Michael Patrick Johnson, PhD



[Curriculum Vitae]

I received my Ph.D. in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab in 2003, advised by Prof. Bruce Blumberg in the Synthetic Characters group, focusing on research in expressive animation algorithms for interactive virtual characters and tangible interfaces for virtual character control. I received my M.S. from the MIT Media Lab in 1995, advised by Prof. Pattie Maes in the Autonomous Agents group, focusing on research in evolutionary computation applied to computer vision. Prior to that, I received my B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with minor in Creative Writing from MIT in 1993, with reseach on pinball simulation and motor learning.

Currently I am employed as a Software Engineer at Google in Mountain View. My wife Junxiu and I relocated here from RI this January the day before Snowpocalpye commenced.

Recently I was a software engineer at OPeNDAP, which is a non-profit company that builds a free, open-source scientific data web server in use by many academic and government institutions, such as NASA and NOAA.

Several years ago I was invited as an Artist in Residence (my dream job title) at GA Tech where I produced several digital art works and taught the "Interactive Expressive Characters" segment of the Games as Expressive Medium course with Prof. Celia Pearce in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture. Please see below for some of the work I produced in those five weeks.

I am also a survivor of the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop (MSU, summer 1993).

I enjoy games of many sorts, such as videogames, card and board games. My favorite game is Go, though I am still extremely weak at it. I love hiking, previously in the White Mountains of NH with the Appalachian Mountain Club. I recently moved to Sunnyvale, CA and am hoping to hike in Yosemite this spring.

Publications, Papers, Patents

Interactive Installations

I have been involved with several interactive installations.

Swamped! (SIGGRAPH 1998)

An interaction installation that showcased our novel Sympathetic Interface, using a sensor-embedded plush toy to control virtual characters.



LaserGloves were created for Interactive Expression class, MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Fall 1998. They were also worn in the fashion show at the Wearables Tokyo Wearable Computers Symposium and Fashion Show, Nicograph 1998.


(void*): A Cast of Characters (SIGGRAPH 1999)

Dancing characters controlled by wireless "fork and bun" interface showcased my quaternion-based animation blending research.


Whacka! Game for SmartSpaces (SIGGRAPH 1996)

Believable Inverse Kinematics for Stereo Interactive Video Environment (Azarbayejani). Whacka game video.

Teaching Experience

Traces of Life
Artist Residency | GA Tech | March/April 2007

During my Artist Residency in the Games as Expressive Medium class at GA Tech (producer/curator: Prof. Celia Pearce), I produced several digital art/game projects using the Processing development environment. I called the collection after the final piece, Traces of Life. The presentation I gave at the end of my residency has all the details and some movies.

Two of the pieces are interactive applets:

Traces of Life, the final piece is not yet available as an applet. In this piece, artificial lifeforms "eat" a source image and "trace out" a painterly rendering of it. Below are a few examples. The talk I gave has several more.