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
  9. the use of rhythm and ictus in machine choreography

1.6.2. Technical Topics

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. One main theme is developing dynamic physical processes as a basis for expressive movement and interactivity.

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? This theme focuses on finding ways for a machine to inhabit its context and realize a narrative through its interactive behavior.

Topics include:

  1. pneumatic actuation
  2. mixed Max and microcontroller programming
  3. G-code programming
  4. elementary Python
  5. mechanical structures
  6. state machines and sequencers
  7. real-time programming
  8. closed-loop control
  9. mechanical behavior
  10. elementary computer vision
  11. animation trajectories
  12. algorithmic thinking
  13. human interaction
  14. machine learning
  15. planning