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The possibilities of integrating movement and sound with artwork are endless – from wind-powered mobiles to motorized robots, art cars, flaming sculptures and more. The Kinetics Department focuses on mechanical and electronics-based movement to help you create dynamic and interactive artwork.

Whether it is large- scale Rube Goldberg contraptions or tiny robots that literally have minds of their own, these classes will help you take your creations to the next level. Learn about motors, how to program microchips, where to find components, and how to (safely) set your work on fire!

Introduction to Mechanical Sculpture

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mechanical sculpture class
Entry-level. Take this class with a friend and get a discount.

Want to make your creations move, or are you just curious how movement happens? This course introduces such simple and complex mechanisms as gears, cams, pulleys and linkages; shows how to create, convert and control movement; and teaches how to combine these elements to get the complex motion you desire. Hands-on labs using foam-board, plastic, wood and wire deepen your understanding of these concepts, which you can apply to other sculptural material. Personal projects and interests are welcomed and encouraged.

Getting Started with Arduino

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Entry-level. Take this class with a friend and get a discount.

If you dream of building microcontroller-controlled projects, from home-automation systems to tiny robots to large-scale interactive installations, Arduino is the tiny open-source platform for you. In this brief introduction, we will learn how to connect and talk to an Arduino, including setting up and debugging basic circuits and “sketches” (programs). Each student will receive an Arduino starter pack. Bring your own laptop.

Intermediate Mechanics for Artists

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Prerequisite: Introduction to Mechanical Sculpture or solid mechanical fundamentals. Take this class with a friend and get a discount.

Take your mechanical sculpture to the next level by delving into construction techniques, geometry, and problem solving for mechanisms and contraptions of all sorts. We will make gears, learn how to work with four-bar movements, and practice mapping out mechanisms on paper or using computer drafting. We will dissect machines to find out how they work, and build our own using the drill press, bandsaw, and simple hand tools. Work on an organized project, or bring your own design to work on. If you have basic metalworking skills and know a bit about mechanics, and want to get started constructing complex devices with interesting, reliable movements, this class is the place to start.

Electromechanics for Everything

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Entry-level

Using the simplest of electronic and mechanical components, learn to make things spin, twitch, jump, bend and wiggle. This class covers switches, buttons, relays, motors, servos and solenoids, along with some basic analog and digital control circuits, AC/DC current and safety. You can apply the techniques taught in this class to almost any kind of project.

Electronics for Artists

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Entry-level

Would you like to animate your artwork? Do you dream of building interactive sculpture with sensors, lights, and motors? This course is designed to introduce you to basic circuitry and the skills you will need to integrate electronics with your work. You will learn basic electronic theory, schematic reading, use of solderless breadboards for prototyping, and soldering. You will also learn how to scavenge components from old circuitboards, and where to source new parts and supplies. Each student will receive a kit including a solderless breadboard and parts for experimentation. This is a beginning course designed for students who have little or no experience with electronics. 

Arduino Microcontrollers: Building Smart Art

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Entry-level

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. Designed for people with little or no programming or electronic background, Arduino is perfect for artists, designers, hobbyists or anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. Sensing the environment through input from a variety of sensors, Arduino can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other actuators using its free programming language and development environment.Starting with basic electronics and programming, we thoroughly review Arduino’s hardware and software features. Plenty of hands-on lab time deepens your understanding and enables you to create interactions of your own. Personal projects are encouraged and welcomed. A laptop is helpful but not essential. An Arduino board and accessories are provided.

Flame Effects for Art

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flame effects for art
Entry-level

In this hands-on class, we cover all aspects of making safe, effective and beautiful flame effects with propane. You will learn many different ways of manipulating fire in sculpture including accumulator “poofer” effects, fuels, ignitors, colorants, plumbing, blowers and electronic controls (most classes use compressed air or water). You will design and build your own flame effects sculpture and you will get hands-on, flame-on experience with the flame effect sculpture you’ve created. Personal projects are welcome and you will take home your final project. This class focuses on mechanical and fire aspects.

Handmade Electronic Music &; Sound Design

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electronic music and sound design
Entry-level. Rare offering.

If you’ve ever thought about integrating electronic music or sound art into your work, this course provides an engaging introduction to the craft of making—as well as creatively cannibalizing—electronic circuits for artistic purposes. This guided tour through the world of electronics teaches the inner workings of basic electronic devices so you can use them for your own creative ends. Covering basic electronic principles and practical circuitry from the artist’s point of view, this course will help you transcend any fear of electronic technology and experience the pleasure of working creatively with all kinds of analog circuitry. 

Kinetics Immersion Program

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Entry-level

The Crucible Immersion Workshops are designed to give students, beginner level to advanced, an opportunity to do a deep-dive study in a particular curriculum area. Over the course of five days, you will learn theory, principles, and extensive techniques that will give you the necessary skills to work independently. Each day will consist of six hours of instruction with four hours of optional open lab time in the evening, with the exception of Friday which will be a full 8 hour lab day. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Come experience The Crucible in an intense learning program that will foster new skills and develop the artist in you. No experience is necessary to take this class.

Programming with Processing

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Entry-level

Get started with programming using Processing, a simple yet powerful graphic programming language targeted to artists and designers. In this hands-on course you will learn programming fundamentals by writing your own programs, from computer games to cutting-edge algorithmic art. Though it is simple to use, Processing is a full-featured language, not a toy: the concepts you will learn (variables, loops, functions and arrays) are fundamental and necessary for programming in any other language. In particular, the popular Arduino hardware platform is based on the Processing language; fundamentals learned in this course translate naturally to Arduino and beyond. A laptop computer is very helpful but not essential.