Sha Xin Wei

Mondays 2:00 - 6:00

Skiles 349

+ Labs to be arranged

We develop design intuitions about physical and digital materials out of which we can construct contemporary hybrid digital artifacts, such as fabric, glass, networks, clay, lattices, video.


What makes something tangible? Does causality imply tangibilty? What makes stuff material rather than “virtual”? What kinds of temporality are there? Does temporality impart tangibility? When is it better to use physical media, numerical simulations or representations? (And what’s the difference?) What makes a substance responsive, active, agentful, lifelike? (Or is that a grammatical or categorical error?)

Design firms like IDEO maintain stocks of samples of materials such as fabric, wire mesh and sandpaper to sharpen their designers’ intuitions. Inspired by such professional design practice, this course explores the materials out of which hybrid spaces are constructed: physical media such as crystal, cobwebs and water, as well as computational media such as lattices, deformable solids and digital video.

The purpose of this survey is to offer students a chance to acquire, in the form of studio-lab exercises and projects, intuitions about matter that span both physical and computational domains.

This course provides the opportunity to gain facility with an interactive or realtime media authoring system (Quicktime, MAX, MSP, Jitter), as well as some design familiarity with materials: paper, clay, bubble wrap, wire mesh, fabrics, liquid dyes, electro-luminescent wire, etc.

(This is a companion course to LCC 6321 Architecture of Responsive Spaces, in which students design applications for such media.)


Prerequisites: Facility with some professional media synthesis tools for digital graphics, video, sound, or programming experience with physics simulations. A fearless approach to materializing concepts.


Students will be evaluated based on in-class participation and responses in the form of digital artifacts: software, animations, video, as well as short written notes, collected in their Scrapbooks, and on an individual report/construction/simulation using a material of their choice. Duo Final projects may be permitted.





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