01P:199:002 Topics in Studio Arts: Advanced Robotics

Semester: Spring 2012
Course Credit Hours: 3
Professor: Anthony Castronovo
Website: www.acastronovo.com
Office Hours: H 9:30AM-12:30PM and by appointment
Office Location: SA 1328
Office Phone: 319-335-1789
Contact: anthony-castronovo@uiowa.edu
Class Time, Location: T/H 1:30PM - 3:20PM, 1610C SA

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Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible. -Paul Klee

Creativity includes the ability to survive and survival needs creativity.-Cai Guo-Qiang

This course is a continuation and intermediate level course on robotic art, sometimes called new media art, or art and technology. We will survey the history and contemporary field of artists that represent this realm of art. Students will deepen their knowledge of basic electronics and the Arduino prototyping platform to create programmable, sensor-driven, responsive circuits. Some electronics experience is required and the course will assume this. The semester will be broken into two sections: the first six weeks will be heavy technique and technology oriented, while also reading about and discussing the work of contemporary artists. On the seventh week students will present proposals for their projects, which they will work on for the remainder of the semester.

What Do Artists Know?



There is currently no lab fee associated with this course. Students can expect to spend $60 for hardware listed below, and $100 in addition for parts, materials, etc. depending on your project.


EZH2O | Jaume Plensa , +1 | Jana Sterbak Oasis | Tim Prentice | Tim Hawkinson | Ben Rubin/Mark Hansen Listening Post | Nik Ramage | Rebecca Horn | Sabrina Raaf Grower | Microrobotics | Soft Robots | Critical Art Ensemble | Graffiti Research Lab (laser tag, night writer) | Plastiki | Anouk Wipprecht +1| Institute for the Unstable Media | Natalie Jeremenjenko | Theo Jansen | We Feel Fine | Golan Levin | Syn Labs | Jeremy Boyle | Wearable electronics , +1 , +1| MIT FabLab , +1 +1| Other Links.... | Lynne Bruning +1 | Haptic Radar | Amy Youngs | Cesar Harada |delicious |mischer'traxler | Tivon Rice | Matt Barton | Treia Studios | Shawn Decker | Stephen Wilson | Shih Chieh Huang | MIT High-Low Tech | Fernando Orellana | Rueben Margolin +1 | Shawn Sims |Leonel Moura +1 | 3D Carver |Festo | Stupid Orchestra | U-Ram Choe | Daniel Wurtzel | Carl Pisaturo | Peter Eudenbach | Art+Com


SparkFun | LadyAda | Small Parts | McMaster | SuperBright LEDs | Parallax | Electronics Express | Skycraft | Mouser | Digikey | Jameco | All Electronics | Arduino Comic Tutorial | gearmotors | Polulu | Arduino | LittleBird | Electronics Shop | Phidgets | Inventables | EvilMadScience


A key component to good education and to being an engaged, informed artist is your active engagement in community events and ability to experience unique opportunities. There will be lectures, visiting artist talks, and exhibitions that will be required throughout the semester. As these events will happen outside of class, it is understandable that they might not always fit your schedule and so an alternative assignement of research and writing will be optional.




Active participation, engagement, and respectful, critical dialogue in all phases of this course are imperative. The class dynamic dependson your energy, initiative, attitude, productivity, and willingness to get involved in group discussion and critiques. Participate actively during critique and discussion. Complete all assigned readings, make drawings of ideas that happen while reading, and take detailed notes so you can contribute to the discussion in class.

Make safe and considerate choices with equipment and facilities. Do your part to keep the facilities clean. DO NOT use your phone to text, chat, or e-mail during class time. DO NOT use computers to surf the web, check email, chat, watch videos.... during class time.

Ask questions and contribute answers. Offer constructive, respectful feedback during group discussions, class workdays, and critiques. Reflect on the comments you receive to gauge the effectiveness of your work. TAKE NOTES ON EVERYTHING!!! Use your sketchbook for research and development of ideas. Examine the way your ideas change, evolve, and influence formal and conceptual choices in your work.


Grades are meant to evaluate your effort, ideas, and execution. Your overall grade will be based on participation and projects (including creativity, critical thinking, engagement with course information, research, presentation, technical proficiency , and problem solving). Expectations will be explained in detail for each project when it is assigned. If anything seems unclear, you are responsible for asking the instructor for clarification far in advance of the due date. The most successful projects will be very ambitious and well executed technically, but must also exhibit thoughtful connections between concept and form.


Your work will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria of requirements and expectations:


Official Breakdown:

FINAL SEMESTER EVALUATIONS will be averaged as follows:

ATTENDANCE: Students must be in class every day. Your presence is critical for your own education but also for the group as a whole. Attendance is a major factor in your participation grade.

CRITICAL DATES are provided with each project description. All projects are due on the due dates given in the project descriptions. Final critique will be held on the last day of class of the Fall semester.


SAFETY PROCEDURE: To use tools and the studio lab you must first successfully complete the 3D Design Safety Quiz located on ICON, by the second day of the course. Upon completion of the safety quiz you need to save a pdf copy of the "Submissions" page of the module where it shows you answered 100% correct (name the file SafetyLastname.pdf) and then upload it to the SafetyPolicy file drop box on the course ICON site. This is not training for the woodshop, foundry, or any special equipment. This covers only the general safety procedures for the area.

ADMINISTRATIVE HOME: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home of this course and governs matters such as the add/drop deadlines, the second-grade-only option, and other related issues. Different colleges may have different policies. Questions may be addressed to 120 Schaeffer Hall, or see the CLAS Student Academic Handbook.

ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION: University policy specifies that students are responsible for all official correspondences sent to their University of Iowa e-mail address (@uiowa.edu). Faculty and students should use this account for correspondences. (Operations Manual, III.15.2. Scroll down to k.11.)

ACCOMODATIONS FOR DISABILITIES: A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services and then meet privately with the course instructor to make particular arrangements. See www.uiowa.edu/~sds/ for more information.

ACADEMIC HONESTY: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences expects all students to do their own work, as stated in the CLAS Code of Academic Honesty. Instructors fail any assignment that shows evidence of plagiarism or other forms of cheating, also reporting the student's name to the College. A student reported to the College for cheating is placed on disciplinary probation; a student reported twice is suspended or expelled.

CLAS FINAL EXAM POLICIES: Final exams may be offered only during finals week. No exams of any kind are allowed during the last week of classes. Students should not asktheir instructor to reschedule a final exam since the College does not permit rescheduling of a final exam once the semester has begun. Questions should be addressed to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum.

MAKING A SUGGESTION OR COMPLAINT: Students with a suggestion or complaint should first visit the instructor, then the course supervisor, and then the departmental DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident. See the CLAS Student Academic Handbook.

UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. All members of the UI community have a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See the UI Comprehensive Guide on Sexual Harassment for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy.

REACTING SAFELY TO SEVERE WEATHER: In severe weather, class members should seek appropriate shelter immediately, leaving the classroom if necessary. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. For more information on Hawk Alert and the siren warning system, visit the Public Safety web site.


Jan 17• intro to course and each other; 3D Design Area Safety Procedures & ICON and doc on how to copy the final page you must complete the 3D Design module and if you plan on using the Woodshop, complete that module as well; woodshop orientation and safety policies (Each student should have a copy of the woodshop safety proceedures); discuss parts and get order ready; discuss tools; discuss Robotics Exhibit ABW; HW research artists and links above, be ready to discuss three artists of your choice; reading for next week 1/24: Arthur Zajonc, Shawn Brixey

Jan 19• Look at artist examples and videos.

Jan 24• Discuss readings. More artist examples.

Jan 26• Discuss readings. More artist examples.

Jan 31• Go over Basic Electronics.

Feb 2• Arduino Tutorials.

Feb 7•Discuss Microcontrollers and Arduino, Read Arduino Comic Tutorial, Look at Arduino site, Begin Arduino tutorials, students finish outside of class; play with color mixing of RGB LEDs as in the tutorial, make the small paper box as described, and write a program for a light sequence that changes color. Write down 3 questions about Arduino, something you want to know more about, and bring to class next week.

Feb 9• Continue work on Arduino Tutorials.

Feb 14• Introduce for() and analogWrite(), use these with RGB LEDs to fade colors. Soldering Demo, solder protoshield. .

Feb 16• More artist examples.

Feb 21• Open discussion of project ideas.

Feb 23• Discuss readings. More artist examples.

Feb 28• Proposals due. Each group will present their idea; should be a ppt, pdf, or other digital format and should include: abstract, sketches/images, code example, parts list and budget, functional sketch/block diagram, timeline.

Feb 30• Go over parts list and order parts.

Mar 6• Studio Work Day.

Mar 8• Studio Work Day.

Mar 13,15• Spring Break!!!

Mar 20• Demo Day: labs on peripherals, 3 different exercises: motor, temperature, sound. Students work in pairs.

Mar 22• more demos on peripherals.

Mar 27• more demos on peripherals.

Mar 29• more demos on peripherals.

Apr 3•Studio work day.

Apr 5•Shift Registers.

Apr 10• Studio work day.

Apr 12•Studio work day.

Apr 17• Studio work day.

Apr 19•Studio work day.

Apr 24• Studio work day.

Apr 26• Studio work day.

May 1• Studio work day.

May 2• Studio work day.

May 14-21• Robotics Exhibit ABW. Install 5/14 at 4pm, reception Friday 5/18 from 6-8pm, take down Mon 5/21 at 12pm.