Visualizing: Microscope thoughts

I got to play with a USB microscope today. The device is pretty simple, and the focus control was difficult to dial in, but the results were fun. There’s something about scale…even the mundane is intriguing when we see it in a novel way and this certainly qualifies.

Here are some pics:

MacBook Pro speaker grille:

MacBook Pro speaker grill detail (clogged):

iPhone screen:

Fabric from cloth cycling cap, printed with logo:


ITP wood floor. Varnish with embedded metal:

Visualization brief for the next project:
The microscope makes decipherable things which are typically too small for us to discern with the naked eye. I’d like to explore a parallel paradigm, using software to make visible the underlying structure of the incoming image.

Digitized images are comprised of a matrix of colored pixels arranged an specific way so as to resemble the source of the image. Typically, each pixel has properties of position, red, green and blue (which contributes to saturation and brightness) and transparency as well as change over time. The density of pixels over a given space determines an images resolution, with more pixels providing an image with greater detail.

I want to allow the viewer to push through the surface representation of an image and into the underlying structure, displayed spatially, but in a way to decouple the context of the original image from the components which make up it’s digital surrogate.

Here’s a quick sketch illustrating a cursory exploration of this idea:

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