Electronics for Artists

The course introduces the use of electronics and physical computing as a creative medium in the field of new media art. It covers some basic electronic concepts and theory, various analog circuits, prototyping your own circuits, microcontroller programming, and the basics of PCB design.

A critical insight into maker culture and the environmental impact of the electronics industry is introduced through readings, discussions, and examples.

This is not an engineering course. The course focuses on creative use of electronics and hardware hacking, not on the theory and the most efficient circuit design. The course will also go through some essential tips for safety, use of various tools, best practices, and how to take care of the equipment and facilities.

Schedule 2021

The 2021 version is a 6+1 week course

Week One | Introduction to Physical Computing and Electronics

001 Wednesday, November 3, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Introduction
  • Electronics Basics
  • Multimeter, Breadboard

002 Thursday, November 4, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Microcontroller/Arduino Basics
  • Arduino Basics, Inputs and Outputs

Week Two | Sensing the World

003 Wednesday, November 10, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Reading Analog Sensors
  • Processing Input Values (Digital and Analog)
  • Mapping

004 Thursday, November 11, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Reading more complex sensors (I2C)
  • Processing Input Values (Digital and Analog)
  • Assignment: explore one specific sensor and the interactions that it could make possible

Week Three | Making Things Move

005 Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Making things move with the Arduino

006 Thursday, November 18, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Building The Little EFA Robot

Week Four | Communication

007 Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Finishing the robot
  • Critical Making

008 Thursday, November 25, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

  • Communication

Week Five | Project Work

009 Wednesday, December 1, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

010 Thursday, December 2, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

Week Six | Project Work

011 Wednesday, December 8, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

012 Thursday, December 9, 2021 | 13:15–17:00 | Room G014

Workshop Week | Project Work & Exhibition

You can use the workshop week to finalize your project. We have the space next to Mechatronics booked for working on the course.

We have an exhibition space booked for the course results. Taking part in the exhibition is not compulsory, but it might affect your grade positively.

Your project needs to be ready on Friday, December 17, 15:00. Either installed in the exhibition or just presented to the class.

Prior Knowledge

Prior knowledge of electronics is not required, but it is recommended that you have some basic knowledge of programming.

You need to have completed Introduction to Creative Coding or some other basic programming course before taking this course.

General Course Guidelines

  • This course focuses on projects based on stand-alone electronic projects (analog circuits and Arduino-based works).
  • Try to focus on the electronics, Arduino programming, and physical computing side on your final project. Try to avoid working on a project that requires a computer to run. (Media Lab has many other courses that combine Pure Data, Processing, or other applications to your electronics projects. Let’s try to do something different here.)
  • Although we do one very simple oscillator + audio amplifier project, this is not a synthesizer/noise making box workshop. You can work on something like that as your final project, but we are generally looking at things in a bit wider perspective. (Again, there is another course that focuses on experimental instruments)
  • USING HIGH VOLTAGE AND/OR MAINS ELECTRICITY (230V AC in FInland) IS NOT ALLOWED. This is purely for safety reasons, since mains electricity can very easily be lethal if you don’t know what you are doing. We will be working only with fairly low DC voltages and low current.
  • If you are planning on using anything above 12V of voltage or anything with current above 1 amp, make sure you double check your circuit with Matti.