This collaborative course brings art and engineering together into making performance machines which are surprisingly animate. It explores interdisciplinary practice at the intersection of drama, music, and robotics. Students develop group projects culminating in a public performance. Within this process the top-level objective is a reflection on the nature and process of interdisciplinary collaboration.

This year we will focus on the animate possibilities of robotic manipulation. The emphasis is on using embodied kinetic behavior as a narrative medium. The interaction of a machine and material evokes questions of the blurry boundaries between the synthetic and the natural, the self and the other, the animate and the inanimate. There are a number of possible approaches: the touch of a machine on familiar objects suggests narratives; pure play with raw materials suggests potentials; machines for speciality fabrication leave a durable outcome; etc.

Students will learn and teach skills for developing and programming performance behaviors, designing expressive kinetic systems, and rapidly prototyping simple robots. Technical topics include systems thinking, dynamic physical and computational behavior, autonomy, and embedded programming. Discussion topics include both contemporary kinetic sculpture and robotics research. The specific technical lessons will be selected to support the needs of the projects, and may include pneumatic actuation, DC motor actuation, simple feedback control, embedded programming, CNC fabrication, or performance scripting.

The 16-375 project site will be used to post all project documentation and discussion. Enrolled students may log in to this site using their Andrew IDs. All content may be posted either publicly or privately.

Course Blog

The 16-375 project site presents the course project progress. It is best browsed directly, but an embedded view of recent posts is included below.