Sensing Emotional Infrastructure of the City

A workshop with Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas and David Robert. April 18 - April 20 / Art & Common Space

Art and Common space welcome you to participate in the workshop (still a
few places available):
"Sensing Emotional Infrastructure of the City".
It will be held in Intermedia studio, Thursday April 18th and Friday
April 19th with possible public intervention on Saturday April 20th.

The workshop will be instructed by artists Nomeda (NTNU) and Gediminas
Urbonas (M.I.T.) with participation of David Robert, a programer from

We will examine how the responsive technologies could be deployed for
speculative reasons to detect affect, breath, motion, pressure, acoustics
and other senses, translating them into a series of alternative

The workshop is planed for 2 days: Thursday and Friday: morning session
9:00-12:00, lunch break 12:00-13:00, afternoon session till 13:00-17:00 pm.

Participants should work in groups of at least 2 students on a project
together so they can engage in peer-to-peer learning and figure it out.

Workshop agenda:

1. Gediminas + Nomeda : Intro: Critical framework of sensory workshop,

2. Short walk through built and natural environment nearby:

Ask students to bring pen + paper, take digital pictures if possible
- students to take notes on what sensors they see around them AND:
- note what each sensor needs to function properly (e.g. power supply,
something to sense, sunlight);
- note what happens along sensory pathway: where does the sensed
information go? how is it used?

3. Group discussion on sensors found during walk;

4. Intro to sensor hardware: Arduino setup:

-An Overview of Arduino Hardware micro-controller;
-Installing Arduino Programming Environment:
-Writing your first line of code;
-Where to look when you are stuck and need to learn...

5. INPUT: Three sensors and Arduino:

-Preparing your sensors, wiring sensors to hardware;
-Starter code for each sensor example;
-The ecology of Arduino-compatible "shields".

6. OUTPUT: Make a tool for graphing and visualizing sensory stream:
-How does seeing your sensor's data over time help you understand patterns?

7. OUTPUT: Make a servomotor move:
-What is a servomotor - how to select one.

8. Initial Discussion re: problems you will eventually need to solve:

-How do I power my setup?
-How do I make my setup wireless?
-Do I really need to leave my laptop with the electronics all the time?

9. Field test AS-IS:

-Test your sensor in a first prototype of your intended piece;
-Choose your own research method and protocol;
-Document/take notes;

10. Generate "practice-led research report" documenting:

Project Goals
Art Historical Context
Project Description (as-executed)
Participant/Observer feedback
Experiment Results
Future Work:
How you plan to develop your piece
Theoretical / critical issues you would like to further address
Technical challenges you want to overcome
Conclusion / Discussion

11. Gediminas + Nomeda : feedback session with students on experience

12. Possible Assignment: Research Abstracts from students:

RESEARCH ABSTRACT = 1 paragraph and should include:
One to two sentences on Motivation. One or two sentences on project
description. One sentence on research method chosen. One or two sentences
on results of experiment/findings and summary of discussion.


Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas (born in Lithuania) are artists, educators and
founders of Urbonas Studio - the interdisciplinary research program that
advocates for the reclamation of public culture in the face of
overwhelming privatization, stimulating cultural and political imagination
as tools for social change. Often beginning with archival research, their
methodology unfolds complex participatory works investigating the urban
environment, architectural developments, and cultural and technological

Urbonas have exhibited internationally including the Venice, San Paulo,
Berlin, Moscow, Lyon, Gwangju Biennales and Manifesta and Documenta
exhibitions. Their writings on the artistic research as a form of
intervention to social and political crisis were published in the books
"Devices for Action" by MACBA Press, Barcelona and "Villa Lituania" by
Sternberg Press. Gediminas is an associate professor at ACT, MIT and
Nomeda is a PhD researcher at NTNU, both live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

DAVID ROBERT is a PhD student at the human-robot interaction design group
at MIT Media Lab with the diverse background and experience ranging from
informal learning using robots designed for children to working in the
film and animation industry. David was responsible for managing the North
American Pacific Northwest region, which included consulting for the
world’s top animation studios including PIXAR, Dreamworks, LucasArts,
ILM and Disney Imagineering and technically directed accounts in Canada,
China, Japan, Spain and the United States. He also served as a diplomatic
liaison on international trade missions for the Embassy of Canada in Japan
and Singapore. During David’s tenure at Side Effects, the procedural
animation software Houdini, was awarded two Academy Awards for Technical

Prior to his 10-year career at Side Effects, he was Technical Director and
Animator for 20th Century Fox, where he worked on several feature films
and co-founded a Creative Research and Development department on Fox’s
first 3D animated feature film. His interdisciplinary approach and
experience with prototyping and character design fa- cilitated his recent
job in Hasbro’s Design and Development department working on robot
behaviors and personalities for a product to be released this Christmas

He has over eight years teaching experience at The San Francisco Art
Institute, Acad- emy of Art, Pixar University, Walt Disney Animation
studios, Stanford University, Pratt, RISD, MIT and has recently completed
his second appointment as a Teaching Fellow at The Harvard Graduate School
of Education, overseen by Professor Joseph Blatt, Direc- tor of
Technology, Innovation and Education. Together with the executive and
research teams of Sesame Workshop, David has been an integral part of a
teaching team using Sesame Street’s unique model of research, production
and content development to create informal learning interventions based on
a whole child curriculum.

His work has appeared on BBC, CNN, PBS, Variety and in TED talks but most
importantly has delighted children (of all ages). David’s original
research has been published in top-tier, international academic
conferences. His current interests include developing the connection
between real-time animation and semi-autonomous robots for early childhood
development through physical play. His hope is to connect children across
spaces, cultural and linguistic barriers using robotic media for

Postal address:
Kunstakademiet i Trondheim
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
N-7491 Trondheim

Visiting address:
Innherredsveien 7 (Industribygget)

Contact form
adm [at]
Tel. +47 73 59 79 00
Fax. +47 73 59 79 20