209: Course Syllabus

Course Summary

The course emphasizes a merging of creative processes in engineering with creative processes in the arts by combining artistry and systematic thinking in the context of design and composition. You will learn, analyze and create as engineer-artists and artist-engineers. The course is organized around “transformations”:  you will design transformations that create structure from sound, visuals from movement, sound from visuals, etc. The first half of the course comprises guided explorations within and across Visuals, Sound, Structure, and Movement, and will also serve as an introduction to the programming language p5.js.  The second half of the course focuses on open-ended design projects exploring the theme of transformations, culminating in a final design project. Students will be introduced to a variety of rapid prototyping, design, theatrical and performance tools including 3D printing, laser cutting, motion capture, theatrical lighting, and more.

Course Logistics

  • Class time: Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30pm – 4:20pm
  • Location: CST StudioLab, Fine Hall Level B

Grading: Homework and in-class assignments/participation 20%, module design projects 40% (10% each module), final design projects 40%.

Policies: Bring a laptop to each class. Wear comfortable clothing for the Movement module. Instructions for use of machines and tools need to be followed carefully. Everyone is responsible for cleaning up after working in the StudioLab.

Teaching Team

Instructors: Sigrid Adriaenssens (CEE), Aatish Bhatia (CST), Adam Finkelstein (COS), Naomi Leonard (MAE), Jeffrey Snyder (MUS)

Guest Faculty: Jane Cox (THR), Jeff Whetstone (VIS), A. M. Homes (CWR), Aynsley Vandenbroucke (DAN), Rebecca Lazier (DAN), Dan Trueman (MUS)

Sample reading/viewing list:

  • Daniel Shiffman, Learning Processing
  • Douglas Repetto, Doing It Wrong and Subtleties of the Sonic
  • Janet Echelman, She Changes (Installation, Porto, Portugal)
  • William Forsythe, Synchronous Objects and One Flat Thing, reproduced

Learning Goals


  • Get to know students & teachers in this course
  • Learn how computers represent colors and images
  • Learn how to make interactive web visuals with P5.JS
  • Experiment with color
  • Begin to define and create ‘generative art’
  • Work collaboratively and help others achieve these goals
  • Gain an appreciation for the history and development of art


  • Learn about the physics of sound
  • Learn simple synthesis and sampling techniques
  • Program sound in p5
  • Send messages between programs with p5 and OSC
  • Develop strategies to transform different media into sound
  • Work collaboratively and help others achieve these learning goals
  • Recognize / critique aesthetics in sound-related art


  • Discover the relationship between force and form in hanging structures
  • Generate hanging 2D and 3D forms using physical and numerical form finding methods (particle-spring systems)
  • Work collaboratively and help others achieve these learning goal
  • Recognize / critique aesthetics in structures-related art


  • Explore features of individual and collective movement
  • Learn about the central role of feedback in movement
  • Discover how feedback and interaction parameters affect dynamics
  • Get introduced to motion capture and wheeled robots
  • Work on the design of a kinetic sculpture that uses sensing and feedback
  • Work collaboratively and help others achieve these learning goals
  • Recognize/critique aesthetics in movement-related art