Project 1:
The Web as a Rube Goldberg Machine

The Web was built around the concept of requests and responses - a constant back and forth between a server on the Internet and a browser on your computer. As it grew and expanded the need arose to get exchange going not just between a person and a machine but among many machines.

A user initiates a single action - a click of a button, a text entry, a page scroll - and the browser triggers a chain of events, most of them hidden behind the veil of the Cloud, to pass around some data from one server to another, like a ball in a pinball machine. The data can be used to request other data, to trigger different responses from servers, to capture more data. It can be formatted, rearranged, displayed in different contexts, - juxtaposed with other data.

In the spirit of Rube Goldberg's fascination with the mechanism over the end result - how can we build similar systems in the digital realm? What kind of data could be passed around? With services could be chained together to produce some unexpected outcomes? What would the triggers look like - and the end results? None of those need to be practical, efficient or even reasonable - the focus is on the celebration of the chains of events and the mechanisms that enable them.

Working in groups:

  • Blake and Yining
  • Zeyu and Yiran
  • Yue, Alan and Mario
  • Hongming, Shiyi and Zoey
  • Zhuoyu & Qianyue


  • Create and publish a live site where your causal chain mechanics can be experienced. You can use GitHub Pages of any other service.
  • Add an "About" page with the description of the project, diagrams of the mechanics, and responses to the questions in the brief. Add videos to the page as needed.

>>> Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Jan 21 - 27

In-class: Firday Jan 21
  • Web components: protocol, tools, technologies and methods. Covers TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML/CSS/JavaScript, WebHooks, APIs (REST). Presentation Deck.
  • Workshop: Connecting a GitHub repo to Discord, to Slack via IfTTT.
  • Zoom recording
  • Selecting a topic and forming working groups.

Create a proposal with a diagram(s), outlining the triggers, the events and the outcomes.

Office hours: Tuesday Jan 25

Review proposals, suggest tools and research.

Week 2: Jan 28 - Feb 3

In-class: Friday Jan 28


Build a Web app initiating requests, retreiving data, and implementing other mechanics of the project

Office hours: Tuesday Feb 1

Using OAuth, creating local server to catch webhook events

Week 3: Feb 4 - 10

  • Workshop: Interface design and implementation for the apps, troubleshooting.
  • Project 1 show and tell.

Finish and polish your documentation online.

Project 2:
Multiplayer Manufacturing Online Sitting Arena (MiMOSA)

After World War I, many artists, writers, and creative intellectuals started to question every aspect of their culture that had allowed the horrors of war to occur. Artists started to think about how technology, consumerism, art, and politics were all interrelated. Romanian-French poet Tristan Tzara noted, "The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust." Artists and writers such as Tzara, Hugo Ball, Man Ray, Hannah Höch, and Max Ernst decided that the only way to respond to these realizations was through irreverent and (potentially) nonsensical works. Dada artists used techniques such as collage, assemblage, and photomontage to form their works, creating new linguistic and visual languages that attempted to exist outside the rigid structures of contemporary society. By incorporating found materials into their work, creatives began to break down the distinctions between art and real-life by demonstrating that art is always produced from real life.

Today, we are feeling similar extremes of horror, disgust, and utter confusion. How might our contemporary observations of technology, consumerism, art, and politics manifest into a formal reaction and creative proposition?


Make a mixed-reality chair (a combination of a real and digital chair) by using the technique and concept of assembling, a three-dimensional alternative to collage, a technique of composing work by combining various found models, and online materials not normally associated with one another. Through this process, we will explore new forms of mashed-manufacturing and avatar/human-factors in design.

Documentation: Use Blender to make a series of renderings and or animations/videos of your mixed reality chairs. Use your selected avatars to communicate your chair's context, use, and scale.

>>> Weekly Schedule

Week 4: Feb 11 - 17


Intro slides link

  • Topic: 3D Storefront Assembling & Avatar Human Factors
  • Software: Blender + Mixamo

Link to Workshop and Homework

Week 5: Feb 18 - 24

  • Topic: Photogrammifying Chairs & Tracing in VR
  • Software: Agisoft + Gravity Sketch + Tilt Brush + Blender

Link to Workshop and Homework

Week 6: Feb 25 - March 3

  • Topic: Virtual Sitting Arena & Mixed Materials
  • Software: Blender + Unity
  • Hardware: VR Kit

Link to Workshop and Homework

Acknowledgement: This project brief and examples slides were developed by Jenny Rodenhouse

Week 7: March 4 - 10 — NO CLASS

Project 3:
Digital Twins

You will work in teams of 3-4 for the next 3 weeks to create a digital twin model(s) using one another as your datasets and various machine learning software examples below. Using yourselves as a medium, how can you use machine learning to extend one another's attributes, mix, mash, and collaborate and formulate new in-between aesthetics from these various processes?

Together we will:

  • Look under the hood of AI and understand how it is built conceptually;
  • Learn to collect and label data, use it to train a model to witness how the process works and what can go wrong with it;
  • Explore how AI can be used for the purpose of visual creative expression.

Resource document



  • Prepare a portion of your Digital Twin dataset to make public on a library of your choosing.
  • Consider what context you would like to give it, and edits you would like to make to your collection of content. What would you share and what won't you share?
  • See section, dataset example libraries and documentation in the doc


  • Document your Digital Twin demo, use, or performance through stills and video

>>> Weekly Schedule

Week 8: March 11


Explore collective attributes/behaviors, datasets, and workflows


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Quibusdam, numquam illum et eaque non nesciunt id magni omnis provident aspernatur. Similique placeat veritatis inventore cumque. Fugiat assumenda quas quisquam quaerat!

Week 9: March 18


Narrow to a set of collective attributes and ML tools


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Dolorum a iusto tenetur quisquam voluptas obcaecati error beatae temporibus, pariatur natus voluptates molestias sit, eos quo blanditiis dolorem ducimus accusamus reprehenderit!

Week 10: March 25


Demo, user, or perform your digital twins!


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Nostrum, porro facere tempore quasi eos sed, dolore quas alias sequi corporis architecto at minima eveniet sunt repellendus, eum reiciendis expedita est.

Project 4:
Personal project

An integral part of working with contemporary technology is the capacity for continuous learning and self-guided exploration. Tools - applications, programming languages, frameworks and platforms - change continuously. It is important for a design practitioner to be able to identify areas of interest and paths for exploration within those ares; to be able to learn new tools and skills while maintaining a personal perspective and deliver compelling outcomes.

This project invites you to ask radical questions about your creative practice - what media do you want to work in? what tools do you like to use and why? what skills would you like to learn or hone and for what purpose? The ultimate goal is to help you discover your own set of preferences in the realm of creative technology and potentially test the waters for a large, in-depth exploration you might pursue as part of your thesis project.

Start with the tools and technologies you find interesting, promising, compelling - in so many words, cool. How would you apply them, what would you like to create given a free reign? Limit yourself to one set of tools or one medium (Machine Learning, or Mediated Realities, or the Internet of Things, etc.). Clearly define your toolset and the goals you'd like to achieve in the scope of three weeks. Find some resources - documentations, tutorials, communities of practice - to help you with your experimentation. Make something.

>>> Weekly Schedule

Week 11: April 1 - 7

Office hours: Tuesday, 4 - 5:30pm, ZOOM
Class: Friday, 10am - 1pm, ZOOM

Mind-mapping exercise


Refine your concept, identify the toolset, start building components.

Week 12: April 8 - 14

Office hours: Tuesday, 5pm - 7pm, ZOOM
Class: Friday, 10am - 12pm, 1pm - 3pm, IN PERSON

Workshop time, progress reviews.


Build-out the components, document the process.

Week 13: April 15 - 21

Office hours: Tuesday, 5pm - 7pm, ZOOM
Class: Friday, 10am - 1pm, 2pm - 4pm

Workshop, troubleshooting, progress reviews. Show and tell.


Publish all documentation online.

Week 14: Dec. 13 - 17 — NO CLASS


Project 3