Keyfleas (2013) was an interactive augmented projection developed in Processing by CMU first-year BCSA (Art+Computer Science) undergraduate, Miles Hiroo Peyton. Developed in Prof. Golan Levin's course in Introduction to Computing for Creative Practices. Miles wrote the following text to accompany the project:
The Keyfleas live on a two-dimensional flatland. They travel as a flock, over key mountains and through aluminum valleys. They avoid touching letterforms, since they suspect that the symbols are of some evil origin. On occasion, a hostile tentacle invades the flatland and disturbs its inhabitants.
Although I had several ideas for contexts in which an augmented projection could exist, most of them amounted to arbitrary particles careening across a surface. No poetry, no narrative. So instead of an architectural surface as originally planned, I project on an Apple Keyboard. My reasons for this are both practical and conceptual. The keys are clean and white, and the Pico projector can attach via Manfotto Magic Arm to a nearby table. This addresses the constraints of a low powered projector, as well as issues relating to variable lighting and surface conditions. My solution for key calibration was as follows: key-shaped boundaries are placed in the Box2D world using the mouse, and then the key is pressed in order to map that body to its corresponding key. This calibration process can be seen at the end of the video.
But these are only technical considerations; more important was choosing a context in which a narrative – albeit a simple one – could emerge. The suggestion that there are parasitic entities living in our devices is an interesting an unsettling one. An obvious inspiration for this project was Chris Sugrue’s “Delicate Boundaries”, where light bugs crawl out of the screen and onto the viewer’s hand.
Original documentation: cmuems.com/2013/a/miles/10/17/keyfleas/