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Classes taught 2003/04

Spring 2004

Interactive Arts (ACE 277)
Chris Dobrian


Virtual Reality (ACE 277)
Falko Kuester


Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction (ACE 270)
Paul Dourish

Weiser described ubiquitous computing as the “third age” of computing. The first age, the age of mainframes, used one computer to serve the needs of many people, while minimizing interaction requirements by separating the computer from the people as much as possible. The second age, the age of personal computing, gives each user a computer of their own, with which they interaction through standard mechanisms such as mice, keyboards, and displays. In the third age, the age of ubiquitous computing, one user is served by tens, hundreds, or even thousands of small computational devices, carried, worn, or embedded into the world around us

Ubicomp, then, poses a new set of challenges for interaction and interaction design. HCI design practice has typically focused on cognitive processes, individual users, and limited channels for interaction; in ubicomp, the world is the interface, and so we need to understand not just how people cognitively experience interactive graphical interfaces, but how the experience and interact with the world around them.

In this class, we’ll focus on the challenges of interaction with computation embedded in the world, some of the opportunities and solutions that have been explored, and some conceptual frameworks that we can use to understand them. This will involve looking at various topics in how people interaction with, in, and through the everyday world, from different perspectives:

* The technology of the enhanced physical world: middleware for context-aware and location-based applications, context-aware computing, interaction models and design, infrastructure for ad hoc device coalitions.
* The psychology of the enhanced physical world: knowledge in the head and in the world, affordances, distributed cognition.
* The sociology of the enhanced physical world: unremarkable computing, institutional settings, situated action.
* The anthropology of the enhanced physical world: new technologies and cultural practice, narratives of modernity, technology, myth, and ritual.
* The philosophy of the enhanced physical world: phenomenology, the relationship between meaning and practice, Heidegger’s model of equipment, Wittgenstein on ordinary language.


ACE Thesis Research Seminar (ACE 278)
Simon Penny

The function of this class is to assist students in developing skills and resources to ensure that students are prepared to ensure completion of graduation requirements by the end of the following Spring. Deliverable include :

- a thesis proposal which is academically rigorous, including a synopsis (1000 words) , table of contents and bibliography.
- a proposal for a thesis project which his artistically and technically rigorous. 1000 words, with illustrations, plans and references, multimedia if/where appropriate
- a thesis committee with formal agreement by committee members,
- a clear workplan for timely completion of thesis project and written thesis, including development timeline with milestones.
- an exhibit of research to date in the end of year exhibition, including maintenance of the exhibit in a funtioning form for the duration of the exhibition, training of gallery attendants, participation in organisation and promotion, and documentation.

Preparation of each of these deliverables will involve research, presentation and critique.


Real Space Interaction II (ACE 277)
Beatriz Da Costa

Real Space Interaction II is the second of two consecutive courses aimed to provide students with the technical and conceptual skills needed for the development of an embodied machine art practice. Real Space Interaction II focuses on the development of an I/O interface using the PIC microcontroller. Cycling 74 products (MAX/MSP/JITTER) will be used as the main programming environments. Students will be encouraged to explore the possibilities of self-designed I/O interfacing. However, the integration of I/O interfaces into personal research projects is optional.

With the understanding that students are already well into the development of their main project started in Real Space Interaction I, weekly lectures and assignments will be kept to a minimum in order to accommodate maximum lab time and individual project assistance. The successful completion of a fully developed artistic machine art project will be the main goal and grading criterion for this class. 


Winter 2004

Computer Game Development (ACE 277)


Digital Signal Processing (ACE 277)
Chris Dobrian


Biomorphic Computing (ACE 277)
Bill Tomlinson

The “Biomorphic Computing” course provides a survey of the ways in which biological systems have informed computing, and offer hands-on examination of several main paradigms. Topics include practical and historical overviews of systems that resemble and/or employ the principles of living things, for example, cellular automata, genetic algorithms and evolutionary computing, neural networks and simulated group behavior (ant colonies, bird flocking), among others. Several significant implementation projects give students first-hand engagement with the material.


Virtual Identities (ACE 270)
Antoinette LaFarge

Recent years have seen a growing number of virtual realms and mixed realities that require users to rethink their sense of identity. Many such realms are designed to be immersive, and most elicit a communal approach to their construction and extension. All of them dispense to some degree with the familiar artist/viewer and reader/writer dichotomies and replace them with a shifting set of relations and roles, including builder, coder, dweller, player, collaborator, citizen, native, newbie, visitor, activist, gamemaster, wizard, hacker, and trickster. This seminar will investigate these roles in depth and consider issues related to the nature of role-playing and performativity in persistent environments; the challenges of creating and sustaining avatars and their environments; multiplication and fragmentation of identity; the psychology of virtual experience; contests over control of the language of virtuality; socio-political consequences of virtual realities; and redefinition of basic terminology around body, gender, name, place, and action. The class will require some work with the MOO programming language.


Real Space Interaction I (ACE 274)
Beatriz Da Costa

Real Space Interaction is the first of two consecutive courses aimed to provide students with the technical and conceptual skills needed for the development of an embodied machine art practice. Real Space Interaction focuses on the use of microcontrollers as part of robotic art projects, performance projects and interactive installations. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of the portability of microcontrollers and engage spaces outside the traditional art gallery and museum settings. Public interventions, reverse engineering consumer electronics and contestational tool building are approaches that could be used as part of a machine art project.
Weekly assignments will be given during the first half of the quarter, whereas the second half will be dedicated to the development of either an independent standalone machine art project or the first half of a longer term project to be completed during the spring semester. Goals and expectations for these projects will be discussed and set individually for each student in order to accommodate a variety of students’ research interests
Students are expected to have basic programming and electronic circuit design knowledge. Students without previous experience in those areas should contact the instructor prior to registration. 


Fall 2003

Autonomous Characters (ACE 277)
Bill Tomlinson

The “Autonomous Characters” course is a hands-on introduction to the process of making real-time animated autonomous characters.  The course bringing students from diverse backgrounds (from theatrical lighting design to artificial intelligence) into contact with ideas from computer science, autonomous agents, animation, cinematography and numerous other fields. The goal is to build characters that are intelligent, complex, perceptive, expressive and social.  The tools used to make these characters include computer programming, computer animation and concepts from the disciplines of autonomous agents, drama, human-computer interaction and film.  In particular, the class focuses on how to make these characters have some of the skills of human actors.  This course has a significant computer programming component, but is designed for students with no coding experience.


Computationalism and Discourses of Embodiment (ACE 270)
Simon Penny

The seminar explores questions around the relationship between embodiment, computationalism and digital cultural practices, through the juxtaposition of texts from diverse fields including: cognitive science, Artificial Intelligence, neuro-ethology, phenomenology, situated anthropology, human computer interaction, cultural studies, critical theory, art theory, media arts and digital arts practice. Class activities center on interrogation of assigned texts and the interdisciplinary negotiation of the positions of the authors and the disciplines they represent. Deliverables: in addition to conscientious involvement in class discussion, a spoken tutorial land written term paper.


class site:

Motion Capture (ACE 277)
John Crawford

Motion Capture is the process of recording live motion over time in three-dimensional space, then translating that motion into a form that can be used by 3D animation software. The motion that is recorded can be from any moving source: some examples are full human body movement, facial expressions, animal movement and the motion of inanimate objects such as props. Applications of motion capture include live performance, character animation, video games, film production, physical rehabilitation, medical research, industrial measurement and many others. A wide range of technologies are being developed for motion capture applications, including optical (camera arrays), mechanical (linked armatures), electromagnetic fields and ultrasound.

This course is a practical introduction to the basic principles of optical motion capture and how this technology can be used for creating computer animation of human figures, with a primary focus on creative applications in the arts. It provides basic coverage of key portions of the motion capture animation pipeline, including setting up the studio and preparing capture subjects, acquiring and cleaning the motion data, applying the data to 3D animated characters, and rendering the 3D animations to movie files. It also touches on embodiment and performance from the aesthetic, historical and theoretical perspectives, investigating how motion capture contributes to the overall practice of computer animation, and how animation connects with other art practices.

This is an experiential course, emphasizing hands-on experience and creative production. Students are responsible for completing a series of assigned motion capture projects, working in small teams. Effective collaboration between team members is an important part of the class.


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