Professor Casey Reas


Interactive Environments. 256
Winter 2004
UCLA Design | Media Arts

Professor Casey Reas (office hours TBD)

When and Where
Monday & Wednesday, 10:00-13:50
Kinross South 212, UCLA


This class focuses on understanding interactivity. We will look at interaction from both a systemic and visceral perspective. We will discuss core properties of interaction and how to manipulate them for purposes of communication and engagement. Understanding interaction is a tacit knowledge and we will therefore learn the most through creating many examples of interactive artifacts and spaces.


An intimate knowledge of interactivity requires understanding the underlying software and hardware technologies and how to manipulate them. In this class you will develop new skills for building interactive experiences. You will have the opportunity to construct physical analog and digital devices and the software to bind them to both physical and virtual displays. A series of workshops will be taught in tandem with the course to facilitate your work.


In this class you will build many objects and interfaces, research relevant work, and read and discuss pertinent texts. We will spend the first weeks of the class creating four one-week exercises, and will spend the remaining time working toward a more ambitious goal.

The final project is open for you to explore personal interests. A goal for this project is to develop skills and methodologies for realizing future works. You should take this opportunity and improve your ability to realize diverse ideas. You must build the project using a methodology where there will be a new, interactive prototype each week. Each member of the class will use your prototype and the qualities of this interaction will be the basis for a critique.

In addition to the prototypes, there are two research exercises. You will be writing a short paper focusing on an artist working within the domain of environments and you will be leading the class is a discussion of a self-selected text.


All work will be evaluated for it's originality, aesthetic qualities, and depth of interaction. Feedback will be primarily qualitative but numeric scores will also be given for all work. Problem sets will be graded based on their state of completion on all due dates. All problem sets must be executed to pass the course. Failure to satisfactorily complete all problem sets will result in not passing the course.

The numeric breakdown for your grade follows:
 5% Discussion
 5% Research Report
10% Participation (contribution & concentration during class)
50% Exercises 01-07
30% Exercise 08

More than two unexcused absences will result in failure (an excused absence is one approved by the Professor before the start of class).


Dag Svanaes. Understanding Interactivity
Ph.D. Thesis, NTNU Trondheim. pp 1-5, 20-101

Erkki Huhtamo. "From Cybernation to Interaction"
Digital Dialectic, edited by Peter Lunenfeld. MIT Press, 1999. pp 96-110

David Rokeby. "The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content"
Digital Illusion: Entertaining the Future with High Technology, edited by Clark Dodsworth, Jr.
ACM Press, 1998

Mark Weiser. "The World is Not a Desktop"
Interactions. January 1994. pp 7-8.

Mark Weiser. "The Computer for the Twenty-First Century"
Scientific American. September 1991. pp 94-110

Donald A. Norman. "Living in Space: Working with the Machines of the Future"
Hal's Legacy: 2001's Computer as Dream and Reality, edited by David G. Stork. MIT Press, 1996

Additional references will be contributed by the class