Syllabus Fall 2022

Time: Tuesday and Thursday – 02:00PM 04:50PM
Location: CFA 317 (Windows lab) – CFA 307 
Instructor: Paolo Pedercini – paolop andrew… 
Office: CFA 419A – 4th Floor 
Office hours: By appointment 

Foundation: Digital Media (60-210) is an introduction to practices, artists, and tools from a variety of contemporary fields including interactive media, internet and post-internet art, machine learning, hacktivism.
In this course students develop the skills and confidence to produce digital artworks, discuss their work in relation to the tradition of new media art, and critically engage with emerging technologies.


Each unit centers around a series of related assignments, a set of key artists and artworks, and some key questions.
Class activities include interactive lectures, technical demonstrations, brainstorming session, in-class exercises, self-directed work sessions, and critiques.

Internet ready-made

What is the role of an artist in relation to the ubiquitous and democratized creativity of the internet? What separates a “content creator” from a “fine artist” when the tools and platforms they use are the same? What is the status of found objects in the digital realm?

Assignment: This is a research and curation assignment. Collect a series of images or digital artifacts from the internet centered around a particular theme, concept, aesthetic. Find the most appropriate format to present it to a public.

Drawing with Code

What is coding for the visual arts? Where is the line separating an interactive artwork from an art making tool? How can you create and customize programs without a degree in computer science?

Part 1 – Topics: Intro to p5.js, coordinates, primitives, colors.
Assignments: Code a portrait of a classmate as a “monster”. Try to capture an aspect of their personality, interests, or biography. We will make it sound reactive.

Part 2 – Topics: Art tools and interactive art, open source, mouse input, random, blend modes, DOM elements.
Assignment: Create an artistic drawing tool. It can have a built-in aesthetic but try to make it flexible enough to produce different images. The program should produce images that are impossible or hard to make with a “standard” drawing application like Photoshop. As “critique” create an image made with your classmates’ applications. 

Part 3 – Topics: Drawing machines, repetition and variation, patterns. for loops, nested loops, noise.
Assignments: Create a static pattern with code. Create a dynamic sketch representing order vs. disorder.
Modify/remix/improve/customize one of your classmates’ projects. 

Interactive Storytelling

How can storytelling and interaction work together? Can you tell a story through an environment? Can you make games without programming? 

Create a narrative space / game using Bitsy.

Virtual Objects, Virtual Spaces

How can we use video game technologies for expressive purposes? What becomes of object-making, architecture, and installation art, when we move to the virtual realm?

Assignment 1: Create a virtual sculpture by combining 3D models from a limited collection. 
Assignment 2: Create a virtual installation you can explore in first person using models found online. Look for mundane object with baggage, history and built-in symbolism.

Artificial creativity

Is machine learning going to replace visual artists? What are the ethical dilemmas raised by AI tools? Can neural networks enhance your creative process?

Assignment: starting from the output of a machine learning system, add a “human touch” and produce a unique physical artwork – eg: painting, print, sculpture, art book, etc.


In this course you will:

  • Familiarize with a wide range of contemporary artists that use digital media and the internet as core component of their practice.
  • Learn the foundations of coding for visual applications.
  • Learn concepts and strategies that will allow you to take advanced classes in Electronic and Time-based art.
  • Acquire practical and conceptual tools that can enrich your non-digital art practice.
  • Research topics beyond the field of fine arts.
  • Make art that is not just about yourself.


Laptop: using your laptop is strongly discouraged for the unit “Virtual Objects, Virtual Spaces” (Unity) but allowed for the other sections.

Mouse: You will need a 3 button mouse for the unit Virtual Objects, Virtual Spaces.

External Hard Drive: In this class you will be working with big files that cannot be stored on the lab computers or in the cloud. Having an external hard drive will be essential to backing up your work and transporting it from home to school.

Software: All the software needed in this class is free or provided by CMU.


I’ll ask you to read and sign a little contract. We will discuss it and amend it on the first day of class.

* Absences:
My well being come first, if I am sick I should stay at home. I will inform the professor of my absences via email.
I am
responsible to catch up with the class, and to look into the material that I have missed.
I expect most of the class material to be on this website, and understand that many class activities can’t be experienced asynchronously or online.
I am aware that repeated absences may trigger additional scrutiny from the school administration.

* Participation:
I will engage actively in discussions and critiques.
I expect the professor to adopt a variety of critique formats to account for different personality types.

* Net addiction
I value face-to-face interaction, so I commit to not use phones and computers during lectures, critiques, and discussions, ie. any time somebody is speaking to the class.

* Computer habits
I understand that using my personal laptop will require more responsibilities on my side:
-I will disable all push notifications from social media unrelated to class
-I will reboot my system before class and close all the applications
-I will bring and use a mouse when it’s required
-I will bring and use my charger all the time
-I will make sure I have enough room in my hard drive
-I will make sure I have all the required applications installed
-If unable to meet these basic requirement I will use the lab computers

* Communications 
I will use the class Discord to keep up with asynchronous communications, announcements, and questions that could be of general interest.
To keep a proper record, I will use the CMU email for personal communication with the professor. 

I will negotiate late assignment submissions with the professor at least 24 hours before the deadline. I understand it will have to be justified and will not be automatically granted.
I will be present and participate to critiques even if I don’t have my work.

I will be in class before the official beginning of the session.
I understand that late arrivals may affect my grade: arriving over 10 minutes late more than 3 times = 10% grade reduction.

*Office hours
I am entitled to a one-to-one meeting with the professor for feedback and general check-in every semester.

*Plagiarism and “collaborations”
I acknowledge that the concept of plagiarism is somewhat elusive in digital media as we working with open source tools and libraries, remixing and building upon the work of a multitude of people.
However I will not outsource the class work to other people nor plagiarize assignments and exercises from my classmates.

*Community agreements
These statement apply to both student and instructors:
We will speak from our own experiences (make ‘I’ statements).
We will respect differences; we’re all privileged in some ways.
We agree to critique ideas, not people.
We will not assume the identity of others, nor ask individuals to speak for their perceived social group.
We will hold this as a brave space, where we take risks, be vulnerable and hold each accountable with love and respect. 
We agree to have only ‘one mic’: we will listen respectfully without interrupting.
We agree to practice active listening: when someone is speaking, we will listen without also thinking about how we are going to respond/rebut.
We may share what we learn but will keep others’ stories and personal experiences in confidence.
We will ‘move up, move up’: those who tend to speak a lot will ‘move up’ their listening; those who tend
to hold back and listen will ‘move up’ their speaking.


Qualitative feedback during in-class critiques is the most important form of evaluation and you will get plenty of it, but we live in a quantified society so grades need to happen.

Grade composition:
Internet ready-made: 10%
Drawing with Code: 30%
Virtual Environment: 20%
Interactive Storytelling: 10%
Artificial creativity: 20%
Attendance, participation, computer habits: 10%


It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present activities that accommodate and value a diversity of gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. I will gladly honor your request to address you by your preferred name and gender pronoun. I commit to make individual arrangements to address disabilities or religious needs (e.g. religious events in conflict with class meetings). Please advise me of these preferences and needs early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my plans and records. Debate and free exchange of ideas is encouraged but I will not tolerate harassment, i.e. a pattern of behavior directed against a particular individual with the intent of humiliating or intimidating.


Being in an art school, you should expect to be exposed to content that challenges your moral, ethical, and aesthetic values. In case of extremely graphic content I will warn the class in advance. If you have a history of PTSD please let me know privately if there are types of content that are known to act as trauma triggers for you.


Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress. All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful. If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website. Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.