Quantitative Aesthetics: Re-sensing / Augmenting reality

This course is looking at computational approaches to digital media that allow us to analyze and reinterpret our environment as a signal, creating interactive interventions that distort the limits of the sensible. The term aesthetics here has less to do with judgments of beauty and more with its original meaning of the discourse on the “sensible”. Our experience of the cultural social and physical environment is increasingly mediated by digital media that form cascades of filters and surfaces of interaction. In that sense the understanding of the totality of what can be seen, said or heard within these environments [what Jacques Ranciere might call “the distribution of the sensible”] is passing into the realm of signal analysis; a conceptual framework for making sense of and intervening in an environment that exists in a superposition of states that can be analyzed and recombined in different ways.

This year we are focusing on re-sensing, by analyzing, transforming and augmenting the digitized representation of the environment at the interface between our senses and the sensible. The ideas and techniques behind augmented reality will be explored and expanded in order to depart from the mundane and conventional interpretation of AR as the superposition of 3d models on the visual field, to an interface that interferes with our digitally mediated sensory processing of reality.

Students will be required to develop and prototype an object, interface or installation that reconfigures or augments our sensory experience of the environment relying on digital signal analysis techniques. From a technical standpoint the students will be introduced to digital tools specifically developed for the course that would enable them to process and affect various aspects of the sensible environment. Among other subjects we’ll look into vision and movement analysis, sound analysis and synthesis and Arduino micro-controllers.