Digital Media I

How do we define the “ambiance” of a place? What causes specific environments to evoke different feelings? Are there consistent elements that define these ambiances, and is it possible to capture the qualities and characteristics?

This class will explore these questions by observing, quantifying, and attempting to measure different aspects of site-specific environments at Harvard. Students will explore and define different measurable and quantifiable strategies of capturing the unseen elements that define the feel of these different spaces.

Class discussions and projects will utilize the tension created by our natural inclination to detect and react to different ambiances, even though the environment’s characteristics may be difficult to deconstruct, analyze, and pinpoint. The class will look at current and historical examples and theories of psycho-geographical effects that can be tested, revealed, or measured with new technologies, and will work to quantify the different elements that contribute to the ambiance of these spaces. The class will learn the various ways of measuring and understanding these qualities through spatial sensing, mapping, creating and prototyping.

The final project will involve the creation of site-specific installations, either individually or in groups, that reveal, augment, or represent the specific elements.

Class workshops will cover the following tools and skills based on project and individual group needs: Arduino (including input, output, making motions, and using devices to connect to the web), basic electronics, Ohm’s Law, potentiometers, capacitor charging, using a multimeter, Shopbot, scanning, printing, 3D toolpaths, using an oscilloscope, Solder, making simple boards, sending data to a computer for processing and display, wireless devices, Rx/Tx chip, Bluetooth.

No prerequisites are required.