Workshop 5: Sensor circuits, controlling inputs and outputs

In week 5’s workshop, we return to the lab to experiment with micro-controllers, circuits, and sensors. In this workshop you will be presented with a number of common sensor circuits to explore as well as the Arduino Interface Development Environment (IDE) for creating new circuits.

There will be a programming refresher/ programming basics that will introduce you to the use of Arduino with the view that you may incorporate this into your subject’s major project.


  • Document all experiments using photographs/ videos and texts on process blog.
  • Research on use of sensors in media art works (physical computing works) or in everyday situations.
  • Review materials to prepare/ bring to next workshop.
  • Complete Research essay.

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Lecture 5: Sensing Presence

This lecture explores how the concepts of presence and mediation have been manifested through interactive media technologies. We examine the parameters of interaction by revisiting the debates around the 1990s when accessible computer technologies presented novel ways of creating interactive experiences and media artworks.

From this basis, we will look at how micro-controller and consumer microelectronics provide the platform for developing what is some times known as “physical computing” –  acknowledging the limitation of computer/ screen-based interaction with non-tangible materials. We will explore practices of Scott Snibbe, Camille Utterback and  Daniel Rozin and how their works may have led to more sophisticated computerised interactions as well as how experiences of everyday encounter can be made complex in the works of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

Week 4: Excursion to the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

Lindsay Kelley’s Ballistic Bundts (detailed)

In week 4, we will go on an excursion to the Powerhouse Museum (Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) to visit three exhibitions:
Human non human
Spinning World
Common Good

We are collecting an entry fee of $6 in week 3’s class and this entry fee will allow you to visit all the exhibitions and spaces in the museum (apart from the ticketed exhibit Reigning Men).

On Tuesday 14 August, we will meet at the front of the Museum – Harris Street entrance at 11am. Direction to the museum is as follows:

The Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris Street, Ultimo

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Workshop 3: Hand-made electronics, making speakers, and audio circuits; measuring Arduino inputs

copyright Michael Myers 2009

Joyce Hinterding, Aura, 2009

In week 3’s workshop, we will get deeper into exploring the materiality of sound by creating audio speakers using some simple materials. The material exploration requiring in producing a simple device provides a direct connection to the audio medium (the mediation the physicality of sound waves). It opens up possibility of engaging with sound as a sense and as a medium. This also offers an opportunity to question the divide between digital and analogue media.


  1. Research on media art works discussed in class.
  2. Document all experiments using photographs/ videos and texts on process blog.
  3. Prepare for excursion by researching on the exhibitions and reviewing the worksheet (available in week 4’s post).

Research Analysis:

Luigi Russolo’s Intonarumori has been reproduced in different artworks and performances in contemporary times.

  • What is the original work about?
  • What was Russolo’s intention?
  • What does the medium of sound convey in the original Intonarumori?
  • Why do you think these instruments continue to fascinate musician and artists in contemporary times?
  • Has any of the “re-enactment” or “recreation” added further dimension to Russolo’s works?
  • If so, what are they?

Contemporary works:

Katie Paterson’s Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull, 2007

Joyce Hinterding, Aura, 2009

Pia Van Gelder, Machine/ Animal/ Vegetable, 2012


  1. What kind of materials and components are used to create the work?
  2. How do these different materials function together to create sounds? For example, do the physical materials function as an analogue of sound waves?
  3. If electronics are used, how do these function with physical objects to create sounds? What ideas are being explored in the work? How do electronic components contribute to this exploration?
  4. How may an audience interact with the work? What is the audience’s experience?
  5. What are the meanings derived from the use of this materials e.g. ice, graphite, vegetables?


Exercise 1: Making speakers

Create a speaker following instructions here:

  • Materials have been prepared for you so that you would not need to use a lighter and hot glue gun.Document your process and results.
  • Make notes on what other materials you may be able to use for a design. For example, what can be used instead of a plastic bottle? Are there other materials that can also amplify?
  • Try using a different materials such as paper, cards, or the table to amplify sound.

Exercise 2: Audio circuits

Plug the speaker you created into an audio–sensor circuit provided.

Explore this circuit and work out:

What is the trigger of the sensor?

How does change in movement or light level change the sound?


Exercise 3: Measuring Arduino inputs

If there is time, using the Arduino in the circuit you have, explore following these tutorial exercises:

Read Analog Voltage

Analog In, Out Serial

Lecture 3: Exploring the Materiality of Sound 

In our third lecture, we move our focus to sound. What is the materiality of sound? How do we describe the different kinds of sound we hear or sense? We begin by revisiting sound’s place in media arts history from the early modernists to the New York avant-garde. The advent of electronic means of producing sound and music can be traced through musique concrete, the compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen, to the works of Nam June Paik. This lecture highlights the turning points that consolidate sound as an expressive medium.

We will also examine the contemporary practices of Joyce Hinterding in her exploration of capturing the inaudible sound around us, and Peter Flemming in his experimentation with material resonance. Both Nigel Helyer’s and Katie Paterson’s works tell stories of environments through sounds of materials. We will explore the materiality of sound through this exploration.

Download MEDA202_lecture03_slides_upload

Workshop 2: Touch – Conductive and Capacitive Circuits

In response to the works and themes discussed in the second lecture, we will focus on how the sense of touch can employed in interactive works. You will explore the use of graphite and graphite paint as simple conductive materials and their capacity as material to provide connection and activation. You will be experimenting these materials in electronic circuits and these exercises will lead discussion on how different human senses can contribute to our experience of the outside world to create meanings. 
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Lecture 2: Aesthetics, Affect, and Material Presence

What constitutes experience? How does our sensory perception translate the physicality of the outside world into information that we can make sense of?

In “‘Landscapism’ At the Speed of Light Darkness and Illumination in Motion”, Tim Edensor and Hayden Lorimer explore the embodied experience of darkness and illumination within landscapes. In analysing media art works that situate outside of gallery space, the authors locate “the ways in which this landscape-responsive event can sharpen the thinking about embodied experience of nocturnal landscapes and atmospheres.”

In multi-sensory artworks, artists and participants must negotiate amongst other material aspects, different types of sensory inputs. By denying the often dominant visual sense, artworks have the power to re-assert other senses and sensations.

In this lecture, we explore the established practices of James Turrell and Maya Lin in how they employ a multitude of senses to creative affective experiences. We will also examine the contemporary works of Scenocosme and Foo/Skou in how the use of electronic media is incorporated into art and design works with the aim to producing meaningful interactive experiences.

Download MEDA202_lecture02_slides.

Art after Dark

Paul Jones (photojournalist and Videographer with the Strategic Marketing and Communications at UOW) is organising Art after Dark in conjunction with UOW art week and Uni Centre. Paul would like show case art works from UOW creative art students.

Paul says

This exhibition will take place at the Uni Bar and surrounding buildings on Wednesday 15 August. The Uni Centre has hired some pretty kick arse projectors for the night. With a total of six projections taking place around and inside the Uni Bar.

If you would like to see their art works projected bigger than big, please contact Paul.

Lecture 1: Devices of Wonder – Interactive Media Arts

MEDA202 Tangible Media uses the embedded framework of media arts history to explore human use of technologies, particularly how artists investigate, understand, and to engage with the world around us through evolving media technologies.

This first lecture introduces the general themes explored in the subject. We look at the how we may approach the aesthetics of interaction by examining technologies as “devices of wonder” that function as a creative tool and medium in the context of art. We explore the fascination humans have with machines and  investigate wonderment and curiosity as a key to audience engagement and experience. We ask: what do these technological objects do? Why are they full of wonder? How do they continue to capture our attention and imagination? 

We begin by surveying some of these technologies and their social and cultural contexts. We then look at more recent artworks that re-interpret these objects in a contemporary context.

Download MEDA202_lecture01_slides

Some of you who are interested in investigating these forms further may be interested in this lecture (show and tell) by Toshio Iwai:

Workshop 1: Vision machines and mechanics

In response to the works and themes explored in the first lecture, we will be building vision machines in the first workshop. You will explore the simple mechanics of two optical devices: zoetrope and phenakitscope. You will research the history of these devices, the optical mechanisms by which they operate as well as contemporary works that extend these forms. You will also creating a short animation using motorised devices. These exercises will lead discussion on how we may interact with technological devices, and importantly, what produces meaningful interactions?
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