Ambient Interfaces

Fall, Spring
3 credits

This course is a practical and conceptual exploration into electronic sensors, processors and actuators in the context of interactive art and design. Students will turn everyday objects into "ambient interfaces" or "responsive systems" that respond to the conditions of the human body, data networks, and the environment. Contemporary works of art and design - from kinetic sculpture and sound art to installation, architecture and product design - will be examined through readings and presentations. Open source hardware (Arduino) and software (Processing) will be taught along with the fundamentals of electronic circuitry. Emphasis is given to the development of creative projects (individual or collaborative), followed by an iterative implementation process (planning, prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining). The course is structured around a series of tutorials and exercises, culminating in a final project. Students also present work-in-progress and prototypes during class reviews to receive qualitative feedback from the class and the instructor. Participants will engage with physical computing conceptually and technically in their studio work and are encouraged to leverage their individual backgrounds to excel in the respective context. Prior experience with electronics and programming is recommended but not required.