Conceptual & Information Arts, Department of Art, San Francisco State University – Spring 2014
T/Th: 2:10-4:55pm, ROOMS: CA 260(T) / FA 544(Th)
Instructor: Carlos Castellanos, Office: FA 525
E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, Office hrs: T/Th 1-2pm and by appointment
Prerequisites: ART 410 & 412 or permission of instructor; preference given to CIA majors
Download a PDF of the course description/syllabus.
This course introduces students to techniques and aesthetics of creating experimental art/media events and installations based on technologies of electronics, sensors and human-machine interaction. For many years now many artists, designers and technology researchers have been exploring alternative to the standard mouse/keyboard interfaces available in standard desktop and laptop computers. New research areas such as sensing of motion, gesture recognition, remote sensing and wearable and tangible computing interfaces offer a rich set of techniques and technologies for making computers more “human”. Similarly new paradigms of ubiquitous computing are exploring the possibilities of activated spaces in which objects are endowed with intelligence, communication, and responsiveness. This course will survey previous artistic work that investigates these conceptual spaces.
Content & Organization
The course focuses on developing conceptual and technical strategies for creating human-machine interaction-based art that connects computers to the physical world. Subjects addressed in the class include: human cognition and machine interaction, human embodiment in the digital age, cybernetics, use of a variety of sensors, simple and complex interaction models and wireless sensor networks. Familiarity with computing, interactive media, Arduino, and electronics will be useful but not required. This is a lecture-lab course and includes regular readings, discussions, exercises and projects. Topics are presented by the instructor, examples are shown and explained and exercises are assigned that coincide with the theme(s) covered. These are to be completed by students both during lab periods and outside of class.
The course will use the Arduino microcontroller board both as a self-contained microcontroller (a mini computer capable of running interactive events) and as an interface board for computers. The Arduino is an open source, cross platform, inexpensive hardware platform being supported around the world by artists and makers interested in experimental media and interfaces. (http://www.arduino.cc/). Each student will be given an Arduino board and prototyping kit to use during the semester so they will be able to work at home.
In addition to learning basic technical skills required to construct interactive systems, the course has the following objectives:
- Ability to articulate theoretical perspectives relevant to cultural experimentation with embodiment, physical computing, ubiquitous computing, tangible interfaces, motion detection, gesture recognition, activated objects and alternative interfaces
- Ability to construct experimental human-machine interfaces and incorporate them into your art practice
- Learn to design artworks that explore the use of sensors
- Learn techniques for creating interactive/physical computing-based art
- Develop aesthetic criteria for designing and producing human-machine-based art systems
- Ability to identify, describe and analyze the work of artists working with sensors and experimental interfaces
- Understand basic theoretical principles of analog and digital electronics
- Ability to design and build simple circuits using components such as resistors, capacitors, leds, relays, photocells, etc
- Learn to program the Arduino board in order to build interactive devices and activated objects
- Learn to program in Processing and/or Max/MSP/Jitter on how to send and receive data from an Arduino
- Learn how to use wireless technologies and the Internet to remotely sense and control interactive events
- Learn how to read datasheets on electronic components
Required Materials & Text
Course Website: You’re looking at it: http://www.ccastellanos.com/teaching/sfsu/art511-2_spring2014/
The course website is the most important resource of information for this course. In addition to this course description and the class schedule/syllabus, the website will have links to articles, code tutorials and all kinds of resources related to the course. Most assigned readings will be available online.
Required Text: Arduino for Beginners: Essential Skills Every Maker Needs (John Baichtal, Que Publishing, 2013).
Other required readings will be put on reserve in the library and/or made available online
Recommended:Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science & Technology (Stephen Wilson, MIT Press Press, 2002)
Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World With Computers (Dan O’Sullivan & Tom Igoe, Course Technology Publishers, 2004)
Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects (Tom Igoe, O’Reilly Media, 2007)
Students are responsible for all of the material presented in class. All assignments must be presented on the due date. Late assignments will be excepted no more than 1 week after the due date, but with a 50% grade reduction. Students are expected to meet with the instructor to review progress and discuss individual approaches. Students are expected to perform the necessary background research on topics and techniques appropriate to completion of the assignments and projects.
|Final Project Proposal||5%|
|General Participation (attendance, critiques/readings, etc).||10%|
Project Grading Criteria
A. Research, Documentation, Presentation, etc.
B. Formal and Technical Achievement
C. Innovative Response and Conceptual Approach
D. General effectiveness of project
Exercises, Research Assignment & Projects
There will be several small exercises, a research presentation, 2 small projects and one large final project this semester. The exercises are done independently and are designed to build skills for use in your projects. The projects can be done independently but small groups of two or three are recommended.
Collaboration is an important part of this course. Students must plan out and document what their roles and accomplishments are in the final project so as to be graded individually in terms of both their technical and conceptual skills. All collaborations must be approved by the instructor.
Attendance and involvement in the discussions, critiques, readings, class collaborations, field trips and presentations are critical for each student’s success and for the success of the course as a whole. Class time will be devoted to this and it will make up a significant part of your participation grade.
Suggestions for commenting on fellow students’ work: When watching your classmates present their work in class, there will be some time for verbal comments but you should take written notes on their presentations and on their project/circuits/subject matter, etc. Offer suggestions on what they do well, what they could do differently, useful conceptual strategies and anything they could do to make their work better. Presenters themselves should also take notes during or immediately after their presentations. Feedback, knowledge sharing and creative dialogue are critical to success in this course and in the arts and technology in general. Share notes, schematics, code, ideas, other artist works, etc; both during and outside of class. The atmosphere in the course should be one of creative collaboration and continual sharing of ideas and practical know-how.
This will entail an in-depth presentation an artist who interests you who works with sensors, physical computing and/or object control. You will be disseminating information to the class in a manor that facilitates learning and comprehension of the topic. You will write a short paragraph on why you find the artist interesting and delivering a 5-minute presentation in class briefly surveying the artist’s work.
Journal & Documentation
You will be expected to keep an online journal/blog of your work in this class and you must update it weekly, if not more often. Document your work. Include sketches, experiments, ideas, etc. Pictures, videos, etc are all fine. Think of it as a way to help yourself with your projects and a way to help others who take this class (now and in the future). The tricks you found that work, the pitfalls you hit, ways around them, sources for materials, reference material, etc.
You should also keep notes on the readings in your journal. The various readings include some theory, some practical applications, some experiments, etc. Write up what impresses you, what confuses you, what you agree or disagree with, and what project ideas come to you while you’re reading. By about the middle of the semester, you should have a number of possible final project ideas online. You must post at least 3 questions or issues raised by each week’s readings to your journal.
Your journal can be no-frills HTML, no need for complex sites. Blogs and wikis are fine. Please don’t use Flash or other formats that are not text-searchable (except for embedding video and other media). Ideally, the journal will give you a head start on documenting your projects for future portfolio reference, and those who come after you a place to look for reference material.
A journal entry is part of the assignment for each exercise/assignment/project you do, and each set of readings. Feel free to do more entries as you see fit. The entries for the readings don’t have to be long but they should convince me that you’ve read the material and engaged with it. As mentioned above, your journal should be updated weekly. You should have at least one or two journal/blog entries a week.
Document your projects thoroughly. Plan in advance, perhaps as a group, to have what you need to document at least your mid-semester and final projects. Photos, video, drawings, schematics, and notes are all valuable forms of documentation.
Work on this as you go, do not put it off until the end.
- Complete all work on time
- Participate fully in all studio, critiques, discussions, demo, workshops and exercises
- Arrive to class on time
- Bring any problems, questions, or circumstances that hinder your full participation in the course to the attention of the instructor
Criteria for Excellence (i.e., how to get an A in the course)
In addition to the project grading criteria above, the following represents a guide for excelling this course
- Maintaining a constant and growing journal/blog reflecting a consistent and focused engagement with ideas, research, works, discussions and other related subject matters and class exchanges.
- Completing all assignments on time.
- Actively participating in and contributing to all class discussions, critiques, lectures and presentations.
- Maintaining a consistent and timely presence.
- Taking risks in projects and ideas, pushing past what you already know and discovering new territories, terms, skills, connections. Ideas that fail often teach more than ideas that succeed.
Limits on What Can be Taught
This course cannot offer a full introduction to electronics and microcontroller programming in addition to all of its other objectives. Students will be urged to design events within the realities of the semester and the facilities. For example, students will not be able to learn advanced kinetics and robotics although through clever use of found objects such as toys and appliances they may be able to achieve desired effects. Similarly, students will not be able to learn full interactive media programming environments such as Processing or Max/Jitter although enough Processing skills will be taught to enable students with minimal prior exposure to create events. The course cannot teach full Processing skills. Since the Arduino board allows serial communication, students will be able to use any programming environment they are comfortable with (eg Max/Jitter or Processing) although the course cannot offer depth support for each of these environments. Students will be expected to tailor their art works to the realities of what they know and what can be taught within the limits of the course
Lab Fee Charge Notification
The lab fee for this course is $40. Each student will be loaned a CIA Experimenter’s Kit, which will allow experimentation with the topics of the course without reliance on the class lab environment. There is over $130 worth of equipment and supplies in the kit. Each student will be required to return the kit (minus the use of expendables) in good condition at the end of the semester. If the student loses or breaks equipment, they will be expected to buy replacement parts. Proof of lab fee payment will be required in order to obtain the kit. Once the class is over a certain number of these kits will be made available for student check out if a monitoring system can be developed.
The experimenter’s kit main equipment (that must be returned) includes: Arduino board, USB cable, solderless breadboard, variable power supply, needle nose plier, wire stripper, alligator clips, multimeter, and plastic carrying case. It also includes an expendable packet of components (resistors, leds, transistors, hookup wire, photocells, relay, etc).
Lab fees are mandatory, as noted in the footnote described in the online course schedule – meaning you must pay the charge as condition of enrollment in this course. If you remain enrolled in this course past February 7th (the add deadline), a charge for the above amount will appear in your University Account. It is also footnoted in the class schedule that students who withdraw from Art department classes after will not have their instructional materials fees refunded. The Art Department Office will email a notification when your University Account has been charged. Lab fee payments can be made at One-Stop Student Services (SSB 103) or the Bursar’s Office (ADM 155) after the charged appears on your student account. To see if your account has been charged, check your financial statement on your MySFSU page. Unpaid balances in the student university account can affect registration, graduation or other campus services.
Note: subject to change
Feb 07: Last day to add classes with permit number (12:00 AM), last day to drop classes
Mar 21: Last day to request CR/NC option
Mar 24-31: SPRING BREAK, no class
May 16: Last day of classes
T – 01/28 | Th – 01/30
|Introduction to course||NO CLASS – Instructor out of town
Homework: (Due T, Week 2)
Readings (Due Th, Week 1):
Readings (Due T, Week 2):
Exercise #1 (Due Th, Week 2)
Exercise #2 (Due Th, Week 2)
T – 02/04 | Th – 02/06
|Basic Electronics, Sensors & Microcontrollers||
Readings (Due T, Week 3):
Artist Research Presentation (Due T, Week 3)
Exercise #1 & 2 Due. Upload to blog before class and be prepared to demo and explain it
Exercise #3 (Due Th, Week 3)
Exercise #4 (Due Th, Week 3)
T – 02/11 | Th – 02/13
Research Presentations Due. Upload to blog before class and be prepared to discuss
Readings (Due T, Week 4):
Exercises #3 & 4 due. Upload to blog before class and be prepared to demo and explain it
Exercise #5 (Due T, Week 5)
T – 02/18 | Th – 02/20
|Interactivity, Activated Objects & Tangible Interfaces||
Readings (Due T, Week 5):
Project 1 (Due week 6, Th) (see details below)
Instructor out of town: work on Exercise #5 & Project 1
Continue building activated objects and TUIs
T – 02/25 | Th – 02/27
|Motion, Gesture & Distance||
Readings (Due T, Week 6):
|Open lab: work on Project 1|
T – 03/04 | Th – 03/06
|Body Interfaces & Wearable Technologies||
Readings (Due T, Week 7):
Project 1 Due
Project 1 Presentations
Project 2 (Due week 9, T) (see details below)
T – 03/11 | Th – 03/13
|Wireless Communication & Sensor Networks||Intro to Xbee wireless communication||
T – 03/18 | Th – 03/20
|Environmental Sensing||Workshop on environmental sensing||Field trip to Lake Merced to measure water quality (with students from Paula’s Locative Media course (ART 511.1)|
|T – 03/25 | Th – 03/27||SPRING BREAK||NO CLASS||NO CLASS|
T – 04/01 | Th – 04/03
|Project 2 Presentations & Final Project Planning||Project 2 due
Project 2 presentations
Proposal Presentation Due Th, week 10
Organizing, scheduling, brainstorming for Lake Merced final projects
T – 04/08 | Th – 04/10
Final Project planning
DIY & Interactive Sound
Open/Joint lab: Work on proposal presentations
If there is time:
Lake Merced Final Project Proposal Presentations Due
critique/discussion of project proposals
T – 04/15 | Th – 04/17
|Final Projects||Open/joint lab||
final project planning/meet with instructors
T – 04/22 | Th – 04/24
|Final Projects||Students present work in progress||
Carlos presentation on research/art practice
open/joint lab (work on final projects)
T – 04/29 | Th – 05/01
If there is time:
If there is time:
T – 05/06 | Th – 05/08
Students present work in progress
T – 05/13 | Th – 05/15
|Final Projects||Final Project presentations||Final Project presentations|
|Due Th, Week 1 (01/30)|
|Due T, Week 2 (02/04)
|Due T, Week 3 (02/11)
|Due T, Week 4 (02/18):|
|Due T, Week 5 (02/25):
|Due T, Week 6 (03/04):|
|Due T, Week 7 (03/11):
Exercise #1, Due Th, Week 2 (02/06)
Installing Arduino & Fritzing
Download the Fritzing Software and read the introductory material
Upload everything to your blog by the due date (02/06).
Exercise #2, Due Th, Week 2 (02/06)
Artist Research Presentation, Due T, Week 3 (02/11)
Do a web search for an artist who interests you who works with sensors and/or physical computing (or a related field). Write a short paragraph or two on why you find the artist interesting and deliver a 5-minute presentation in class briefly surveying the artist’s work, showing at least two examples.
Upload the following to your journal/blog:
Some useful links:
Exercise #3, Due Th, Week 3 (02/13)
Hacking a Toy or Device
Exercise #4, Due Th, Week 3 (02/13)
Look at the tutorial on the ITP physcomp labs site: http://itp.nyu.edu/physcomp/Labs/DigitalInOut for more details
Exercise #5, Due T, Week 5 (02/25)
Look at the tutorial on the ITP physcomp labs site: http://itp.nyu.edu/physcomp/Labs/AnalogIn for more details
Pulse Width Modulation (“Analog Out”)
Project 1, Due Th, Week 6 (03/06)
Prototype for a Human-Machine Interface
You will mock this up (diagrams, circuit schematics, sketches, illustrations, etc) and present it to the class. Clearly and physically show what it is, how it would work and communicate the experience of using it, interacting with it and living in a world where it was real. You will also write 1-2 paragraphs explaining your idea. You will post this on your blog and present it to the class.
Prototype: You will also present a simple prototype that demonstrates the idea and some aspect of how the system would work (e.g. read data from a sensor, blinking LED patterns that form some kind of communication protocol, etc). You will also post this on your blog and present it to the class. Make sure to document your protoyping processes (photos, video, etc) as well as the final results.
Upload everything to your blog by the due date and be prepared to present it in class
Project 2, Due T, Week 9 (04/01)
Interactive Art Object
Make sure to document as much as you can
Upload everything to your blog by the due date and be prepared to present it in class
Final Project: Proposal Due Th, Week 10 (04/10), Project Due T, Week 15 (05/13)
Mapping and Interacting With Environmental Data: Lake Merced CoLab
Project blog: http://lakemercedcolab.blogspot.com
Lake Merced once functioned as a water source for residents, later an active site of recreation. Now, it suffers from a myriad of environmental challenges. It remains an important part of the city’s watershed system and is home to a vast number of animals and bird life, including migratory species.
Lake Merced is within walking distance from the SFSU campus however if you ask anyone the last time they visited the site; chances are it would not be recently.
You will be working in small groups composed of people from both classes. Projects, topics and designs will be the focus of your collaborative research, as well as discussions within the class. The schedule for production will be determined collectively through class discussions, where we will also determine and clarify the scope, scale and focus of the projects.
We are embarking on a project that may call for a different way for many of you to work. It is a project that involves experimentation, exploration, art making, problem solving and research. We are all creating new ground in this project, using our tools, observational skills, recording skills and experiences to create some kind of relationship or response to the Lake Merced site. So in the words of the poet, Mary Oliver: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
Course Discussion Group
Everyone must join the course discussion group the first week of class. This is a Google Group for discussion of course topics, announcements, sharing of links, ideas, technical support, etc. It is the primary method of communication I will have with all of you outside of class https://groups.google.com/d/forum/art511-sensors-sp14
We will be using SFSU’s iLearn system for portions of the course. Please check it frequently.
Example Code & Circuit Diagrams
You will need to download the repository at https://github.com/carloscastellanos/teaching. This contains code and circuit diagrams that you will need for your exercises and projects. If you are familiar with GitHub or other version control systems you may clone this repository to your computer or even fork it and have your own open source code repository that you can share with others. I will be adding to this repository as the semester progresses.
Arduino, Electronics & Physical Computing
Make Magazine video series on basic electronics with Collin Cunningham (great resource!)
Plenty more at http://www.youtube.com/user/makemagazine/
|Working with computers and electronic devices poses certain hazards to muscles, sight, posture. Students need to be aware of these dangers and the precautions that can be taken. Please consult the CIA health and safety guidelines
Special Issues with Electronics
Electricity and electronics have some dangers associated with them – for example, electrocution, toxic materials. Students will be taught safe procedures. Most of the course will concentrate on low voltage electronics which generally will not do much damage. 110 v AC (wall plug current) on the other hand can be quite dangerous. Students may not work on 110v projects unless they are cleared by the professor or graduate assistant. Any student working on these kind of projects without clearance or other unsafe processes may be asked to withdraw from the course.
Safety guidelines for working with electronics
|Student Name||Blog URL||Kyle Bray||http://sensorsandmachineswithkyle.blogspot.com/|
|Adrienne Jan||http://adriennejanart51102.wordpress.com/||Sepehr Mashiahof||http://harpyhairdo.wordpress.com/|