Artifacts as Media: Signals, Data, Information and Design

Media is the way we understand the world. Our consciousness is technologically extended, connecting us to the entirety of humankind through media interfaces. Content, information and message blend seamlessly into the nature of the medium, for the medium is the message, and the message in any medium is another medium by its very nature.

In this course, we will unfold the technological basis of media as an instrument of information transfer, and exploit its meta-nature as a medium of media in itself. Participants will gain an understanding of the computational representations of modern forms of digital media, such as images, audio, video, meshes and shaders, as well as the technical tools for their creation, parsing, manipulation and analysis. Yet ultimately, the goal of this course is to challenge the assumptions of the nature of the "messages" these mediums can carry, explore them as vessels of other forms of information, and propose novel forms of trans-media artifacts of polymorphic meaning. Can meshes be used as graph representations? How can data be encoded in an image? Can voxel fields be decoded from video or shaders? What stories can be extracted from databases? In this course, we will explore creative mappings between and in between mediums to create new informational systems.

The content of the class will be predominantly technical, and taught through a combination of high-level lectures and hands-on technical workshops. Demonstrated experience in computer programming, such as SCI-6338, CS50 or similar, is a pre-requisite for this class. Additionally, a semester-long book reading will be assigned at the beginning of the course, and a discussion session around it will be held by the end of the semester. Student work will consist of three preparatory assignments, culminating with a personal final project of the student's choice.

This course is the second installment of a three-part course series on Computational Design preceded by SCI-6338: Introduction to Computational Design (Fall), and continued by SCI-6365: Enactive Design, Creative Applications Through Concurrent Human-Machine Interaction (Fall), taught by the same instructor.