01N:105:001 Intro to Robotic Art

Semester: Fall 2013
Course Credit Hours: 3
Professor: Anthony Castronovo
Website: www.acastronovo.com
Office Hours: W 10:30AM-12:30PM and by appointment
Office Location: SA 1417
Contact: anthony-castronovo@uiowa.edu
Class Time, Location: T/Th 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 an introduction to the field of 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 learn basic electronics and the Arduino prototyping platform to create programmable, sensor-driven, responsive circuits. No electronics experience is required and the course will assume this. However, individuals with electronics experience, or programming experience, will be able to realize more complex projects. The semester will be broken into two sections: the first eight weeks will be heavy technique and technology oriented, while also reading about and discussing the work of contemporary artists. On the ninth week students will present proposals for their projects, which they will work on for the remainder of the semester. Students will be expected to be responsible and independently ambitious, and can expect to put in a minimum of 6 hours of work a week in addition to our meeting time. The IOWA Challenge applies to this course.

What Do Artists Know? |Frances Whitehead



There is currently no lab fee associated with this course. Students can expect to spend $80 for the robotics kit, which I will order and bill through UI, 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 | Eduardo Kac | Nik Ramage | Rebecca Horn | Sabrina Raaf Grower| Microrobotics | Soft Robots | Paul Vanouse | Critical Art Ensemble | Graffiti Research Lab (laser tag, night writer) | Plastiki | Anouk Wipprecht +1| Institute for the Unstable Media | Natalie Jeremijenko | 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 +1 |Festo | Stupid Orchestra | U-Ram Choe | Daniel Wurtzel | Carl Pisaturo | Peter Eudenbach | Art+Com | Studio Roosegaarde


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


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 depends on 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. When you are reading something, if you come across a word or topic you don't know, look it up!

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. Each absence lowers your participation grade by 3pts. Excused absences are exceptionss, but students should self-report illnesses using the form on the Registrar's website: (http://www.registrar.uiowa.edu/Student/FormsforStudents/tabid/79/Default.aspx).

This attendance policy is in accordance with the CLAS guidelines:

EXTRA CREDIT: there wil be no extra credit assignments, please pay attention to deadlines, and attend class.

FINAL WORK must be working at time of exhibit. Students who's projects are not functional at the final critique will receive 30pts deduction from final grade.

FIELD TRIP: A field trip is possible during the semester and may require an extra fee to be paid by students.


SAFETY PROCEDURE: To use tools and the studio lab you must first successfully complete the Woodshop Safety Quiz and the 3D Design Safety Quiz located on ICON by the second day of the course. 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.


Aug 27• intro to course and each other, look at what's going on in robotics; Safety Procedures & ICON; (Each student should have a copy of the woodshop safety proceedures); HW research into artists and links above, be ready to discuss an artist of your choice who's work is relevant to our particular discussion.

Students must complete the ICON safety training for the Woodshop and 3D Design Area: https://icon.uiowa.edu/support/int/saahs/

Aug 29• Discuss artists from HW. Talk about the history and contemporary field of art/tech. More examples art/tech. Videos. HW First, listen to McLuhan interview, Then, read article on McLuhan. Take notes...

Sep 3• Discuss McLuhan. Basic Electronics and Lab. Talk about the history and contemporary field of art/tech. More examples art/tech. Videos.

Sep 5•Review Arduino Comic Tutorial, Look at Arduino site.

Sep 10•Electronics Lab due. Begin Arduino tutorials , lessons 1-4 in class.

HW Play with Arduino!! Use what you've learned so far to write a new program, create a light sequence.... Come up with some questions about Arduino.

Sep 12• Look at delicious for a huge list of links, put in the keyword artandtechnology. Work on developing a project idea for your proposal. Continue Arduino tutorials through lesson 6. Write down 3 questions about Arduino, something you want to know more about, and bring to class next week..

Sep 17• Go over Arduino tutorials, general discussion of topics covered. Students show one customized project example from tutorials. Students should have 3 questions about Arduino, programming, or electronics... Discuss Microcontrollers and Arduino, Introduce for() and analogWrite(), use these with RGB LEDs to fade colors. HW Read Program or Be Programmed for Thursday.

Sep 19• Discuss readings. More discussion of Arduino tutorials....More discussion of artist links from website.

Sep 24• Talk about mechanics, look at different motors. Solid State Relay demo.

Sep 26• Anthony out of town, students work on project proposals and tutorials. Look at Talk to Me Exhibit

Oct 1• Soldering demo, build protoshield. discuss if() else(), exercise: sound.

Oct 3•Demo Day: 2 different demos, temperature, motor, map(), constrain(). Students work in pairs.

Oct 8• Discuss labs on peripherals, overview of Arduino up to this point... Look at capacitive touch sensor.

Oct 10• Arduino Quiz. take things apart (everyone should bring in something to take apart, toys, robots, printers, we will scavenge for parts) Also bring tools, screwdrivers, pliers.....Talk about solar artists;

Oct 15• Present proposals, group discussion (formal report, abstract, sketch, code example, parts list and budget, functional sketch/description, timeline).

Oct 17• Present proposals, group discussion (formal report, abstract, sketch, code example, parts list and budget, functional sketch/description, timeline).

Oct 22• Woodshop safety with Adam. Look at Talk to Me Exhibit. Discuss labs on peripherals, overview of Arduino up to this point. Talk about mechanics, look at different motors. Solid State Relay demo. Idividual meetings

Oct 24• Idividual meetings

Oct 29• Studio work day.

Oct 31• Studio work day.

Nov 5• Studio work day.

Nov 7• Studio work day.

Nov 12• Studio work day.

Nov 14• Studio work day.

Nov 19• Studio work day.

Nov 21• Talk about future. Studio work day for remainder.

Nov 26• Thanksgiving Holiday.

Nov 28• Thanksgiving Holiday.

Dec 3• In-process checkpoint- students must demonstrate the function of your project. Projects may not be finished, but you must be able to show the function of your project- i.e electronics working....Projects that are not functioning at this point will receive a grade penalty of 10%.

Dec 5• Studio work day.

Dec 10• Instructor evaluation. Studio work day. Reminder: half-page writing about 3 talks/outside events due by next Fri 12/13 @ 5pm

Dec 12• Critique of Projects: you may begin installing at 8am, must be ready to present at 1:30pm. We will have a public opening later on 12/12 from 6-8pm. Projects Must BE REMOVED by 12 noon Fri 12/13. .