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"Wacky" Grad-to-be Fills Paper, Film, Memory

From U.Va. Top News Daily
May 12, 2003

By Dan Heuchert

Kyle Gabler’s dorm room seethes with creativity.

Clothes spill out of the closet, and computer cables writhe on the floor. Red and white Christmas lights glimmer overhead as found art, wire sculptures and photo portraits of friends — with eyes enlarged and swapped among the portraits — jostle for space on the walls of 6 East Lawn.

But that’s just eye candy winking from the back wall. The real action is front and center.

Thrumming away is a control station with four computer monitors, a couple of CPUs, a musical keyboard and recording equipment. It’s like a souped-up car that Gabler steers across the landscape of his mind.

Gabler, 21, most recently from Moorestown ,.N.J., is graduating May 18 with a bachelor’s degree of science — a double major in electrical and computer engineering — from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and a bachelor’s degree of arts in music from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Intrigued by the interaction between technology, music and art, Gabler is currently deciding between two of the country’s top master’s degree programs in his chosen field — entertainment technology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh or film animation at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

"Kyle is one of the wackier students I have met," said David Luebke, assistant professor of computer science. "He was in my 3-D computer animation and special effects class and was clearly one of the top talents, producing a couple of very nice videos."

For two years, "acclaimed by many, scorned by many," as Gabler puts it, he drew the comic strip, "Drool," for The Cavalier Daily. He also served for a year as art director for The Declaration, a weekly alternative tabloid on Grounds.

Before that, he spent a year advising first-year engineering students and this year won an award from the Raven Society, the University’s oldest honorary society, for his contributions to the U.Va. community.

But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what he does in his spare time — writing scripts and making short animated films, composing soundtracks to animated films, recording musicians and producing soundtracks.

Last year he submitted a short, animated film to the Salmagundi Film Festival, organized by the Film and Media Society at U.Va.

This year, he’s working on a soundtrack for "Cemetery Drive," a "romantic horror story." His previous soundtracks for short animated films include: "Best of Times," about a town an hour before the world ends;"lil’Lizzy’s Carnival Accident"; and "Shut Up About Your Issues," which he describes as an acoustic indie girl and a guitar ranting about the world’s problems inspired largely by Dr. Seuss’ "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins."

Words alone cannot fully reveal the geist of Gabler. His portfolio — art, music, videos and Internet-related projects — can be experienced online at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~kg2y/portfolio/.

Words actually seem to slow him down. "He generally sounds like he's had too much caffeine and sugar to think straight," Luebke said.

His thinking follows more sinuous lines. Gabler’s work on Internet-related projects includes creating interactive virtual room tours for the U.Va. Housing Division so that prospective students can see five different dormitories online.

It also involves writing computer software, dubbed "the VINE," as a senior thesis for computer engineering.

Gabler was struck by the threat to civil liberties from the Patriot Act, passed by Congress shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The act has been criticized for weakening Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and lowering the threshold of probable cause that law enforcement agencies must meet to track e-mail correspondence and Web activity.

"The VINE is my own little digital protest against surveillance in our evolving, Big Brother world," he said.

Gabler’s software program allows a computer user to share information with another user but remain anonymous. It does this by enabling the user’s computer to communicate with another computer, which then communicates with another computer and so on until the message reaches the intended recipient. But each link in the chain can identify only the link before it — leaving the original sender unidentified.

"It’s sort of a take-over-the-world device that ensures Internet anonymity," Gabler said. He’s still fine-tuning the program but said it basically works.

With a laugh, he added, "It’ll be illegal eventually."

By then, though, Gabler will be driven by with another idea.

Original Article | Local Copy

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