Enactive Design: Creative Applications through Concurrent Human-Machine Interaction

This course is an advanced research seminar on human-machine interaction. The main focus will be to explore the role of real-time, bidirectional communication between human and digital agents in a design context, and develop its potential to open up new creative domains.

Digital interfaces provide computational frameworks for creative exploration in disciplines such as architecture, design, and art. However, in many instances, such as traditional 3D modeling environments or numerically-controlled machines, the role of the machine is subservient to the orders of its human counterpart. While this model might be a convenient human-machine relationship for production-oriented scenarios, in the case of design environments, a higher degree of machine agency could generate new models of creative exploration and design through human-machine collaboration.

What kind of outcomes would an interactive 3D printer yield, one that allows modification of its toolpaths in real-time? How can the power and precision of industrial robots be amplified by the decision-making capacity of humans-on-the-loop? How might technologies such as augmented reality supplement human capacity for creative making and fabrication? What are the potentials of mixed and virtual reality environments as mediators between humans and machines? Can design be conceived as the human curation of the suggestions of an artificial intelligence? Is this a new form of collaborative art?

In this course, we will explore the computational aspects of designing concurrent human-machine interactive platforms, whose creative outcomes may reach much farther than the combination of its separate participants.

Prerequisites: demonstrated experience in computer programming via SCI6338, CS50, or similar. Experience in numerically-controlled fabrication, microelectronics, and robotics is welcome though not required.