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Eccentric Interfaces, Environmental Interventions

Taught by Tega Brain and Annelie Berner
Copenhagen Institute for Interactive Design

July 25th – 29th, 2016

Class outline

##Useful Links Class Shared Doc
Class Slack
Class Tumblr


How can design shift perceptions of natural systems and other lifeforms? How can interfaces and practices be reconceived to attend to more-than-only human perspectives and agendas? What does eccentric design, that privileges our interconnectedness with the ‘non-human’ look like?

This workshop focuses on data-driven design interventions and interfaces that address our interconnectedness with environmental systems and other lifeforms, in ways that go beyond divisive political headlines or scientific papers. Practices of data collection and data performance will be considered as being less about sensors, and more about structuring participation and building experiences that foster localized environmental literacy and stewardship.

Participants will be guided and supported to develop concepts and prototypes that probe, amplify, celebrate or explicate our environment’s chatter. Open source hardware and software environments will be introduced and proejcts may be realised in a variety of analog and digital media such as analog sketches, code-based digital visualization, or through spatial installation. Through these works we will explore how designers are uniquely positioned to structure engagement with non human systems and lifeforms implementing creative strategies like humor, beauty and surprise.

Examples of environmental data that we will explore are: sound (acoustic ecology), phenology (temporal events), infrastructure/resource use (power, water), climate (temperature, weather conditions), pollutants (air quality, ozone impact).

We will ground the course in the following foundational questions:

  • What counts as information? Certain modes of information production are valued more than others, how do we weight different sensory experiences and what design opportunities does this present?
  • Computationally mediated interfaces are now celebrated over more analog forms of data presentation. What are the affordances of different modes of presenting data?
  • How can the environmental interfaces we design reflect a more networked and less human centric view of the world?
  • How might interaction design address the impossible problem of representing the agendas, perspectives and experience of other non-human organisms and systems? How can we design with others? With other interests that extend beyond the ‘exclusively human’.

Learning expectations:

  • Learn to program basic communication between sensors, Arduino and Processing, Javascript
  • Learn to program real-time data visualizations using programming environments such as p5js
  • Learn how to engage scientific research and concepts through aesthetic and creative strategies
  • Hone ability to communicate visual and physical concepts through quick sketches and low resolutions prototypes Prerequisites: Basic skills in programming and Arduino will serve students well but are not required.



This schedule is subject to change so please check in daily.



  • Guest lecture and visit from
  • Lab 1:
    • Intro to physical outputs
    • Intro to screen based outputs
  • Lecture 2: Rethinking Interfaces
  • Bratton and Jeremijenko reading discussion
  • Studio: Develop project starting points and arrange project groups


  • Project starting points concept work and presentation prep (9.30-12)
  • Project presentation and crits (12.00-1.00)
  • Lunch (1.00-2.00)
  • Lecture 3: Design Strategies (2.00-2.30)
  • Studio work (2.30-4.30)
  • Present project plan, schedule, delegation, options/alternatives for production. Think about the level of fidelity you want to achieve and whether this is feasible. Small, poetic interventions rather than 1 big project. Consider making an overall series of works or kit of parts that come together to address the issue you are focusing on. (4.30-5)
  • Illutron Boat (5.00-6.00)


  • Environmental Ethics
  • Christopher Stone reading discussion (9.30-10.30)
  • Project progress check in
  • Studio
  • Project Crit (2.00)
  • Optional programming / physical computing sessions


  • Studio preparation and project+process documentation
  • Project presentation and crits (12.00-2.00)
  • Clean up (2.00-2.30)
  • Trailer park i/o festival (2.30-onwards)


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