. You may want to print them out and lay them out on the floor before you organize them digitally. You may even want to print more than one copy of an image as part of this process. Sometime first touching and physically manipulating images even if you intend to present them on screen can be very helpful in organizing your thoughts.
What is the function of the apparatus in terms of mark making? What does your machine do? How do you think the viewers/participants will relate to the apparatus? The markings made by the apparatus?

Does the apparatus behave in a way that is related to possible content with respect to the marks or images that it makes? Sometimes the connections between the materiality of the medium and the final product seem really clear, but confounds the viewer. Put yourself in the place of someone who has never seen the work or knows the backstory. Does it still “work”?

Lastly and this is part of why we are in school, show and discuss you ideas with one another. This is what we do during critique.