Project 1: Typology Machine


This project is due Thursday, 27 February at the beginning of class.
A proposal is due Thursday, 13 February. 

You are a crewmember of an alien expedition, sent to study Earth. You are an expert in some  specialization (such as botany, zoology, geology, psychology, xenoarchaeology, exogastronomy, etc.). Your ship lands; you set up your devices; and you begin to investigate the people, places, or things which are the subject of your specialization. Your job is to:

  • build a data-collection machine or system which, through capture, allows you to answer a question about your specific subject. Then,
  • create a typology of media objects which presents your findings.

Acceptable sorts of media objects include:

  • a collection of static images, 3D models, 3D prints, 2D renderings, data visualizations, etc., or
  • a collection of time-based videos, animations, animated GIFs, etc., or
  • a real-time software executable/game, which presents your collection in some way, possibly with the aid of a database, and which optionally supports interactions such as zooming, sorting, filtering, querying, etc.

Your objective in this assignment is to make a machine which automates capturing things, for the purposes of producing a typology. You are asked to use your typology machine to document at least 3 items—though preferably more. Resources for your consideration include this article on typologies, and ExCap course lectures on typologies, portrait series, and candid capture systems.


Proposal (due 2/13)

A proposal for this project is due Thursday, 13 February at the beginning of class. This should take the form of a blog post, containing a clear description of your proposed project, explanatory illustrations, and links to references or inspirations. Please categorize your post with the WordPress Category, TypologyMachineProposal.

Project (due 2/27)

Please be sure to complete all of the requirements below.

  • Create a blog post on this WordPress site, whereat you will document your project.
  • Categorize your blog post with the WordPress category, TypologyMachine. This helps make it easy to find your project later.
  • Describe your project, in a single, clear, compelling sentence, at the top of your blog post. This sentence should explain what the project is, and give a suggestion about why someone may find it interesting.
  • Write approximately 300 words, in your blog post, discussing your process and results. Be sure to address the questions below.
    • What was your research question or hypothesis?
    • What were your inspirations?
    • How did you develop your project? Describe your machine or workflow in detail, including diagrams if necessary. What was more complex than you thought? What was easier?
    • In what ways is your presentation (and the process by which you made it) specific to your subject? Why did you choose those tools/processes for this subject?
    • Evaluate your project. In what ways did you succeed, or fail? What opportunities remain?
  • Embed images of your project in the blog post. This might include screenshots, renderings, etc. Include a scan or photo of any relevant notebook sketches, if possible.
  • Embed a quantity of your media objects (images, videos, GIFs) in the blog post.
  • If your project is an interactive software system, record and embed a screengrabbed video demonstrating its use, ideally with narration.

Learning Objectives

Upon conclusion of this assignment, students will be able to:

  • Recognize and discuss the use of typologies (in photography and related media), as well as small multiples (in information visualization), and “minimum inventory, maximum diversity” systems (in science and the arts) in presenting collections of comparable units
  • Demonstrate a practical understanding of the use of automation in data collection — whether by computational, algorithmic, mechanical, manual, or conceptual means
  • Design and construct a novel or non-traditional capture technique, and demonstrate an understanding of its application to the production of a poetic, elucidative, and/or revelatory work.