pierre depaz


selected courses

politics of code
NYU Abu Dhabi - Fall 2017-2018
How are algorithms involved in our political life?

A computer program can be compared to a political system, in which input acts as cases, subroutines as courts of laws, and output as jurisprudence. This course explores the analogies between digital systems and political systems, how they influence one another, and how they are born from human minds to act upon the human world.

Starting from the pervasiveness of code, this course is a survey of how political philosophy supports the designing and development of software in various areas of our lives.


In the midst of a backlash against the ubiquity of computer systems and big data, this course postulates that algorithms are only as dangerous as the social context they support. By understanding one, we can understand the other, and understanding is the pre-requisite for social change.

Students taking the course will develop an ability to critically assess the tools and systems they are presented with on an everyday basis and be empowered to build alternatives to those digital structures.


The course is based both on readings and discussions, as well as hands-on production. Each week is centered around a particular topic in political philosophy (public space, ownership, sociability, self-image, language, etc.) and offers a discussion on the impact that software has had on each of these fields.

In parallel, lab sessions introduces them to the current implementation of the technologies discussed (from DNS to chatbots and face recognition), and provides them with a range of techniques to develop their projects with.

software art: image
NYU Abu Dhabi - Fall 2018
How is computation affecting visual arts and visual culture?

It seemed very unlikely, at the dawn of computing, that one would ever be interested in using calculators as tools for art. More than half a century later, it is hard to imagine any artwork which hasn’t been influenced by computers, whether as its core component, or as a reference point, or by using file formats, or by finding inspiration on the internet. This class retraces the impact of computers, and more specifically of the most intangible part of computers -software- on the visual and literary arts.


Software, oscillating between machine and man, is a unique vantage point on the history of art and society in an era during which the impact of technology became unprecedented. While born into the US ‘iron triangle’ of army, industry and academia, Software Art: Image embodies a desire to free oneself and reflect upon one’s place in such a world, both building on and contradicting previous dynamics in art history.


This course is also directed towards developing an artistic thought, sensitivity and skill with programming and, as such, focuses on three parts. Readings and critique will expose the students to different ways to think about software art, as well as key artists that helped establish the discipline. Weekly assignments allows students practice and iterate on shape, shade and movement as they familiarize themselves with programming techniques using OpenFrameworks.

Finally, three major pieces will be developed, and presented in class for critique, on the themes of stillness, motion and performance.

software art: text
NYU Abu Dhabi - Fall 2018
How is computation affecting literary production?

“The one thing that foreigners, computers and poets have in common is that they make unexpected linguistic associations”. Software Art: Text focuses on the place of software in the emergence of electronic literature. Building on existing practices, such as Surrealism, OuLiPo and chance operations, computational texts will act as lens through which we will look at the new iterations of fiction, narrative, poetry and language


The language we use defines who we are and qualify the world we live in. By paying attention to those word, from source code to thousands of posts on a forum, to the phrases we live behing in our own mailbox, this course brings back poetry into voltage-dependent realm of software, and postulates that, by adding further programmatic constraints to our means of expression, we can still reach towards the beautiful.

As such, this class attempts at making sense out of the overwhelming amounts of textual information that we are presented with on a daily basis.


This class consists in assignments leading up to the composition of a holistic piece of computational text. The first part of the class looks at text as a raw material, introducing scraping and grep as tools for modern collage. The second part focuses on text manipulation, from grammars to markov chains with Python. The last part highlights performace, exploring synthesized voices, dialogue systems and broader interactivity. At each of these steps, students are asked to read and comment on existing pieces to help them develop close-reading skills.

alternate realities
NYU Abu Dhabi - Spring 2017-2018
What kinds of interactive aesthetics does VR open up?

Alternate Realities is a course focused on the production of three-dimensional, room-scale, interactive experiences. It is based on interaction design, game design and procedural art in order to adapt the concepts and aesthetics of installation art in the virtual world.

Students are introduced to a complete toolkit as well as best practices in terms of designing, planning and developing a fully-functional VR application, using a workflow that is similar to that of a professional environment, using Unity3D, GitHub and Blender.


While a lot of the development in hardware and software related to Virtual Reality has created a renewed interest in our recent years, it seems that the “killer app”, the one application that will justify the existence of the medium, is still nowhere to be found. This class will take an experimental approach to interaction design in order to explore the possibilities of the medium, while at the same time exposing students to a versatile suite of software tools.


The class is first and foremost project focused and collaboration focused. It assumes that great projects often come out of group work, and that the ability to work with others is as valuable in a professional setting as the mastery of a particular tool.

The first part of the semester consists in developing two short projects using Unity3D for the HTC Vive, allowing students to settle with the workflow of VR development, while the second part of the semester focuses on one project, with the only requirement that it allows for at least two users at the same time.

digital culture
Sciences Po Paris - Fall 2019-2021
What are the mutual influences between technology and society?

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of digital media, of how they affect the formation of human groups, and how are themselves affected by human groups. This course starts from the position that technologies are socially constructed, and that their impact on human societies is not only productive and economical, but also cultural. This course traces the histories and current situations of such developments and impacts.


Changes in means of communication imply changes in the nature of communication itself, and therefore in the nature of the societies which communicate through these means. The near-ubiquitous presence of computer-mediated communications thus affects the way that humans organize, relate and imagine. As computers are changing us, this class provides the tools to approach and understand the nature of these changes.


This course will proceed along three axes: decoding, coding and exploring.

Decoding will be a cross-disciplinary approach to the digital, spanning history, sociology, anthropology, media studies, science/technology studies and software studies.
Coding will involve students the practicalities of working with, and creating, digital objects (websites, videos, podcasts, visualizations).
Exploring will stand on the two previous and take the form of a digital exploration: a sociological investigation on the social, economic and/or political impact of digital technologies on human behaviors and practices. This investigation will be designed, developed and presented on a digital platform harnessing the specific affordances of digital media.

computational representations
Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad-Wolf - Winter 2019
How does computation affects our outlook on the world?

This is a seminar around the concept of representation in the computer age. As a combination of lectures and exercises, it will touch upon the themes of nature and nurture, signifiers and signifieds, communication and information, reality and virtuality.

This is a critical studies course, insofar as it aims both a contextualizing the use of the computer as a representational medium, but also the latest iteration of human needs to represent and embed mythologies wthin our tools.


From digital image processing to connected devices and artificial intelligence, we are more and more inclined to witness our environment through the frame of the computed. However, the fundamental distinction between the continuous aspect of our lived, immediate, analog experience and the digital, discreet logic of software and hardware cannot be avoided.

This course will be looking at the different ways that computers and computation have affected theway that we represent the world around us.


A combination of lectures about the historical and philosophical developments of both the history of art and the history of technology in the western world, along with critiques of artworks —whether digital or not— and programming exercises in order to grasp the implicit implications of what it means to represent through this computing medium.

This seminar is separated in four main themes: visuality, literacy, automated processes and networked communications.

augmenting the gallery
NYU Berlin - Spring & Fall 2019-2021
What are the invisible stories that are to be revealed in museums?

Museums have a mission to preserve, research and educate. As such, information organization and delivery is crucial to this endeavour, and digital tools are being deployed to better further this mission.

This production course seeks to experiment with new ways to experience a museum collection through mixed reality. Topics covered include exhibition installation and curation, mixed reality and mobile production in Unity, and object-oriented ontology.


Museums are strange places. Preservation through decontextualization, teaching without engaging with objects, nation-building storytelling or critical exhibitions, these institutions are at the nexus of cultural, political and educational dynamics. How can digital technologies help shed light on their complex intermingling?

This class engages with those topics through the lens of augmented reality, a technology which allows us to bring into the physical world that which was previsouly left unseen.


This class will weave the two fields of interaction design and museum studies in order to design and develop Augmented Reality applications to be used within a cultural institution. Students will read about the education missions of museums, the educational potential of new technologies and the information design process while completing several assignments with the Unity game engine. The class culminates in a collaboration with partner cultural institutions and museums in Berlin, such as the Humboldt Forum, the Gemäldegalerie, or the M4P0 organization.

virtual worlds
NYU IMA Low Res - Winter 2021
How do 3D engines allow us to sketch out futures for humanity?

This course offers a way to implement visions for the future in a three-dimensional, explorable world. In order to enact social change, this class starts with the assumption that it is necessary to imagine and depict details of possible, future alternatives. We will therefore imagine how the world could look like in two hundred years, and then design and implement a virtual exhibition explaining to the visitor how we got there.


The world is a work of carefully assembled, organized and presented pieces of fiction, which intersect more or less intimately with our beliefs and experiences.

Building our own exhibitions of the future will allow us to highlight the power of storytelling as it is used today in museums, political institutions and advertisement industries, while allowing us to sketch out possibilities of how the world could change radically in the future.


This course will propose a suspension of disbelief in order to architect and construct virtual cosmogonies in the Unity game engine. Through readings, workshops and critique sessions, we will select, lay out and program texts, images, films, objects, spaces and procedures to persuade a virtual visitor of the coherence of our world. Drawing on environmental storytelling, procedural rhetoric, literary studies and museography, this class will explore how we can build cosmogonies of untold stories, alternate realities and possible worlds.

selected works

common syllabi
a platform to share and explore syllabi in higher education
Common Syllabi user page Common Syllabi single syllabus
This project aims to address the lack of openly browsable repositories of syllabi and curricula. Currently, the curricula designed by educators are too often locked away behind the walls of proprietary software and institutional accounts. Despite the fact that educators typically own the intellectual property rights to the course material they develop, there are few tools that specifically support the open sharing and discovery of learning materials between teachers.
By and large, education is a field that thrives on open sharing and collaborative progress, and our goal with Syllabi Explorer is to create a platform that enables wide access to curricula.

This is supported by a grant of the german Federal Ministry of Education and Research, via the Prototype Fund.
I did most of the development in Go, with the help and mentoring of Tobias Schmidt, while Pat Shiu built the front end. The concept, user research and interface design has been a shared endeavour.
the sun sets 184 times
artistic encounters on a virtual cartography
Suns Map Suns Map Suns Map Suns Map
The sun sets 184 times is a web platform designed and developed for Theater Aufbau Kreuzberg. The idea is to offer to visitors the exploration of a "NonMap", an evocative space where points of interest appear and evolve organically.

Designed by artists across the globe, these points of interests suggest moments of communion, expression and self-reflection through multimedia input and interactivity.

The suns sets 184 times was supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes.
I did the backend development work in collaboration with Célestin Meunier, who led the design, as we both worked on the frontend development. The creative direction was provided by Daniel Hengst and Lydia Zemke.
personal messaging for public performances
Vertiges Documentation Vertiges Documentation Vertiges Documentation Vertiges Documentation
Vertiges is the latest iteration of a series of works in collaboration with the choregrapher Farid Ayelem Rahmouni. This physical theater piece uses our ubiquitous smartphones to examine themes of freedom, constraint, intimacy and multi-faceted personalities. Entering the venue, audience members download a messaging app to their smartphones. On it is only one contact: the performer.

Touching on themes of class, queerness, seduction and police violence, a monologue gets sent as instant messages on the audience's smartphones. Half-modern day subtitles, half-modern day diaries, these devices constitute our research object, as we investigate what kind of narrative they support, and how digital media can complement live presence.

Vertiges had its world premiere at the Scène Nationale d'Annecy - Bonlieu.
I did most of the development work on the messaging application, the backend server and the lights programming, with invaluable help from Damien Dabernat. The text has been written by Farid and I.
the lab
a series of week-long community events, sharing artistic works in progress
The Lab The Lab The Lab The Lab
The Lab is Automaton's ongoing series of community events. In June 2023, we organized the latest installment in Berlin's Große Wasserspeicher, a 19th century watertank, focusing on inter-institutional exchange. Inviting multiple arts universities, such as HfG Karlsruhe, HfK Bremen, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and NYU Abu Dhabi, we offered a platform to foster exchange about diverse arts and design practices in art schools across cities and continents.
As a part of the Automaton collective, I was in charge of the curation and production of the event, along with fostering an environment in which everyone was happy to install their work, establish new relationships with fellow community members and reconsider what it means to show artistic work.
cultural futures
sharing case studies from across the cultural sector
Cultural Futures explore page Cultural Futures single project
Case Studies for Cultural Futures is an initiative to collect insights and how-tos from cultural organizations’ experiments with new technology.

By bringing together project-focused stories from across the sector, we wanted to build a repository to foster an open exchange of knowledge in the museum world.

This was made for NEW INC and MCN, funded through the Knight Foundation.
I did most of the development using the Kirby PHP framework, while Pat Shiu did the web design.
IA fictions
online international colloquium on fiction and ai
IA Fictions schedule page IA Fictions session page IA Fictions exhibition page IA Fictions contribution page
I assisted my thesis advisor Alexandre Gefen in organizing and hosting an international conference on the relationship between AI and fiction.

The conference was switched from in-person to online, which meant that I now had to establish a digital space which could act as the nexus of participants' engagements and contributions.

We decided that, rather than unilateral, live deliveries of the talks, these would be pre-recorded and uploaded to YouTube and the live sessions were reserved from Q&As. Additionally, an online gallery was established featuring works of digital artists, and a collaborative pad set-up to build a shared library of references.
I designed and built it using the Kirby PHP framework, and implemented and coordinated all organizational details.
digital tools for teaching
Multimodal main board, featuring a syllabus and class sessions Multimodal edit mode Multimodal note taking mode
Multimodal is a software I've been developing for the past couple of years to support my teaching practice. The idea came out of the frustration with the rigidity and assumptions of existing slideware (google slides, keynote, powerpoint, etc.), and with the need to switch frequently between multiple windows and applications when preparing and presenting materials.

Leading office tools today still implicitly carry the outdated assumption: flat hierarchy, strict separation between presenter and audience, isolated exports. Trying to shoehorn the often iterative creative research process into the office tools paradigm, results unsurprisingly in inefficiencies and scattered materials.

Working on Multimodal is an iterative process of design, development and use, always making sure that the technical aspects never get into the learning process in the classroom. As such, it is constantly in beta testing.
I designed and built it using the Electron framework, in collaboration with Pat Shiu.
smart border
guerilla wifi against border digitalization
Argus splash page Argus connection process Still from the documentation Still from the documentation, with three smartphones
A campaign about the dangers of new invasive technologies being used on the European borders in order to track and capture, since those technologies inevitably end up being used on domestic surveillance as well.

We planted fake WiFi hotspots in public transit stations, and as commuters connected to those in the hopes of getting fast bandwidth, they were guided through a crash course on invasive technologies, concluding on a call to action to engage with their MPs regarding the EU AI Act.

This project was a collaboration with multiple artists and researchers, through IMPAKT and School of Ma's CODE NL-D residency.
Concept, prototype and web development
فضاء (fadaa)
spaces are like the future—unequally distributed.
Fadaa offered by Nile Studio Activation at the Shubbak Festival Activation at the Loyac Cultural Center Fadaa explore page
As our communications director would put it, 'FADAA is a non-for-profit platform that aims to empower individuals and entities from around the world to temporarily donate spaces and facilities to artists, creatives and collectives, at no cost.' Fadaa is a website which facilitates the sharing of spaces between those who have them, and those who need them.

In practice, it stands in the lineage of things like couchsurfing, in which people volunteer their time and space to those who ask for it; which could be a backyard, a recording studio, an empty basement, a vacant hotel lobby. after a couple of years of development and initial funding by the Open Society Foundations, we're now hosting initial spaces, mostly in what some call the global south.
I did the development from scratch, with design by Polina Vasilieva and Jon Lucas.
dream-like VR in the Paris subway
Single picture output from the GAN VR Station established at Sevran Still from the final footage
A video piece made with Sarah Bastide. It is a collection of fragments exploring the distance between human, subjective, individual speech and our visual, collective and technological imaginations. The work is a moving collage of documentary photography, interviews and machine-generated videos.

We wanted to offer a dream-like journey between a very specific, recognizable location—Sevran-Beaudottes—and an abtract landscape, that of digital extrapolations of neural networks, a difficult tension which always shadow the discourses which accompany the project.

Truth be told, Sevran is one of the city in france with the highest rates of youth unemployment, and one of the highest rates of drug use. I have mixed feelings about the fact that public money was spent on an ephemeral VR installation rather than on other, more essential services; and even if an artwork can provide an escape from a broken system, I personally feel like this piece wasn't up to the task.
Concept, GAN training, Unity development.
universal printed time
Wide shot from the installatoin Close-up of the printed ticker Screenshot from the web interface
Technology frames our perception of time. Sitting by a bay window, a dot-matrix printer kept track of what happened during a month, in the Spring of 2020.

Via a website, any visitor can view all previously printed text, and enter new text to be printed, Until the moment it is sent to print, all text is readable only by its author, so she drafts in private. To everyone else on the page, her input is displayed as grey blocks. Every second, as the print head moves forward, it sets in ink each character in its path, rendering it public to all, externalizing the confined, both diary and broadcasting.​

Representing the concept of a networked stream (multiple users interacting on a single canonical thread) turned out to be much more complicated than expected, from a UI point of view.
We came up with the concept with Pat Shiu, she designed the website and configured the printer, while I developed it and programmed the print jobs.
below, just a point
concrete sky rises
Installation shot Full shot Real-estate deeds disappearing behind concrete Real-estate deeds disappearing behind concrete
This installation wants to highlight the relationship between property transactions and the declining amount of sunlight that inhabitants are exposed to.

The amount of sunlight that urban zones are exposed to throughout the year is well-documented, and visualized using state-of-the-art technology; it is the experience of seeing the light disappear that prevents readers from knowing what it is, not to live in shadows, but to see the light disappear.

Meanwhile, as the buildings rise, they obfuscate the original act of their creation—the financial exchange of mortgages—as they get buried deeper and deeper into the ACRIS database, supposedly open, yet hardly searchable, hardly findable.
Concept with Nicolas Grefenstette, I did the development while Nicolas and Jeremy White did the fabrication.
executable poetry
Printed copy, table of contents Printed copy, cover shot Detail of poem output Detail of poem source
Coroutines is a collection of 36 days from the fall of 2017. Using the constructs of code, these poems each paint a different pictures; of alienation, of resilience and of adaption to a foreign land. This was an early work which would lead me to write a whole doctoral dissertation about this.

The collection is presented as snapshots of a browser's developer tools panel, inspecting the webpage where I originally publicly posted the pieces. By using techniques such as reverse-printing, layering and translucency, the poetic frames take on a new narrative life on the tactile page.
I wrote them, and Pat did the (incredible) book design.
long, short-term memory
far captioning
A night scene of a lit christmas tree A group of people standing around a large truck A man cutting a cake with a knife
A generative video piece exploring the limits of artificial intelligence as a means to put words on objects and events.

LSTM recombines endlessly archive videos from the 858 archive, and runs each segment through an image-to-text neural network, which attempts to give a written description of the image. The result is the spectacle of the failure of our technological fantasies: short, descriptive, cold sentences are overlaid on top of the videos, as if they were enough to convey the meaning of those moments.

The act of remembering and re-telling is in itself essential to process the intensity of the past and highlights yet another discrepancy between the human experience and the computer perspective. Instead of replaying those images as a coping mechanism, the AI only approaches it as training data, asking the question: once it can describe these images, how does that help?
Concept, design and development (ML work done in Runway).
the litany
large-scale, second-hand, smartphone installation
Installation shots Installation shots Installation shots
I was hired by the Whitney museum to make an artwork come to life. The installation involved 100+ second-hand mobile devices, which all needed to loop a specific video for three months. My first task was to figure out how to get all of those devices, with a budget of less than ten dollars per device.

The second task was to figure out a consistent way to play a video across devices. Since some had no sd card, no wifi capabilities, faulty browsing capabilities, this ended up in me learning how to do native Android development. I also found interesting footage left on some of the second-hand phones.
This was Sophia Al-Maria's piece, I only did the development and Reid Farrington managed the technical operations.