1.6. Topic Outline

The course includes a number of practical exercises to develop skills and ideas in support of the main projects. It will also serve as a qualification course for several IDeATe@Hunt fabrication resources. Following is an outline of some specific topics to be addressed; these are explored through the specific Assignments.

1.6.1. Conceptual Topics

There are a number of topics which we encounter in our discussions throughout the semester:

  1. defining the idea of “surprisingly animate”
  2. understanding behavior as a medium
  3. our perceptions of embodied computation
  4. simulacrum versus agency
  5. non-anthropomorphic characters
  6. body empathy
  7. extension of human intent and ability
  8. diffusion of responsibility or authorship

1.6.2. Unit 1: Embodiment

As a first step toward understanding surprisingly animate physical systems, we explore a number of practical techniques for creating physical behavior combining physical dynamics and computation. The unifying theme is developing dynamic physical processes as a basis for expressive movement and interactivity. Topics include:

  1. G-code programming
  2. elementary Python
  3. mechanical structures
  4. state machines and sequencers
  5. real-time programming
  6. closed-loop control
  7. elementary computer vision
  8. animation trajectories

1.6.3. Unit 2: Articulation

An embodied system becomes richer as reaction develops into interaction. How can an embodied process be articulated to a depth where behavior becomes a medium for storytelling? The unifying theme is finding ways for a machine to inhabit its context and realize a narrative through its interactive behavior.

  1. algorithmic thinking
  2. human interaction
  3. machine learning
  4. planning