Daniel Bretl - Portfolio for Graduate School Application

My body of work is split up into projects. Most projects are somewhat large-scale, and thus include various pieces of content. Select a project to see its detail page, and then view specific content using the links provided there.

Everything on these pages was developed, created, and presented entirely by myself, unless otherwise stated. If you have any inquiries about the material in this portfolio, or if you have any technical difficulties accessing content or generally with the site itself, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Living Image

Setting colors free in the name of evolution

At the surface, Living Image is a simple painting application. Underneath, however, it features a biological simulation that turns colors into species of creatures which live and act autonomously in a canvas world. Color creatures can move, compete with others, reproduce, and quite possibly die, and thus disappear from the canvas altogether. Behaviors of colors are emergent traits of species' genes. As creatures reproduce, their genes are subject to mutation; in the end only the fittest colors survive to remain on the canvas. This Mac OSX application invites the user to experiment with evolution in an intensely visual manner.

100 Word Story

Collaborative spontaneous story writing

A 100 word story is a collection of exactly one hundred words imagined in turn by a pair of people without any planning, discussion, or editing. This project consists of the 100wordstory.com website as well as the 100 Word Story iPhone app.


Taking a few megapixel-sized steps backwards

There are just too many pixels in the world these days. BitDrawing restricts the artist to a square canvas of up to 32 by 32 grossly oversized pixels, each of which must either be filled completely black or white. This Universal iPad & iPhone app challenges the creativity of its users to figure out how to draw something interesting with such a limited palette.


Using color to discover patterns of word usage

PatchWords is a new kind of journal. It is a Universal iPad & iPhone app that invites users to throw their words into the digital void and watch them become color coded blocks that reveal patterns of word usage.

Long Exposure

Exploring the display of change over time

Long Exposure is a project that began under the name "Pixel Breakdown". It explores and expands the idea of "long exposure" photographs by presenting alternative ways of compositing a series of images captured over time and discussing the concise mathematical foundation of those methods.


Living a life in images

I have run my own freelance photography business ever since I graduated from college. It has been incredibly fun and challenging work. After doing it for years, I know that photography is not my true passion, but I will always love it and I do not think I will ever stop carrying a camera with me. It is too deeply engrained as a part of my way of moving through the world.

Orange and Green Travel

Visually exploring the world at large

I have spent nine of the last fifteen months living abroad - first, for six months in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and then for three in Lyon, France. This period of travel has provided innumerable adventures, and I have managed to capture a portion of them on the travel blog entitled "Orange and Green Travel" which I started when I first moved to South Asia. Entries are based in my photography and decorated with my wandering ruminations.

Place in Silhouette

Capturing the essence of a place in its shapes

The idea of Place in Silhouette is to create a landscape of a place by photographically capturing its relevant, recurring, or just plain interesting shapes, making silhouettes of those shapes, and then compositing those shapes together to create a landscape that is abstract but hopefully still captures some essence of the original place.

This Pen...

Finding my true paper self

My journals are essential to my process of doing basically absolutely anything. This year, I think I found the perfect book and the perfect pen, and the result has been a writing and drawing space in which I truly feel like I found myself on paper. I believe that the scanned images of this book are as important a part of what I am as an artist and a creator as anything else in this portfolio.


Turning everyday life into art

LifeTracks is a planned project in which people will use the GPS-enabled devices they already carry around with them to track as much of their daily movement as possible. This data will be periodically uploaded, stored online, and added to that person's LifeTrack, which will be visualized as a long colored line on the canvas of the world. In this way, people are able to "draw" simply by going about their everyday lives.