Infrared patterns and paint to screw with tourist video/photos


Last week at ZeroOne in San Jose, one of the art pieces reminded me of a sneaky idea I had a while ago. As you may know, many camcorders, camera phones and cheaper digital cameras respond to infrared light. You can check this out pretty easily by holding down a button on your remote control while using the preview screen on your camera. If you see a bright light, you're camera shoots in infrared.

Anyway, the idea is to find techniques, be they arrays of bright infrared LEDs, or paints that shine well in infrared but are not obvious in visible light, and create invisible graffiti that only shows up in tourist photos and videos. Imagine the tourists get home from their trip to fisherman's wharf, and the side of the building says something funny or rude that they are sure wasn't there when they filmed it.

The art piece at ZeroOne used this concept to put up a black monolith to the naked eye. If you pulled out your camera phone or digital camera, you could see words scrolling down the front. Amusing to watch people watch it. Another piece by our friends at .etoy also had people pulling out cameraphones to watch it. They displayed graphics made of giant pixels on a wall just a few feet from you. Up close, it looked like random noise. If you found a way to widen your field of view (which the screen on a camera can do) allowed you to see the big picture, and you could see the images of talking faces. (My SLR camera's 10mm lens through the optical viewfinder worked even better.)

That piece only really worked at night, though with superbright LEDs I think it could be done in the day. I don't know if there are any paints to coatings to make this work well. It would be amusing to tag the world with tags that can only be seen when you pull out your camera.


Sounds like a great way to get around censorship. Particularly valuable near historical places and monuments commemorating history. Paint the statue of the liberty on the gate to Tien-An-Men square!

Ages ago, the Claude glass was a piece of colored glass in a frame that was used for viewing landscapes so that they looked as if they had been painted by a fellow named Claude. People would go around looking for pretty views, and then haul out this glass in its frame to see it properly, as if painted.

Now that we have cheap video processing, it is time to bring back a similar technology. Why just wear glasses when you can lug around an iPod and an iSight hooked together to sharpen things, or blur, or shift colors, or distort? This would be a marvelous way to look at the world.

Also, I've always wanted one of those digital overhead slide projector panels with appropriate location and position technology so you could annotate the world as you walk through it. You could walk through a museum and look through the screen, sort of like Holmes and his magnifying glass, and you could see descriptions, graffiti, and even wikipedia entries for the item you are looking at. You can walk down the street and see stuff from store web sites, or walk through the mountains and see which distant mountain is which and how far it is.

Who needs a brain when we have technology?

I am working on it! Keeping looking on my webpage for updates. claude Yes, I know it hasn't been updated in months (this is 10/07) but it wll be soon. How much would you pay for a Claude mirror/glass?

make that

Hey Brad. I'm wondering if you know of places to get infrared paints and dyes?

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