00 Spring 2018 Course Details

Thursdays, 9:00-11:50 PM
Kinsey Teaching Pavillion 1200B

Instructor: Noa Kaplan
noakapla [at]
Office hours: Thursdays 12-1 pm
Untitled Cafe, 2nd floor, Broad Art Center

Teaching Assistant: Eric Fanghanel
ericfanghanel [at]
Office hours: Wednesdays 2-3 pm
Graduate studios, 5th floor, Broad Art Center

The Class:
This course offers a critical examination of design practice and theory, incorporating historical as well as speculative design methodologies. Students will explore the impact of emerging technologies on a multitude of disciplines and produce cross-cultural, transmedia analyses that concentrate on 21st century experiments and movements.

With this in mind, the goals of the course are threefold: 1) to identify and become acquainted with diverse methodologies for practice and research with special attention to research-based, practice-based and design-based research 2) to explore tactics for integrating theory and practice with respect to research and design goals; and 3) to prepare students for critical participation in rapidly changing design fields.

With regard to structure, this is a lecture course in which participants are expected to contribute by asking questions, completing course readings and projects, interacting actively with guest speakers, and sharing work-in-progress when appropriate. Sessions will typically cover readings, engage with guests, and focus on diverse research tactics and practices. Students are expected to attend all class sessions. Participants will leave the course knowing how to write a critical review; how to define a research problem, determine research questions and plan a speculative design project; as well as how to situate theory/practice within a broader critical and cultural context.

Assignments & Requirements:
All assignments must be handed in and emailed to the teaching assistant by email to earn a grade. Assignment grades will be decreased by 1% for each day late. The course grade, while guided by percentages, is calculated holistically.

Event Reports: 20%
You are required to attend two DMA sponsored events, lectures, or shows and write a short review in response (each should be 1-2 pages double-spaced). Make sure to clearly identify the major themes and methodologies represented. Most importantly, provide a critical analysis of the content. How does the event relate to concepts covered in this course? What are the cultural implications? What do you find successful/unsuccessful and why? See the Department of Design Media Arts calendar for details

Review 1 due 9:00 AM, Thursday, May 3
Review 2 due at 9:00 AM, Thursday, May 31

Take Home Midterm: 30%
Midterm due 9:00 AM, Thursday, May 10

Final Project: 50%
Prototype due 9:00 AM, Thursday, June 7
Final version due 12:00 PM, Friday, June 8

Attendance will be taken via The enrollment code (4RR5) will be emailed during the first week of the quarter, use your smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone, please contact the teaching assistant before April 12 to work out other arrangements. Please sign in to Arkaive every class before 9:10 AM. Each unexcused absence will result in a penalty of one half point, three or more result in an F.

Academic Expectations:
Plagiarism is a violation of UCLA Student Conduct Code Section 102.01: Academic Dishonesty

Wikipedia is an essential contemporary tool, but using it in academic situations is tricky.
Here’s a helpful Student Wikipedia Use Policy written by Alan Liu from UCSB.

01 04/05/2018 Methodologies

Covered: design thinking, design fiction, diy, form + function, iteration, human-centered design, hype cycle, maker movement, prototyping, research-based practice, speculative design, transmedia, worldbuilding

Exercise: Methodologies

Required Reading: Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming (2013), chapters 1 and 2.

02 04/12/2018 Information-Interface-Interaction

Covered: big data, camera vision, coordinate systems, data visualization, embodiment, gesture, immersion, interactivity, interoperability, spatial computing, telecommunication

Visiting speaker: Director of Interaction Design, Oblong Industries

Required Reading: Lev Manovich, Software Takes Command (2013), Chapter 1, pages 31-70 in the pdf

03 04/19/2018 Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Covered: algorithmic bias, artificial intelligence, automation, bots, conditional design, cyborgs, fuzzy logic, labor displacement, machine learning, moore’s law, robotics, singularity, turing test, universal basic income

Required Reading: Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Opression (2018), pages 1-39 of the pdf.

04 04/26/2018 The Internet of Things

Covered: blockchains, cryptocurrency, data collection, decentralization, mesh networks, micro-controllers, privacy, sensors, surveillance, transparency, trust, wearables

Visiting speaker: Jesse Stecklow

Required Reading: Satoshi Nakamoto, "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" (2009),

Wendy Chun, Updating to Remain the Same (2016) pg. 1-20

05 05/03/2018 Social Networks

Covered: analytics, branding, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, culture work, digital activism, fake news, identity, influencers, peer-to-peer, profiling, relational aesthetics, sharing economy, social media, targeted advertising, virality

Visiting speakers: Sarah Ciston and Fidelia Lam

Assignment: Take Home Midterm

06 05/10/2018 Design For Good

Assignment Due: Take Home Midterm

Covered: anthropocene, built-in obsolescence, credibility, dependence, environmental impact, impact model, labor exploitation, intellectual property, lobbying, marketing, revenue model

Required Reading/Viewing: Krzysztof Wodiczko, "Interrogative Design" (1994), and Matthew Manos, "Entrepreneurship" (2017).

07 05/17/2018 Remix Culture

Covered: commons, cultural appropriation, curation, open-source, postmodernism, poststructuralism, reappropriation, remix

Visiting speaker: Triton Mobley

Required Reading: Morehshin Allahyari, "The Additivist Manifesto" (2015). Neda Ulaby, "He Died At 32, But A Young Artist Lives On In LA's Underground Museum," (2016).

08 05/24/2018 Parametricism

Covered: additive manufacturing, biomimicry, biomorphism, blobjects, computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing, computer numeric control, new materialism, non-destructive transformations, parametricism, subtractive manufacturing

Required Reading: Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov, “The Blobject Begins to Take Shape” and “The Look and Feel of Optimism” from Blobjects & Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design (2005)

09 05/31/2018 Mixed Realities

Assignment Due: Review 2

Covered: augmented reality, drones, games, light field photography, mixed reality, photogrammetry, the new aesthetic, virtual reality

Required Reading: Bruce Sterling, "An Essay on the New Aesthetic" (2012), James Bridle, The New Aesthetic and its Politics (2013)

10 06/07/2018 Open Dialogues

Assignment Due: Prototype of Final Project

Covered: agile, citation, community, constructive criticism, copy editing, demoing, open beta, pivoting, play-testing, quality assurance, quality control, shipping, thrashing, user feedback, user support

Final Project Due Friday June 8 by 12:00 PM