Electronics for Artists

The course introduces the use of electronics and physical computing as a creative medium in the field of new media art. It covers some basic electronic concepts and theory, various analog circuits, prototyping your own circuits, microcontroller programming, and the basics of PCB design.

A critical insight into maker culture and the environmental impact of the electronics industry is introduced through readings, discussions, and examples.

This is not an engineering course. The course focuses on creative use of electronics and hardware hacking, not on the theory and the most efficient circuit design. The course will also go through some essential tips for safety, use of various tools, best practices, and how to take care of the equipment and facilities.

Schedule 2020

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this course will be split into two groups and I need to unfortunately cut quite a lot of the content away from the course.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

  • Wed, 25/11/2020 | Group A | Communication
  • Thu, 26/11/2020 | Group B | Communication

Week Six

  • Wed, 02/12/2020 | Group A | Project Work & Tutoring
  • Thu, 03/12/2020 | Group B | Project Work & Tutoring

Workshop Week

Since I had to split the group into two, you are missing half the contact teaching hours that has been reserved for this course. Therefore, you will need to spend more time outside the classroom. I highly recommend not attending any courses during the workshop week in December but rather use that time to complete the final project for this course that you need to present during the Demo Day.

You can sign up to the course Open Workshop for the workshop week. The aim of that course is to work for a week on any project of your choosing with common meetings in the mornings. I will be available for tutoring and this is an excellent way to complete your final project for this class.

If you are going to take some other workshop during the workshop week, make sure you have enough time in your schedule to spend on working on your project outside the class during Period 2.

Demo Day 16/12/2020

Finish your final project for the Demo Day and present it as your individual project or as part of our group documentation for the course.

Prior Knowledge

Prior knowledge of electronics is not required, but it is recommended that you have some basic knowledge of programming.

You need to have completed Introduction to Creative Coding or some other basic programming course before taking this course.

General Course Guidelines

  • This course focuses on projects based on stand-alone electronic projects (analog circuits and Arduino-based works).
  • Try to focus on the electronics, Arduino programming, and physical computing side on your final project. Try to avoid working on a project that requires a computer to run. (Media Lab has many other courses that combine Pure Data, Processing, or other applications to your electronics projects. Let’s try to do something different here.)
  • Although we do one very simple oscillator + audio amplifier project, this is not a synthesizer/noise making box workshop. You can work on something like that as your final project, but we are generally looking at things in a bit wider perspective. (Again, there is another course that focuses on experimental instruments)
  • USING HIGH VOLTAGE AND/OR MAINS ELECTRICITY (230V AC in FInland) IS NOT ALLOWED. This is purely for safety reasons, since mains electricity can very easily be lethal if you don’t know what you are doing. We will be working only with fairly low DC voltages and low current.
  • If you are planning on using anything above 12V of voltage or anything with current above 1 amp, make sure you double check your circuit with Matti.