module specification

MD4006 - Introduction to Interactive Arts (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Introduction to Interactive Arts
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Individual: Learning Reflection (500-700 words)
Coursework 30%   Individual: Mid-Term Portfolio (1000 words)
Coursework 50%   Individual: Final Project (2000 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City - To be arranged

Module summary

This is a subject discipline module, which explores the basics of interactive arts technologies. The focus will be on the package Cycling 74 Max ( From the basic programming with audio and video playback, to principles of controlling data flow, the basic sets of objects for processing numeric data, audio stream, Jitter matrix and Open GL will be studied. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator will be studied to provide the basics for image construction.
The module considers the creativity of the inquiring student at its core for the investigation on innovative ways to manipulate sound in real-time, or the development of innovative designs on interactive media.

By experimental approach it acquaints students with the perceptual aspects of working in music combined with arts, and examines current research in this area to help build a repertoire of reference works. At this level, the student selects a project from a menu of choices: interactive installations, acoustic instruments with real-time audio processing, interactive games, or live sound systems; a wealth of possibilities is opened and shall be explored through engagement with chosen practical projects. Critical listening and seminar discussions will also be part of the module. At the end of this module the student will have completed an interactive piece of work through experimentation, problem-solving, in a continuous growing learning curve.

This module is restricted to BA Creative Music Technologies students only

Prior learning requirements

BA Creative Music Technologies only

Module aims

The module aims are:

  1. To acquaint students with a new project approach thinking beyond linearity, achieving a basic level of designing and programming with object-oriented language.
  2. To explore how visual and auditory phenomena are interpreted and perceived and the modes of interaction between them within the physical space.
  3. To examine the relationships between the different materials and languages and their representation within software package Cycling 74 Max.
  4. To integrate creative, technical and critical learning and skills in the field of interactive arts.
  5. To enable students to apply the acquired knowledge to their chosen specialism in the form of practical interactive projects.


The module consists of the following subjects:

  • Basics of interactive arts
  • Theory, production, and literature
  • Reference works & history
  • Cycling 74 Max
  • MIDI data and controllers
  • MSP – real-time audio
  • MSP – Audio Processing
  • Jitter matrix
  • Jitter – real-time video effects
  • Jitter – 3D/2D vector graphics
  • Jitter – OpenGL rendering
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Audio/Video Input
  • Audio/Video Interaction
  • Signal workflow
  • User interface

Learning and teaching

The first part of the module will provide students with the basics on the subject of interactive arts, and will be delivered through lectures/seminars and in-class software demonstrations. A repertoire of reference works will be studied and critically discussed to help contextualise current practices on the subject domain of interactive arts.

In the subsequent part of the module, students will conduct practical investigations on the package software Cycling 74 Max exploring the basics of the software language, supported by workshops and seminars. The different materials and particular elements of the software will be accompanied by practical exercises throughout. The main practical stage of the work will be studio immersive and students will dedicate most of their investigative time in the computer labs.
The module will examine the different representation for numeric data, sound stream, graphic matrix, and Open GL. Signal flow is an important concept and modular replaces linear on the thinking process when programming and designing an interactive project. Knowledge acquired in other modules — Composing with Technology and Studio-Based Production Technologies — will be of great value for the production of sound materials. The practical outcomes should translate a concise integrated experience on the domains of creative music technologies.

The learning and teaching strategy for this module is to place the emphasis on learning through practice. Lecturers will be available for consultation and for a schedule of progressive tutorials and feedback. Throughout the module, learning will be supported by use of on-line tools, reference websites, as well as handouts and other documentation published on Weblearn.

The main assessment item is a final piece of interactive installation or sound and visual compositions in real-time. Experimental exercises will punctuate the learning experience along with formative feedback. The main project submitted in the end should include an individual report of 2000 words describing the entire process involved in the practical stages of conception, programming and production of a new interactive work. This report provides students with the opportunity for reflective learning practice.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

  1. Achieve a basic level of designing and programming with object-oriented language.
  2. Relate theoretical analysis to workshop, laboratory practice, and interactive live contexts through experimental and investigative work.
  3. Demonstrate a broad knowledge base with respect to the interactive arts applied to the conception and creation of practical outcomes.
  4. The ability to discuss their work using appropriate terminology and forms of presentation.
  5. Demonstrate familiarity with the context of interactive arts, both within artistic and technological foundations and its broader critical, cultural, historical and ethical background.

Assessment strategy

During the development phase of the practical project work, feedback will be provided orally in seminars, workshops, and one to one tutorials. This verbal feedback will be given after each short exercise or assignment. Students can use this feedback to continuously improve their work. A more comprehensive written formative feedback will be provided after mid-term submission of a portfolio of exercises on week 15.
Towards the end of the module there will be an exhibition of works in progress. This will be an opportunity for students to increase their learning from each other. This exhibition and the critiques that surround it will also be an opportunity for the student to learn to evaluate their work and progress. Feedback from other students provided during peer presentations will be a significant part of the assessment process.
Summative feedback will be provided in the assessment critiques at the end of the module and in writing after the final assessment of the submitted coursework. Written summative feedback focuses on the main interactive project. Given at the end of the year it aims to support study in subsequent years.
Towards the end of a module, student feedback will be collected and used to appraise the delivery of the module.


Breder, H., ‪Busse, K-P‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ (2005) ‪Intermedia: Enacting the Liminal, BoD – Books on Demand‬, Dortmunder Schriften zur Kunst‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
Cipriani, A., Giri, M. (2010) Electronic Music and Sound Design –
Theory and Practice with Max/MSP – Vol. I
Dixon, Steve (2007), Digital Performance, A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation
Faulkner, M. (2006) VJ: Audio-visual Art + VJ Culture, D-Fuse, Laurence King Publishing
Packer, R. & Jordan, K. (2002) Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality, Norton, Available online at:
Paul, C. (2002) Renderings of Digital Art in: Leonardo, Vol. 35, No. 5, Tenth Anniversary New York Digital Salon, The MIT Press
Winkler, T. (2001) Composing Interactive Music: Techniques and Ideas Using Max, MIT Press
Adrien M & Claire B:
Cycling ’74 Articles:
Cycling ’74 Projects:
Natasha Barrett:
PAJ, a Journal of Performance and Art, The MIT Press:
Each student group will have access to online resources, including Weblearn and Google groups. These are seen as forums for sharing information, discussion and learning.
In addition, module booklets will direct students to reading material that supports and broadens learning with extra bibliography for particular groups and individual projects.