Ghost Frame Shows People (and Cats) That Don’t Exist

[Dan]’s project from last year slipped past us until now, but his Ghost Frame is a great example of tying some modern hackable hardware together with online resources into a clean result, and we like the clear idea behind it. The Ghost Frame is so named because its purpose is literally to show pictures of people (and cats) that do not exist in the physical world.

This cat does not exist (thank goodness.) The computer doesn’t always get it right.

To make it all work, [Dan] used an Adafruit PyPortal as the guts of the device. It pulls images from (which displays computer-assembled images of faces that do not represent actual living people) and displays them as though they were pictures in a digital photo frame. Formatting the image to show up nicely on the PyPortal’s 320 x 240 display took a little extra work; [Dan] solved that problem with a small PHP script to convert the image to a bitmap and scale it correctly in the process. The PyPortal makes fetching resources from the web simple, so this kind of fiddling didn’t present much of an obstacle to [Dan]’s artistic vision.

What about the cats? Well, it turns out that is also out there, and Ghost Frame can happily display computer-generated images of nonexistent cats as easily as it shows imaginary people. However, it does seem that the state of nonexistent cat generation is lagging somewhat behind that for people. The site usually gets it right, but results are occasionally (amusingly) bizarre as you can see here.

The PyPortal is perfect for this kind of project, and it can do more than just display static content. It has some GUI functionality baked in, as we saw showcased recently in this touchscreen Blackjack game.

14 thoughts on “Ghost Frame Shows People (and Cats) That Don’t Exist

    1. Not hard if you learn how the code works and know what parameters to tweak. But somebody has already explored that conceptual space so it would not be original, nor is the subject of the article really. It certainly isn’t “Art” more like technological craft or decoration.

  1. Interesting how often the cat images get the right front paw deformed.
    …on the cats right side, not yours.

    Then there’s that weird lump of fur that seems to favor the right side of the image a little.

  2. This is a pretty silly idea, but it did point me to the fake cats site. What I am not sure about is either (1) there are a lot less classified cat photos out there for it to work with or (2) depicting a cat is a lot harder than depicting a person. The person generator rarely seems to give you a mutant person. the can generator seems to give you some kind of a mutant cat about 1 out of 5 times.

      1. Interestingly enough, if you take one of the people who don’t exist and do a reverse image search on Google, the portraits it picks have lots of people with subtly deformed faces and photographs with lens distortion that appear like caricatures.

        There’s something in the pictures that isn’t quite right, and the reverse search AI is picking that up.

  3. Art has to be original conceptually, otherwise it is just design, says me a former lecturer in university level 2D computer based design… Anyhow if you want to ask the opinion of a current practitioner, the master and the path finder of this “art” is Mario Klingemann, check out his art.

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