Course Goals

The course will begin with an exploration of Chicago’s public landscapes of preserved or constructed nature. We will begin with visits to Chicago’s Park Systems and other public landscapes of interest to the class. You will choose a site of interest to work with throughout the duration of the course for an independent project.

Studio workshops will focus on familiarizing the class with physical computing techniques using the Arduino and/or LilyPad for interfacing with the natural environment. A variety of environmental sensors will be introduced, including photocells, gas sensors, temperature sensors, and video tracking. Solar panels and batteries will be introduced, as well as methods of information storage and transmission.

Ideas will be developed through a series of class projects interfacing with the environment. Observational sketches will familiarize you with both your chosen site and with techniques of sensing and intervention. A final project will build on the techniques learned throughout the semester, and will incorporate either or both computational and physical intervention of the site.

Supplementing the workshops and field trips will be readings, research, and critiques. You are expected to complete all readings and participate in discussions both in the classroom, during field trips, and via online responses posted to the class website. A short research project and presentation about a contemporary artist working with themes of the course will be required.


Students are best served by attending all classes. Three or more unexcused absences will result in an incomplete or a grade of “no credit.”  Two unexcused late arrivals or early departures are the equivalent to missing one class. Please do not be late! Much of our time will be spent on field trips, and late arrivals will either delay the entire class or will cause you to miss the field trip.

Attendance at Midterm and Final Critiques are mandatory. The Midterm Critique is on October 21, the Final Critique is on December 16. Please be sure to check that your winter break plans begin after our final class.


  • Completion of all assignments, including observational sketches, midterm, artist research presentation, final proposal and final project
  • Participation in class activities and field trips
  • Participation in class discussions
  • Completion of readings
  • Presence and participation for midterm and final critique


The class assignments and readings will be posted to Canvas. Please check regularly to check for changes and upcoming assignments


Extended Attendance Policy
Students are expected to attend all classes regularly and on time. Any necessary absences should be explained to the instructor. Students who are ill should contact their faculty member or leave a message for the instructor in the department office the day they are absent. For an extended absence due to illness,contact Health Services. Notification is then sent to all instructors informing them of the student’s absence. For other extenuating circumstances contact the Academic Advising office. Please note that the written notification does not excuse a student from classes. The instructor gives students officially enrolled in a course credit only if they have responded adequately to the standards and requirements set. If the instructor does not clarify their requirements and absence policy in the course syllabus,students should ask the instructor. Also note that if a student registers late for a class (during add/drop) the instructor counts the missed classes as absences and the student is responsible for assignments given during those missed days. (From Page 123-4 of SAIC Bulletin:

Plagiarism Policy
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago prohibits “dishonesty such as cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the School” (Students’ Rights and Responsibilities, Student Handbook). Plagiarism is a form of intellectual theft. One plagiarizes when one presents another’s work as one’s own, even if one does not intend to. The penalty for plagiarizing may also result in some loss of some types of financial aid (for example, a No Credit in a course can lead to a loss of the Presidential Scholarship), and repeat offenses can lead to expulsion from the School. To find out more about plagiarism and how to avoid it, you can (1) go to the portal, select the “Services” tab, and click on “Plagiarism” under “Academic Advising and Student Success”; (2) go to the SAIC Web site, select “Departments, Degrees, and Academic Resources,” then select “Libraries,” then select “Flaxman Library,” and then click on the plagiarism links under the “For Our Faculty” tab; or (3) read about it in the Student Handbook under the section “Academic Misconduct.”

Accommodations For Students with Disabilities Statement
SAIC is committed to full compliance with all laws regarding equal opportunities for students with disabilities. Students with known or suspected disabilities, such as a Reading/Writing Disorder, ADD/ADHD, and/or a mental health or chronic physical condition who think they would benefit from assistance or accommodations should first contact the Disability and Learning Resource Center (DLRC) by phone at 312.499.4278 or email at DLRC staff will review your disability documentation and work with you to determine reasonable accommodations. They will then provide you with a letter outlining the approved accommodations for you to deliver to all of your instructors. This letter must be presented before any accommodations will be implemented. You should contact the DLRC as early in the semester as possible. The DLRC is located on the 13th floor of 116 S. Michigan Ave.


— General calendar

Detailed schedule

The schedule is subject to change depending on the skills, experience, and needs of the class. Detailed updates will be available via Canvas.

Field trips are planned as indicated, but may shift according to weather conditions and/or class progress. Please be prepared to work outside even in unfavorable conditions. Come prepared with rain gear, appropriate footwear, water, your CTA card,  and waterproof case or bag for your electronics. In the case that a field trip must occur on a Saturday, we will not meet for class on the following Monday.


  • 8.28 // Fall 2013 classes begin
  • 9.2 // Labor Day, no classes
  • 9.10 // Add/Drop ends
  • 10.29 // Last day to withdraw from a Fall class
  • 11.18 // Winter Interim 2014 open registration begins, Spring 2014 advance registration for students with disabilities and RA’s
  • 11.20 – 25 // Spring 2014 advance registration for undergraduates
  • 11.27 – 12.1 // Thanksgiving Break, no classes
  • 12.16 // Last day of Fall 2013 classes


Class sensor kits (Sensing the Landscape: Sensor Kit’, SKU-11003) should be purchased from the MacLean Resale Center (805 / Media Center).

By week 3, you should also purchase an Arduino (or LilyPad) of your choosing. Arduino starter packs are available from the MacLean Resale Center, and we will discuss other options in class. Additional materials (physical and/or electronic) will depend on personal projects.

Arduino and Processing software, which are free and open source, are included in the school template or can be downloaded at and


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