Local Prof's Work Featured in Wired Magazine

By Submitted Report | Posted in: News

Above: Lori Hepner's photographs are produced by programming spinning LEDs to flash based on the binary code of each character in a tweet. This photo used a tweet from pop star Miley Cyrus. (Courtesy Lori Hepner)


A professor at Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport has had her work profiled recently in Wired magazine ... and it may soon be sent to the moon.

The article describes how Lori Hepner, associate professor of integrative arts, photographs images produced by programming "eight spinning LEDs [to] flash based on the binary code of each character in a tweet."

These ‘Twitter portraits’ are part of a series Hepner calls "Status Symbols."

According to the article, one of Hepner's photographs will be included in an art collection to be sent to the moon as part of Carnegie Mellon University's entry in the Google Lunar X competition.

“The process of creating this work is really integral to what they look like. I use a small computer device, called an Arduino, that translates the text-based characters of a tweet into blinks of light, which are what I photograph. I have no idea what the portrait is going to look like ahead of time. The visual outcome is always a bit of a surprise for me,” Hepner said.

“I wanted to find a way to turn the idea of a momentary, digital portrait into a fixed visual representation that would come from a social media post. The fact that we change our social media expressions so often, and thus change our digital expressions of our identities, was one of the primary inspirations for the work."

Originally published October 21, 2015.

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