ARCHIVED CONTENT BELOW FROM SPRING 2013

The first offering of Critical Making was in Spring 2013.  This page and the linked syllabus represent an archive of the projects and activities during that semester.

Spring 2013
NWMEDIA 290
COMPSCI 294-85
3 units

Syllabus from Spring 2013

mw 2:30-4:00

eric paulos • instructor
kris fallon • gsi
chris myers • lab manager / inventioneer


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Final Projects

This page presents student work created during the Spring 2013 offering of Critical Making.

Critical Making is a new course at UC Berkeley designed to operationalize and critique the practice of making through both foundational literature and hands on studio culture. As hybrid practitioners, students developed fluency in readily collaging and incorporating a variety of physical materials and protocols into their practice. With design research as a lens, students envisioned and created future computational experiences that critically explore social and culturally relevant technological themes such as community, privacy, environment, education, economics, energy, food, biology, democracy, activism, healthcare, social justice, etc.

Students, many starting the course without any electronics, prototyping, fabrication, or programing skills, represented a wide range of disciplines including Architecture, Folklore, Art, Information School, Statistics, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering.

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In this final provocation groups of students were challenged to leverage their skills with physical prototyping, digital fabrication, electronics, and interactivity, to de

sign and build artifacts that directly embody a critique or commentary on an element of our technological culture. Both the designed artifact and its subsequent use are intended to causes reflection on existing values, mores, and practices within our digital culture. We invite you to experience the resulting projects through a series of images and brief descriptions as they challenge your expectations and provoke new ways of thinking about digital technologies, their usage, and our surrounding environment.

Functional examples of all the projects were exhibited at a final show for the course and at the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire with over 100,000 in attendance.

A glossy portfolio of this work is also available.

Press about the class in the Berkeley Engineer Magazine (Spring 2013) (pdf of article)


mycityMy City

Karl Landin
Victor Sandberg
Kylan Nieh
Alice Lee

Headaches, allergic reactions, and throat and lung irritations are just some of the short-term effects from air pollution. In fact, one out of every three people in the United States are susceptible to these air quality related health problems. There are also long-term health effects, which include chronic respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and heart disease.

While creating the MYCity project, our aim has been to find an effective way to raise awareness of these issues and improve urban air quality simultaneously. The MYCity personal tracking device is a wearable sensor technology that tracks your movement and your surrounding air quality conditions. It also acts as a visual symbol for a new movement and creates a platform for citizens to raise awareness, increase transparency, and to ultimately improve the living conditions for all urbanites.


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Free Speaker

Ben Ortiz
Brandon Young
Cassie Seo
Noor Al-Samarrai

Interest in poetry has been declining in the United States. Between 2008 and 1992, the percentage of the adult population reading poetry went down by nearly 9%.  Exposed to art in school where engagement is focused on analysis, many people tend to shy away from poetry, believing it is too difficult and inaccessible to them and their concerns.

The Free Speaker is a work of Free Verse, a group that aims to make poetry part of everyday culture and conversation.  The Free Speaker is a product that anyone can use to bring poetry out of their heads or off the iPods and into the public sphere.

Inspired by the aesthetics of old-school jukeboxes and radios, the Free Speaker is a portable poetry sharing device that can be used to blast poetry to the masses.  With an easy to understand dial, users can tune past the white noise to various poetry moods or categories and be confronted by the archival recordings that result.  All of the spoken word poetry is in the voice of the poet reading their own work as intended.


mossedupMossed Up

Jonathan Cotte
Noah Pitts

Mossed Up is based on a critique of environmental design as a disruption in our natural environment.  As a society we are carelessly wrecking havok upon ourself by overconsuming our natural resources without any limitations.  The creation of the Mossed Up movement is a response to open our eyes to the true problem.  We wanted to approach the issue controversially by using both technology and biology as our mediums to provoke the users to participate in an unvoluntary self-critique.  We used moss as a bio-medium to create QR codes which are read as symbols of technology.  We used technology in an diverged way in order to expose technology’s shortcomings. The mossy binary codes are applied to public walls and surfaces using a specially designed spray applicator filled with incubated living organisms.  Left on concrete walls as ephemeral symbols of technology which are then reclaimed by nature when the moss spreads out of this orginal technological form.

The movement is an attack on the urban environment combining the culture of street art and vandalism with environmental activism and bioremediation. Low tech moss horticulture is used to create a visual contrast between natural and artificial systems. The moss is applied in a QR code stencil, provoking the audience to interact with the biology in a new way. A narrative is played through the web browser on the individual’s device explaining the creation of the code and the intent of the movement.


brightteeBrite-Tee

Aatash Parikh
Mischelle Mulia
Brittany Cheng
Lansie Ma

Brite-Tee is a social and eye-opening visual experience that seeks to illuminate invisible illnesses, specifically mental health.  We have created a medium for individuals to generate awareness of metal health issues.  Usable by both those affected by such illnesses as well as people who want to support invisible illnesses, Brite-Tee allows users to broadcast their feelings or emotions in an anonymous yet personal way through pixel patterns.  These patterns can be left as messages in any location for others with a Brite-Tee to pick up.

Our goal is to enlighten and educate the general public about mental health by sparking curiosity through visual stimulation and encouraging a healthy and positive conversation about mental health. Brite-Tee pays a role in building a community of support and awareness, through the simple act of wearing an expressive T-shirt.


hashandslashHash & Slash

Carl Shan
Sarah Montoro
Ryan McAdam
Curtis Hwang

In the spirit of Design Noir, Hash&Slash explores the relationship between future technology and social discontent by blurring the boundaries of reality and fiction with a mock startup company. Hash&Slash resides somewhere between art, commerce, and technology to instigate a reflection on the ways we communicate.

Technology has permitted a world of globally persistent conversation; often to the chagrin of those who break the rules of online etiquette in the process. As an alternative technology, the Hash&Slash device demonstrates a continuous creation and destruction of narratives. First, virtual communications (in this case microblogging artifacts, or tweets) are churned out into the physical world when they are physically printed, and are then incrementally destroyed based on the number of tweets the shredder receives containing a certain hashtag. Once the entire sheet of paper is destroyed, a new artifact is created, representing the way narratives are constantly being renegotiated.

For immediate press releaseHash&Slash, “the Internet delete button,” was designed by a team of social media enthusiasts who realized a need to address the skyrocketing number of incriminating comments made by Internet users every year. Through a Four Step Patented Process, the Hash&Slash team will hack into the proprietary Twitter API, plunder your unwanted content from its servers, and send it to our state-of-the-art printer/shredder hybrid that exports your digital blunders into the physical world — finally shredding them to pieces. Hash&Slash renders unwanted content untraceable and your online reputation squeaky- clean. 


palcoPal.co

Hurshal Patel
Elizabeth Keegan
Jason Blum

The Pal by Pal.co is a desktop companion to push you towards better habits. It pulls information from your computer and social accounts to determine when you have been on the computer too long, and suggest relevant events and activities that may help you get away from the computer.

Using a webcam, the Pal can determine when you are at your computer and even hold a conversation with you, acting like a friend that helps keep you on track. When Pal thinks you have spend too much time gaming or just browsing the internet, Pal will step in.

There are various methods that Pal will incorporate to get you off the computer such as suggesting events, telling you when your friends are trying to meet up, and even remind you when you have class. If those aren’t good enough to make you get up, Pal has access to your files and Facebook account and will not hesitate to publicly humiliate you or delete those awesome pictures you took last week if you end up sitting at the computer too long.

What makes Pal so powerful in changing habits is the fact that your digital habits now have real world consequences. Pal is kind of like your best friend, but not really.


Provocation 2: Exploration Technologies

This assignment asked students to rethink the bounds of toys and technologies for children and other more playful inventors.  Group projects rethought everything from the scooter to the building block and brought innovation to both the board game and the video game. Details on the assignments can be found here.

Dark Maze • Brittany Cheng • Jonathan Cotte • Hurshal Patel • Curtis Hwang

Clay Kingdom • Carl Shan • Elizabeth Keegan • Sarah Montoro

Bucky Blocks • Noah Pitts • Cassie Seo • Jason Blum

Trycycle Tracks • Karl Landin • Brandon Young • Kylan Nieh • Alice Lee

Color Band • Noor Al-Samarrai • Ryan McAdam • Aatash Parikh  • Victor Sandberg

Monster Mash • Lansie Ma • Mischelle Mulia • Ben Ortiz

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Provocation 1: Counter Culture

This assignment asked the groups to rethink some aspect of kitchen as a space and make it more enjoyable/interactive/creative or educational.  Group projects hit all of these notes. Details on the assignments can be found here.

Odd Nuts • Cassie Seo • Mischelle Mulia • Noor Al-Samarrai • Jonathan Cotte

Polyphonic Kitchen • Noah Pitts • Sarah Montoro • Karl Landin • Alice Lee

The Spice Printer • Kylan Nieh • Victor Sandberg • Hurshal Patel

DUWDD – Don’t U Want to Do the Dishes • Jason Blum • Aatash Parikh • Ben Ortiz

Blink Board • Curtis Hwang • Ryan McAdam • Elizabeth Keegan • Lansie Ma

TEA Party • Brittany Cheng • Carl Shan • Brandon Young

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Other Activities from the Class

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