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Ghost in the Machine | Analogue to Digital Technology Co Creator/Co Instructor, RISD, Winter Session, 2010
Ghost in the Machine
Analogue to Digital
Digital + Media Winter Session Course, RISD
Course Design and Course Instructing by Laura Alesci & Mary Burge
In multimedia art, nostalgia for analogue has grown at the same intense pace as the development of newer and more dynamic technologies. Artists have begun retooling older, analogue-based devices with nascent technology in an attempt to project into the future. By experimenting with the exchange between digital and analogue,students can create works capturing that dialogue. Students in this course will examine the history of obsolete techniques and machinery—magic lanterns, cabinets of curiosities, tape cassettes, early film, and stereoscopes—and, simultaneously, link them to the latest digital media. This course treats all these apparatuses, both antiquated and contemporary, as holders of time. Students will develop basic skills in computer programming and physical computing to evoke nostalgia for analogue objects and establish a new language through their reinvention.
Visual Documentation
of Student Work


Digital video and super 8 film, infrared proximity sensors, Arduino micro controller & Max/MSP

A video installation of two movies projected side by side. The first is a slideshow relating my discovering and sketching a landscape. The second is a film depicting my attempt to recreate the original experience. When installed, proximity sensors were set up in the room, so that choosing to stand in front of one movie triggered the other one to pause. – Dylan Greif

Final Project for Ghost in the Machine: Analogue to Digital Technology / RISD

Balloons, contact microphones, amplifier and wind

What do we hear as sound travels through objects and structures? This piece studies how sound is translated, or distorted as it travels through the environment around us. Contact microphones are attached to inflated balloons. The microphones are plugged into an amp.The balloons are placed within a corner of a room between two open windows. The sound of the wind is translated through the balloons movements, and the movement of the balloons expresses the sound of the wind. The contact mics pickup the surface vibration of the active balloons and “the sound of wind” fills the room.

Final Project for Ghost in the Machine: Analogue to Digital Technology / RISD


Servo motor, Arduino micro controller, LEDS & plastic tube

This project aimed to reinvent the traditional kaleidoscope through the use of digital technology. Using basic electronics and programming to randomly turn light emitting diodes (LEDS) on and off, I create random light patterns that mimic the traditional optical device.

Final Project for Ghost in the Machine: Analogue to Digital Technology / RISD


Tape decks, speakers and sound internally installed

Designed objects are created with specific audiences and functions in mind. These objects are embedded with social meaning intended to attract potential users. As products become obsolete, due to technology or trends, what happens to their original meanings? How do these messages get carried through the physical presence of objects? This piece reunites second hand audio equipment with their original advertisements.
– Jonathan O’Conner

Final Project for Ghost in the Machine: Analogue to Digital Technology / RISD



“Laura was very helpful throughout the course and seemed to care about the material. She was very supportive of us as students.”

“Was very dedicated to our personal projects. Engaging.”

“Laura knew what she was doing in the actual practice of programming, electronics, etc. I think it really came across that she has experience in the material that she taught. Although sometimes things didn’t work her point still came across.”

“Laura seemed passionate about this topic and willing to share her interest. Her critique helped progress project ideas.”


“Learned an interesting amount of theory regarding analogue/digital technology.”

“I think I have more of an understanding of the transitions of media. I definitely think more about the longevity and lifespan of media and would like to pursue it further.”

“Interesting class discussions related to the assigned readings and class themes.”