A Course in Technology for Artists
Art and design are essential aspects of our culture and how we interact with the world. Artists and designers use a wide selection of tools, whose impact is rapidly growing with the progression of digital technologies. This change has opened up new opportunities for the CHI community to build creative supportive tools. The digital switch has come with many benefits such as lowering barriers, mobile work environments and mass production for distribution of work. Along with these benefits we also see challenges for art and design work and its future perception in society. As technology takes a more significant role in supporting art and design what will this mean for the individual artist or designer? The focus of this workshop is to bring together researchers and practitioners to explore what the future of digital art and design will hold. The exploration will centre around synthesizing key challenges and questions, along with ideas for future interaction technologies that consider mobile and tangible aspects of digital art..
The author describes the curriculum of his course in technology specifically designed for artists and art students. It is based on a number of courses in technology that he has taught to both art students and students in other nontechnical disciplines. The assumption on which the course is predicated is that the operation and application of much of modern technology (including, for example, lasers and holographic equipment) are no more difficult than the use of a motion picture camera or a film projector. The image of difficulty associated with modern technology has arisen from the necessity of specialized education for research and design engineers.
Structurally, the course is built around a set of broad technological topics, including the scope and impact of technology, energy, materials, information handling and systems concepts. These topics are explored and illustrated in a variety of examples. Some of the illustrations include the man–machine interface, electricity and magnetism, computers, fiber optics, lasers, holography, simulation and control. The assignments and projects are chosen to encourage the students to apply various aspects of technology in the art of their interest. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on their contact with technological resources and personnel both within the university and without.
Technology is playing an increasingly significant role in art and design . As there is a growing diversity of tools for creative processes, this workshop aims to bring together people working in these spaces to facilitate discussions and exploration to technology for artists and designers. Figure 1: Authors running workshops with designers at BBC An increasing amount of intelligent tools aims to support creative practices in a co-creative manner.
Especially in more abstract, tacit areas like design and art, human knowledge can enhance computational processes and vise versa . Machine learning based ideation tools, for example, aim to support the generation of ideas by providing verbal [1, 2, 7], or visual material  to explore creative spaces together with the user by interactively contributing and interpreting inspirational material. This interactivity allows systems to work within the iterative processes which are fundamental to design. However, it can also be used to create more abstract artifacts in art and design, as when machines draw [3, 11], improvise dance  or improvise music  with users.
Figure 2: Mobile canvas prototype using hydrogels to simulate paints  The ability of machines to contribute own artifacts allows designers and artists to not only be more inspired, but also to use this material to work with and adapt ideas to their own needs and interpretations. We also consider mobile and tangible aspects for deploying intelligent tools. The versatility of mobile devises holds potential for allowing intelligent tools to become an integrated part of the process. Similarly to this, physical and tangible materials have the ability to carry meaning and can be appropriated in creative support tools.
To further enhance this tangible layer we see increased exploration into the possibilities of tangible art and design interfaces. This work aims to combine the benefits of physical tangibility with the freedom of digital tools, as with advantages of digital interactions comes a loss of physical engagement. In some cases these elements borrow from existing traditional methods , for example simulating brushes to make advanced styli [17, 16, 9] or exploring possibilities of tactile sensations and realistic textures, which are usually limited in mobile digital experience [4, 14] by appropriating multiple devices as tangible tools (see Figure 2). The active work in this space demonstrates the strong interest in designing, building, and testing improved tools, and the active commercial participation.
Researchers could also take the next step to explore the impact of these developments in practice over long-term use. In this workshop, we will challenge researchers and practitioners to think deeper into how a combination of existing physical and computational tools could yield more usable, interactive and creative tools for the artists and designers. We aim to invite ideation of new physical form factors or digital concepts of art and design tools to understand how we can enhance these experiences.
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