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Projektmodul / Project Module
Subversive Computing for Shared Interactions
Instructor: Vertr.-Prof. Jason Reizner
Credits: 18 ECTS, 12 SWS
Capacity: max. 15 students
Language: English
Date: Plenum: Tuesdays, 11:00-18:30; Consultations: Wednesdays by appointment
Location: Marienstrasse 7b, Room 104 Now Online!
First Meeting: 3 November 2020, 13:30
(Link to online meeting will be sent to accepted participants by email.)
BISON Course ID: 320220028


"The programmability of the earth and its environments as operation-spaces activates distinct ways of approaching the planet as a modifiable object."
–Jennifer Gabrys, Program Earth

In the upheaval of an uncertain world, it has become clear to many that the 'black box' technologies which underpin and mediate interactions between humans, digital infrastructure and physical environments have assumed an outsized role in dictating how we work, socialize, discourse, transact and govern. Although the development of these technologies has been decades in the making, the perceived disruption of the present and the accompanying sudden shift towards the blanket adoption and normalization of these opaque systems has introduced into the zeitgeist a general uneasiness with their topology, transparency and power dynamics.

As centralized, closed-ecosystem and macroscale industrial approaches to telepresence, surveillance, social engagement, content production and information delivery cement themselves into the daily existence and lived experience of billions of users, the need for distributed, open and local interventions that reclaim technical self-determination and facilitate agency at the edge of interaction has never been more pressing. This project module provides a platform for artists, designers and architects to explore and speculate how technologies including edge computing, lightweight machine learning, generative and autonomous systems, environmental sensing, urban cybernetics and participatory platforms can be leveraged and deployed by individuals and groups to affect change in personal and community interaction contexts.

Through a series of lectures, readings, workshops and targeted discussions, participants will address topics including data collection, aggregation and correlation; sensor and actor systems; machine learning and neural networks; computer vision and biometrics; location-based and behavior-based applications; wearable electronics and cyborgs; telepresence and telerobotics.

Admission requirements

Enrollment in MKG/MAD MFA, PANAS MFA or MediaArchitecture MSc programs

Application and registration procedure

Application with CV and Statement of Motivation to jason.reizner [ät] uni-weimar.de


Successful completion of the course is dependent on regular attendance, active participation, completion of assignments and delivery of a relevant semester prototype and documentation. Please refer to the Evaluation Rubric for more details.

Eligible participants

MFA Medienkunst/-gestaltung, MFA Media Art and Design, MFA Public Art and New Artistic Strategies, MSc MediaArchitecture candidates

Platforms and Tools


Syllabus (subject to change)

3 November 2020 / Week 1
Course Organization
Administrative Housekeeping

Assignment: For next week, please review Computer Lib/Dream Machines by Ted Nelson:

Please be ready to share your preliminary ideas for your concept for your semester project.

10 November 2020 / Week 2
Computer Liberation
From Augmenting Human Intellect to Unsupervised Machine Learning
Online Collaborative Brainwriting

[Links and Resources from the Lecture]

Assignment: Building on the ideas generated during the Brainwriting experiment, you should begin to formalize your concept for your semester project and be ready to present for ten minutes during next week's roundtable. You presentation should include any materials, sources or existing projects that you have come across in your initial research, and show which platform(s) you are using to document your process this semester.

17 November 2020 / Week 3
Project Concept Roundtable 1

[Links and Resources from the Lecture]

Assignment: For next week, please review "What is Generative Art? Complexity Theory as a Context for Art Theory" by Philip Galanter:

24 November 2020 / Week 4
Parametric, Computational and Generative Processes
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence and Synthetic Media

[Links and Resources from the Lecture]

Assignment: For next week, please review the following article here: https://www.ideo.com/blog/the-rules-of-brainstorming-change-when-ai-gets-involved-heres-how
Afterwards, formulate a brief written project statement (less than one page) outlining your semester project concept, as well as your ideas for the technical realization of the work. Feel free to draw on the technologies mentioned in the Collective Vision of Synthetic Reality workshop cards. Once you have completed your statement, experiment using it (either complete or in component sentences) as a prompt for the text generation demos Write With Transformer and Talk to Transformer. Document your experiments and be ready to share your original statement and ten iterations from the demos in next week's roundtable.

1 December 2020 / Week 5
Project Concept Roundtable 2

Assignment: For next week, please review the following:
Design Fiction: A short essay on design, science, fact and fiction by Julian Bleecker
and "Patently untrue: fleshy defibrillators and synchronised baseball are changing the future" by Bruce Sterling

8 December 2020 / Week 6
Neural Networks
The Black Box: Working with CNNs, RNNs and GANs

Assignment: For next week, please finish preparing your midterm presentation. You will have 10 minutes to present your semester project concept. Be sure to show the background research you have already conducted, as well as your plans for the technical realization of your work and a production timeline for the rest of the semester.

15 December 2020 / Week 7
Midterm Presentations

Assignment: TBA

5 Januar 2021 / Week 8
Edge Computing and Lightweight ML
Environmental Sensing
Participatory Platforms

Assignment: For next week, please review Milgram & Kishino's A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays, available as PDF here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231514051_A_Taxonomy_of_Mixed_Reality_Visual_Displays

12 Januar 2021 / Week 9
Mixed Realities

Augemented Reality Lab with Guest Lecturer Silvana Callegari

Assignment: Continue preparing for the Project Development Roundtable (26.01) and Final Presentations (02.02.).

19 Januar 2021 / Week 10
Asynchronous Meeting: Wearbles, Cyborgs and Hybrids

Assignment: This week you will be reviewing the following resources independently:
"We Are All Cyborgs Now" / Amber Case
"Our Cyborg Future" Law and Policy Implications / Brookings Institution
"The Human Eyeborg" / Neil Harbisson
"In Conversation with Steve Mann: The Godfather of Wearable Tech"
"When Humans Become Cyborgs" / World Economic Forum 2020
"The Singularity" / José Ignacio Latorre
"Ray Kurweil: The Coming Singularity"

26 Januar 2021 / Week 11
Physical Interactions in the Built Environment
Project Development Roundtable

Assignment: TBA

2 Februar 2021 / Week 12
Final Presentations