Locations: Hopkins Hall Rm. HC156
Robotic / game / bio arts lab: Room 160
Fabrication Facility: 3D lab room 175

Professor: Ken Rinaldo
152 Hopkins Hall

Office: TBA (Office hours by appointment only)

Robotics/Bio Arts/Gaming lab Hopkins 160

Graduate TA Staff 160 Lab
Axel Cuevas / Rose Stark

Office: Hopkins Hall rm. 160 (office hours by appointment only)

Course description:

Approaches to new media; electronic and digital control of objects, projections, and sound in interactive installations, performances, and exhibitions.

Course objectives:

This studio course will cover a range of conceptual and hands-on approaches to making artworks with microprocessor board-level electronics, programming languages, motors, and sensors.

This course explores art at the intersections of electronic and software control utilizing the  Arduino microcontroller. Hands-on demonstrations, tutorials, lectures, art presentations, discussions of readings will culminate with the production of a final project. An additional platform we may explore this semester is  Max/MSP/Jitter and the physical world, through the analog & digital sensors. Algorithmic approaches to connect video & sound to sensors and alternative display methodologies will also be explored.

Lectures, video, DVDs and web sources will augment the technical issues of how to develop and think about interactive art and environments. The focus will be on developing an aesthetic that is appropriate to the use of microcontroller based artworks.

Parts suppliers and sources, fundamental mechanics, gearing systems, mechanical transmissions, universal joints, pull string mechanics, cams, electronic prototyping, cyanoacrylate, and balsa wood prototyping and the necessary tools to do electronic measurements like the multimeter will be covered. Machines and devices will be dissected in order to discover their logic and utilize their mechanisms to create larger integrated works.

For those familiar with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, there is an option to utilize the Laser Cutter in our Arts and Design Research labs. Students familiar with 3D modeling and rapid prototyping can utilize the 3D software to design and print their works using the Fab Lab 3D Facility on the Type A 3D printers.

Learning outcomes:

Students conceptualize and build an interactive artwork in a project-based learning environment
Understand component level electronics
Read electronic schematics
learn Arduino IDE programming languages
Conceptualize, design and propose a project for production
Explore materiality and construction techniques in pursuing their projects
learn to breadboard circuits, test and transfer to circuit boards
Learn MAX MSP and Jitter and relation to Arduino (optional)
Question and implement interface ideas in new forms of interactive artwork and invention
Test their artworks in the field in final exhibition at end of semester
learn to blog, post and write about their work for in-class-critiques


Interactive Electronics for Artists and Inventors by Ken Rinaldo

Readings will also be available through this website.

Required microprocessor, parts and materials will be provided second & or third days of class

Other materials for the production of your final project will be necessary and must be purchased by each student.

Other required equipment:
Headphones (you supply, Bring to class please)

A suggested purchase is an inexpensive MAX License that can be $9.99 per month or $59.for the full year or
One year license of MAX

Soldering irons are available for soldering though I can recommend a good one for those wishing to continue to invent and build.

IMPORTANT ***** Each and every class you should bring all materials to class including your multimeter.******

Your design and parts notebook with all data sheets should also be brought to each class and you should be prepared to share your blog at anytime to discuss your progress and design as it evolves.

As part of your class fee you will receive:

Arduino UNO and programming cable
Jumper Wires
A digital multimeter
Electronic Parts

Materials for individual final projects

This class includes the requirement to produce a work of art for the final Art & Technology exhibition. The final project must demonstrate input and programmed output to some device, electronic or mechanical, that unifies the control system, your custom program, and some art object or installation.

You can work alone or in a group of no more than three people. If the project is a group effort the scale of the project must reflect this extra available. Final projects will be completed both during class time and after class.

You will begin your final project by conceptualizing and making quick rough sketches of 4 ideas and then creating more detailed sketches. Once an idea is decided upon in consultation with the professor the student will undergo the process of designing more reified versions in the process of getting ready to build the project. I would recommend using Illustrator, Photoshop, or Cinema 4D to model your project and to work out details. Keep a sketchbook of your ideas available for our mutual viewing in every class as well as blog addresses handy.

For the final project, decide if you want a temporary or permanent piece, a continuous or intermittent piece, an autonomous or operator activated piece, or an installation. Would you like a gallery to be able to construct the work (plug and play) or will you have to travel to construct the work each time?

The success of your artwork or invention will rest on these factors, so consider:

Your available time
Cost & availability of materials
The people necessary to realize project and their availability
The learning curves necessary to learn the new material
Availability of tools for the project

In the process of designing and conceptualizing your work, you will be presenting your ideas to the class as an approval/brainstorming committee that will make suggestions as to possible problems and solutions and the aesthetic merits of the work.

KISS principle (keep it simple and stupid) Use existing systems, rather than reinventing a mechanism.


An “A” in this course will require that your assignments far exceed the minimum expectations for both quality, and concept delivered in a timely fashion. A deep understanding of the ideas and processes presented and a clear innovative incorporation of the material into your developed aesthetic. Your contribution to class discussions as well as your contribution to class critiques is vital for an A.

Class critiques will occur during the discussion brainstorming of the project and 2 days before the final show are mandatory.

To receive a letter grade of “C” you must complete assignments, maintain regular attendance, participate in class discussions, and in class critiques. You must further show a comprehension of the technical elements of the hardware and software you are studying and demonstrate a minimum of creative exploration to realize your idea and communicate your aesthetic to the class.


Final project, end of quarter exhibition, and class assignments: 40%
Drawings and designs: 20%
Class discussions and critiques: 20%
Attendance: 20%

Grading scale:

A 94-100, A 90-9, B+ 88-89, B 83-87, B 83-8, B- 80-82, C+ 78-79, C 73-77, C-71-72, D+69-70, D 64-68, E 0-63


We only have 14 weeks, so it is important that you do not miss any classes. Regular attendance is required. Students are expected to come to class on time, ready to work with all necessary supplies and materials. Three unexcused absences will lower your final grade one full letter grade for each additional day missed. Excused absences are *only* for one of the explicit reasons listed here: family emergencies established religious holidays and illnesses with a doctor’s note indicating that the student needed to stay home on that particular class day. I call all doctors offices to confirm the illness.

Do not ask the instructor if it is alright to miss a class for any other reasons beyond these three. For excused absences, you will be expected to make up class time. If you miss a class for any reason rely on your classmates to fill you in. Missed classes do not excuse you from having your work on the following classes prepared and ready to go.

Additional notes:

Each week you should be prepared to discuss in class the assigned readings and projects. You will be keeping and creating both an in class reference notebook of your project design as well as keeping an out of the class blog of your project.

Once we have covered the more basic technical considerations of the hardware and software environment and the electronic interface, you will contract with the professor and your classmates, for a final project. You can treat me as client/curator supporting your progress to meet the deadline of the exhibition.

Design of your project will begin immediately and initial designs and organization will happen from day one with pencil sketches/3D models of your project due this coming Tuesday of week 2. I would like 4 quick rough sketches of ideas you would like to produce.

Once the project is determined the final project must demonstrate working knowledge of either the Arduino IDE and or the Max/MSP/Jitter programming environment through an original software application of your design as well as using the Arduino if necessary. You can, if you like also run the Arduino as a stand alone device without MAX/MSP and Jitter if it makes sense to your project.

The lab will be open to students in this course after the 2nd week and during TA monitored hours.

End of semester exhibition:

Trans-species Skins is a themed art exhibition exploring skin as a metaphor and substance that transcends species categories. Skin is the multilayered and multipurpose organ that shifts from thick to thin, tight to loose, wet to dry, across the landscapes of bodies and machine interfaces. Natural and artificial skin responds to heat, cold, pleasure and pain. It lacks boundaries and flows seamlessly from exposed surfaces to our internal cavities real and virtual. It is a self-repairing, semi-permeable surface, with inner layers that are flush with nerves and glands, sensors and chips. New tools allow artists, designers, and engineers to look at a new emerging organicism that takes shape across the surface of the grown and manufactured. Skins can modulate meaning, touch, function and can provide feedback and change with light and heat. Flexible membranes embedded with sensors and materials are bent, impregnated, or inflated to become structure. Re-skinning allows deceit; the non-living can approximate life, and the living can appear otherwise.

 *The writing was inspired and paraphrased from Skin, by Ellen Lupton and SK-Interfaces Exploring Borders – Creating Membranes in Art, Technology, and Society by Jens Hauser.

Art & Tech show and Art open house date is Dec 6th, so opening on this date would be ideal. We will setup on Dec 5th and 6th and break down on Dec 8th.

National Ranking NEWS

For more information:

For the final exhibition of your work, the work must be professionally presented – framed, performed and/or put on a pedestal. No exceptions.

For any other installation needs, please check with the professor at least two weeks before the end of the semester exhibition.

You will be responsible for bringing what you will need for the installation of your work including extension cords, gaffers tape, and special hardware. There are some pedestals available but you should think about this in advance.

Student Help Desk:

If you have any general or specific questions about the policies of the Dept. of Art, please email and your question will be answered.

Academic Misconduct:

It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term academic misconduct includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct (

Disability policy:

Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office of Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs. The Office of Disability Services is located in 150 Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Avenue; telephone 292-3307, TDD 292-0901;