This is part 4 (last) of a series started here.

4. Social study of media technology

These two courses were not mandatory. They were not even from my programme. As soon as I knew that my mandatory and elective courses quota is fulfilled, I looked beyond my programme and department to find interesting courses.

  • Science Goes Fiction: Science Fiction, Film, and Technological Futures in a Historical Perspective (link)
  • Future of Media

In Science Goes Fiction, I got to watch a science fiction film every week and wrote on a topic related to the film as the assignments. Of course, the films were not just any films. The purpose was to study how the films reflected the history and development of science. Those films could be regarded as an archive of the image of the future from the past.

The films were Frankenstein (1931), Silent Running (1972), Tron (1982), Threads (1984), Soylent Green (1973), Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (1999), Ghost in the Shell (both 1995 and 2017), and GATTACA (1997). In addition, for the assignments I chose Predestination (2014) and wrote about time; for the poster assignment I chose to compare the original Metropolis (1927) vs the Japanese adaptation in 2001 and wrote about the different depiction of robots in different time and society; and for the final paper assignment I chose Ex Machina (2014) to go deeper into the depiction of robot and AI in it.

Yes, that Pokemon movie. There's a paper about how the franchise interrogates the relationship between environmentalism, materialism, and sustainable development. Deep.

Yes, that Pokemon movie. There’s a paper  about how the franchise interrogates the relationship between environmentalism, materialism, and sustainable development. Deep.

Future of Media is the course where the students discuss future possibilities of a certain field within the frame of design fiction. Past themes ranged from the future of radio, the future of news, and the future of gaming. This year, the theme was the future of work and the work of the future. First half of the the course filled with seminars and guest lectures, discussing the present state of “work” and how it would change in the future, ranging from digital transformation, digital labor platform (crowdsourcing), to the universal basic income. Second half of the course filled with group projects. Our group explored the future of biohacking at work.

 

I enjoyed the nature of these two courses, discussion on the possibilities of technology. Science fiction movies could be accepted as an archive of the images of the future, to frame the progress of science and technology in fiction. Both courses encouraged me to reflect and write, with Future of Media even landed me my first symposium presentation in Berlin. Unfortunately, this would be the last time the course is given.

 

5. Project courses

Finally, at the end of the programme there were two project courses.

  • Advanced Project Course in Interactive Media Technology
  • Master Thesis in Media Technology and Interaction Design

Advanced Project Course could be seen as the last trial before Thesis. In the course, students worked with research groups in the department. Student groups were then tasked with projects related to the ongoing research. My project was to enrich children’s playground with technology. We designed a set of objects which can easily be attached to trees, and which invite children to explorative play.

 

Master Thesis was, of course, the final project of the programme. I worked with smart fabrics and created interactive sofa cushions that can be used to control music. I plan to write more of the project in another post.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you my thesis, MusiCushions

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you my thesis, MusiCushions

 

So, what’s next?

Well, my path continues here. And by here I meant the same university, the same department. I am joining the Sound and Music Computing research group and going to work with research in the use of sound in human-robot interaction. So, yeah, I’m happy that everything I learned during my Master will be useful for the next several years: interaction design, sound and music, even the design fiction.

I will, definitely, write more about this in the future. In the meantime, let me know if there’s any specific subject you want me to write in details.