The course is open to students from all units and is cross-listed between the School of Art & Design (Course No. 300.007) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Course No. 498.007)

Time: Tue Thu 1:30-3:00, (+4:30)

Room: 1108 Art & Architecture Building
[NOTE: EECS 498.007 is also going to be located in this room]


Satinder Singh Baveja (EECS) –

Osman Khan (A&D) –

Email Address to use to ask help questions


From photo fabrication in advertisements to the latest images from space, from movie suggestions in Netflix to predicting the stock market, from earthquake forecasting to analyzing environmental data, computer vision systems that can recognize objects from images, to algorithms to make sense of the human genome; these are some of the innovations that are shaping our world, and central to all these is the use of computation (and often machine learning). It therefore is crucial for us to learn the workings of computational systems as well as understand how to implement systems based on computational methodologies.

The course focuses on understanding algorithms, computation and developments in machine learning and exploring them as mediums for aesthetic expressions. Through both individual and group projects, the course will allow students to experiment and develop adaptive/interactive/reactive systems that explore how computation methodologies, sensors and actuation technologies can be applied for creative production.

Lectures will provide partial conceptual and technical background to computational methodologies, as well as expose students to relevant historic and contemporary creative practices. Students will also be exposed to various technologies via workshops and demos, Processing (programming), Arduino (micro-controller), DMX (protocol and hardware), Mobile device (iPhone) development, machine vision systems, various sensor and actuation technologies.

The course will culminate in a final public exhibition of student’s projects.


Adaptive Art  is a 3-credit (3 hours of instructor led time per week + 3 hour of individual time) studio course. The course will engage students through lectures, isolated exercises, and integrated projects.  Exercises will be completed individually. The 3 integrated projects will be completed as teams. The course has been structured to encourage self-motivation and to let the interests of the class partially determine the class direction.

Two of the projects will be carried out from a prescribed problem and task structure, while the last project, which might take up as much as half the semester, will be defined and programmed by the students themselves.

Exercises are used to prepare students and open up to primarily form-related discovery and skill building. The exercises are programmed to support the integrated projects and should primarily be focused on methodological and aesthetic explorations and training.


Individually completed.

1 – Concept for Computational Art Project

2 – IBBO (Input->Black Box ->Output)

3 – Physical Computing I/O

4 – ML: Distance/Similarity/Clustering

5 – ML: Regression Learning/Game theory Conceptual Exercise

6 – Data Visualization

7 – Aesthetics


Completed in groups.

Project 1 – Site/Context Based on Michigan/UMich, uses IBBO model

Project 2 – Theme/Concept Based Sustainability, uses ML

Project 3 – Open

Learning Objectives:

Structured projects address conceptual, formal, contextual and presentation issues. Through projects and activities, students will explore ideas, methods, and contexts that are applicable to a wide range of creative practices.  This series of projects are intended to help you to gain the skills and understanding necessary for the initiation, organization and development of an individual program of study. The projects are designed to develop an increasingly critical and analytical approach to your work and place particular stress on the importance of contextual understanding in your development as a creative practitioner. You will be expected to take increased responsibility for your own area of practice and begin to adopt a reflexive, critical position to your own work. You will be asked to develop skills in observing and recording what you see, hear, think and feel. You will be encouraged to recognize how media and materials can be used in relating theory to practice.

Upon satisfactory completion, student will be able to:

  • Engage new media and computational and/or machine learning technologies and methodologies for art production and deployment.
  • Employ historical and contemporary contexts around machine learning methodologies and contemporary art to inform their own art practice.
  • Develop projects involving new media technologies and machine learning methodologies to help inform their own art practice.

You are expected to:

  • respond to project assignments in a personal, informed and meaningful way
  • record, analyze and organize observations, experiences and insights relevant to your intentions, demonstrate an ability to reflect on your work and progress
  • experiment with media, materials, techniques and processes
  • develop ideas informed by contextual and other sources that demonstrate analytical and critical understanding
  • investigate relevant contexts demonstrating independent thinking, analysis and evaluation
  • explore the practice of other practitioners to inform your own work
  • reflect on, review and refine your own work
  • be creative, be constructively critical and communicate
  • do whatever you do with rigor, integrity and commitment
  • take creative risks



Regular attendance and relevant participation in class activities are required. Missing class, arriving late to a class session OR an early departure, without permission, from class constitutes an absence.  If students must miss a class, it is their responsibility to get notes and assignments from a classmate. Lectures and demonstrations will not be repeated.  Late assignments will not be accepted. Assignments submitted on time may be redone and resubmitted at any time during the semester. If students arrive late on a critique day, they cannot expect to have their work discussed.


A critique is a critical analysis of works that students have developed. Critique discussions will include constructive comments on the relationships of ideas and intentions, historical and contemporary references, as well as the choice of materials and processes. Students are expected to objectively and articulately discuss their own work as well as the work of others.

Participation in class discussions and critiques is essential. It is not enough to merely be present in the class – students must be active participants in all conversations. No email or cell phone use during class. No eating during class presentations, discussions or lectures. All work generated for the class must be the student’s original work, made for a particular project.


All studio projects will be evaluated on the basis of conceptual rigor, quality of process and product workmanship. Final evaluations are based on careful consideration of all work completed during the course of the semester. This includes developmental work such as research, written assignments, preliminary sketches and models, etc. as well as finished products.

In general, the quality of a grade is determined by; effort, a positive progression throughout the course, and the student’s ability to visually and verbally communicate ideas and concepts in a coherent and creative fashion.

Breakdown of grading:

7 Exercises

2 Small Projects (3 weeks each) before midterm

1 Large Project (7 weeks)

15% for Exercises

15% for Project 1

15% for Project 2

55% for Final Project

Facility Stewardship and Safety:

Students are expected to clean up after themselves and properly store work in progress. Respecting the need for a clean and orderly studio is important. The studio coordinator is responsible for setting guidelines for a safe and secure facility. A collaborative relationship among students, faculty, and the student coordinator is essential to ensure a safe and secure facility.

Documenting and Exhibiting Work:

Documentation is an essential component of creative practice. Students must appropriately document the work completed in this course. Sophomore Reviews, Senior Critiques and many more situations require presentation of documented work. Bringing creative work into public dialog is an important component of the creative process.

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