Art 511: Sensor Based Events / Physical Computing/ Electronics Syllabus
(Listed in Schedule as Electronics and
subject to change**
Spring, 2009 Tu-Th 7-10
Professor Stephen Wilson
539 (Fine Art Annex) phone: 338-2291
about Conceptual Information Arts (CIA) Program (http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~infoarts/)
Teaching Assistant: Andrew Brammer
*Note on class meeting time. Since there are conflicts with
graduate seminars and advanced CIA courses, the Thursday night time
might be adjusted after the first week pending discussion with
members of the class.)
Class Syllabus (this document) - http://userwww.sfsu.edu/%7Einfoarts/cdmain/elec/a511.physcompsyl.html
Class Schedule & Assignments - http://userwww.sfsu.edu/%7Einfoarts/cdmain/elec/511physcomp.schedule.assign2.html
Electronics, Arduino Resources -
Books & Articles on interactivity, physical computing, tangible
interfaces, ubiquitous, etc -
Research in ubiquitous computing -
CIA Forum - jobs, events - http://www.newcommtech.net/cia/forum/
Eric Caselton - You Tube Documentation of Final Projects (May,2009)
2009 Class wiki- http://art511electronic09.wikispaces.com/
(must join via invitation)
old class wiki - description of
2007 projects, artists
course to introduce students to techniques
and aesthetics of creating experimental art/media events and
based on technologies of electronics, sensors and control of devices.
the art and research worlds dissatisfaction is growing with the
of the mouse and keyboard as computer interfaces. New technologies
sensing of motion, location, and gesture... Similarly new paradigms of
ubiquitous computing are exploring the possibilities of activated
in which objects are endowed with intelligence, communication, and
course will survey previous artistic work that investigates these
spaces Familiarity with computing, interactive media, Director, and
will be useful but not required.
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,
platform being supported around the world by artists and others
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.
Consent of Instructor required.
No background in electronics required.
Art & Physical Computing
Skills in Electronics, microcontrollers, and computer interfacing
- Students will be able to articulate theoretical perspectives
cultural experimentation with embodiment, physical computing,
ubiquitous computing, tangible interfaces, motion
gesture recognition, activated objects and alternative interfaces.
- Students will be able to identify, desribe and analyze work of
working with these experimental interfaces.
- Students will be able to design art events that explore use of
- Students will be able to design art events that explore object
activation and control.
- Students will be able to locate, comprehend, and articulate art
of university and think0tank based technological research in related
- Students will be able to articulate a personal aesthetic about
techniologies in their own works.
- Students will understand the basic theoretical principles of
analog and digital electronics.
- Students will be able to read and understand electronics catalogs.
- Stidemts will be able to design and build simple circuits using
components such as transistors, resistors, capcitors, relays, leds,
photocells, pressure sensors, position sensors, small motors, etc.
- Students will learn how to take apart common household devices
and toys and hack into them to include them in art compositions.
- Students will learn how read data sheets on electronic components.
- Students will learn how to program the arduino board using its
native Wiring language to build self contained ineractive devices that
don't require a host computer.
- Students will leaqrn how to use the Arduino board in conjunction
with a host computer to integrate sensing, activated objects and media
- Students will learn how to program events on the computer using
an authoring language such as Director.
- Students will learn how to use the web (in conjunction with the
controller board) to remotely sense and control events.
- Students will be aware of saftey issues in working with
electronics and learn safe practices.
|**Limits on what can be taught:
Note the 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 Director
or Max/Jitter although enough Director skills will be taught to enable
students with minimal prior exposure to create events. The course
cannot teach full Director 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 to 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
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12-2 (Best to confirm by phone)
- Regular Attendance at class (no more than 3 absences)
- Active Participation
- Completion of Lab Exercises with skill and engagement
- Mastery of Basic Concepts of Electronics, Circuits, Sensors,
- Mastery of Basic Arduino Programing (Wiring Language)
- Mastery of programming computer to interact with sensors
- Independently Designed Art Projects Using Skills and Concepts
(**Note** In CIA classes as much is learned from study and
critical reflection on other's work as is learned from completion
of one's own work. This course places highest priority on
present at class presentations of student work. Unexcused absence will
not be accepted. Even if you have not finished an assignment,,
must attend so you can see others work. There is no way to make
the critique and analysis of seeing student work.)
- Required Text: Physical
Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers.
- Dan O'Sullivan, Tom Igoe (Course
Technology Publishers, 2004)
- Recommended Text: Information
Arts: Intersections of Art, Science & Technology.
Stephen Wilson (MIT Press, 2002)
Class Fee, Experimentor Kit, and Care of Shared Supplies
There is a class lab fee of $40. Each student will be
loaned a CIA Experimentor's Kit
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 expectred 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 experimentor kit's 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 componets (resistors, leds,
transistors, hookup wire, photocells, relay, etc)
In addition the class will offer access to additional shared tools
and components. These supplies can easily be lost and
mistreated. All students will be expected to help maintain the
viability of these supplies - for example, cleaning up after lab
sessions, putting things back in their place, systematically labeling
things thought to be malfunctioning.
Most students will develop projects that will require purchase of
additional supplies. Plan on spending $20-50 for specialized
supplies during the semester.
The class will be taught in accordance with mastery approach.
All students will be expected to learn the basic competencies of the
course. Students will be expected to put in whatever time
and effort that is required to learn those basic skills. A
student who is not meeting those requiements will be urged to drop the
course. An A will require extra effort over and beyond the
requirements of the course (that is, an extra project and reading extra
course related materials.)
If you are on academic probation, make an appointment as soon as
possible to work out what you need to do to meet the terms of your
American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Disability Programs andResource Center provides university academic
support services and specialized assistance to students with
disabilities. Stiudents with disabilities who need reasonable
accommodatons are encouraged to contact the instructor. The
Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to
facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is
located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone
(voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Health & Safety
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 safety guidelines.
health and safety guide
Special Issues with
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
- Keep dry, wipe hands, avoid spills, don't work in wet
environments - liquids make for much lower resistance. Wet skin
conducts much easier than dry and increases shock danger.
- Avoid contact with soldering irons; they get very hot and burns
are possible. Avoid molten solder. Avoid putting soldering
irons down in areas where they can melt wires etc.
- Conventional solder contains lead. Work in well ventilated
spaces. Avoid direct inhalation of solder fumes.
- Wire cutters and strippers can also cut skin. Exposed wires
are sharp and can cut. Use pliers to manipulate wires if possible.
- In this course no one should
work on 110v circuits unless cleared by professor. When
working on authorized projects, avoid direct contact with 110v sources,
watch for frayed wires, disconnected grounds, inadvertent contacts
between 110 and low voltages systems - eg wires touching. If
working with 110, turn off power while constructing circuits, inspect
for open wires. Work with one hand if possible putting the other
in pocket ( thus avoiding circuit path to ground). Wear
shoes. Take off metal jewelry. If someone does get
shocked, turn off power supply
immediately if possible. Don't touch person directly, try to use
insulating material (such as broom handle or rubber material) when
moving them to safety.
- Low voltage components are easily damaged by high voltages.
Even static electricity can damage components (such as rubbing your
hair). Ground your body by touching metal chasis or pipes before
working. Try to avoid touching metal leads and pads. Store
components in static free bags. Use a grounding wristband if
- Components can be damaged by excessive voltages. Read
specification sheets to determine voltage limits. Start out with lower
voltages and work up. Test sources with multimeter.
- Components can be damaged by reversed polarities. Make sure
you understand what the component is designed for. Test the
circuit to check polarities. Learn how to use the power supplies.
- Computer components are especially vulnerable. Be very
careful about what voltages you expose the Arduino to.