Kyle McDonald



Kyle McDonald

is an artist working with code. He crafts interactive installations, sneaky interventions, playful websites, workshops, andtoolkits for other artists working with code. Exploring possibilities of new technologies: to understand how they affect society, to misuse them, and build alternative futures; aiming to share a laugh, spark curiosity, create confusion, and share spaces with magical vibes. Working with machine learning, computer vision, social and surveillance tech spanning commercial and arts spaces. Previously adjunct professor at NYU's ITP, member of F.A.T. Lab, community manager for openFrameworks, and artist in residence at STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at CMU, and YCAM in Japan. Work commissioned and shown around the world, including: the V&A, NTT ICC, Ars Electronica, Sonar, Todays Art, and Eyebeam.

Selected Work


Transformirror 2023 with Daito Manabe and Rhizomatiks

Real-time text to image and text to music powering an AI-driven interactive mirror. When everything is imagined by the AI, from the music to the imagery, the prompts, and even the title of the piece, what does it feel like to look in the mirror?
Generative MV

Generative MV 2023 with Daito Manabe and Rhizomatiks

A music video using image-to-image technology to dynamically change the background in real time, in response to text input by the audience. It is based on the green screen footage of the song “Perspective” performed at the 2020 online concert.
Voice In My Head

Voice In My Head 2023 with Lauren McCarthy

Exploring the implications for AI to listen and intervene in your social experience in real-time, augmenting your personality. The piece begins with an onboarding session where you place a bud in your ear and the voice asks you to reflect on the inner voice you were born with. What if it could be more caring? Less obsessive? Less judgmental? More helpful? What if you could change your inner monologue?
Unlearning Language

Unlearning Language 2022 with Lauren McCarthy and Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media

An interactive installation and performance that uses machine learning to provoke us to find new understandings of language, undetectable to algorithms.

Amends 2022

A series of sculptures designed to mitigate emissions from Ethereum NFT marketplaces. Amends will go on sale when Ethereum transitions away from proof-of-work. The work is priced to fund complete carbon mitigation, supplied by three partners—each with different approaches to carbon dioxide removal and emissions prevention.
Crypto Therapy

Crypto Therapy 2022

A group therapy session for people working through their feelings around crypto. We ask questions about our confusion, excitement, frustration, financial anxiety, or even changing friendships due to the complex phenomenon of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
Ethereum Emissions

Ethereum Emissions 2021

A bottom-up estimate of the energy use and emissions of the Ethereum blockchain. Experiments in cultural intervention in the form of a technical research articles and realtime dashboards. What are the affordances and limitations of research alone? A response to a year of hand-wringing and mud-slinging in the digital arts, asking: how bad is it, really?

Siren 2021 with Annie Lewandowski

Audiovisual installation exploring the songs of three humpback whales, recorded by Annie Lewandowski and pioneering bioacoustician Katy Payne. Lighting design backed by ML as an aid for deeper listening. Projected on derelict fishing gear, recovered from areas where they represent the primary threat to cetaceans.

Facework 2020

Game that imagines a world where face analysis is key to the latest gig economy app. As a Faceworker, the player is given an opportunity to interrogate in realtime how computer vision and machine learning tools work — to playfully grow an intuition for what it means to see like a machine, and to understand how machines can fail. Created with support from Mozilla Foundation.
Vibe Check

Vibe Check 2020 with Lauren McCarthy

Appropriates common surveillance tools including face recognition and expression analysis to catalog the emotional effect exhibition visitors have on one another. Some are identified as evoking expressions of happiness, disgust, sadness, surprise, or boredom. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are playfully alerted to who these people are, and as they leave, they may find they've earned this distinction themselves.

nvidia-co2 2020

Command-line tool for showing real time gCO2eq emissions estimates in various formats (equivalent sea ice lost per hour, grams of beef consumed, number of light bulbs, etc) combining CPU and GPU usage. A tool for researchers and hobbyists, playfully intervening at the site of one of the most commonly used debugging/monitoring tools used for machine learning.

Innards 2019

Collection of abstract shapes was produced by a recurrent neural network trained on SVG emoji vector art, generating new "emoji" character by character. The layout is inspired by Roger Coqart.
Pattern Radio

Pattern Radio 2019 with Google Creative Lab

Working with a decade of underwater recordings collected by NOAA to visualize humpback whale songs. Techniques from computer vision, signal processing, machine learning, all converge to push the creative potential of machine-aided listening of contemporary performers in a 11 million year old cultural practice.
discrete figures

discrete figures 2018 with Rhizomatiks

Internationally touring dance performance. Exploring the relationships between the performing arts and mathematics, giving rise to mathematical entities that engage with the bodies of human dancers onstage. Collecting a custom dance dataset and training a new network for generation of abstract dance-like movement.

ICEspy 2018

Concerned you may know an ICE employee? Use this helpful app to check. Just point your camera and press the photo button. We'll check against hundreds of ICE employee photos from LinkedIn and show you the closest match. A direct subversion of face recognition technology to watch those who wield power without responsibility.
NSynth Super

NSynth Super 2018 with Magenta

Synthesizer for exploring neural interpolations of sonic textures. Four knobs for controlling "reference" sounds and a touchscreen for blending between them using the NSynth algorithm. Contributed to conceptual and interaction design, and wrote the synthesis engine and initial user interface.
Man and Woman In The Middle

Man and Woman In The Middle 2017 with Lauren McCarthy

We each wrote scripts to intercept and modify or reply to text messages from each other, in the hope of syncing our different communication styles and developing a better relationship and conversation.
How We Act Together

How We Act Together 2016 with Lauren McCarthy

Prompts you to perform small gestures of social interaction repeatedly until exhausted. Your action triggers a video stream of all the previous participants performing the same action back at you. If you perform longer than anyone before you, your own gesture gets added at the end of the stream.
Bird Sounds

Bird Sounds 2016 with Google Creative Lab

Thousands of bird sounds, organized using machine learning. Similar bird sounds are placed close together, producing a sonic map that produces unexpected connections between different species.
The Infinite Drum Machine

The Infinite Drum Machine 2016 with Google Creative Lab

Thousands of everyday sounds, organized using machine learning. Experimenting with alternative interfaces for exploring sound libraries and serendipitous opportunities for musical improvisation and composition.

Terrapattern 2016 with Golan Levin, David Newbury, et al

Similar-image search for satellite photos. An open-source tool for discovering "patterns of interest" in unlabeled satellite imagery—a prototype for exploring the unmapped, and the unmappable. Click an interesting spot on Terrapattern's map, and it will find other locations that look similar.

Highsight 2015

A virtual bungee jump through a real space. Visitors are strapped into a harness and a VR headset showing a live stream from a camera on a wire. The camera meanders through a playful diorama before dropping through the bottom of the box and into the crowd.
Exhausting a Crowd

Exhausting a Crowd 2015

A crowdsourced description of 12 hours in Piccadilly Circus, London, inspired by the classic 60-page piece of experimental literature from Georges Perec, “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris”, written from a bench over three days in 1974.

pplkpr 2014 with Lauren McCarthy

An app that tracks, analyzes, and auto-manages your relationships. It uses GPS and subtle changes in heart rhythm to keep track of when you're coming and going and determine your emotional state. The data is connected to people you interact with to determine who should be auto-scheduled into or out of your life.
Augmented Hand Series

Augmented Hand Series 2014 with Chris Sugrue and Golan Levin

Real-time interactive software system that presents playful, dreamlike, and uncanny transformations of its visitors' hands. It consists of a box into which the visitor inserts their hand, and a screen which displays their "reimagined" hand—for example, with an extra finger, or with fingers that move autonomously.

Serendipity 2014

A map showing ephemeral connections created by simultaneous listens: every second a few people hit "play" on the same song, at the same time. Developed during inaugural media artist residency at Spotify.
Who Pays Artists?

Who Pays Artists? 2014

A sounding board for artists to anonymously share stories about what they've been paid for, and by whom. An intervention and conversation starter in the ongoing dialog about money in the context of the arts.
Social Soul

Social Soul 2014 with Lauren McCarthy

An immersive digital experience inspired by the question: how does it feel to be inside someone else's social media stream? Starts with the stream of the person visiting, then uses a custom algorithm to match participants, displaying their social stream instead. After exiting, users and their connected "soulmate" receive a tweet encouraging offline conversation.

Noodle 2014 with Lauren McCarthy

A crowdsourced robot with the inputs and outputs of a computer but the thoughts and feelings of a person. Noodle uses a natural language interface to program mechanical turk workers, providing them with a body for influencing the real world.
Sharing Faces

Sharing Faces 2013

For eight months we shared photos between Anyang, Korea and Yamaguchi, Japan. Visiting the installation at either location would match your expression and pose in realtime with these photos of someone else who once stood in front of the installation. Thousands of people visited the work, and saw themselves reflected in the face of another person.

Conversnitch 2013 with Brian House

An eavesdropping lamp/lightbulb that livetweets conversations, using a small microphone with a Raspberry Pi that records audio snippets and uploads them to Mechanical Turk for automated transcription.

us+ 2013 with Lauren McCarthy

A Google Hangout app that analyzes speech and facial expressions to improve conversation. Speech to text is handled by the Chrome Speech API, linguistic analysis is based on LIWC and inspired by linguistic style matching research, facial analysis is based on the Hangouts Face API.
Going Public

Going Public 2013

A one month performance coinciding with the Twitter IPO, where my Twitter profile is made publicly accessible by allowing anyone to tweet as "me" simply by direct messaging me a tweet prepended with a "~" (tilde).

FriendFlop 2013 with Lauren McCarthy

A browser extension for Chrome that scrambles the identities on your Twitter or Facebook timelines, dissolving your biases and reminding you that everyone is saying the same shit anyway.
Open Fit

Open Fit 2013 with Lisa Kori

Open source software that investigates several approaches to generating custom tailored pants patterns. Open Fit Lab is an experimental event where we use this software for on-the-spot generation and creation of custom clothes.

Roseheading 2013

Endless glitch facets of a "fractured, frozen" mosaic, a metaphor for our data in the cloud. Commissioned by xo.
Social Roulette

Social Roulette 2013 with Jonas Jongejan and Jonas Lund

A game with "a 1 in 6 chance of deleting your Facebook account", in fact a hoax that was shut down by Facebook for suggesting the possibility that your account is yours to play games with.
Light Leaks

Light Leaks 2013 with Jonas Jongejan

A scattered array of fifty mirror balls reflect light from three projectors, filling a room completely with small reflections, casting patterns that fill the visitor's peripheral vision. Creating a curious space that alternates between a meditative state, and an uneasy imbalance.
Inbox Zero Residency

Inbox Zero Residency 2013

A one-week residency aimed at clearing my inbox, treating email answering as art, daily digital life as readymade performance. Daily reports on Twitter, supported by GaOk in Seoul.
RAM Dance Toolkit

RAM Dance Toolkit 2013 with YCAM

A toolkit for dancers to communicate with each other in virtual environments. Includes functions to access, recognize, and process motion data to support creation of various scenes, and to provide realtime feedbacks to dancers with code, easily.

ExR3 2013 with Elliot Woods

An anamorphic analog interactive installation that exists coherently in a fractured, mirrored version of a reflected room visible from four points within the real space.

Reflections 2013

Sculpture for holiday window display at Barneys New York. Inspired by visual aesthetic of "Light Leaks", the sculpture was designed with three.js and Rhino, fabricated from a milled foam base, with generative patterns projected upon the mirrored surface.

Missing 2012 with Aramique and Matt Mets and The xx

50 robotic speakers turn to face visitors, while a spatialized recording of The xx's song "Missing" follows them through the space.

Mother 2012 with Inmi Lee

Digitally extruding hand gestures in response to linguistic cues as a method of experimental sound visualization.
Blind Self Portrait

Blind Self Portrait 2012 with Matt Mets

While the visitor keeps their eyes shut, a moving platform guides a pen in their hand to draw a self-portrait, using computer vision to track their face and generate a line drawing. The result is a machine-aided drawing, a self-portrait you could never draw.

subpixel 2012

A subway advertisement upgrade kit, built from laser-cut acrylic, rubber bands, and nine razor blades. It transforms a small patch of subway advertisement into an 8×8 grid of pixel stickers, ready for interaction with the public.

ScratchML 2012 with Jamie Wilkinson and Michael Auger

A format for describing turntablism, as well as tools for recording, analyzing, sharing, and even recreating scratch performances with giant robot arms. Initially built as a prototype in at the 319 Scholes Art Hack Day.

Shadowplay 2011

Experiments with shadow manipulation as an alternative interaction paradigm, exploring the unexpected results of structure in shadow, or form in emptiness. Shadowplay uses ProCamToolkit which was co-developed by the YCAM Interlab during a residency.

mapamok 2011

An experimental projection mapping tool that minimizes the amount of time spent doing calibration. mapamok uses ProCamToolkit which was co-developed by the YCAM Interlab during a residency.
Face Substitution Research

Face Substitution Research 2011 with Arturo Castro

Real time face tracking and substitution experiments including a realization of the Scramble Suit and an interactive installation Faces that picks a new face for you every time you blink.
Pocket Topographies

Pocket Topographies 2011 with Chris Woebken

Ongoing experiments with pocket-sized topographical maps for visualizing geographic data in a physical form. The first piece shows a year of travel around NYC captured surreptitiously by an iPhone. Started during a residency at MakerBot.
People Staring at Computers

People Staring at Computers 2011

A photographic intervention. Custom app installed around NYC computer stores, taking a picture each minute and uploading it. Photos exhibited on site, full screen, on every computer.
Sharing Interviews

Sharing Interviews 2011

Interview series about creators sharing work, with an emphasis on open source, media art, and digital communities. The interviews are conducted with EtherPad and stored on GitHub.

Eyeshine 2011 with Golan Levin

Interactive installation which captures, records and replays the retroreflections (red-eye effects) from the eyes of its observers. In doing so it presents an image wholly constructed through the process of being observed.

EletroAxé 2011 for Carlinhos Brown with Lucas Werthein

Experimental percussion interface for Brazilian musician/composer Carlinhos Brown. Performed for a crowd of 50k during the 2011 Carnaval in Salvador, Bahia.
The Janus Machine

The Janus Machine 2010 with Daito Manabe and Theo Watson and Zach Lieberman

A 3d photo booth built from a structured light system. Janus is often depicted with two faces, each facing in opposite directions. Here: the real face, and the scan stored by the computer.
...and Counting

...and Counting 2010 for Wafaa Bilal

Visualization for a full-back tattoo, one dot for each death associated with the war in Iraq: 4k US soldiers in red ink, 100k "invisible" civilians in ultraviolet.
Subdivision of Roam

Subdivision of Roam 2010 for Chris Milk

An interactive installation investigating personal shells and their deconstruction. Presented at the NYC Wired Magazine pop-up store 2010, and later developed into "The Treachery of Sanctuary."

Lagoglyphs 2010 for Eduardo Kac with Shawn Lawson

Flocking of 1400 unique handmade drawings, with an emphasis on the generative mutability of writing. A version of the source was branched, and shared as "Clouds are Looming".
Night Lights

Night Lights 2009 with YesYesNo

Building projection with crowd interaction, featuring three different interaction modes over six different scenes, cycled every hour over five nights in Auckland, NZ.

keytweeter 2009

One-year performance for custom keylogger, tweeting every 140 characters I type, ending June 30, 2010. An exploration of the boundary between "information" and "control", ubiquitous status updates, and personal identity.
Portrait Machine

Portrait Machine 2009 with Theo Watson

An interactive photography installation that visualizes the connections between visitors, reminding us of our connectedness and uniqueness, creating strong visual patterns and playful juxtapositions.
DIY 3D Scanning

DIY 3D Scanning 2009

Ongoing work democratizing realtime 3D scanning with structured light (one projector, one camera).
1¢ Grants

1¢ Grants 2009

A project to provide 100 grants at 1¢ cent each. Suspended early due to the high overhead cost of mailing pennies.

pppd 2009

An appropriation of computability theory. During each brief scene, a random sequence of p'' code is generated and run, while the memory it uses is visualized and sonified. An investigation of emergent behavior and computational dreams.
Only Everything Lasts Forever

Only Everything Lasts Forever 2008

Very long sound composition for MP3: an arrangement of every sound we can uniqely distinguish. An exploration of noise and emptiness, and the auditory implications of sound representation. An open source project towards an MFA.

Vibrobyte 2008

The Vibrobyte is a wireless haptic interface specialized for co-located musical performance. It was featured in "Telemorphosis" at ICMC 2008. Technical details were presented at the 156th ASA Meeting and NIME 2009.
I Eat Beats

I Eat Beats 2008

Skittle-based beat sequencer, a tangible and edible music interface. v2 implements a generic control surface with the aide of a linear polarizer to cancel out the screen.
Please Remember Me When I'm Gone

Please Remember Me When I'm Gone 2008 with Rebecca Weisman

Exploration of personality, death, and emptiness through a human-scale settlement of handmade dwellings combining video, electronics, and recorded voice. Colors from the sky as it moves from dusk to dark, and from dark to dawn, are sampled from video and routed into the huts.

Nandhopper 2008

Ongoing noise synth explorations, with inspiration from the Kraakdoos, Theremin, Thingamakit, and BEAM electronics.
DIY 3D Interface

DIY 3D Interface 2008

Ongoing work with DIY capacitive sensing for 3D interaction. v1 used an Arduino, aluminum foil, and six resistors.
Future Fragments

Future Fragments 2008

An anti-time-capsule: quotes from seven fellow art students, transcribed phonetically and encoded as colors. Prints of these colors were carried by the artists for a summer. Decoded back into phonemes and re-formed into words, each text offers an indirect account of their respective journeys.
Musique Du Vent

Musique Du Vent 2008

Reclaiming the entropy of unused dryer heat from a vent outside a freshman dorm, redirecting it into a discarded accordion. During the early Winter, the vent creates a small grassy space surrounded by snow. In March, it's mostly thick mud, but still unexpectedly warm and inviting.

Theremug 2007

An exercise in simplicity: the most basic capacitive sensor, using the smallest possible number of external components. Requires only an unshielded cable connected to a microphone input.

Empathy 2004

Early Processing work. Don't move too fast, you might scare it. Click to forgive and forget.