University of Technology, Sydney

Staff directory | Webmail | Maps | Newsroom | What's on

87549 VC Designing Interactions 1: Introduction to Creative Code

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:

Undergraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

Description

Understanding interaction and the expressive capacity of the digital, made possible through code, is an integral part of contemporary design practice within the digital spectrum. In this subject students are introduced to using code within a design context and learn how to use code to generate, read, manipulate and display digital data to produce dynamic outcomes. Through observing, making and playing, students begin to investigate new possibilities and modes of expression afforded by engaging with the digital more directly using code, such as generative graphics and interactive structures. The core theories and skills covered in this subject set a foundation for further exploration.

Students use Processing (www.processing.org) and P5.js (https://p5js.org/), open source programming and development environments, to build their code literacy, to explore concepts covered in class and to realise their ideas.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the fundamentals and possibilities of the digital and code as a creative medium and the ability to apply this knowledge to creative projects
2. Demonstrate an introductory level understanding of programming fundamentals
3. Employ basic problem solving skills relevant to the design and realisation of code-based works
4. Create simple generative and/or interactive works using code that successfully communicate concepts and ideas
5. Apply criticality and sensitivity to the application of visual languages and the processing of visuals through reflective and iterative practice and progressive technological refinement
6. Demonstrate an introductory understanding of the fields of creative code, generative and interactive design practices
7. Display a capacity to identify, contextualise and analyse code-based works that demonstrate coding as an expressive and communicative medium

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Professional and academic visual, oral and written presentation skills (C.1)
  • Capacity to create designs that respond to their context in formally or conceptually innovative ways (I.1)
  • Advance ideas through an exploratory and iterative design process (I.2)
  • Independent development of high level technical and craft skills for the production, presentation and documentation of your work (P.1)
  • Awareness of and/or engagement with the local and global design community (P.2)
  • Understanding of academic and professional ethics, copyright and appropriate acknowledgement of intellectual property (P.3)
  • An ability to critique your own work and the work of others with reference to standards drawn from contemporary design practice (P.4)
  • Development of relevant insights and arguments from research (R.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Studio sessions will give you the opportunity to discuss questions about the weekly topic/content with your peers and with an expert studio leader, to collaborate on activities directly relevant to key ideas and to develop your skills as a design practitioner with assistance from your studio leader. Studio sessions will provide you with the opportunity to take ownership of the ideas encountered in preparatory reading, research and the lectures. Your studio leader will facilitate discussion and offer expert insight and direction where needed, but as students you are primarily responsible for the mood of the studio session.

This can be a challenging subject as you will be presented with technically oriented material and an approach to thinking about design processes and outcomes that you may have not experienced before. Experimenting throughout the week is integral to developing your understanding of the material covered within studio sessions. This experimentation will be documented through your code diary. This may include thinking or working on material discussed in studio, working through textbook or online tutorials, or playing with your own code or examples from books or others peoples code to generate different outcomes. Exploration & curiosity is encouraged and there is an expectation that students will take an increasing level of responsibility for their ability to learn according to the demands of their own projects and its requirements.

Feedback is given in studio sessions by the studio leader, but also in group discussion format. Some written feedback will be given in ReView, but feedback is primarily delivered face-to-face. It is the student's responsibility to make a record of feedback that has been delivered so that it can be accessed for the development of their work.

Subject materials are delivered through UTSOnline and in the program of this subject outline.

Content (topics)

  • Programming fundamentals
    Students are taught the basics of how programming works, with an eye to visual outcomes, in the Processing and/or p5.js programming language. The subject introduces students to two different ways to structure their code, procedural and object-oriented. Fundamentals covered include: variables and datatypes, drawing and typography commands, mouse and keyboard commands, functions, conditional statements, loop statements, using libraries
  • Computational design practices
    We cover common practices that designers are able to utilise in their practice including:
    - generative design (using programming structures to generate differing or complex visual outcomes from the one piece of written code)
    - interaction (using programming to listen for mouse and keyboard interactions in order to respond to the user)
    - dynamic (using programming to create forms of visual communication that are dynamic, that can change over time, respond to the user, or to incoming data)
  • Contemporary practices with code are also covered, primarily through reviews of examples by the studio leader and presentations delivered by peers
  • Processing and p5.js development environments

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Code Diary

Intent:

This assessment task introduces students to the fundamentals of computational programming and the potential use of code in creative outcomes through three small-scale experiments that provide a basic introduction to the practices of generative design, interaction, and data visualisation. Students will learn new processes for creating designs that include using code based structures to generate visual patterns. As well as using code to produce behaviours of animation and interaction and examine how they contribute to the production of meaning in combination with other constituents of communication such as language, typography, visual elements. And lastly, how code can be used to create dynamic visuals that respond to and visually communicate live data.

Students are introduced to processes for the iterative development of code-based projects from sketching on paper to sketching in code, to reflectively progressing and refining their designs. Assessment is based on an iterative design process and its documentation, and the production of refined outcomes as a result of a reflective and thoughtful process.

The assessment provides a means for students to experiment with the ideas that they are introduced to in the class materials. It takes students week-to-week engagement and experimentation into account with students required to demonstrate progress with their experiments in class week-to-week, responding to feedback from their studio leader and peers, and undertaking all preparatory activities each week.

Please see the assessment project brief on UTSOnline for complete details of this assessment.

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, I.1, I.2, P.1 and P.4

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Criteria:

Please see the complete project brief on UTSOnline for the complete details of this assessment.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Rigour and care in documentation of iterative design processes and results 10 7 C.1
Ability to work iteratively demonstrated through self-directed and reflective learning to expand knowledge & skills as required by a concept 10 3 I.2
Engagement and experimentation with subject material 20 1 P.4
Reflective and progressive development of aesthetically resolved outcomes 20 5 I.2
Ability to make tangible concepts in generative or interactive formats 20 4 I.1
Ability to use new technologies in a design process and demonstration of technical proficiency in your final sketches 20 2 P.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Research Presentation

Intent:

For this assessment, students working in pairs are asked to research and present in class two examples of designs that use the dynamic capabilities of code in generative and/or interactive formats. Through their research students gain awareness of historical and contemporary practices of designers engaging with code.

Students are expected to reflect on the work critically, by considering its underlying concept and the designer's use of the dynamic capabilities of code. Well-researched presentations will look beyond single research sources that directly describe the work. Students are encouraged to deepen their understanding and account of the work through connecting it with other related examples or practices, or with broader concepts and methodologies of generative design or interaction.

The subject's studio leader provides a schedule of presentations in the first week of the semester, with pairs allocated a week to present their findings. Students are asked to pose a question at the end of their presentation to prompt a class discussion based on their examples. The total pool of student presentations that occur over the semester generates a broad and diverse survey of examples and rich in class discussions.

Please see the assessment project brief on UTSOnline for complete details of this assessment.

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 6 and 7

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, P.2, P.3 and R.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 20%
Criteria:

Please see the assessment project brief on UTSOnline for complete details of this assessment.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Identification of two code-based works of high creative or intellectual standard 30 7 P.2
Articulate communication of the underlying concept/s of the work and/or the interactive experience 30 1 C.1
Quality of research and critical reflection - the presentation is well researched integrating concepts from other texts that relate to the work, the designer/artist or related works and/or contextualising the work within broader concepts and methodologies of interactive media 30 6 R.1
Recognition and acknowledgment of sources 10 7 P.3
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Final Project

Intent:

This assessment task builds upon and extends the skills and approaches that students have been learning in class and through the Code Diary assessment. For this brief, students are asked to apply their growing knowledge of the communicative and generative potential of code by making a working prototype of a digital hybrid book.

A 'hybrid book' breaks from the conventional form of the printed book through the integration of text with visual devices such as photographs, drawings, and typography. Hybrid novels are neither distinctly textual or visual, within a hybrid novel different modes of expression combine to form the entire readable ‘text.’ A digital hybrid book also includes the digital, and as a mode of expression its dynamic properties, in this mix.

Students are given an existing text and are asked to conceive, design and prototype how the text might be extended or illustrated if it was a digital book. Student's learning is driven by their individual project, which acts as a vehicle for them to learn through practice about the communication of ideas made possible through the dynamic and unique narrative capacities of the digital. Capacities of the digital that their designs might utilise include: interaction (which could involve human-computer or human-human-computer interactions), locative, networked, data-led, time-sensitive, augmented reality, generative or sensor-driven.

Assessment occurs through the iterative creation of a working prototype, in code, of their design concept. Students are also expected to hand in a written, visual and code-based account of their process.

Please see the assessment project brief on UTSOnline for complete details of this assessment.

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, I.1, I.2 and P.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Criteria:

Please see the assessment project brief on UTSOnline for complete details of this assessment.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Creative and intellectual quality of your concept as evidenced in your final work (your concept can change from the interim concept presentation) 20 1 I.1
Design and realisation of an aesthetically resolved outcome 20 5 P.1
Ability to use new technologies in a design process and demonstration of technical proficiency in your final sketches 20 2 P.1
Ability to make tangible concepts in generative or interactive formats 20 4 I.1
Rigour and care in documentation of iterative design processes and results 10 7 C.1
Demonstrated ability to work iteratively and undertake self-directed and reflective learning to expand knowledge & skills as required by a concept 10 3 I.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

80% attendance is required at lectures and studio sessions. Records of attendance will be kept. Students are expected to come to all sessions adequately prepared. This means completing preparatory activities listed in the weekly outline and being ready to discuss them in studio sessions or lectures. Students who are not adequately prepared for studio sessions will be marked as absent. The preparatory activities, lectures and studio sessions are an interconnected system where if one part suffers the whole will suffer as a result. The high degree of continuity across the semester means that missing one week can leave you ill equipped to participate in the following week’s session.

Required texts

Both of the below texts are available as an online copy through the UTS Library website. If you wish to purchase your own hard copy or e-book see links below.

Recommended texts

Please see the Online Resources section on UTSOnline for an extensive and updated list of resources. Readings, examples of works, online tutorials and code examples are also included in the week-to-week materials. See the Subject Outline pdf and Weekly Materials section on UTS Online.

Websites:

General Books on Code/Generative Design/Interaction:

  • Casey Reas, Form+code in design, art, and architecture, New York : Princeton Architectural Press, c2010.
  • Ed., A Touch of Code, Berlin : Die Gestalten Verlag, 2011
  • H. Bohnacker, B. Gross, J. Laub, and C. Lazzeroni, Generative Design, 2012, Princeton Architectural Press
  • Casey Reas and Ben Fry, Getting Started with Processing, 2010, O'Reilly Media
  • Daniel Shiffman, The Nature of Code, http://natureofcode.com/
  • John Maeda, Maeda@media, 2000, London: Thames & Hudson
  • John Maeda, Creative Code, 2004, London: Thames & Hudson
  • John Maeda, Design by Numbers, 1999, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press