Good morning.
It's 5:38 Sun, 17 Dec 2017



Fall 2008 M/W 1-3:40

Where? Computer lab 336E
Changes to the class location will be posted no later than 24 hours before class meetings.
Who? Professor Ryan Griffis, office 131 Art & Design
Office hours following class, or by appointment


This course is about the basics of interactivity as it pertains to contemporary art and cultural production. It is NOT a computer science, graphic design or human-computer interaction class, although related concepts and techniques will be a significant aspect of it.

We will be exploring the potential of interactive objects and situations for aesthetic and critical purposes. Some of the methods we will cover for producing such objects and situations require electronic, mechanical, digital and social skills. Rather than attempting to facilitate a fluency or mastery of particular technologies or systems, this course aims to be a broad investigation of several interactive forms. Our goal will be to engage with interactivity as a strategic form rather than a technological one - meaning that any specific tool set that is introduced will be considered for its relationship to the larger problems of interactivity, not as a medium that makes whatever is produced with it "interactive."


Let's back up and begin with what we're even talking about when we talk about interactivity... which can mean a lot of different things depending on who you're talking to.

For the purposes of this class, we're going to deal with interactivity as a particular form of mediation - a particular way of intervening in, and creating, relationships between people, and between people and objects/environments.

Even more specifically, we'll be exploring the aesthetics of this mediation more than engineering functioning, usable design solutions. For example, we might discuss how interacting in a digital/binary manner (like turning a light on or off) provides different possibilities than a continuous/analogue form of interaction (controlling heat on a stove or the pace of a conversation).


Upon completion of this course, students should expect to be conversant in some of the central concerns and issues related to interactivity and interface design as they have been framed within the realms of art and culture. Students can also expect to work with some of the basic technologies employed by artists, designers and other cultural producers. These technologies will be put to use solving problems by creating interactive objects and environments.

There are three primary technical and conceptual areas we will explore:

1. Screen-based systems (human-computer): hypertext, digitally programmed/designed experiences

2. Physical systems (human-object): mechanical, sculptural and electronically mediated input

3. Social/networked interaction (human-system-human): network supported human-to-human interaction, multi-person games, cooperative/collective activities, negotiations

These categories are not mutually exclusive, but are merely helpful designations for the different kinds of work we will do.


Our work in this class will be funneled through a series of exercises and projects. Short exercises will address technical production techniques, where specific platforms and techniques will be introduced and used. Because of the amount of material covered in this class, it is not expected that students will "master" any particular skill set. But it is expected that everyone will gain a certain level of competency and understanding of a broad set of skills. More in depth assignments will require students to solve more conceptual and difficult problems. These problems are designed to challenge creative problem solving skills and provide controlled space for aesthetic/critical play.


This course expects that you already are familiar with the following:
+ the Macintosh OS X operating system
+ basic digital file management skills
+ operation of a digital camera and scanner
+ manipulation of digital images in Photoshop
+ rudimentary digital video shooting and editing
This course also assumes that you have some familiarity and experience with creative processes - completing and finishing a drawing, painting, or musical composition, for example.


Specific readings, made available on the web or reproduced for you in PDF format, will be required of you throughout the course. Often, these readings will introduce conceptual and/or technical frameworks for the work produced in class, and are therefore extremely important. There will usually be short writing assignments for each reading as well as in-class discussions.


USB or firewire portable hard drive (1 GB +)

Notebook & pen/pencil- you must always have a notebook in class in which to make notes. There is a lot of technical information that will not be repeated, and students are responsible for the information presented during demos and lectures.

headphones (any music or video you watch as an individual in the lab should ALWAYS be done with headphones)

This class has a $10 fee attached to it - this fee is used to provide specific materials that you will use in the class. These will be purchased and provided to you when needed.


You are responsible for following the guidelines for using the A&D Computing facilities.
Download a PDF of the policy here.
Equipment and Software Lists available here.
Lab Locations and Hours available here.

Students taking courses in the Art+Design Resource Lab are all assessed a facility access fee. This fee supports acquisition and maintenance of computers, peripheral equipment and software, and helps provide technical support.


Regular attendance is a necessity, as is classroom participation. Both will have a crucial bearing on your final grade.
Excessive absences [3 or more] will result in lowering grades by 1/2 letter per additional absence.
Only absences resulting from extreme illness or otherwise documentable circumstances (such as a family emergency or emergency hospital/doctor visit) will be "excused". All other absences will be counted.
Two late arrivals to class will constitute an absence.
Writing assignments will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, and will also be a deciding factor in each student's final grade.

If you show up without required work, you will be considered absent. Projects not delivered on time will receive one letter grade deduction for every weekday not delivered.

The artwork created in class will be evaluated and graded according to the following criteria, and is not a relative scale based on the output of the class (i.e. no bell curve guarantee):

A outstanding; thoughtful and intelligent ideas presented in a clear, organized, and engaging manner; both concept and execution illustrate critical thinking and engagement with course material.
good; the ideas are interesting and successfully presented; shows potential, but not necessarily distinctive.
mediocre; achieves minimum requirements of the assignment, but not particularly clear, successful, or ambitious.
poor; does not satisfy the minimum requirements of the assignment; generally unsatisfactory in terms of quality and clarity.
you probably didn't submit a finished assignment.

Your final grade will be determined roughly as follows:

100 points for each project
50pts for each reading assignment (in the form of written responses)
100pts class participation (in the form of contributions to group discussions)

workload i suggest you budget 5 - 6 hours a week for doing course work outside of our classtime.

Be aware of the University's Policy on Academic Integrity + Nondiscrimination as they apply to this class