Computational Craft

MFA DESIGN + TECHNOLOGY, PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN
Craft is a practice underlying all cultures, unifying hand with mind, materials with tools, and high technology with low technology. Historically, craft is a means of communicating the knowledge, stories, and values of the individual and local community across generations.

The rise of DIY, open source, and Maker culture has contributed to a growing design field that we will call computational craft: the combination of crafting techniques with alternative and traditional materials to produce computationally infused or inspired objects. Over the course of the semester, we will spend much time unpacking and revising this definition, and examining the role of this field at the intersection of design, technology, and contemporary culture, pulling in knowledge and practices from performance, architecture, education, fashion, product design, anthropology, science fiction, and more. New materials give us the opportunity to explore new interactions between people and technology. The unexpected is our currency.

We will begin by looking at ways in which traditional crafting techniques can be interwoven with new materials like conductive ink, thread, fabric, and more to generate “soft” interfaces. During the second part of the course, we will explore actuators such as thermochromic ink, soft speakers, and shape memory alloys. Throughout the course, we will think critically about how utilizing these materials shapes our interactions with technology (e.g. why is a paper piano more whimsical than a knobbed midi interface or a traditional piano?) and the problem solving involved in customized sensor design for objects, surfaces, and the body.

FALL 2017 :: Link to Course Blog
FALL 2016 :: Link to Course Blog
FALL 2015 :: Link to Course Blog
FALL 2014 :: Link to Course Blog
FALL 2013 :: Link to Course Blog


Physical Computing

MFA DESIGN + TECHNOLOGY, PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN
The physical and the digital are often thought of as distinct and disparate. This class will be an investigation into notions of physicality and interface with respect to the computer, and an exploration of related analog and digital technology. Students will complete a series of exercises that will encourage inquiry into these various technologies and the implications of a connection between or joining of physical and digital worlds. Basic electronics and various sensor mechanisms will be used in conjunction with toolkits such as Arduino. Students joining this class should be comfortable with code in general, have experience with one programming language or another, and be prepared to solder.

We are physical creatures that interact with the physical world. Our hands are highly evolved to give us layer upon layer of tactile feedback. While it is said we are visual creatures, it is our sense of touch that is most refined. Technology, meanwhile, has evolved along a different path. While keyboards, mice/trackpads and touch screens are efficient, they are devoid of any type of tactile feedback that we are so adept at sensing. The study of physical computing gives us a chance create interactions that capitalize on our sense of touch and hence create truly engaging and magical experiences for users.

SPRING 2018 :: Link to Course Blog


Fashioning Technology

MFA DESIGN + TECHNOLOGY, PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN
The goal of the class is to explore the integration of new materials and electronics into paper and textile based interfaces. The class will expose students to a series of tools and methodologies utilized to handcraft a suite of sensors and paper-textile based circuits. Students will also experiment with electronic activated inks such as electroluminescent and thermochromic inks to generate displays that are both decorative and functional. The class will emphasize craftsmanship, usability, aesthetic value, and provide basic physical computing insight through material exploration. For the final project, students collaborate to create a group or individual project.

SPRING 2013 :: Link to Course Blog
FALL 2012 :: Link to Course Blog


Creativity & Computation

MFA DESIGN + TECHNOLOGY, PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN
There are a variety of different tools that you can use to realize the concepts and projects you will create in MFA D+T. This course will give you a basic introduction to three toolsets (Processing, Arduino, and openFrameworks) with the objective of giving you a firm foundation in the basics of computation. By the end of this course, you will be fluent enough in the fundamentals of code to start speaking other programming languages with relative ease.

FALL 2012 :: Link to Course Blog

Imagination is at once the source of all hope and inspiration but also of frustration. To forget this is to court despair.
//W.I.B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation