Fall 2023 | LMC6650: Project Studio
Walking in Mixed-Reality Wilds
Co-taught with Charlie Bennett (Georgia Tech Library)
This fall 2023 project studio will address the question, How can we use data to augment our aesthetic experiences in nature, and to reshape our ethical attitudes towards the environment? Throughout the course, we will explore how experiences and attitudes might be refracted through the lens of environmental, social, and cultural data. Students will learn a variety of methods for situated data representation, including visualization (data as graphics), auralization (data as sound), and viseralization (data as material). The course will include introductory readings in areas such as environmental studies, information studies, and aesthetic theory. It will also feature tutorials and case study work. However, our primary focus will be on a series of hands (and feet) on exercises in data representation, as well as a lengthy final project to create mixed-reality walks in wild spaces around campus. We will document these walks for later use in student portfolios, exhibitions, or research. Students from all disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to participate. No technical skills required.
Fall 2023 | LMC 4813: Interaction Design Capstone
What can data do to us, not just for us? In this project-based undergraduate capstone course in Interaction Design for Computational Media, we will use design as a form of inquiry to explore how public data can affect us, with a focus on environmental data about the Atlanta region.
Can data raise awareness, foster dialogue, create community coherence, or even prompt a cooperative action? In recent years, the fields of data science (computing), data visualization (design) and data studies (humanities and social sciences) have explored how data function instrumentally, as evidence. By this definition, data are rhetorical instruments. They exist to support the rational claims made by scientific, scholarly, commercial, and civic organizations. This perspective on data is important. However, it can overlook questions about how data work experientially, as aesthetic and cultural artifacts. Indeed, data have an emotional impact, with social implications for what counts as data, where can data work, and who can make use of data.
How data make us feel is at least as important to their effectiveness as the logical arguments they support. Over the course of the term, we will complete a series of design exercises culminating in a final, site-specific data visualization project for the Georgia Tech Library’s media bridge. The media bridge is a large-scale, exterior, high-resolution screen recently constructed on the central campus. In the process, we will learn about how data can shape the way we feel about important local issues. We will work closely with data-savvy librarians and make use of data sources with direct relevance for our campus community.
Spring 2021 | LMC 8803-YL: Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Studio
Can design help more people productively engage with scientific and technological controversies? Science, Technology, and Society (STS) is an interdisciplinary field that examines such controversies (i.e. smart cities, artificial intelligence, health informatics, and climate change) as well as their entanglements with everyday places and practices. The sensibilities and methodologies of STS, such as actor-network theory, situated knowledges, and sociotechnical imaginaries, will be our starting points for thinking differently about design and for designing different things. The course will be part seminar and part studio. In the early weeks of the term, students will learn about historical and contemporary engagements between STS and design. In later weeks, students will draw upon these precedents to design new experimental concepts and prototypes. This course counts towards the STS Certificate. No prior experience with STS or design is required. Please send any questions to the instructor at email@example.com
Spring 2021 & Fall 2020 | LMC 3705: Principles of Information Design
In a data-driven society, what does it mean to design effective representations of information? Today, doing information design often means making data accessible and interpretable to different audiences. Designers cannot assume the transparency of data. Instead, they should approach unfamiliar data sets with an awareness that data are created by humans and their dutiful machines, at a time, in a place, with the instruments at hand, for audiences that are conditioned to receive them. All data are local. Although the term “data set” implies something discrete, complete, and portable, it is none of those things. In this course, you will learn how to engage data settings rather than simply data sets. Through a combination of design and inquiry into the knowledge systems behind data, you will practice presenting data both effectively and ethically.
Fall 2020 | LMC 6399: Discovery & Invention
What does “good design” mean for digital artifacts? In order to answer this question in a rigorous way, you will need to adopt some sort of design research method. Such methods, which are the subject of this course, are innumerable. But they might be broadly characterized by the terms discovery and invention. Design research can mean collecting evidence about the process of design through interviews. It can mean evaluating the use of design artifacts using direct observation. It can also mean using design as a mechanism for learning about your own life experiences or those of others. Throughout the term, you will read about design research methods particularly suited to digital media and test them out for yourself. We will begin with a brief introduction to design, then explore methods with fundamentally different assumptions: scientific, interpretive, reflexive, critical, and speculative, to name a few. Finally, we will wrap up with a discussion of social justice in design research. There will be a number of assignments, which will be graded using a contract-system (see below). Each of you will lead us in the discussion of one reading sometime during the course of the term. Small-scale design research projects will give you an opportunity to apply what you learn from those readings. Finally, the findings from your own research projects will provide the basis for a final research report in which you answer the question posed above: what does “good design” mean? This course has no prerequisites, but is required for Master’s and PhD students in Digital Media.
Fall 2018 | LMC 6650: Project Studio (Atlanta Map Room)
This course seeks to engage graduate students (and advanced undergraduates) from across Georgia Tech in exploring what Atlanta looks like through civic data. Today, data on the city are increasingly available. Micro and macro changes in the makeup of local neighborhoods can be tracked through demolition/construction permits, tax records, and community surveys, among other sources; all of which might be easily downloaded by anyone with an internet connection. But data can be available, without necessarily being accessible or actionable. In this course, students will examine how data can be made interpretable by creating their own community-based, data-driven, mapping projects designed to open dialogue about ongoing changes in the life of the city.
In order to create these maps, students will make use of the evolving infrastructure of the Atlanta Map Room, visible from the window of TSRB 209. (An explanatory video is available here: https://youtu.be/9EkI9Oav49c). The Atlanta Map Room is a space for creating interpretive maps of the city, from a combination of contemporary data, historical documents, and personal experiences. These maps are large-scale physical artifacts (up to 16 feet long!), collaboratively-made, and meant for exhibition. The Atlanta Map Room builds upon the recent success of the St. Louis Map Room (http://www.cocastl.org/stlmaproom), a project lead by course collaborator and digital artist Jer Thorp in conjunction with the Center of Creative Arts. Students in the course will contribute to the development of a unique map room for Atlanta, meant to explore invisible tensions in the city, between its rapid development as a commercial hub and its long history as a center for civil rights and culture in the Southeast.
LMC 6650 will combine aspects of a seminar and a studio. Early in the term, students will read about and discuss theories and practices from data studies and data visualization. Thereafter, they will develop their own extensions to the existing Atlanta Map Room (i.e. new data layers, automated drawing instruments, or augmented realities) in order to create a forum for collective reflection on the city of Atlanta. The course is meant to equip students with the skills and resources necessary to think critically about cities through their data.
No prerequisites. Contact the professor for a permit to register.
Fall 2018 | LMC 2700: Introduction to Computational Media
Spring 2018 | LMC 6311: Visual Culture and Design
Visual representations are among our oldest “things to think with.” Structured by their own evolving rules and conventions, images (like languages) offer us important ways of describing and defining the world around us. Whether they are handmade, mechanical, or digital in origin (or some combination thereof), images have the power to shape and reshape our conceptions of objects, spaces, events, streetscapes, landscapes, and even cities. In our contemporary society, visual representations are only proliferating in their forms and their reach. Today we are surrounded by technologized surfaces that present representations for politics, science, entertainment, or advertising; each works within complex systems of meaning that transcend simple characterizations as formal, material, social, or ideological. In this course, students will learn to both create and critique visual representations in digital (and some non-digital) media: drawings, models, infographics, animations, videos and visualizations. Moreover, they will learn to harness these techniques to express ideas at multiple scales, culminating in representations at the level of urban infrastructure. Through a series of hands-on assignments, paired with readings and discussions, students will develop aesthetic sensibilities, technical skills, and critical perspectives on visual representations and the various roles they play within society. At the end of the term, students will synthesize all their accumulated skills in a participatory mapping exercise, focused on the Atlanta Beltline: one of the largest, ongoing infrastructure projects in the city.
Spring 2018 | LMC 3308: Environmentalism & Ecocriticism
How do contemporary media, such as literature, film, computation and architecture, shape popular conceptions of the environment, challenge these conceptions, or propose radical alternatives? In this class, students will collect and analyze examples of expressive work about nature, wildlife, wilderness, ecology and the Earth. Although a broad range of creative practices will be discussed, the class will focus on the relationship between media and environment in the current American context. We will make use of readings from media theory and the environmental humanities to motivate a series of collecting projects, discussions and short essays. The course will culminate in a final exhibition project, in which students will be asked to curate and creatively present a selection of the environmental media projects collected throughout the term.
Fall 2017 | LMC 6312: Technology, Representation and Design
This course seeks to engage graduate students from across Georgia Tech in exploring what Atlanta looks like through public data. Today, data on the city of Atlanta are increasingly available. Micro and macro changes in the makeup of local neighborhoods can be tracked through demolition and construction permits, tax records, and community surveys, among other sources; all of which might be easily downloaded by anyone with an internet connection. But data can be available, without necessarily being accessible. In this course, students will examine how data can be made accessible and interpretable through publically-oriented data installations designed to open dialogue about ongoing changes in the life of the city. The focus and the site for our installations will be the Atlanta Beltline: one of the most visible ongoing works of infrastructure in Atlanta. The project is currently under construction along a loop of disused railroad tracks that circumvent the city, stitching together some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods and bringing with it new facilities for recreation, transportation, and housing greatly needed by a growing Intown population. But we don’t yet know how the Beltline is transforming communities along its path. The course will investigate how, through a series of hybrid physical and virtual “walks” through data, we might foster public discussion about this question. LMC 6312 will combine aspects of a seminar and a studio. Early in the term, students will read about and discuss theories and practices from data studies and data visualization. Thereafter, students will develop their own data installation projects (i.e. sidewalk drawings, projections, audio, or augmented reality) in order to create a movable forum for public reflection on the Beltline. The course is meant to equip students with the skills and resources necessary to think critically about cities through their data.