School of machines, making & make–believe

How can we reappropriate pervasive surveillance technology in ways that empower people? How can we use these same technologies as tools to express ourselves creatively?

  • / 6 June - 1 July 2016

  • / four weeks, full-time in Berlin, Germany

  • / 10-15 participants accepted

  • / Based in ACUD MACHT NEU


Computer vision is a responsive, interactive, and exciting tool for realising creative vision. From tracking body movements to face detection and pixel manipulation, computer vision is a rich area that opens up many new possibilities. Low cost cameras and open source platforms now make this field much more accessible allowing us to introduce powerful algorithmic approaches to our creative endeavors.

These kinds of technologies are also pervasive in our daily lives and understanding their inner workings will allow us to challenge and play with them in creative and subversive ways.

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of computer vision and image processing for creative projects and critical discourse.

Computer Vision is an area of research centered on how algorithms can extract information from images. This was originally done using still images, later video and now includes 3D data from cameras with 3D sensors.

Computer vision has found application in many areas: the military, video games, police surveillance, robotics, etc. For artists and designers, computer vision can bring interactivity to works allowing reaction to body movement and motion, and allowing for the creation of new forms of imagery.

Through the exploration of these technologies for creative purposes we’ll have the opportunity to see how these algorithms may be used for privacy and surveillance and what problems it might pose to use them within different contexts. In a time when access to cameras and sharing of imagery is commonplace, the possibility of analyzing or manipulating images allows for new forms of commentary and creativity.

This course will be taught using Openframeworks.

Who is this program for?

This workshop is geared toward anyone involved in creative projects (designers, makers, artists, musicians, performers etc.) that want to begin incorporating computer vision into their work or practice. The course approaches computer vision from an introductory level, however a basic knowledge of programming (in any language/platform) is encouraged.

After taking this course, you'll walk away with

Hands-on experience making interactive audio/visual works using openframeworks

A deeper understanding of the technologies behind surveillance and how you can intercept and engage with them in creative and subversive ways

An independent creative project for exhibition

Course Outline

Week 1: Introductory Lectures (guest speakers tbd)
Week 2: Basic techniques for computer vision using OpenCv and openFrameworks
Week 3: 3D cameras and related algorithms
Week 4: Projects for final exhibition


  • €1550 (artists/students/freelancers)
    €2050 (professionals)



  • Chris Sugrue /

    Chris Sugrue is an artist and programmer developing interactive installations, audio-visual performances and experimental interfaces. Her works experiment with technology in playful and curious ways and investigate topics such as artificial life, eye-tracking and optical illusions. She has exhibited internationally in such festivals and galleries as Ars Electronica, Sónar Festival, Pixel Gallery, Medialab-Prado, Matadero Madrid, and La Noche En Blanco Madrid.

    Sugrue’s interactive installation, Delicate Boundaries received an honorary mention from Vida Art and Artificial Life Awards and first prize from Share Festival. In 2009, she collaborated to help develop the EyeWriter, a low-cost eye controlled drawing tool for ALS patients. The EyeWriter was honored with Design of the Year award for interactive category, the Future Everything Award, and a Golden Nica from Ars Electronica.

    Sugrue holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. She has worked as a creative engineer at the Ars Electronica Futurelab where she was the lead interaction developer for a stereoscopic interactive dance performance with artist and choreographer Klaus Obermaier. Sugrue was the recipient of a year-long fellowship at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York, and has held artist residencies with Hangar in Barcelona, La Casa De Velázquez in Madrid and Harvestworks in New York. She has taught courses in the Design and Technology department at Parsons School of Design, the Interface Culture program at the KunstUniversität in Linz, Austria, and numerous workshops on visual and creative programming.

  • Adam Harvey /

    Adam Harvey is a Berlin-based artist and researcher whose work explores the impacts of surveillance technologies. His previous projects include CV Dazzle, camouflage from computer vision; Stealth Wear, 'Anti-Drone' fashion; and the Privacy Gift Shop, an online marketplace for countersurveillance art. His work has been widely covered in the media including 60 Minutes, The New York Times, BBC, and the Air Force Times.

    Harvey has taught a course on the pervasiveness of surveillance technologies at New York University; was an inaugural member of NEW INC, the New Museum's art incubator program. He is currently developing a computer vision toolkit for the artist Trevor Paglen and developing new products for the Privacy Gift Shop.

  • Mauritius Seeger /

    Mauritius Seeger is a programmer and video artist, also interested in photography, live video performances, and interactive art. In the past has worked in the fields such as physics, optics, image processing, computer vision and machine learning. His recent work has focused on interactive media installations, projections, displays and art projects.

  • Program Guests

  • Gene Kogan /

    Gene Kogan is an artist and programmer who is interested in generative systems and the application of emerging technology into artistic and expressive contexts. He writes code for live music, performance, and visual art. He contributes to open-source software projects and gives workshops and demonstrations on topics related to code and art.

    He is a contributor to openFrameworks, Processing, and p5.js, an adjunct professor at Bennington College and ITP-NYU, and a former resident at Eyebeam.

  • Graffiti Research Lab Germany

    Graffiti Research Lab Germany (GRLG) is a collective of hackers, coders, artists and vandals who consider themselves activists that use technology as a tool for intervention in the public space.