Joseph-Final-Packing and Cracking (Online!)

Packing and Cracking (Online!)

banner image-Packing and Cracking

(Banner image)

One Sentence Description:

Packing and Cracking is a interactive mapmaking event (now online!) about gerrymandering: the pervasive practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than the other way around.

Project Description, Process, and Reflection:

Do we choose our politicians, or do our politicians choose us?
Packing and Cracking is an interactive mapmaking event (now online!) about gerrymandering: the pervasive practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than the other way around. Through participatory drawing and map-drawing games, Packing and Cracking uses critical cartography, historical accounts of the first gerrymanders, and interviews with people dealing with gerrymandering today to show how easy and disenfranchising gerrymandering can be and ask what, if anything, we should do about it.

The scope of this project is greater than this class (and is also more than I had time to effectively present about in class last Thursday) – nonetheless I want to focus on the maps created as they are visualizations from an experimental capture data set. The data set being the participants in the theatrical event and the images that they made over the course of those 90 minutes on 4/22/20, 4/24/20, and 4/26/20. The objects created and documented below are meant to be for those specific people who were participants in the event. They are an archive of their and their fellow participants experience presented in both a shuffled and collaged shareable format (the 2D maps) and in a way that allows for them to take more hands on time to go through the digital detritus that they created while attending packing and cracking (the 3D interactive website ‘map’).

I will try to provide a little clarity as to what the images came from for the purpose of documentation of this project. The objects that comprise the maps are:

  • Personal maps showcasing the places, events, people and feelings the participants experienced in the past month. They are given 2 minutes for each of the four topics and encouraged to think about these categories in an expansive way.  The drawings are created via the networked drawing website,
  • District backgrounds that are created as a group. This was from when the audience was split into the ‘orange’ and ‘green’ district.
  • Poll results from throughout the zoom experience.
  • Images of responses from round-robin-style question moments.
  • Worksheets done as a collaborative district looking at drawing districts and district lines.
  • The weird shapes created from the outlines of heavily gerrymandered districts (also done on
  • Images from round-robin writing about issue that audience members care about.
  • Images of google map locations that participants went to as they got to know Pennsylvania.
  • Images of those same places with district lines inserted on top of them.

These objects are the ephemera from many of the games and serve as a visual reminder of the things learned and created in the experience, but also as an object in total that points to the hope that might come out of taking the time to learn about gerrymandering. Below is an excerpt from the performance script of Packing and Cracking where the map is revealed at the end of the show. This reveal that the images have been collected and made into a map  is a surprise. The images are collected throughout the performance in a combination of automated and manual ways and are processed for quick map creation so that everythings is ready to be presented as part of the performance.


Excerpt below:

RACHEL: Gerrymandering is not a game, but tonight, we played a lot of games to learn about it, and redistricting, and maps, and each other, and maybe ourselves.

JOSEPH shares the final map.

JOSEPH: Here’s a map of everything that we made.

JOSEPH shares a link to it in the chat.

JOSEPH (cont.): And here’s a link to it, too, so you can take it with you.

RACHEL: What you do with this, what you do with anything you may have learned here tonight, or thought here tonight—that’s up to you. You could see how gerrymandering affects where you live. You could get really into it like Amanda Holt did, or Josh LaFair. You could get into it in a different way and reach out to your representatives to let them know you care, or share this map to show that you do. Or you could talk to a friend. Or fill out the census. Or vote in the next election, because in so many states, the people elected will be the ones who will draw maps next year that could be in place for the next decade. Or you could do nothing—we do live in a democracy.

One in which 59 million people live in a state controlled by the party that won fewer votes in the 2018 election. That’s 1 in 5 Americans. But yeah, a democracy, yeah.

JOSEPH: Maybe today can be a step. Like onto the steps in front of the Supreme Court. Or onto that falling apart bridge in Reading. Or onto a different way for our country to be. Maybe the map we made can help guide us, like any good map does. I guess we’ll see.

 RACHEL: No matter what, we hope you stay safe, and healthy, and engaged.

JOSEPH: Thanks, and [goodnight].


Stills from the Performance:

joseph-game title #13rachel sharing interview

joseph giving drawing instructions

Audience members

Performance from facilitator view

Map #1 :

Map We Made 4.22.20

Interactive map element

Map #2

Map We Made 4.24.20

Interactive map element

Map #3

Map We Made 4.26.20

Interactive map element

Gifs  of interactive element:

Interactive gif documentation

Interactive gif documentation #2

nteractive gif documentation #3



Considering that all in person art making in groups has been put on hold for now, I am pleased with how this project turned out and the interactivity of the 3D maps. I was excited to try to respond quickly and make performance in these new forms asked of us by these new times. I do wish my presentation had been more focused. I wish I had the time to dive deeper into three.js to work with the interactivity of the 3D maps in a more comprehensive way. Overall I found this switch to COVID-school to be difficult on many fronts. I am disappointed with my output in my last months of grad school, and had to make a lot of adjustments in what I had been planning on working on as the world shifted. I am trying to not be too hard on myself and begin to figure out what might be next for me. The Studio has come to feel like a second home for me during my time at CMU and I lament the lost time to be with the curious, weird, and joyful amalgamation of folks that end up there. Thanks for a really lovely semester and kind adaptation to making education work as well as it can in these new times.



More GIFS:

performance 4.22.20

performance – 4.22.20


performance - 4.24.20

performance – 4.24.20

performance - 4.26.20

performance – 4.26.20




FP Ppdate

map test 4.20

I have continued to refine my mapmaking process and am  pleased with the 2D results in getting everything to run very quickly with a larger dataset, more like what I will have in performance.

However, I have been trying to think of a more easily interactive way to view the content that is created during the show. Currently, I am making a wordpress page for the performance that populates the images into a 3D spinning globe plugin. While this plugin is a good starting point, I am trying to get inside of its three.js  components in order to customize it further to my visual needs. Which would be repeated images, and more images in the grid pattern of the globe, and that it would already rotate on its own (are at least some initial ideas I have). Below is a video of a work in progress of the 3D gallery element.

Joseph’s April Plan – Packing and Cracking


Packing and Cracking - MAP

New Plan:

I think what I need to do is try to get smaller in order to finish my (rapidly-adjusted and deadline-approaching) thesis project.  I will incorporate my work for ExpCap into the final moment of the performance where materials created over a Zoom-based, interactive performance event are amalgamated into a map for the participants to take with them.

The Project:

This project, Packing and Cracking, is work about gerrymandering that I have been creating for the past two years; however, in the past two to three weeks have been redeveloping it for an online performance.

I often describe it as follows:

Do we choose our politicians, or do our politicians choose us?
Packing and Cracking is an interactive mapmaking event (now online!) about gerrymandering: the pervasive practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than the other way around. Through participatory drawing and map-drawing games, Packing and Cracking uses critical cartography, historical accounts of the first gerrymanders, and interviews with people dealing with gerrymandering today to show how easy and disenfranchising gerrymandering can be and ask what, if anything, we should do about it.

The map and my work for ExpCap:

Throughout the experience, a collection of files are created from  (a collaborative painting application), screenshots of google map locations, collected group google doc writings, and images of other collaborative Zoom interactions. These are then turned into a map that folks take away with them and hopefully demonstrate the power of small actions of doing something, even if it is only to take 90 minutes to learn about gerrymandering. The image at the top of this post is a map from the second playtest. Essentially, I am collecting, formatting and randomizing images, and then creatively using some contact-sheet automation processes to produces a very high resolution image amalgamation (So folks can zoom in and read all of the materials created) . The link to a high resolution image from a third playtest round is here.

In the in-person version of this project, these images were created on paper and accumulated in the 3D space of the theater into an installation. I feel like the maps I am creating now would like to have a more 3D, or even more navigable effect or experience to their viewing. This is something I have been working on, but would like to use my time to expand on the research now that much of the rest of the experience has been rewritten.

The issues: It needs to be created pretty quickly in real time to be sharable with the audience in the last moment of the performance. Currently, I am just sweating out the image processing during the penultimate (5ish minute) video interview segment. Or, perhaps I make a 2D map and also 3D/ more travesible space to send out later – but ideally it would be included in the final moment of the show. The dataset of what is created along the way is a set of roughly  45-75 PNG files.

Below of are some picture of the last in-person show from a festival in January, so you can get a sense of what the previous accumulation used to look like.

Packing and Cracking Wild Project_01

Packing and Cracking Wild Project_02

In conclusion:

I have been having a hard time figuring out what I want to work on (re:ExpCAp) and focusing in general with all of this (even more than my usual large amount of) screentime. While I am very excited about this project, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed about my output right now. I am usually highly motivated, but anxiety about the future (re: graduation) is also quite distracting. I love the home that is the studio, and have been very grateful for the space of this class. I like the offerings and will continue to do them as the small projects remind me to focus and that I do really love making things. Probably gonna cut my rambling off here, as I am already turning this in quite late.

Any advice/thoughts would be much appreciated!

Thanks y’all!

Dsiplay.Land, HyperLapse, and Slit-Scan fun

  1. This is a hyperlapse video I made of the cat I have taken charge of in quarantine –> Meet Twigs. Looking forward to playing around with this more, too!

2. This is a 3D model made with Display.Land from a short walk I took. Instead of trying to actually capture a specific area/object, I let the camera just move forward and it created a much more heavily warped model. Some of my more disruptive experiments didn’t compile into videos that would work within the app. I like it and will keep messing around with it.

3. With the slit-scan photo app Poloska I took this portrait of the cat, Twigs. I really enjoy how broken and abstract the photo turned out.

Assignment #53 Give advice to yourself in the past


Advice To past Joseph Amodei’s from twenty-nine year old Joseph:


Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-eight: Hold onto Eevee and Olivia, everything is temporary.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-seven: Now would probably have been a good time to get back into therapy.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-six: Tell Ian how he is not being a good friend.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-five: Be more supportive of your sister’s decision to marry whomever she wishes.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-four: Write more in your journal.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-three: Hold onto the feeling of an open future, you have a long way to go still.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-two: Start taking care of your back now, this would have been a good time to start doing yoga.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty-one: These past few years have been hard, but keep making art and don’t worry it seems that so far you have not stopped.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at twenty: Go easier on your body and try to sleep more.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at nineteen: Enjoy the time with your friends. Alos, no need to wait 8 months to start therapy, just go for it, it’ll be p good, I promise.

Advice To Joseph Amodei at eighteen: Probably don’t start smoking.

A Walk Outside


I don’t go for that many walks anymore. I am trying to avoid the parks (and even the streets for that matter). It is still p crowded sometimes and I am trying to do my part as case #s jump here in NYC. Yesterday it was raining. In light of my anxiety of being a young person who gets v sick from the COVID I am trying to quit smoking. It’s probably time anyways. Yesterday I was outside for just 10 minutes. I walked to the end of the block taking a photo with every step. This GIF is a lil stop motion of the results. I enjoyed this offering.

Proposal: Person in time

I’d like to make an app or piece of software that tracks you when you touch your face. It is out of a desire to train myself to not touch my face in light of the upcoming corona virus plague that is (speculatively) coming. I would wear a handless chest mount for my phone, and potentially take a photo and play a sound every time the hands touch the face. These would ideally be compiled to a video of all such instances in real time.

I am thinking of using Unity to make a face-tracking app with ARKit among other tools – technical suggestions appreciated!

don't touch your face

ordering one of these:

24 Hour Thermal Time Lapse

24 Hour Thermal Time Lapse captures the thermal flow of spaces people actively inhabit and present the 24 hour long findings in 2 minute compressions that would otherwise be invisible across both time and temperature.

Joseph Amodei
MFA Video/Media Design in the School of Drama


My project was a process of using the technology of thermal capture and employing it over an entire day to create time lapse observations of spaces full of human activity. I often begin my work with a specific pointed conceptual and political outcome, and here I wanted to disrupt my normal way of working by forefronting a capture process that observed spaces of interaction and showed them in a manner that would not be otherwise visible – through the movement of temperature and through the cycle of an entire day compressed into two minutes. The spaces I captured were a costume production shop, a design studio, KLVN coffee shop, and the space outside of my studio window which is a street on a bus line on the edge of Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg.

Thermal Capture System at KLVN Coffee:

Thermal Capture System at KLVN Coffee Thermal Capture System at KLVN Coffee

My Thermal Time Lapse Capture System:

Thermal Capture System

My process developed through the technical hurdles and limitations of discovering how to capture space over 24 hours. I used the FLIR E30bx Thermal Camera in conjunction with the media design software Millumin to stream the footage into a Mac Mini, from there I recorded the output. This meant i needed my setup to be connected to constant power and to be in a fixed position. This limited my work to spaces where I could safely leave such a capture system running undisturbed and in a safe and dry location.

In the end I think these images are somewhat interesting , and are not visible without this machine situation I arranged. When I consider remaining opportunities for this project, I think there could be a more narrow frequency of places that I could record. I also would have loved to figure out how to record outdoor, too. To that end, picking a process/subject that had the risk of being uninteresting was part of my goal for myself and I am happy I took the time to explore thermal, timelapse and the potentially banal.