Physical Computing – harder than it seems… or maybe not so much so


Physical computing means building interactive physical systems by the use of software and hardware that can sense and respond to the analog world. – wikipedia

This is the Wikipedia definition of physical computing, but it is a very general, very vague one. Starting this course, I had a general idea on what we might be doing, but I never really expected to connect so much with “emotion” and with “being”. My previous notion of interactive art consisted of the following: “Make something move with code and wire”. The layers were not quite clear and it was a sort of “black box”. Now that we are almost at the end of the semester, with so much basic knowledge about physical computing, I can finally see all the layers that might be there in, say, for example, an interactive installation.

Is it helping me become a better person? I don’t know if it’s helping me become a better person, but it’s helping me evolve into a different type of artist. When I think about what type of projects I want to do in the future, I no longer think exclusively of paintings and “archivable” art. I think of interactive installations I want to build and causes I want to help with these installations.

Is it adding something to my life? Yes, it is adding skills to my list of “things I can pull off under extreme stress, pressure, and approaching deadlines”. It is giving me an extension, or rather a whole other creative outlet. While coding is never going to make me as emotional as painting does, it is a big part of interactive art and helps bring things to life.

 What are am I getting out of it? Currently, I would say the satisfaction of getting this course over with and (hopefully) passing. In the future perhaps a job, and maybe a medium through with I can make a change in the world, regardless of how small it may be. All big change starts with small attempts towards a larger goal.

What do others get from it? The experience. Everyone has their own interpretations of a piece. Which is what makes physical computing so special. It takes people beyond just the visuality of the project. You can touch it (not in all cases of course). In other words, you get to be “one with the piece”.

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