Lost & Found

link to code


We were tasked to remember the past through words and image. When describing our memories to our friends, our spoken words construct a unique mental image. Our imaginations can look very different from reality. Also, when drawing our imaginations out into sketches and code, the results can be even further from the truth.

Design Process

The description I was given to draw with code was the following from Patricia Huang:

"It is a regular rectangular card. It has minimum colors, mostly just gray. It has a tiny chip on it. It has a name on it. It has a date of birth on it. It has my photo on it. It says it is issued by the Hong Kong government. I used to be able to get into bars with it in my sophomore year before I turned 21."


When observing the language Patricia chose to describe the image, I noticed it lacked a lot of detail. For example, she said the ID had her picture on it, but how did she look in the picture? Was her hair down? Was she wearing glasses? Was she smiling or with no expression? The barebones description may be that those details are what is important to her. However, the importance of details vary from person to person, or even across mediums.

In my mind, I pictured an ID card similar to a US drivers license or standard ID cards. Though she had simply described the ID card to be mostly grey, I could imagine that it had intricate, colorful watermarks like most ID cards. I also thought it would include a date of issue and an ID number.

When depicting the image with code, its likeness is hindered by my coding abilities. Though I know IDs often have complex gradients and watermarks, I did not know how to produce such a design through code. I also decided on making the image aesthetically pleasing, giving it a bluish hue and illustrative features.

The Differences of Interpretation

The object’s likeness translates over media, from words to code. The closest depiction of its likeness is in Patricia Huang’s memory. Her recollections of the ID is probably the best reference. Her written description highlights what she finds important: its rectangular shape and greyish color, her name, the country it comes from, her picture, the chip, and her date of birth. However, I was eager to find out more information about the ID. What was the watermark like? What gradients does it have? How does she look in the ID picture?

I then sketched an image from the description given. Eager for more information, I looked to existing ID cards either from my own wallet or online.

When finally moving to code, the translation between sketch and code was the most difficult. This process was limited by my own knowledge of coding. Even with my sketches and an accurate reference picture from online, I am unable to display the nuanced details through code.


This project was created based on Patricia Huang's description of her lost ID card. The assignment can be found here from my Critical Computation course.