roopa vasudevan > media artist & scholar

đź–Ľ artwork.

Click on each heading to expand.

Machine Readable

2018 — present
Collection of 5 projects featured in a 2021 solo exhibition at Vox Populi in Philadelphia, PA

Visit the exhibition site.

A wide view of a gallery with gray walls and wood floors. On the left side of the image there are 15 unframed prints hung up on the wall of people's portraits, and 2 small framed prints with QR codes on either side of them. On the right side is another small QR code print, hung close to the ground, and three large, unframed white systems diagrams tacked next to it.

Machine Readable is a body of work exploring the ways in which human identity and behavior is altered, flattened, and compartmentalized to fit the demands of both the algorithms and technology that pervade our everyday lives, as well as those responsible for their production. Part of an ongoing series of research-based projects, this exhibition asks us to consider the impact of our increasingly digitized way of life on how we view ourselves and others, how we shape ourselves to adhere to the rigid rules and structures required of an inflexible and binary system, and how technology ends up creating and ossifying social categories and boundaries.

As more and more of our lives have moved into virtual contexts, we have come to primarily see others through technological mediation: the lens of a camera, the flat screen of a device, the data from a web search. What has technology done to our conceptions of human interaction and agency? What do we prioritize in our everyday decision making—technology or each other? How do we learn to do what the machine asks of us, and why doesn’t it really work the other way around?

A solo exhibition entitled Roopa Vasudevan: Machine Readable was on view at Vox Populi in Philadelphia, PA from June 11 through July 18, 2021. The exhibition was supported by a grant from the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation. Visit the gallery website here, and a virtual tour of the show here.

Photo and video documentation by RaĂşl Romero & Roopa Vasudevan.

Works in this collection:

Provocations For/On Technology

2021 — present
Manually screenprinted QR codes; linked websites

Provocations For/On Technology is a series of five manually screenprinted QR codes, hung throughout the exhibition space. The codes in the prints contain flaws, misalignments and imperfections as a result of the printing process, but they are still scannable by mobile devices.

Each code links to a unique website, designed to be accessed from a mobile device, and which asks a question directly related to the viewer's experience with technology in the current moment. These questions are not meant to be answered directly — indeed, the viewer is given nowhere to place a response. Rather, they are meant to pull the viewer back from engaging with technology on autopilot. By asking visitors to consider questions of instinct, assumption and embodiment in their engagement with the piece, I hope to point to the ways in which we have come to develop default, unconscious practices related to technology, both within arts spaces as well as in our everyday lives.

A version of this project is also available for purchase, to be exhibited in private homes. Each QR code in this version links to an ever-changing website, which will offer provocations, questions, and directives related to the viewer’s relationship with technology. The website will be changed at random intervals over the course of five years. After that time, the website will go offline, leaving the viewer with a defunct art object reflecting the remains of a (once-commonplace?) technological system.

This project was also exhibited as part of Refamiliarization at the Platform Artspace/Worth Ryder Gallery in Berkeley, CA (2021).

Special thanks to Aaron Terry for assistance with screen printing. View the interaction in this project, as visible through a cell phone, here. Prints are available to purchase at the Vox Populi store.

Big Tech Says Sorry

2020 — present
Browser extension, ambient audio
Digitally printed posters
Photoshopped Google Maps images

Big Tech Says Sorry is a suite of projects that explore the relationships between technology, affect, authenticity and reception. These projects mine and interrogate these connections through a focus on the act of apology, the performance of contrition, and the chasm that exists between action and intent. The works hint at discrepancies that arise when emotion is mediated through technology, both in terms of the tools themselves as well as the scale inherent in their current use. It also investigates the specific role that affect plays in the ways in which we consume and relate to the presence of technology in our lives.

My work on these projects stems from a personal interest in the ways in which technology companies are (not) held accountable for their actions in a time where they not only exercise a large amount of control over our day to day lives, but also seem to face no substantive repercussions for mistakes, lapses in judgment, discriminatory actions, and outright bad behavior. The apologies that these companies issue in the wake of data breaches, human relations scandals, and other violations often feel blatantly fake and manufactured. Big Tech Says Sorry examines the ways in which these powerful corporations exploit and misuse affective cues surrounding the act of apologizing in order to maintain the status quo.

In its current stage, the work consists of 4 posters meant to be installed adjacent to the headquarters of tech companies in major United States cities (as well as renderings of what they might look like in the spaces, constructed on top of Google Street View images of these locations); video documentation of a web browser extension that interrupts user action in order to apologize for wrongdoing; and an ambient audio piece utilizing default voices that come with the companies’ smart home devices.

All of the apology text in the browser extension and audio piece either comes from my own archives, or was newly written about specific people and circumstances from my past. References to names, places and events from my life were replaced with those pointing to fraught moments in specific tech companies’ histories.

Speculative Systems

2019 — present
Systems diagrams printed on 18” x 24” bond paper
Augmented reality application

These two augmented reality triptychs illustrate systems diagrams for protocols named after socially constructed binaries: “Master/Slave” and “Male/Female”. These protocols are often used and referred to within technical environments as defaults, without reference to the hierarchical social differences they assume as given.

This work attempts to unpack what is meant when referring to the protocols by these names; offers theoretical and personal reflections on the implications of these terms in their default usages; and considers a speculative reimagination of technical systems that attempts to refuse or question these inequalities.

In the gallery, viewers scan a QR code to reach the project website on their mobile device. Once the webpage has loaded, viewing the diagrams through the phone’s camera displays additional images and text related to each imagining of the systems displayed.

View a walkthrough of the piece, as seen through a device, here. View large versions of the augmented reality diagrams here. Content warning: reflections on sexual assault and trauma.

Syntax Error

2021
2-channel video installation
Created with Processing and the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus API

Syntax Error explores technical error messages and the subconscious translation necessary to understand them. The work points to the mental adjustments and training required of programmers in order build for inflexible systems, and emphasizes the steep learning curve required of humans in order to become fluent, or even simply familiar, with how machines operate.

Novice programmers often point to the deciphering of error messages as one of the most difficult aspects of learning how to use technical systems. This video installation draws from error messages that I have frequently encountered in my own art practice, and was created by automatically running these phrases through a synonym database, one word at a time, in a futile effort to translate these phrases into something that is more immediately legible to a non-programmer.

While the phrases quickly become nonsensical and incoherent, the viewer is at times able to draw personal meaning from unusual juxtapositions of language, based on social context and their own experience. The project also points to the fact that, contrary to the belief that the error messages are coming from the “computer”, other people are responsible for developing these languages and error messages... so what does it say that these messages are written in such an impenetrable way?

The installation is scored with the sounds of hard drives, some of which are failing, and some of which are operating normally. The difficulty in distinguishing between the two demonstrates the gap between the seamlessness with which we expect technology to operate, and the material reality of mechanical processes.

Strategic Transparency Collective

2020 — present
Cultural organizing project, developed from an ongoing series of workshops and encompassing digital, written, and public art projects
Visit the Collective website for more information.

The Strategic Transparency Collective is a decentralized network of new media artists rethinking our relationships with technology, surveillance capitalism, and corporate control. Our aim is to develop frameworks for tech-based creative resistance that do not serve to reaffirm the dominance of Big Tech and its profit-driven imperatives. We advocate a robustly self-reflexive approach to working with technology and data, and encourage artists to align their goals with each other and operate as a community—rather than reinforcing the neoliberal tropes of individual artistic excellence and the myth of the singular genius.

The collective emerged from a series of workshops run as part of Eyebeam’s Rapid Response For a Better Digital Future fellowship in the summer of 2020. The workshops are online gatherings where digital artists come together to collectively explore what resistance means in their practices, look meaningfully at how these conceptions might cause harm or contribute to surveillance capitalism, and make commitments for their work going forward. Participants spend 10-15 minutes free writing in response to seven guiding prompts, and come together after each one for group discussion on the questions and themes that emerge.

Each workshop ends with participants collectively authoring a manifesto outlining their beliefs and commitments. These have evolved into a series of Manifestos for Creative Resistance, which are continually being added to by new collaborators and participants.

Workshops have been run to date with the support of Eyebeam, ABC No Rio, and Common Field. The workshops that I personally lead also serve as a form of creative research for my dissertation project at the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania. The workshop format is open-source and freely available for others to use and adapt; the only requirement is to contribute the resultant manifesto to the Collective’s GitHub organization when it is completed.

In 2020, under the moniker of the Collective, I produced a public project for the exhibition Take What You Can’t Get, developed for ABC No Rio (New York, NY). The seven guiding prompts from the workshops were wheatpasted onto walls around New York City beginning on Friday, November 20, 2020. Each prompt connects to a website on which selections from the Manifestos are viewable, offering a window into how Collective members have approached answering these questions in relation to our work. The placement of the prompts out in the world and away from technology invites viewers to consider these questions in the context of their own lives, and offers a connection to core questions surrounding technology, art, and resistance that, while central to the work of new media artists, extend well beyond this community into myriad and diverse creative practices.

Visit the Collective website; view the workshop prompts; and read the manifestos here and here. While I originated this project, the eventual goal is to relinquish control and allow it to evolve into a truly cooperative and collaborative network, where all members feel empowered to contribute, adapt, and apply the guiding principles as they see fit.

#Bellwether

2016
Custom designed campaign buttons, bumper stickers, T-shirts, rally signs and lawn signs

#Bellwether is a data collection project that examines the language surrounding American electoral politics.

The project examines social media data collected during the primary campaigns for the 2016 United States Presidential election, and asks whether or not we can use it in order to extract a more nuanced or accurate read on the political desires of the voting population of Ohio: a state that is regarded as vital to the endgame of both parties, but whose citizens are often treated as faceless, nameless votes.

Between August 6, 2015, and until July 12, 2016, I attempted to collect every tweet possible that mentioned any of 22 presidential candidates from the two major American political parties by name. The collection process started with the initial debates, and ran up until just before the nomination conventions. I then filtered down the data collected to focus solely on tweets that are from or are concerned with Ohio specifically.

After the tweets were filtered, I ran a variety of algorithmic language analyses on the content of the postings to determine a number of things: sentiment, frequency of similar or identical posts and phrases, grammatical structure, and the like. I most commonly used something called “regular expressions”, which are text-matching patterns that look for specific words or phrases within the data.

I used the results to doctor the campaign merchandise of the Presidential candidates; instead of reflecting the candidates’ curated messages, they represent how they are perceived by Ohio residents. While the objects created are not meant to mirror the data in their physical form (meaning their size or design), the number and types of objects per candidate per month entirely depend on how much and what content I extracted from the total tweets. The design language — color, typography, imagery and logos — mirrors that of the official campaigns as closely as possible.

The objects are exhibited in a monthly timeline, displaying how perceptions of each Presidential candidate shift and change over the course of primary season — just like the content, positions, and tones presented by the campaigns themselves.

#Bellwether was commissioned by SPACES (Cleveland, OH), as part of the SWAP (SPACES world artists program) residency, May 20 - July 29, 2016. It was later shown as part of the exhibition “Star Spangled” at Harlan Levey Projects (Brussels, Belgium). I have written and spoken about the project in several venues, including Adjacent: The ITP/IMA Journal of Emerging Media, Media-N: The Journal of the New Media Caucus, Live Wire Radio, and the American Dream Symposium sponsored by Transformer Station and the Cleveland City Club (Cleveland, OH).

Photo and video documentation from SPACES by Jerry Mann; additional photos provided by Harlan Levey.

Editor’s Notes

2016 — 2020
Legal size (8.5” x 14”) laser printed documents
Faux leather document holders
Trump blather

During his 2016 Presidential campaign and throughout his presidency, Donald Trump used the various communication tools available to him — press statements, speeches and interviews, executive actions, and, most notably, Twitter — to undermine and question the basic tenets of American government. From the right to peaceful protest to the right of all citizens to vote, and even extending to the most basic checks and balances that keep the government functional, he used his public platform to aggressively push for restrictions, eliminations, and interference in the regulatory systems established in United States law.

Editor’s Notes is a series in which I used data collected from Trump and his administration to edit the foundational legal documents of American society. The "editor's notes", footnoted at the bottom of each segment, are composed of text taken exclusively from Trump's own written or spoken archive (such as the now-defunct @realDonaldTrump account, executive orders and memoranda, Presidential and campaign speeches, and selected interviews with the press). I collected the data and sorted this text according to content by utilizing custom software, as well as open-source data collection tools.

The first two iterations of this project, Editor’s Notes (Amendments) and Editor’s Notes (Constitution), examine the entirety the United States Constitution. They are formatted to resemble a Presidential Executive Order, which Trump used frequently in order to enact the more controversial portions of his platform without legislation. Amendments was completed in 2017, and Constitution in 2018.

As part of SOHO20 Gallery’s 2018 Residency Lab, I held several “Open Editing Sessions” in which members of the community were invited into the gallery to edit landmark Congressional documents and Supreme Court decisions based on provided Trump data, and how they thought he would change the laws if he could.

Editor’s Notes was shown as part of the exhibitions Reuptake (2017, Little Berlin, Philadelphia, PA); the 2017 Fl3tch3r Exhibit (Reece Museum, Johnson City, TN); 20/20 Hindsight = 40 Years (2018, SPACES, Cleveland, OH); and Pop-Up Studio: Roopa Vasudevan (2019, Haverford College, Haverford, PA).

Photo documentation by Jerry Mann, Emily Bucholz, Rachel Vera Steinberg & Roopa Vasudevan.

You Can’t Be Your Best When You’re Being Bugged

2021
Series of 3 8.5” x 14” risograph prints
Text message hotline
A collaboration with Melissa Langer

You Can’t Be Your Best When You’re Being Bugged explores our limitless need for control, containment of other species, and the darkly comedic and complicated language of eradication/violence in local pest control marketing. The project adapts marketing language from pest control services in the Philadelphia region and beyond to hold a mirror to us humans.

Who’s the pest? You be the judge. Text us at (215) 874-6788 to find out more.

You Can’t Be Your Best When You’re Being Bugged was created for the exhibition Future Ecologies, on view at Vox Populi in Philadelphia, PA in September and October of 2021. The risograph printing was done by Risolve Studio.

In Preparation for Takeoff

2020
Single-channel video (runtime 30 minutes)
4 digitally generated prints

In Preparation for Takeoff was made using a collection of 60 global airline safety videos, pulled from YouTube. The prints were created by running screenshots taken from the videos at certain key points through a custom algorithm that selects the most common red, green, and blue values at each pixel, and generates a new image with the results; the video is edited to demonstrate disparities in how this information is presented in its original contexts.

Together, this work seeks to examine how universal public health and safety information is often overtaken and muffled by economic and cultural motivations.

In Preparation for Takeoff was created for the group show Asking for a Friend: Vox Populi’s New Member Takeover, at Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA), January/February 2020.

Photo documentation by RaĂşl Romero.

Composites (Series)

2015 — present
Digital prints
Generated through custom software written with Processing

A series of computer-generated pieces created through the analysis of many different photos, portraits, or images. Source photos are evaluated pixel by pixel, and the most commonly occurring red, green and blue values are used to create an entirely new image.

Works in this collection:

Composites (Trans-Siberian)

August 9—22, 2016
Created as a China Residencies #slowtrain resident.

These works were generated while traveling along the Trans-Siberian Railway (Mongolian route) from Moscow to Beijing.

Because my journey crossed multiple cultural areas (Western Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China) I used this residency to conduct a detailed examination of the similarities and differences between train compartments and design. During the journey, I attempted to take compositionally identical photos of sleeping compartments, seating areas, dining cars, and train exteriors and stations. I also took selfies throughout the journey while I was on board the trains. After my journey was complete, I creates a series of composite images to combine all of the photos together.

The Trans-Siberian Composites were exhibited at Wujin in Beijing, China, as part of Independent Art Spaces Beijing, 2016.

Composites (Political)

2016—present
Created from images sourced from Wikipedia

During the summer of 2016, I was working on an extremely politically driven installation in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, which ran concurrently with the Republican National Convention’s presence in the city. As a side project, I began running my composite portrait program on images of people in political positions in the US.

2016 1984 Historical

The first few images created were of Presidential candidates both in 2016 (the most recent election year at the time) and 1984 (the year of my birth), as well as everyone who has ever held the office of the President since the founding of the country (depicted above). The results were eye opening; the "most common pixel RGB value" procedure, while very technical sounding to most, produced portraits that showed the stunning lack of diversity among American politicians aspiring to the Presidency, even in this day and age.

1800 1912 1960

This evolved into the series Composite Candidate, a 9-print series of portraits of presidential candidates during significant elections in United States history: 1800, 1860, 1912, 1932, 1960, 1980, 2000, 2008, and 2016 (1800, 1912 and 1960 depicted above).

I later expanded into composite Congressional portraits. Composite Congress is a 6-print series of portraits of congressional sessions during pivotal moments in United States history: specifically, the 1st, 16th (Missouri Compromise), 75th (Second New Deal), 88th (Civil Rights Act of 1964), 99th (1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act), and 115th (current) US Congress (1st, 75th, and 115th depicted above).

In each iteration, the project tracks both the evolution of the physical makeup of the people who have chosen to run for the highest office in the country, as well as the shifts and changes in the composition and technology used to create the portraits themselves. Both series were shown as part of the 2017 Fl3tch3r Exhibit (Reece Museum, Johnson City, TN).

Composite Fluxer

2015
Created from images and text sourced from the Flux Factory website

Who is Flux Factory? This work attempted to answer that question by algorithmically compiling all of the photos submitted by all past and present Flux residents into a single entity. The results reveal common and uncommon traits possessed by the community that Flux had grown over the 21 years of its existence.

The portrait was exhibited alongside a composite artist biography, created by running the written biographies of all Flux residents through a Markov Chain to generate new text.

Composite Fluxer was created for the 2015 Flux Factory Artists-In-Residence exhibition, which I also organized.

HANDS UP

2015 (a collaboration with Atif Ateeq)
LED lights mounted on plywood panels, frosted plexiglass
Arduino, custom Processing software, Microsoft Kinect
Strobe lights

HANDS UP is an interactive installation that explores law enforcement's relationship with people of color in the United States.

The installation is meant to be experienced alone. One at a time, viewers walk behind a curtain into a room containing a large wall of flashing red and blue lights. They hear the sounds of sirens and the voices of police telling them to put their hands up. Once they comply and their hands are in the air, a gunshot is heard, several blinding strobe flashes are triggered, and the noises disappear. The viewer is shaken by the sudden light and noise, and left in a chilling void of silence as they exit the space.

HANDS UP simulates the experience of being approached by the police in a heated, confrontational manner. Similar interactions have resulted in the shooting deaths or brutal attacks of unarmed minorities throughout the United States, which have been increasingly covered by the mainstream media in recent years, and each of which has since contributed to the ongoing debate about the state of race relations in america. The piece directly places visitors in the chaotic and overwhelming moments before such an incident occurs, and invites viewers to contemplate being faced in such a way in the real world.

HANDS UP was originally exhibited at Flux Factory (Queens, NY) as part of the 2015 LIC Arts Open. It was covered widely by both art and mainstream press outlets in and beyond New York City, such as the Daily News, Reuters, Hyperallergic, ArtNet News, and PBS NewsHour.

Photo and video documentation by Humai Mustafa, Atif Ateeq, and Roopa Vasudevan.

Craigs Shopping Network

2015
Generative video created with Processing and Craiglist RSS feeds
Text messaging application (built with the Twilio API)

Craigs Shopping Network is a generative home shopping network culled from "for sale" ads pulled off of New York Craigslist.

Sale items and visuals are gathered in real time from Craigslist's RSS feeds, and are displayed complete with lower thirds and computer-generated voiceover. Viewers are able to inquire about items that interest them by texting a phone number onscreen, which automatically relays their contact information to the owner of the posting.

As we increasingly shift towards the Internet as a means of communication, commerce and exchange, “As Seen on TV” means less and less to us as we spend more and more time online. CSN is an experiment in bringing this new mode of transaction into the antiquated marketing methods we’ve relied on exclusively in the past.

Craigs Shopping Network was created as part of STROBE NETWORK at Flux Factory (Queens, NY).

Web & Publication

A collection of websites and publications that I have designed, both for my own artwork and for other collaborations. I also designed and built the website that you’re currently on.

dataDouble Publication

2021
Perfect-bound booklet
5.5" x 8.5"; 48 pages
Digitally printed

As part of the project dataDouble, I produced a limited-run publication to coincide with its debut exhibition in 2021. This publication contains a collection of the digital portraits generated by participants using the dataDouble web browser extension in its initial iteration, alongside extended interview reflections by those participants, and a newly written introductory essay about the project.

The publication is available for purchase through the Vox Populi Store in Philadelphia, PA. It was printed by Fireball Printing.

Vox Populi Exhibition Brochures

2020 — present
Digitally printed brochures
6" x 6" folded; 12" x 18" unfolded

Since January 2020, I have been the primary designer of the exhibition brochures for Vox Populi, a 30+ year old artist collective and gallery space where I am a current member.

Four brochures, folded.
Unfolded brochure for March/April 2020 exhibition cycle, front side.
Unfolded brochure for April/May 2021 exhibition cycle, front side.
Unfolded brochure for March/April 2020 exhibition cycle, reverse side.

Several of these brochures were created using Processing to develop code-based, generative templates. The brochures were printed by Fireball Printing.

Unfolded brochure for April/May 2021 exhibition cycle, reverse side.
Unfolded brochure for June/July 2021 exhibition cycle, front side.

Project Archive

Projects completed between 2012 and 2014.

All American Girls

2012
Aida cloth, embroidery floss, wooden needlepoint hoops
Patterns generated with Processing, using 2012 US Presidential election data

All-American Girls is a series of cross-stitched panels depicting women's voting patterns in the 2012 United States Presidential election. The project juxtaposes the very traditional and stereotypically “feminine” craft of needlepoint with evidence of increasing female activity in American politics.

The number of colored stitches in each candidate's name corresponds to the exact percentage of women who voted for that candidate in the selected state. Each pattern was generated with Processing, using data from CNN exit polls taken on Election Night (November 6, 2012). The patterns were then each embroidered by hand.

All-American Girls was shown as part of the 2012 Interactive Telecommunications Program Winter Show (New York, NY); the Data Visualization Showcase at the 2012 Strata conference (Santa Clara, CA); and TEDxNYU (2013).

Hate Couture

2013
Cotton silk, tulle, fusible interfacing, plastic boning, wire, yarn
One week’s worth of hate speech from Twitter, Reddit and YouTube
Fabric patterns generated with custom software written in Python and Processing

Hate Couture is a series of high-fashion garments created through analysis of the usage and context of hate speech on the Internet.

Language is a key device used to ostracize and dehumanize groups of people based on criteria that are largely unchangeable: race, gender, sexuality, religion. In real life, the use of hate speech has traditionally been a universal taboo. But how much attention do we really pay to it online, where everything we say is divorced from traditional social consequences? Hate Couture is an attempt to examine the use of hateful language on the Internet.

One week of hate speech against a single demographic was scraped from Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube between March 25-31, 2013, and analyzed using algorithmic language processing and sentiment analysis to determine the severity of each instance.

Each comment was assigned a sentiment score, which was used to place it on a 5-shade spectrum of a single hue; the lighter the color, the more benign, educational, out of context, or re-appropriative the usage was, and the darker the color got, the closer the context is to the speech's original, disparaging and dehumanizing meaning.

A visualization of the entire week was then printed on a bolt of fabric, the length corresponding to the total volume of text collected. In collaboration with a fashion designer from the group attacked, a single garment was then constructed from the entire length that was inspired by the impact of the language itself. The voluminous, impractical, and cumbersome nature of the clothing is meant to reflect the sheer volume of the data found online; the anonymity of the Internet, which allows people to use hate speech more freely than in real life; and the burden that this language places on those it is used against.

Special thanks to the fashion designers that I worked with over the course of this project: Timothy Brucato (“LGBTQ” garment, pictured, pink); Avery Reed (“Women” garment, pictured, lavender); Ari Fulton (“African-American” garment, fabric pictured, grayscale); Ruann Ibrahim (“Muslim” garment, fabric pictured, green).

Hate Couture was my thesis project at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. It was later shown as part of the ITP40 archival exhibition in 2019-2020.

Grillz

2014
3D printed polished gold steel plated mouth grills
Velvet pillows; acrylic and plywood bases
MP3 players, audio and headphones
Digital prints

Grillz is an exploration and analysis of the usage of language in mainstream hip-hop lyricism, with particular attention paid to mentions of money and income.

Individual songs are algorithmically analyzed for references to extreme poverty—the projects, drug dealing, prostitution—as well as extreme wealth—cars, cash, jewelry and the like. Mentions in each category are scored according to relative distance from words of the opposite polarity; the closer together a poverty reference and a wealth reference are to each other, the higher the score, and the number accumulates the more references there are in close proximity.

The resulting landscape formed is extruded into a 3D shape and printed as wearable grills: jewelry designed to fit over one’s teeth, and which have become inextricably linked to hip-hop culture over the years as a symbol of over-the-top, ostentatious wealth.

The language was processed using custom software (and with the assistance of my own PyGenius Python module), and the models were created in Processing, with the assistance of the Geomerative and Modelbuilder libraries. The pieces were 3D printed in polished gold steel by Shapeways.

Grillz was featured as part of the exhibitions Office Hours (DUMBO Arts Festival 2014, Brooklyn, NY); Heavily Scripted (2014, Little Berlin, Philadelphia, PA); Death By Art (2014, Death By Audio, Brooklyn, NY); Physico Electro (2015, The Art Association of Jackson Hole, Jackson, WY); and the 2015 Strata Hadoop Conference (San Jose, CA).

PyGenius

2014
Python module

PyGenius was a Python module that returned data from rap and hip hop songs in a clean, easy-to-read and understand format that allowed for the data to be used in other projects. It served as an unofficial API for Genius (then known as Rap Genius).

Users were able to access song lyrics, album lists by artists, annotations and notes about lyrics' meanings, album release dates, and metadata about artists and their recordings.

PyGenius could be installed via setuptools or pip on the command line, or by downloading the source code. PyGenius’ development was halted due to the availability of an official Genius API beginning in 2015.