Physical Computing

Spring 2010

Thursday 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
FMA 8450 Sec:001 (085701)  
FMA 4440 Sec:001 (100346) 4.0 credits

Professor: Chris Vecchio, PhD
cvecchio at temple dot edu
267 991 4204

Teaching Assistant: Lisa Marie Patzer
Lmpatzer at temple dot edu

Text Books:

Getting Started with Arduino
What's a Microcontroller (PDF)
Physical Computing

Arduino Tutorials:

Class Notes:

What is Physical Computing (21 Jan 2010, PDF)
Intro to electronics (21 Jan 2010, PDF)

Soldering and Reading Schematics (28 Jan 2010, PDF)
Sensors and Programming (4 February 2010, PDF)

Transducers & Transistors
Transducers & Transistors updated, including homework solution (18 February 2010)

Circuit bending, ping distance sensor, off the shelf solutions (25 February 2010)
Communicating between MaxMSP and the Arduino (1 April 2010)



Physical computing provides an introduction to applied robotics and basic electronics with a focus on creating interactive electronic devices for visual art, theater, and performance. The course will also include an introduction to the use of the MaxMSP software package for creating interactive audio and video systems. Physical computing offers a new approach to media art presentation: whether viewed as interactive sculpture, live video installation, wearable devices, or responsive environments. Physical Computing allows students to experiment with how media can respond to physical and environmental input, and how generative behaviors, mingling live events and synthetic responses, can become part of our media expression.

The role of the computer “user” typically involves manipulation of a mouse and keyboard to access a screen-based experience. When, instead of the mouse-wielding hand, the body’s actions trigger sensors, new possibilities arise for the relationship between bodies, computers and media. Both direct and indirect gestures may begin to drive computer response; subtle physical and environmental dynamics may generate sound and image events.
Using the open source Arduino microcontroller and Max/MSP/Jitter software, this class introduces students to making stand-alone active and interactive devices as well as sensor circuits that can “talk” and “listen” to a PC. The class will present simplified steps to the technical aspects of physical computing, easing the learning curve and focusing attention on the concept and content of physical/media relationships. Students will be challenged to visualize new correspondences between the virtual world of digital media and the physical world of bodies and spaces.


Physical Computing
Temple university school of communications and theater
film and media arts

Chris Vecchio
Christopher Vecchio
Physical Computing, electronics for artists, circuit bending, 8 bit, 8bit, eight bit,
contemporary art, electronic art, new media, kinetic art, installation art, engineering,
earth works, earthworks, environmental installation, environmental installations,
site specific installation, an orchid in the land of technology, Walter Benjamin, environmental art,
Pavlov Video Chicken One