Time: Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-4:20PM Location: CFA 310 + CFA-318 (College of Fine Arts building, CMU) Instructor: Paolo Pedercini – paolop andrew… Office: CFA 419A – 4th Floor Office hours: By appointment Electronic Media Studio: Introduction to Interactivity (60-210) is an introduction to several tools for programming and computational media production within the context of the arts. In this course students develop the skills and confidence to produce interactive artworks, discuss their work in relation to the tradition of digital art, and engage new technologies critically. This section has an emphasis on game making.



Topics: performance, scores, iteration, conditionals, ambiguity, algorithms of power. Assignment: Design an analog algorithm with elements of iteration and conditionals to be executed by two classmates independently. It can be a score, instructions for a walk, a performance, a ritual, a recipe, a choreography, an art-making process as long as it’s defined by a set of formal rules. It must be actually executable, and it must aim toward an aesthetic, expressive goal. Post the results, the two players co-present. Tools: Any Icebreaker: Cathy O’Neil – The era of blind faith in big data must end.


Drawing Topics: drawing machines, syntax, variables, coordinates, primitives, colors on screen. Assignment: Make your own drawing tool and post 3 images made with it. Part two: give it to a classmate and let them “improve it”. Tool: p5 Icebreaker: Douglas Rushkoff – Program or be programmed. Iteration Topics: computer art, loops, randomness, noise, transformations, mouse input. Assignment 1: 10PRINT variation. Assignment 2: Create a dynamic sketch representing order vs. chaos. Tool: p5 Procedural generation Topics: recombination and modularity, images, audio, arrays, strings, context-free grammars, bots. Assignment: create a randomly generated work made of multilayered images, sounds and and text. Tool: p5


Topics: animation, interactivity, visual storytelling, branching narratives Assignment: create a game or an interactive work to be experienced in a non linear fashion. Tool: Wick editor Icebreaker: Janet Murray – Dramatic Agency: The Next Evolution of Storytelling. Play & discussion: dys4ia, Try to dress up, i made sure to hold your head sideways, One of them.


Topics: contextual practice, place, open data, mapping, location-based games, character design Assignment: Starting from a speculative Pokemon GO-like app, design a monster that can highlight a pressing social issue. Relate it to a “habitat” defined by actual local data. Tools: mapping tools, piskel Icebreaker: Mimi Onuoha – How We Became Machine Readable.


Topics: sculpture, tangible interaction, art games Assignment: create an alternative interface for an existing game or software that radically changes the user experience. Tools: Makey makey. Icebreaker: A brief rant on the future of interaction design.


Topics: installation art, virtual reality, environmental storytelling, 3D engines, 3D modeling, basic scripting, materials Assignment: Starting from a basic template, create a digital sculpture or installation explorable in first person. It can be procedurally generated. Tools: Unity.


Student sample work from Spring 2016 Student sample work from Fall 2016 (different assignments)


  • To have an understanding of the underlying concepts of computing and their role in the arts.
  • To be proficient in creating basic computer programs capable of responding to user interaction.


*Plagiarism and “collaborations”: in programming the concept of plagiarism is somewhat elusive. We are working with open source tools and libraries, building upon the work of a multitude of people. You are encouraged and expected to tap into resources available online, copy-paste and tweak code you may not fully understand. However it is categorically forbidden to outsource work to people outside the course (e.g. your friend from CS). Showing up to class with something made by others is the worst offense and is considered equivalent to plagiarism. * Attendance: three or more unexcused absences result in the drop of a letter grade. * Absences: you are responsible for what happens in class whether you’re here or not. Organize with your classmates to get class information and material that you have missed. * Participation: you are invited, encouraged, and expected to engage actively in discussion, reflection and activities. * Net addiction: you can exist for few hours without tweeting, facebooking, chatting, texting or emailing. Any device for mediated communication is banned during theory classes, crits and discussions. A 1% grade reduction will result from being found using them. During the lab hours you will be allowed to network as long as your behaviour is not disruptive. *Assignments: late assignments are only accepted with permission of instructor. You lose 10% of your points per day late up to a max of 7 days late. *Tardiness: 1st tardy = free. Less than 10 minutes late = 1% grade reduction. Over 20 minutes late = absence (unless justified).


Grades will take into account your starting programming experience and your minor and major. For the most technical exercises the grading is based on: -originality: is it just a rehash of the examples covered in class? -stylistic consistence: is the visual style random or is it deliberate and working in harmony with the interaction or theme?


It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present activities that accommodate and value a diversity of gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. I will gladly honor your request to address you by your preferred name and gender pronoun. I commit to make individual arrangements to address disabilities or religious needs (e.g. religious events in conflict with class meetings). Please advise me of these preferences and needs early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my plans and records. Debate and free exchange of ideas is encouraged but I will not tolerate harassment, i.e. a pattern of behavior directed against a particular individual with the intent of humiliating or intimidating.


Being in an art school, you should expect to be exposed to content that challenges your moral, ethical, and aesthetic values. In case of extremely graphic content I will warn the class in advance, but if you have a history of PTSD please let me know privately if there are types of content that are known to act as trauma triggers for you.


Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress. All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful. If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website. Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

Image header from Mu Cartographer by Tituan Millet