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Courses

About the Lecturers

Thematic Courses

Interactive Art I and II

with Univ.-Prof. Mag.art Manuela Naveau PhD

In this course we explore and discuss developments concerning interfaces, interactive art, interaction design and processes of computer-based participation. Students will gain a chronological insight into the development of interactive art, we will discuss examples of artists who have shaped this field and together we will analyse the latest developments. Whether installation, intervention or performance, network project, telematic work or hybrid art form, whether virtual, augmented or mixed reality, robotics, software or app... we will analyse and question the interfaces and their interactive possibilities. This exploration is underpinned through theoretical reflection with reference to the relevant writings and theories of knowledge in this area.

Critical Data I and II

with Univ.-Prof. Mag.art Manuela Naveau PhD

The relationship between artists / creators and the digital world is of great value for the study, critical mediation and use of data, data processing systems and related knowledge. Not only can they make visible how systems of digitisation work, but also how they do not. By analysing artistic works at the intersection of digital art, big data and machine learning alongside ethics, philosophy and political / social commitments, we critically investigate the place society and its environment can take in relation to the latest technological developments. Critical Data questions the handling of technology and explores artistic worlds in the digital cosmos operating between promise, manipulation and conspiracy. There is a research based excursion, supported by scientific partners and partner institutions, that lays the groundwork for the practical work of the summer semester.

Media Archeology I and II

with Gebhard Sengmüller

In contrast to a more conventional media history lecture, this class is orientated towards exploring a more hidden media history. This secret or forgotten history deals with parallel, presumably lost, little-noticed, perhaps even fictive strands in the development of today’s media apparatuses. In this time of rapid development of new technologies that are becoming obsolete faster and faster, it is interesting to create archaeologies of individual media.

In this theoretical and practical course we will look at how artists use artefacts of media machines and media technologies in their practice, how this developed into previously unplanned hybrids, opened unknown back doors and often turned original flaws into strengths. We discuss how art practitioners, who are critically questioning progress per se by deliberately using outdated generations of hardware and software, prefer low-tech not only for aesthetic reasons but also for the economic implications involved.

Stage-based Interaction

with Klaus Obermaier

The goal of this workshop is to create interactive situations for stage and installation using basic computer vision technologies such as frame difference and blob tracking, as well as the analysis of sonic input.

The focus of this course however, is not on the technologies themselves but rather on their creative use. To stimulate this, alongside a practical element, part of the workshop is dedicated to the discussion of conceptual aspects of project development such as strategies for the integration of different media, reflection on various kinds of viewpoints (camera view – choreographer’s / director’s view – audience view) and levels of integration (triggering – controlling – communication), real-time generated content, and an understanding of the digital system as a performance partner.

Mapping the Data - Dataism (Interface and Interaction Design)

with Julian Stadon

This course explores data as an artistic material for poetic and/or critical engagement. It focuses on transformative processes and strategies for elaborate data manifestations and opens up a broad discussion around the underlying complexities, including: interfaces and interaction, data literacy, culture, privacy, ethics, aesthetics, infrastructures, societal implications and data’s paradoxical ontologies. To establish a fundamental understanding of effective data mapping we will study core data visualisation methods, aiming towards a potential semiology of data representation. Additionally, based on the discussion of students’ work, we will examine contemporary and historic data art and design practices. Students will develop a concise vocabulary for critical engagement and will be enabled to integrate rigorous data-driven strategies into their own artistic practice.

Post Media Practice

with César Escudero Andaluz

Post-media practice is a discipline focused on observation, experience and experimentation. It combines network cultural expressions with analog technologies in order to create new objects and immaterialities. Its main objective is to understand and to reflect the production of new aesthetics after / within the so-called digital revolution.

This course will introduce theoretical and practical contributions in the fields of Interface Criticism and Post Internet Art by analysing artistic and cultural interventions in contemporary media contexts, as well as through the exploration of the social implications of networked practices, new digital materiality and the underlying algorithms. A combination of network and platform critique, digital humanities and software studies will reinforce the participants artistic practice and stimulate reflections based upon a critical approach to the interface itself.

Fashionable Technologies I

workshop with Mika Satomi

This course investigates the relationship between technology, fashion, craftsmanship and design. Contextual analysis, developed in group projects, reveals and defines aspects of communication, aesthetics and functionality with a specific focus on the idea of dynamic surfaces and soft circuitry.

The course starts with an introductory lecture: a theoretical discourse on the current development of e-textile projects in the art and design context, its early developments and its present state. The main part of the course consists of hands-on workshops focusing on experimenting and exploring the sensing of body movements using e-textiles sensors, designing interaction with soft interfaces and developing prototypes. Students will participate in the entire design process from concept to completion. The course aims to provide insight into the challenges and possibilities of designing wearable technologies and to share the basic skills required to work with them.

Fashionable Technologies II

workshop with Ricardo O’Nascimento

Fashionable Technologies investigates the relationship between technology, fashion, science and design. The course builds on the foundation knowledge developed by students in Interface Cultures. Contextual analysis, developed in group projects, reveals and defines aspects of communication, aesthetics and functionality with a specific focus on the idea of the garment as interface. The first part of the class involves a theoretical discourse on the next generation of wearables, its history, its evolution and its present state. The second part of the class focuses on developing a project, focusing on textiles, wearables and technology. Students will participate in the entire design process from concept to completion. Through this process, students will gain an understanding of the challenges and possibilities of designing technologies for the body.

Media Art History

with Penesta Dika

In Media Art History, students will learn about key artworks from the history of media art and their development in relation to scientific and technological progress. The interfaces and interactivity of artworks are focused on by addressing different genres. Media technologies and their usage in art from panoramas to head mounted displays and CAVE, from photography to film, through video, smartphones and apps and so on will be discussed. Students will learn to put contemporary media artworks in a historical, socio-political context, considering the development of diverse media, technologies and general media theories. In addition to works based on current topics such as VR / AR / MR, artificial life and telerobotics, this course also includes discussion about preceding artworks from the earlier fields of computer and oscillograph art, happenings, fluxus and performance.

Social Interfaces / Art Thinking

with Hideaki Ogawa

The Social Interfaces / Art Thinking course deals with the central topic of Ars Electronica: the intersection between art, technology and society, and the ways these aspects influence each other. Recognizing how technological evolution has shaped different societies over the last century, the term “interface” becomes a flexible conceptual tool useful for bridging different domains of society – from the intimate and personal to interpersonal interaction up to encompassing populations as a whole.

In this course students will deal with some of the most recent trends in art and technology, from the growing symbiosis of human-nature interactions due to biotechnologies, how AI, robots and other autonomous computing entities extend the borders of human agency, and what it might take to change the social interface in an age of isolation. Art can be seen here as a catalyst for shaping a better future society, opening new perspectives, stimulating curiosity to explore what’s behind the scenes and inspiring creative solutions.

Playful Interfaces

with Tiago Martins

Within this course the focus is on playful musical interfaces and emerging artistic practices involving new interfaces for musical expression, which aim to go beyond the typical mouse and keyboard, piano key or drum pad setups. It seeks to present performance systems that make the most out of the new opportunities for musical expression afforded by interactive technologies.

During the semester, students will design and develop a prototype musical instrument themselves. In doing so, we will explore the theoretical contributions to interaction design, look at examples of recent work by creators of musical interfaces and discuss a wide range of topics pertaining to technology-enhanced performance. The class will culminate in a musical performance where prototypes will be presented in action within a live setting.

Sustainable IT

with Univ.-Ass. Davide Bevilacqua, MA

The aim of this class is to analyze current models of sustainability within different IT branches and to explore their potential and limits through artistic practice.

In the last years much has been said about the environmental impact of the internet, yet there are still many gray areas that obfuscate both the processes of material construction and the disposal of technologies, alongside the almost endless variation within general use of devices, systems and platforms. “Sustainability” is a very popular yet undefined term, whose meaning should more often be considered in the specific context in which it is used.

The various forms of sustainability – environmental, economic and social – accompanied by the domains of sustainable development – cultural, technological and political – can be used as tools to unpack and re-discuss the contemporary media landscape, as well as to discover areas and methods of intervention for artistic practice.

Technical courses

Sensors and Microcontrollers (WS) & Advanced Microcontrollers (SS)

with Univ.-Prof. Dr. Laurent Mignonneau

This course provides an introduction to building electronic interfaces. Students learn how to use microcontrollers, sensors and actuators to build their own interfaces and circuits from the ground up. Utilizing a hands-on approach, students learn how to filter and use data captured from the physical environment. Within this course a common understanding of coding and electronics is established through solving problems and learning coding techniques. A theoretical background is also provided with additional example applications from the media art field. In the summer semester a special course topic is chosen, ranging from EMG devices to laser displays, analog modular synthesizers to tiny robots and solar insects. Special focus is placed on gaining advanced knowledge of microcontrollers and electronics, which further supports the students in the development of their personal interactive projects.

Auditory Interfaces

workshop with Daniel Hug

Increasingly, physical artifacts of everyday use are endowed with information and communication technologies. These interactive commodities provide exciting new possibilities for sonic interaction design. On the one hand, in the interaction with such artifacts, the visual modality is often restricted by their size or peripheral use. On the other hand, artifacts are physical objects with a complex, narrative and performative identity, which calls for the use of sound beyond simple beeps.

In this workshop we will explore interactions involving artifacts, their sounds and the possible relationships between them. We will investigate narrative sound design strategies inspired by highly evolved fields such as film and game sound design, learning to use sound to provide interpretative clues and to leverage the expressive potential of sound. These strategies will be applied to develop scenarios and improvisational prototypes for sounding interactive commodities.

Interface Technologies (AI for Artists)

with Thomas Hoch

In the last several years, the field of artificial intelligence (AI) has made tremendous progress in terms of technologies and frameworks, making the use of such tools for creative projects much more simple. As a result, the number of AI related artworks produced and featured in venues such as Ars Electronica Linz, ZKM, Transmediale, etc, has increased exponentially. These works question the assumption that creativity, identity, intelligence and agency are purely human qualities. In this lecture, students will explore the current state of neural network systems and machine learning algorithms that can be used for artistic practice. They will experiment with some of the more popular methods to investigate what creativity means from the machine’s point of view and will explore existing tools and frameworks from their own artistic positions.

Mobile Interaction

with Tiago Martins

Smartphones have become the de facto personal computer. They are kept within reach, store much of our personal data, allow nearly ubiquitous access to online services and different forms of communication between spatially distant individuals. Additionally, they provide diverse forms of input and output - from location and movement to sound and vibration.

In this course students will learn how to design interactive mobile applications through rapid prototyping. In the first part of the course they will be introduced to the rich variety of modern smartphone features and how these can be programmed using scripting. Combining diverse functions into a single application enables coders to create new types of mobile interfaces and applications for human computer interaction, but also to innovative novel mobile interactive services. In the second part of the course students will be encouraged to build mobile applications based on their own ideas, participating in the entire design process from concept to completion.

Audio-Visual Interaction I & II (Pure Data Focus)

with Andreas Weixler

In this lecture students will explore the interactive possibilities of midi, audio and video data and the use of algorithms within graphical programming environments - a category of programming languages specially designed for media artists and musicians. By connecting computational objects representing programming routines, artists can design the flow of data, its processing and the relative outputs. These languages are particularly useful for artistic production due to their rapid prototyping qualities, the possibility of live data manipulation and their vast interconnectivity with external interfaces and devices.

Games Workshop I

with Julian Stadon

Games Workshop aims at both conveying an introduction to game studies as well as applied game design, thus combining theory and practice. Students are expected to challenge basic game study notions, including rules, the magic circle, game ver-sus play, or Ludus and Paidia, with the development of experimental games. Essential ideas concerning game studies, game cultures, and game design are presented and discussed. Particular weight is given to value transfer as well as current game directions that stretch to the outside of the game virtuality.

Over the course of Games Workshop I, well-known games are examined for underlying design principles, stellar examples of game art are introduced and debated to support inspiration. As a large variety of created game projects is hoped for, game development is not restricted to particular genres or media: results may range from board and card games to digital games, from zero to multi-player games, from casual to time consuming games.

Games Workshop II

Games Workshop aims to convey an introduction to game studies alongside applied game design, thus combining theory and practice. Games Workshop II is dedicated to a hands-on experimental development of games. Participants will be introduced to practical development of video games and 3d interactive scenes using the engine Unity. They will learn the fundamentals of designing avatars, scenes, models and animation; how to use materials, lights, shadows and sounds; creating game rules and behaviours; adding additional devices (e.g. Arduino or Kinekt) and applications through OpenSoundControl, as well as exporting the project for different platforms like Android and iOS.

Programming I and Programming II (Python, Advanced Programming)

with Roland Richter

This course offers an introduction to programming using the Processing language and environment. The course objective is to provide a basic but solid understanding of programming, starting from the basics (variables, operators, functions, control loops) and later moving on to intermediate topics (objects, algorithms, graphics and sound). The course is intended for students with little or no experience of programming and will focus primarily on the paradigms of imperative and object-oriented programming, practised and illustrated using audiovisual applications.

Robotic Workshop (Critical Aesthetics)

with Filipe Pais

This hands-on module is an introduction to speculative robotics. It proposes a reflection on the ever-growing network of the internet of things, smart objects and the generalized automation of things. Students are asked to imagine a world where robots and machines have been given the hard task of saving the world from an environmental crisis. In this human-decentered world, objects become super-objects, while humans become just another actor in the network of objects, living in the interstices of machines.

For three days, students are invited to research, analyse, speculate, imagine and prototype robotic objects that express behaviours through movement. Students will be introduced to a number of theoretical references and a modular robotic kit - the MisB KIT (misbkit.ensadlab.fr). The use of this kit will allow students to become familiarised with modular robotics: motor control, sensors, basic mechanics and tangible animation.

Project Development

Interface Cultures I, II, III, IV, and V

Informally called the “Interface Cultures Meetings”, this series of courses occupies a central role within the study program. In dedicated monthly meetings all students from all semesters are encouraged to present their own works-in-development and receive feedback from the faculty team and their colleagues. The discussion takes place as a group conversation, in the spirit of constructive criticism and mutual support.

The overall goal is to discuss ideas, trends, look for eventual collaborations, group projects or to prepare group shows and additional events. The presentations also serve as the basis for finding suitable projects that can be presented at the annual Ars Electronica exhibition and the Sankt Interface event. Regular attendance and project updates are mandatory.

Ars Electronica Project

Since its founding in 2004, the Interface Cultures department regularly presents a selection of the latest student projects at the well-known annual Ars Electronica Festival. Students are asked to submit their project and in a group effort, the faculty together with the students develops an exhibition concept, title, work plan, production plan and the realization of the event. Besides the exhibition, other formats such as concerts, performances, talks, ‘work in progress’ presentations and experimental formats can be proposed and developed. Exhibition flyers, documentation and PR are also covered by the whole team. The presentations at Ars Electronica promote the students’ work within a professional international media art network.

Labor Interface Cultures I and II

with Univ.-Ass. Fabricio Lamoncha, MA

The winter semester’s Labor I focuses on ‘materials’: students are introduced to the general use of the prototyping workshop at Interface Cultures as well as to the general infrastructure available for their project development inside and outside of the University. They are also provided with a general background on materials, processes and semiotics in contemporary art and design practices.

During the summer semester’s Labor II we go one step further, with a deeper focus on ‘subjects’: biology/chemistry lab protocols, artistic / scientific / interspecies collaborations, bioart articulations and definitions, bioethics, biosemiotics and media ecology. Students are introduced to a diversity of subjects, as well as to specific infrastructure and experts in fields such as: biology, botany, genetics, biotechnology, chemistry and material science.

Student Project Support (Art Presentation, Funding & Documentation)

with Univ.-Ass. Davide Bevilacqua, MA

Alongside their artistic practice, artists often have to be the accountants, writers, curators, managers and producers of themselves. How to combine all of this? What are the skills needed? Student Project Support (Art Presentation, Funding & Documentation) focuses on the strategies and formats needed to present artistic production through text and images, as well as a practice-oriented approach towards art bureaucracies: from project presentation to documentation, with an introduction to finances and funding for artistic production. The class is structured to provide guidance to students taking part in the Interface Cultures exhibition at the Ars Electronica Festival. It also provides general support regarding applications for open calls, producing effective artwork presentations, descriptive texts and funding applications.

Learning Linz I and II

with Michaela Ortner

Learning Linz gives students the opportunity to connect to the local art scene. In the form of short excursions, students get to know the people behind various collectives, sometimes in combination with a guest lecture or small workshop. Through these visits, participants learn more about the activities, strategies and development plans of the different initiatives. This course is an efficient and immersive way to get directly involved with the cultural organisations of the city. In some cases, individual collaborations have directly resulted from these visits.

Digital Art & Research

Master Colloquium I and II & Final Master Colloquium

In this course students learn how to develop their master thesis. This includes finding a suitable topic, developing a narrative, looking for an artistic /scientific research question, developing a structure, a table of contents, a bibliography and an artistic / scientific practice. Regular presentations within the class and with the chosen thesis supervisor help with the progress of the thesis. Topics can be freely chosen and correspond to the students´ interests and artistic / scientific practice.

Based on individual thesis development, which takes place in close cooperation with the main thesis supervisor, the Final Master Colloquium will prepare the student for their final master defense.

Journal Club

with Sam Bunn & César Escudero Andaluz

Journal Club is organized as a reading circle, covering the relevant journals and conference proceedings in the areas of human-computer interaction and media art. After an initial introduction to the relevant journals and conferences in the field, students will be supported to read, summarize and present an individual selection of articles. Students experienced in research and those who are new to this part of academia are supported, each according to their needs. Participants are encouraged to propose and discuss additional journals and conferences in related research areas. This course is synchronized with Academic Publication Practice.

Academic Publication Practice

with Penesta Dika

In Academic Publication Practice, students will learn how to formulate academic texts that can be used as the basis for their master thesis, or as paper submissions to international conferences and scientific journals. This course focuses on refining the students’ individual research, including the creation of suitable research questions, design of the table of contents and sourcing appropriate literature. Students will analyse and discuss various books, journals and other articles from the field of media art and HCI. Use of appropriate research methods such as qualitative / quantitative, design thinking and OIS will be discussed. Students will be trained to use diverse reference styles such as Harvard, APA, Vancouver, etc., and to give appropriate presentations of their research.

Artistic/Scientific Research Methods

with Penesta Dika

A methodology is the main mechanism guiding a researcher on how to collect, organise, understand, explain, analyse, recognise and evaluate research data. Artistic research methods can take shape through a wide variety of approaches and structures. In this course, participants will gain insight into the development of artistic research methods based on the study of their own artistic practice. In addition, we will analyse best practice examples, thematise involvement in multidisciplinary research teams, discuss existing literature and guides to ultimately develop appropriate research methods in relation to our own artistic practice. This class will provide an opportunity for discussion and interaction through a series of talks on artistic research.

Art, Science and Technology

with Victoria Vesna

This introductory course explores how science technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), artificial life (AL), neuroscience, bio and nanotech are driving new forms of media art / design and science projects. It broadly surveys the historical development of scientific and technological innovations and focuses on contemporary work inspired by the collaboration between art and science. The idea being that art encompasses contemporary forms of expression that are technologically driven.

Students will meet once a week in four two hours sessions with artist / Professor Victoria Vesna who will lecture and discuss various topics in art and science. They are required to research and write blogs that are due a day before. The final project is a proposal / prototype idea based on a particular art / science topic of interest covered in the course.

Head
Dr. Christa Sommerer

Contact
Gertrude Hörlesberger
Mon, Tue and Wed:
7.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
T: +43 (0)732 7898 480
gertrude.hoerlesberger@ufg.at

Davide Bevilacqua
T: +43(0) 732 7898 483
M: +43 (0)676 84 7898 483
davide.bevilacqua@ufg.at

University of Art and Design Linz
Interface Cultures
Domgasse 1
4020 Linz | Austria