Gil Sperling

video, stage and music

Interactive Scroll

Final project for the course “Introduction to Physical Computing” at NYU’s ITP, fall 2019

Ancient manuscripts are fascinating objects that often hold great historical and spiritual significance. Our access to these objects is mediated through several barriers. First, there is the physical barrier: because of their value and fragility, these objects, if they are presented to the public at all, are usually encased in glass and untouchable. Then there are the barriers of foreign language, old writing styles and material condition that make it difficult to interpret the text.
This is where the idea of the interactive scroll comes from – a device that allows the user to physically interact with a variety of ancient manuscripts.

interactive scroll – table, paper, projection

The user interfacing object is a blank scroll that can be rolled using rods at the sides. The scroll is placed on a clear acrylic surface. Text is projected from under the scroll, in Hebrew – from ancient bible manuscripts. As the user rolls the rods, the scroll advances, and the projected text moves with it. This works in reverse as well, using the other rod. There is a reading frame next to the table. When it is placed on the paper, a translation of the text into English appears in the frame. Additional layers of content include a progress bar indicating the current position in the scroll and some background information on the texts and their sources.

The installation uses rotary encoders and an Arduino microcontroller to translate the physical rotation of the scroll rods to the movement of the projected text, and a computer vision algorithm in Processing to track the reader and project the translation in the appropriate position.