DESMA 157A : Design for Interactive Media
UCLA Fall 2005

Instructor: Sean Dockray
Email: sean at
Office Hours: Mon 5-6pm KINR SO 128


Teaching Assistant: John Houck
Email: dashouck at
Office Hours: T.B.D.

Class work


Ten week studio course, 2 x 3 hours, outside study 5 hours.

Time: MW 2:00P - 4:50P Location: KINR SO S128
Class website:


In this course students will be introduced to interactive environments with attention devoted to physical computing and electronic media. Students will learn to utilize hardware within design processes and to develop interactive propositions that engage with both current and outmoded technologies to generate critical, unexpected, or meaningful interventions into the existing built and social environment.

The course will consist of three parts: workshops, discussions, and projects. Weekly workshops will provide a hands-on introduction to "physical computing" through materials (switches, sensors, speakers, motors, lights, radio, and microcontrollers) and methods (simple circuit design, hacking, circuit bending). The goal is to empower individuals in the course through experiences with these technologies and a basic understanding of how they can be used. Although the course does not require programming experience, students will find that moderate programming skills will be an advantage in terms of what is possible. By the third week, everyone should have purchased a Wiring board from the department, at a cost of $60.

There will be a series of short readings to stimulate discussions about the theoretical underpinnings of the class. These will likely range from David Rokeby to "relational aesthetics" to Frederick Kiesler to "the experience economy" to radical 60's and 70's architectural practice.

Although several small exercises will originate in the workshops, the final project will be to develop an installation, performance, or situation for a one-evening, off-campus event.


Encourage thinking about interactive media in spatial, social, and psychological terms. Introduction to electronics. Enhancing ability to present and critique. Increasing vocabulary appropriate for discussing interactive work.


Projects will be evaluated based on their interactive and conceptual qualities. All exercises must be completed in order to pass the course. They will be given a score from 0 to 3 (except the final, which will be graded 0-6). Late assignments will reduce the numeric score of the assignment to a maximum of two. Exercises are only considered as completed when they are accessible from the course website. There will be a sign-up sheet for each class meeting; it is the student’s responsibility sign up in this list. More than 2 absences without the teacher’s permission before the class meetings will result in a lower grade. If a student is late 3 times, this will count as an unexcused absence.


30% Participation in laboratories and assignments
10% Participation in reading discussions
30% Exercises A – C (10% each)
20% Exercise E
10% Final website
Contribution to the messageboard

Required reading

Igoe, Tom and Dan O’ Sullivan. Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World With Computers. Premier Press. 2004.


A: Sounds
B: Drawing interface
C: Making sound together
D: Final project




October 3


October 5

Lab: Circuit Bending

October 10

Exercise A is due, critique

Lab: Hacking cheap electronics

October 12

Lab: Switches & LED’s

Talk about final project.

October 17

Lab: How many ways to switch a light bulb.

October 19

Lab: Wiring (more switches & LED’s)

October 24

Lab: Analog sensors

October 26

Lab: Sending analog data into a computer

October 31

Exercise B is due, critique

November 2

Lab: Making sound with Wiring

November 7

Lab: Making sound together

November 9

Lab: Making sound together

November 14

Exercise C is due, critique

November 16

Ideas for final projects are due.

November 21

Lab: Based on final projects

November 23

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28

Lab: Based on final projects

November 30

Lab: Based on final projects

December 5

Lab: Based on final projects

December 7

Exercise D is due, group critique