InterFace De/sign

Demo or die, get used to it. Be ready to demo your project at any time. I expect you to be working every week, even if I don't give a specific assignment. This course expects you to work inependantly outside of class time. You should develop your own ideas and implement them after consultation with me.

Studio meets on Thursday from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. 3 absences constitutes an automatic failure. There will also be time before class every week for individual or group meetings outside of the classroom.

During the semester there will be 2 major critiques. All students are required to present at these reviews. Any student who does not present at a major review is open to a failing grade.

Assignments will be weekly as well as multi-week and there will also be readings given in conjunction with this class. I have also put together a recommended reading list for you. Throughout the semester you will be asked to visit gallery and museum exhibits as well as attend lectures related to our areas of inquiry.

The class will be run in a studio format, while there will be seminar sessions during the semester, in general each student will be expected to present and discuss work and ideas during each class in either group or "desk" critiques. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions and critiques. You are required to keep an online sketchbook/journal during the course of the semester. It will be reviewed periodically as part of your overall grade.

Conceptualizing, designing and producing interactive media requires time outside of class hours - usually quite a bit more time - keep in mind the hours of the computer labs, the equipment available to you in those labs, and get to know the technical support staff who can help you.

Be aware that you do not have preferential access to equipment and that you are sharing the labs with all other students.

Each student will be given a public folder in the MFA directory on the web server. It is expected that your work will be made available by you for review, by me and your fellow classmates in the directory mentioned above.

Software design has historically been the intellectual domain of the computer sciences, a compendium of physiological and cognitive factors. Only recently - and coincidentally with the advent of multimedia computing - have concerns of the visualist been taken into account: composition, color, typography, imagery, structure, sensuality, aesthetics, movement, scale, etc. This studio has many objectives, but the most fundamental attempt to bring the sensibilities of the sensual to a high-tech communications arena governed by principles such as efficiency, heuristics, and optimization, often the only guiding principles in software/interface design.

This studio explores the relationship between media, specifically interactive media and human perception and reaction, but this area of inquiry is the making of such relationships. We are the makers, the poets, the composers, the theoreticians. Our challenge is to separate ourselves from what we already know - that which is common, and accepted - and to explore not yet known. The evolution of technology over the last ten years has been staggering, yet even with the maturity of tools and techniques, there are still countless avenues of form and expression in new media yet to be explored.

Textbooks: REQUIRED Reading and Recommended reading


There is no eating or drinking allowed in class rooms. Be sure to turn off all Cell Phones, pagers etc that may disturb the class before class starts.

Week Topic Readings and URLs Assignment
Week 1

Course objectives set forth. Introductions.

Discussion: Interface discussion, The desktop metaphor, WIMP, CLI vs GUI etc... Examples of digital interface may be shown by instructor.

Don Gentner and Jakob Nielson's article on the antimac interface is a good place to begin to understand the lack of recent innovation into the human computer interface issue.

ACM has a special interest group in Computer Human Interaction.

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HITLAB) maintains the incredibly useful Knowledge Base. There are also a number of interesting research projects going on there.

MIT's Media Lab has many research groups that you should familiarize yourself with.

Chapter 1 & 2 of Johnson's Interface culture

Interface links of interest:
Top 100 new media artworks in text form and also in java


Media Lab

Interface objects

Digital Diary Join their mailing list digest NOW This is the best online resource for new media art. Look at Alt.interface and the commision avaialable. Also has a good list of links to improtant sites.

Read the antimac interface

Week 2

Interface design

discuss Johnson


Chapter 3 & 4 of Johnson's Interface culture

As We May Think by Vannevar Bush

Assignment: Synthesize an interface; students are asked to make a single interface out of the three they have collected. This can be in digital or non-digital form.
Week 3

Critique of synthesis assignment, discussion. Take the composite interface and begin to dissect it. What is it beyond a planar element, can it be cut up, broken into discrete objects occupying different spaces, or serve different functions, can it be folded in space? Add interactivity to your interface - what are the functional aspects of your interface - what are the tools that can be built into it? Discussion of the desktop metaphor and other computer GUI.

discuss Johnson

Chapter 5 & 6 and conclusion of Johnson's Interface culture

Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu

Assignment: Document the interface project; students are asked to place images/drawings and written description of their interface on their digital diary website.
Week 4

Information Design

design, visualization, and modeling project Storyboards, structuring information.

How many ways can a single narrative arranged? Is there always a right and a wrong way?

Discussion, reactions to the text/content

Assignment: For next week, students are asked to prepare two separate types of visualization of the content:
1. an interpretive media piece
2. a structural construction based on the content's information and the student's interpretation. This should be architectural, diagrammatic.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Grimms Fairy Tales

Assignment: Introduction to narrative/ information modeling assignment. Text/content is given. Students are asked to provide a one page written analysis of the text/content and at least two different sets of story boards for next week.
Week 5

Interactive design

In class critique of the interpretive and architectural forms of the assignment.

Interactivity what is it. Is point and click really interactive?

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Jaron Lanier and a
Scientific American Interview

Assignment: Final project - introduction. Students are asked to bring in several (3-5) ideas for their major project for discussion next week.
Week 6

Identity Design

In class discussion of final project proposals. Focus groups.

Design principles and elements

In the Beginning... was the command line

The Whitney's Bitstreams Exhbition

Assignment: Semester Final Project.
A final project will be developed by each student. For next week, students will write a proposal indicating their topic of interest to be investigated and designed, and a design document describing the planned stages of the development process. The proposal and design outlines will combine to articulate the concept, design direction, and significance of the work as the project is completed for the end of the semester.
Week 7 Individual Meetings with me to discuss final project and evaluate progress so far.

Snow Crash

Computer Human Interaction

Assignment: Students begin detailing their final project; research, technical reviews, visualization and planning for the first prototype. Next week, students should be ready to present a rough draft of their project to the class. This can be sketches, experiments, demonstrations, sound effects... but should give a macro view of the project as a whole.
Week 8 MIDTEM CRITIQUE of Grimms fairy Tale project

Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media Prologue through Ch 2

San Francisco MOMA's 010101: Art in technological times

Week 9

The Man with a movie Camera

Discussion Montage, crosscut etc...

Manovich Ch 3 & 4

continued work on final project
Week 10

Protoype of Final Project due / Critique

In class presentation of progress so far.

Manovich Ch 5 & 6

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin

Assignment: from the critique, students revise their projects. At this early stage, changes should be substantial, yet easy to implement because of the rough nature of the project so far.
Week 11

Discuss Manovich

continued critique of final project.

Eduardo Kac especially

the GFPBunny

continued work on final project
Week 12

Discuss Eduardo Kac

continued critique of final project.

no reading continued work on final project
Week 13 Lab session Desk Critiques with me no reading continued work on final project
Week 14 FINAL CRITIQUE UnderGraduate students no reading Assignment: Students master 2 copies of their final project on appropriate media (zips, jaz disks not accepted - use a CDROM) for the instructor, and the department archives.
Week 15 FINAL CRITIQUE Graduate students