<aside> đź’ˇ This is an Art & Technology practicum class taught at the California Institute of the Arts in January 2022.



This class is a quick flyby of Systems, what that even means, how artists, designers and theorists have historically thought about them, and a hands-on exploration of tools to help you communicate systems projects that explore relational and interactive modes of being.

First a little context—post WWII saw the beginning of cybernetics, which drew its inspiration from information theory. Cybernetics is essentially the theory of how dynamic systems—factories, ecosystems, artificial intelligence, human relationships—change, learn, and adapt based on information, and for what purpose. Perhaps the best definition is the subtitle to Norbert Wiener’s book on the subject: “Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine.” Wiener's work, and the work of other systems scientists and theorists, served as a useful lens to view experiences and ways of being in the world. This lens evolved to consider other ways of knowing as seen through first-order and second-order cybernetics (e.g., Gregory Bateson & Margaret Mead's work), the latter of which considers the role of the observer in the epistemological analysis of a system.

This course will dig into this body of work in our sessions together through mostly an aesthetic and design-oriented lens. While we'll scratch the surface of this rich interdisciplinary field, I'll strive to point you to relevant resources to dig in deeper along the way.


Day 1: Intros, 'Systems Esthetics', review of historical works

Day 2: Design fundamentals, systems thinking, basic tools & tactics

Day 3: Visiting scholar Ed Shanken, project introduction

Day 4: Advanced tools & tactics, working sessions

Day 5: Project presentations, where to go from here

References & resources

Radical Software

Documents of Contemporary Art: Systems

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace

System Aesthetics - Are.na

About the Instructor

Raphael Arar works at the nexus of complex systems, transdisciplinary design and arts-based research. His work highlights the social, political and economic implications of technological acceleration and human-to-machine interaction. His media often incorporates kinetic, sculptural elements connected through coded interfaces that invite participant interaction. His artwork has been shown at museums, conferences, festivals and galleries internationally including the ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Moscow Museum of Applied Art, Goethe Institut, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Gamble House Museum, Boston Cyberarts Gallery, and Athens Video Art Festival. Commercially, his design work has been featured in publications including TED, Inc. Magazine, FastCompany, Wired and others.



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