New Directions in Computing: Arts and Computing in NYC (Fall 2021)

The Arts and Computing in NYC course will be an intro level survey course for non Computer Science majors to gain an appreciation for the cutting edge of the intersection between Computer Science (CS) and the arts. Students will take away from the class an understanding of where the future lies for the use of technology in a wide array for arts endeavors. Students will get hands-on experience with the technologies used in various arts fields, such as computer music, digital embroidery, and architectural preservation. The fundamentals of CS will be covered on an as-needed basis to allow students to fully appreciate the tools they will use.

This is a joint institution course. We will meet both on campus at Barnard College and on campus at Fashion Institute of Technology. Students will need to travel to the respective campuses to attend lectures. Below is a list of class locations throughout the semester

Many classes will feature guest lectures. Such classes are indicated below. When a guest lecturer is not indicated, the course will be co-taught be Prof. Mark Santolucito of Barnard College and Prof. Maria Hwang of FIT. Both Prof. Mark Santolucito and Prof. Maria Hwang will co-teach along with all guest lecturers for all course meetings.

Please find the syllabus here.

Sept 2 (No class)

Sept 9

We will start the class with a science experiment where we will begin growing leather by harnessing extracellular biosynthesis of microbial nanocellulose. We will eventually revisit our leather after it has grown throughout the semester with a lecture by Theanne Schiros.

We will then introduce the outline of the course and discuss our current

Sept 16

We will discuss how to analyze demand and time series data in a business setting to understand forecasting. We will show how non-repeating components like promotions and weather affect the ability to forecast accurately. We will cover the effect of lost sales on forecasting demand and introduce some forecasting techniques and show how to describe how accurate forecasts are. We will cover seasonality and demonstrate how data with seasonality is described by seasonal indices and the analysis of a baseline.

Sept 23

We will introduce basic programming skill in P5.js that will allow you to create your own digital visual art. Even if you have no background in programming, we will get you started. We will focus not just on the basic programming constructs (e.g. variables, loops, functions), but also on practical skills of how to modify existing example code to take a template and make it your own.

Sept 30

We will be using TurtleStitch, a fork of Scratch, to create digital embroidery patterns. TurtleStitch is a free software tool that allows you to create stitching patterns that can be rendered using a digital embroidery machine (and we will have access to two of them tomorrow during our class). It is easy to use, requiring no prior knowledge in programming, yet powerful enough to create novel patterns for embroidery. It is useful for designers to experiment with generative aesthetics and precision embroidery. If you would like you can bring your own fabric, you are welcome to do so. It is preferred to have natural fiber (cotton or linen) with medium weight (e.g., ranging from shirt/sheet weight to Chino/light denim quality). The size that would work ideally with our embroidery machines are 9” x 9” minimum, but anything larger can be cut to fit. If you do not have your own fabric, do not worry, we have some as well you can use. We will also bring flat, cotton masks for everybody that we can experiment with and see if we can embroider on those.

Oct 7

We will visit the Movement Lab, the space where we will eventually have our gallery show. After visiting the space, we will introduce the final project along with the groups for the final project. We will have time to brainstorm and work in groups to come up with initial directions of exploration for your project.

Oct 14

“Babyface” is an interactive machine-augmented solo responding to feminized tropes around innocence, servitude, cuteness, and spectacle. The “cyborg” performer is outfitted with a pair of robotic angel wings that simultaneously create an effect of grandeur and awe, and a rigid, limiting characterization that becomes eerily burdensome over the course of the performance. This tension between aspiration and limitation fuels this work, and directly parallels the ways that women and machines are talked about, treated, and — in the case of machines — designed to look and behave. The piece uses pressure sensors and wireless communication to enact motion on a large, wall-mounted robotic display, allowing the performer to control her environment and take on hyperbolic proportions.

This lecture is a two-part series. On Oct. 14 students will program their own designs for how pressure sensors should be used to trigger elements of the robot. Students will play with construction materials for attaching sensors to the body, edit the interaction between these sensors and the movement of plastic shards (that form abstract angel wings), explore the physicality of how these attachments influence their movement and its presentation to others, and iterate through their own embodied experiences. On Nov. 11 students will view a performance of Babyface, experience the interactive installation (fully installed in the Barnard Movement Lab), discuss both the completed work and the process of constructing it, and engage in a series of embodied exercises in the space that create different choreographic effects in the bespoke space.

Oct 21

Seth Cluett from the Computer Music Center at Columbia University, which dates back to the 1950s and is the oldest center for electronic and computer music research in the United States, will give a presentation on Computer Music. In Seth’s session, Max/MSP/Jitter will be introduced and used. It is a visual programming language for music and multimedia, used by composers, performers, software designers, researchers, and artists to create recordings, performances, and installations. Keep in mind that unlike other software applications we have introduced so far Max is not free, but you will be able to use the free trial for 30 days.

Oct 28

We will have Saima Akhtar, Associate Director for the Vagelos Computational Science Center at Barnard College, lead our session. Saima is a computational social scientist with a background in architecture and software engineering. Prior to joining Barnard, Saima was a postdoctoral associate in the Yale University Department of Computer Science, where she managed digital cultural heritage preservation projects between the fields of computer science and architecture.

This workshop gives an overview of how computational methods have been used to “preserve” material culture, including buildings, sculptures, and art objects. We discuss the pros and cons of using digital methods for the purposes of preservation and think about how technology impacts the way we remember historical events through the preservation of objects, both physically and virtually. The second half of the workshop features a hands-on demonstration of 3D scanning. Remember to bring a small object (smaller than a toaster) that is not shiny for this 3D scanning activity.

Nov 4

For the first half of this session, Mark Santolucito will give a presentation on NFTs, a new form of dissemination and ownership of digital media. We will cover the basics of the technology behind NFTs, and understand the cultural history currently forming around NFTs. We will discuss ethical issues related to art, ownership, and the digital domain.

In the second half of the session, Muhammed (Mo) Shahadat, Coordinator of PrintFX and the Fablab at FIT, will give an introduction to 3D printing and other modern fabrication techniques. These technologies could be used in the production of your final project.

Nov 11

This lecture is the second part of a two-part series. Students will view a performance of Babyface, experience the interactive installation (fully installed in the Barnard Movement Lab), discuss both the completed work and the process of constructing it, and engage in a series of embodied exercises in the space that create different choreographic effects in the bespoke space.

Nov 18

This session will be led by Deborah Berhanu, Associate Professor of Material Science at FIT. Deborah is a materials chemist, who specializes in the chemistry of nanomaterials. Currently investing the use of nanotechnology in fashion, to help reduce ecological footprint of the industry and promote circularity. Deborah holds a PhD in Chemistry from The University of Manchester (UK), and did her postdoctoral research at the Natural History Museum and Imperial College London. She then worked as an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of the CUNY Research Scholars Program at Kingsborough Community College.

The workshop will focus on the intertwined essences of arts and science, using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to image the micrometric scale and automated AI coloring. Artists and scientists have worked together to observe and interpret the natural world throughout history, depicting and replicating their surrounding being at the foundation of both disciplines. Using new technologies, we will discover the micrometric scale in grayscale, and use AI to color our images. This experience pushes us to discuss the role of interpretation and importance of informed decision making.

Nov 25 (No Class, Thanksgiving)

Dec 2

Dec 9

Today, the global textile presents serious ecological and human health impacts and undermines actualization of global climate goals. There is a pressing need for new fabrication strategies to design functional materials that can facilitate a transition to a regenerative, circular economy, in which waste and emissions are minimized by reducing and closing energy and material cycles. Inspired by the potential for cultural heritage and indigenous science rooted in ecological stewardship to inform and diversify sustainable materials innovation, we harness extracellular biosynthesis of microbial nanocellulose (MC) and adapt ancient tanning techniques to create a high performance bioleather with a circular life cycle. Despite all that is known of historic leathers, there is currently no scientific method to identify emulsion tanned leathers. In collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the suite of techniques developed in this work are combined with proteomics and DNA analysis to identify the origin and processing techniques of a painting on leather.

Dec 16