Ghost in the Machine

**The Redline Art Exhibit in Denver, Colorado featured Ghost in the Mchine at their interactive art show in August 2014** 


Part of the curriculum at BDW included working with creative technology. Ghost in the Machine is the result of taking existing technology and making something new.

In his book, Enchanted Objects, David Rose talks about creating technology that is "enchanting". For me, this project was an exercise in combining the physical world with a digital space. I wanted the piece to facilitate interaction between people. Ghost in the Machine projects digital lines that sway back and forth to promote interaction between people.



UX Designer and Creative Technologist

My hypothesis behind this piece originated under the premises that people would interact if something mimicked their movement.




The piece is built with Open Source Processing code. After a great deal of research, and consulting developers, I made a prototype. After each reiteration, the piece was tested in front of an audience. I took notes on the feedback and made adjustments to improve the interactive experience each time.

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  • Projector
  • Microsoft XBOX Kinect
  • Computer
  • Processing Code*
  • Dark Room
  • Empty Wall


The XBox Kinect reads the proximity of the user by their skeleton outline. The image is projected onto the empty wall, and the lines from the open processing code sway back and forth with the user's movement.

*The processing code is a combination of multiple code pieces I found in the processing open source library.



This project challenged me at almost every interval. It was a lesson in perseverance and mentorship. But, the struggle was made rewarding by seeing how people chose to use the piece differently. Watching the interaction between people allowed me to make observations on habits and predict behavior around the piece.


It is called Ghost in the Machine because the user's shadow becomes part of the experience. By interacting with the piece, they leave a part of themselves in the art.

“I just want to say, I found this beautiful piece so useful for my dancing technique. You have not only given me a way to interact with people, but also a way to reflect my my own movement back to myself. I see myself in the machine and the shadows that dances with me.”


“Art is meant to be a thought provoking reflection of the times. Finding ways to mirror a physical connection into a digital space is the next frontier in technology, user experience, user interface and artistic expression. It takes a brave soul to take a tool and turn it into art. It requires passion, well-rounded knowledge base of the assets available, and an implicit understanding of human use, curiosity and enjoyment. BDW is creating a new class of creative minds by teaching these concepts to people in such a way that they find their way to an intention naturally.”

— Julie Miller