Digital Media: Manipulations

This course is an introduction to fundamental concepts, techniques, and methods in digital design with a focus on reciprocal processes of translation between digital media and material artifacts.

The term manipulation can refer to the skillful handling or operation of a thing. It can also connote more deceitful ambitions of obfuscation or alteration. This course seeks to leverage this ambiguity as a site of productive tension. It will investigate how digital processes influence the ways in which we design, produce, and experience form via two primary areas of inquiry—the artifact and the event.

Developments in digital tools have facilitated increasingly intricate processes of formal exploration and material manipulation. Novel computational strategies can integrate a variety of material-specific design considerations into the design process and have enabled new methods for material exploration. However, gaps remain between prevailing design methods and existing paradigms of fabrication and assembly.

Beyond the control afforded in various processes of materialization, digital technologies can also assign new or alternative readings to form. The capacities afforded by projection mapping can serve to enhance, efface, transfigure, or disintegrate form.

Course format:

Offered as weekly three-hour sessions of lectures, discussions, and hands-on workshops, the course will address the content described above through a semester-long project organized into a sequential set of assignments. Exercises will experiment with robotically-controlled fabrication techniques, and the course will integrate empirical studies with digital modeling and simulation techniques. Instructor-led workshops will include tutorials on software including Rhino/Grasshopper and its associated plugins for analysis, simulation, and animation (Millipede, Kangaroo, Squid, etc.) and the projection mapping software MadMapper.

There are no prerequisites for this course, only a willingness for open experimentation and critical evaluation of the presented digital processes and tools. For the final project, participants will leverage the workflows developed in class to digitally fabricate a full-scale artifact and selectively incorporate projection-mapping techniques to invite multiple interpretations of the object.

Prerequisites: None.