Collab: Occupy Earth
Tuesdays, 12:10 pm – 2:50 pm; 6 East 16th Street 903
Dates: 8/28/2018 – 12/4/2018
In the Occupy Earth collaborative studio, we will create works of “mixed reality,” constructing new forms of virtual and physical hybrids to explore polarized discussion of the ecologies, climates, and environments we now face as an earth-bound species in the 21st century. We use the term “mixed reality” to link emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to the physical and sensory realities that pervade our cultural and political lives.
The first half of the course will pair design exercises investigating alternate sensory perception, spatial narrative, and mutable environments with technical instruction combining projection mapping (MadMapper), 3D scanning and augmented interaction (Kinect), and prototyping virtual spaces in Unity. The final project will involve designing layered mixed reality spaces to convey how disruption or intervention to the surrounding environment can impact a character, species, and culture.
The course, now in its 2nd year, is run in collaboration with the Media Lab at the University of Aalto in Helsinki, Finland. It involves students from Aalto coming to Parsons for an October 6/7th workshop intensive, a public presentation with the Finnish Cultural Institute in NYC in December, and the possibility of travel for a public presentation of work in Helsinki in March.
Wk 1, 8.28: Intro
Introduction: syllabus, Aalto collab, exhibition, intro to light and space movement
Assigned: If no Unity experience, download and install Unity 2018 (Free/Personal edition), and do this Lynda tutorial:
Unity 3D Essential Training: “Introduction” – Lesson 3 “Working with Assets” (~1 hr)
You can sign up for a free Lynda account using this link and your newschool.edu e-mail address.
Reading: Schwartzman’s Reframers, artists & designers working w alt perception
Wk 2, 9.05: Unity Intro
Tech workshop: Unity I – interface, navigating 3D space, creating a player and “soundscape” (75)
Design workshop: sound games (60)
Assigned: Dark Walk, analog aspect: In groups of 3, create a narrative walk to be experienced without sight, rather using sound, tactile and kinetic elements to convey meaning. Group lineup and contact info here.
Assigned: Unity workshop: simple geometry, lights, shaders, fielding questions from tutorial. Sat Sep 8th, time TBD
Reading: 18 Green Artists Who Are Making Climate Change a Priority , Huffington Post, 2014
Wk 3, 9.11: Dark Walk I
Review: Dark Walk Analog (60)
Tech: Unity II – 3D environment design, Troubleshooting (60)
Assigned: Dark Walk Unity
Reading: start “common reading”, Timothy Morton’s What is Dark Ecology? for week 5.
(Suggested reading: Bruno Latour’s The New Climate)
Weekend Unity workshop II, troubleshooting Unity
Wk 4, 9.18: Dark Walk II
Review: Dark Walk Unity (60)
Tech: Photogrammetry: what’s a 3D object?, scanning, importing into Unity, manipulating materials, lighting, shape (60)
Assigned: Bending the Everyday I – aesthetic prototype: choose an object or environment, and manipulate it virtually to alter its meaning, purpose or form
Assigned: Due Monday 9.24 at 12pm:
for Aalto Skype, please post to Canvas (or modify what you’ve already posted to include: up to 3 sentences about your work, one image, and one “research” question related to the Morton reading, or the themes of course (illusion, nature, human agency over the environment).
Wk 5, 9.25 Bending the Everyday I
Aalto: Skype, brief group hello, then students break off into group chat (40)
Tech: Projection Mapping with MadMapper (60)
Review: Bending the Everyday I, aesthetic prototypes p2p review (30)
Assigned: Bending the Everyday II – tech prototype: projection-mapping onto the real objects
Assigned, with Aalto: Form preliminary research groups, based on common interests and questions. Read Input Process Output procedure. Based on Climate Control project, start to gather “input” to be discussed with your group in class on 10.2
Wk 6, 10.2 Bending the Everyday II
Aalto: research groups discuss “input” materials for Climate Control IPO (60)
Review: Bending the Everyday II (75)
Assigned: Climate Control: prepare “input” for weekend workshop
Weekend Workshop with Aalto
Sat 10.6: on site w Aalto, “process,” creative research
Sun 10.7: on site w Aalto, “output” prototyping & user testing session
Wk 7, 10.9 Climate Control I – with Aalto
With Aalto, groups present initial output to external critics
Reading: Latour’s The New Climate
Wk 8, 10.16
Based on Aalto visit and initial output, groups figure out how they want to move ahead to create a proof of concept prototype for finals / the exhibition and re-calibrate as needed.
Assigned: short presentation of concept & structure moving forward
Wk 9, 10.23 Climate Control II – Midterm Presentation
Climate Control midterm presentations
Assigned: Research for final project concept
Wk 10, 10.30
Tech: Unity III – Intro to VR/AR
Design workshops: intro to Aesthetic and Engagement prototypes
Assigned: Initial, lo-fideity prototype, Aesthetic or Engagement
Reading: Rob Shields, The Return of the Virtual
Wk 11, 11.6
Tech: Responsive Environments – Sensors, Cameras, Connectivity
Review lo-fidelity prototypes
Discuss Core experience, Technical prototypes
Assigned: technical prototypes, considering core experience
11/13, Week 12:
Skype with Aalto: Workshop
Review: technical prototypes
Discuss: Proof of Concept prototypes
Assigned: Hi-fidelity, proof of concept prototype, to preview 11/27 w Aalto, present 12/4
11/27, Week 14:
Final Skype with Aalto, preview final prototypes
In-class work on Final Deliverables, Tech Troubleshooting
Assigned: Proof of Concept Prototype, Final Design Deliverables
12/4, Week 15 — LAST CLASS
Final Project, Proof of Concept prototype presentations w outside critics
By the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Understand fundamental aesthetic principles of Mixed Reality, as evidenced by producing immersive interactive installations based on light and moving image
- Be familiar with important art and design precedents involving light art and experimental projection
- Be proficient with the use of analog optics, 3D mapping and projection technology
Four Primary Assignments
The course has four primary assignments exploring spatial experience. Projects will be created both individually and in groups at the discretion of the faculty.
- Dark Walk, an immersive storytelling project based on sound and haptics, 2 weeks
- Bending the Everyday, alter the meaning of an object through light, 2 weeks
- Climate Control, midterm project, 3 weeks
- Final project: research, concept, design and execution, 6 weeks
Critique, Presentation and Discussion
The presentation and discussion of work is an integral component of the course. Students are expected to present their work in a clear and concise manner during both casual and more formalized critique sessions, which may include invited guest critics. Students should also be prepared to ask questions and provide constructive criticism to their fellow students.
When presenting, students should explain:
- Context: what is your area of inquiry? What are you studying, experimenting with, questioning; and why?
- Intention: what do you plan to make, and why? How is this making a response to your inquiry?
- Impact: what is the goal of your project, what impact do you think it will have, why is it important?
Students will also be prepared to discuss all readings in class. This includes any questions that might arise about the reading and its implications for class projects. The first will be about “sensory hacking,” the second on a brief history of “virtuality,” the third on artists working with the environment, and the fourth by Bruno Latour, on global conception of the environment now.
Imaginary Journey, after Augusto Boal (wk 2)
In pairs, one guide and one ‘blind’ guided partner. The blind partner must be led across a series of real or imaginary obstacles found or invented by the guide, as if the two of them were in the middle of some other environment (forest, city street, supermarket, subway). The guides should “sow” obstacles through the room: chairs, tables etc. that have different physical, aural or kinetic qualities. No speaking, guides can use physical contact or sound for guidance. The guided are not allowed to make any movement they are not “instructed” to do. When possible, the guide should make the same movements as the guided, to actively imagine their own story. The guided person must try to imagine where they are, for example, a river? Are there rocks, animals? After a few minutes they stop, and the guided tells the guide where she thinks she is in the real world, who & what is next to her etc, describing all the information she’s gathered about the physical environment using senses other than sight. Then she tells her guide where she has imagined she was journeying. They compare notes on the story, and switch.
Experience prototypes are different from interactive prototypes, in that they don’t necessarily experiment with how a person would ideally engage with a project, but rather they try break down and draw attention to how a person senses or experiences a project. What would you like a person to experience with your work, how would you describe that experience? What are interesting aspects of the work that you would like to play with, accentuate? What metaphors might you use to describe them? How might you simulate them? What patterns of behavior, interactivity, participation or exchange could you quickly model? How do these activities or gestures create meaning or become meaningful? For more instructions, see the brief here.
Dark Walk (for wk 4)
In pairs, create a narrative walk to be experienced without sight, rather using sound, tactile and kinetic elements to convey meaning.
Bending the Everyday (for wk 6)
Projection map onto an “everyday” object to change its appearance and alter its perceived meaning, purpose, or value. Document in video. Consider everyday interfaces, and the built environment. As your technique, use projection masking (Illustrator), mapping (Mad Mapper), or both.
Climate Control (for midterms, wk 9)
Over a three week period, we will build a prototype of a spatial multimedia environment that expresses a sensory and phenomenological experience of environmental disruption and change. We will begin by selecting existing linear narratives (fiction or non-fiction writing or audio) on which to base our experiences. The experience will incorporate elements that correspond to the traditional “acts” of a three-part narrative structure: setup, crisis, and resolution. Each week we will focus on prototyping one of these acts. For more information, see the complete project brief here.
Political Reality (final project, for wk 15)
Using little or no words, express some aspect of current tensions in ideas of the “Body Politic,” and how they relate to tensions in considerations about the environment and environmental disruption, using light, space, symbolic objects, and set design. For more information, see the project brief here.