Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 3.52.38 PM.png


Course Syllabus: EDPX 2300:Systems

Systems in Emergent Digital Practices   

Session: Fall 2018, Time: Tues/THurs 1PM – 3:50PM


Instructor: Chadwick Friedman, SAB 220

Instructor Contact: | 303.478.2669

Teaching Assistant: TBD

Instructor office hours: Thursday, 11am-12pm

(please e-mail 24 hrs prior to meeting for confirmation)

course overview

The grounding conceptual framework of this course on Systems in Emergent Digital Practices will build upon an understanding of the historical, technical, biological, social and cultural contexts of systems. From this platform we will explore the design, development, application and emergence of systems, systems theory and systems thinking.


This course provides the fundamental concepts of digital systems, including the study of digital components (hardware and firmware) and networks, how they function to solve problems, create new experiences and share information. Students will understand how electronics and software from the simple to the complex work together as a system. As a baseline, students will understand how the computer, the internet, and digital interfaces have been developed and shaped through history.

Aesthetic and technical reinforcement of this conceptual base will explore systems architectures, simulation, abstraction, design development and experimentation; utilization; distribution; stability and sustainability.


Technology used in this course will include various systems simulation tools, software authoring/coding; hardware and electronics system development environments.

course objectives

:: theory ::

  Introduce and expand the theoretical concepts that form the historical, technical and cultural foundations of systems;

   Build an evolving vocabulary and language for the definition, description, critical dialogue and analysis of systems, systems theory, and systems;

:: context ::

   Build insight into the cultural context that allows a perspective on the ubiquity of and interpretation of systems:

:: technique ::

   Establish a progressing base of digital tools and technique for the design, architecture, simulation and implementation of creative systems: 

:: critical dialogue ::

   Foster a collective diversity of criticism that promotes experimentation, research, and affirmation of new creative thought, identity, and possibilities.

   Charge this environment with an atmosphere that challenges the dualistic assumptions of art and non-art as vectors for risk taking;

:: network ::

  Cultivate a symbiotic educational relationship among class participants which includes internal mentoring, bottom-up input, and collaborative materialization of work;

   Develop an inclusive group environment for the questioning, discussion, and exploration of the potential directions and fate of contemporary new media artists and their work for the near future;

  Initiate a collaborative and cooperative network among class participants for future creative endeavors outside the academic institution;

:: resource ::

   Provide utilitarian resources as survival tools for the continuation of future creative making endeavors from this group network, and

   Establish a process for identification, description, search and recovery for technical problem solving, exploration, assistance, collaboration and resolution resources.

course policies

In order to meet course objectives the following requirements are critical to the attainment of an inclusive environment that is supportive to all participants: 



Attendance is mandatory.  3 unexcused absences constitute the drop of 1 letter grade (3 lates=1 absence). An unexcused absence from any critique or portion of a critique will constitute the drop of 1 letter grade. An unexcused absence from the final critique will constitute a failure (F) for the quarter.



Active and supportive participation in all project critiques, discussions, and presentations will be expected from all group members.


disability and/or medical accommodation

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability or medical condition should contact the Disability Services Program to coordinate reasonable accommodations.  They are located on the 4th floor of Ruffatto Hall; 1999 E. Evans Ave.303.871. / 2372 / 2278/ 7432.  Information is also available on line at; see the Handbook for Students with Disabilities.

Paperwork to arrange for disability and/or medical accommodation must be submitted to instructor by the end of week 1 of the course.


quality of work

All creative work under consideration for critique or discussion under this course should be of a completed/finished quality that warrants the attention and respect of your cohorts.  No excuses, or explanations.



Work will be graded on the basis of fulfillment of course requirements combined with an assessment of assigned work. This assessment will be weighed in terms of degree of effort,  creativity, risk, participation and individual growth through the session.  Grades will be assigned according to the University Policy as follows:


A          superior/excellent

B          good/better than average

C          competent/average

D          minimum passing

F          failing


projects – implementation of objectives

support materials 

As support to individual projects the following will be maintained and sustained for reference throughout the session and referred to in 1 on 1 sessions with the instructor::


1) Media blogs/online sketchbooks will be maintained and sustained by each course participant and should compile all rough project sketches, writings, storyboards, architectures and related materials to the works in progress and finished works. The blog sites will be viewed, and class responses will be ongoing throughout the quarter.


2) Analog sketchbooks (bound) will be maintained for system drawing, design and troubleshooting. Sketchbook access is mandatory for all classes.


3) Attendance and corresponding write up for 3 cultural events over the course of the quarter is required. Submission of write up can be by e-mail or print copy. Forms for write up submission are available from the resources page of the course web site. Note: synopsis of each cultural event should be e-mail to instructor within 2 weeks of attendance. A final record of the cumulative events will be compiled and submitted with Final Deliverables for the quarter.


design exercises

Design exercises will be conducted throughout the quarter. The emphasis on these exercises is on rapid, intuitive aesthetic response and experimentation. Design exercises will be described and debriefed in class in terms of theory and potential techniques for materialization. 4 potential exercises will be carried out thru the quarter on exploratory topics. Results, documentation and comments will be posted on your media blog .


major projects

Projects preliminary to the final (projects 1, 2) will be experimental connections on your path to the realization of the full-scale final network mediated/online project. These preliminary projects may be relied upon as meta data elements for the development and assembly of your final work and yield supporting documentation of the underlying process involved in realizing the final project.


project breakdown is as follows:

Project 1 – Systems survey – a system a day (20% of grade). This project will assign a system from a specific domain each day of class for the first 4 weeks of the course. Each surveyed system will identify the following as key parts to each system you will survey:

  1. elements

  2. interconnections

  3. control/feedback

  4. function/purpose

You will “draw”, discuss and post a discussion of these parts, connections and functions to your media blogs. The expectation of this survey is that it will be experimental and media enriched and build upon layered approach to system documentation and definition.  At the end of 4 weeks you will have a survey of 6 systems.

For Critique #1 (week 4 to 5) you will present 2 systems to the class. Emphasis in this critique/presentation is on creative use of media for system representation and dialogue. Your output may be a stop motion video, interactive work, video work, sound work, etc.

The URL of your media blog will be distributed to the EDPX2300 class cohort by the second week of class so they may keep up w/ your ongoing survey.


Project 2 – Systems simulation - (20% of grade). This project will be developed concurrently with Project 1 to abstract the conceptual and technical base of a system with a purpose. You will be doing software simulation of a system of your choice. Adding hardware is also open. This can be a presented overview of your intended work of for the quarter as a simulation. The systems simulation and architecture may be based on one of the systems from your survey work from your media blog.  As a start, we will be adapting Net.logo as a suggested simulation environment. Your choice of software environment is open. The resulting work must be minimal use of a software simulation to demonstrate a controlled system.


Final Project - System design and implementation (40% of grade) The final project will implement and integrate a system of your design and architecture. The work can be software, hardware and/ or digital/analog combined. The system should exhibit inputs, outputs, control/feedback, and function &/or purpose. The venue or site for this work is of your choosing. It can be public, private, or online as a material or virtual system.


Final submission of this project will include documentation of the architecture of the system (as a drawing and video), the final functioning system and support files as software and design materials.


Final deliverables will include the following materials:

All Final Project files and final project documentation as archive on a USB Flash Drive:


Systems drawing & design architectures for Project 1, 2 and final

All software associated with Project 2 and final

Documentation of Final project

To be e-mailed to instructor:

Critiques/synopsis of 3 cultural events cumulative for the quarter. Note: synopsis of each cultural event should be e-mail within 2 weeks of attendance.    

texts & readings

All required readings/viewings/listenings will be assigned from the course website schedule page. Required readings will be referenced from, online sources or as linked .pdf files on the course website. Readings will be assigned and referenced 2 class sessions previous to discussion and related presentations. Please refer to the schedule page for reading assignments and discussion dates.


The following texts are suggested additional sources for reference and consultation:

Systems Theory

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Donella H. Meadows, 2008. Chelsea Green Publishing

The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, Fritjof Capra, 2014, Cambridge Press



Diversity and Complexity, Scott Page, Princeton Press, 2010

Additional reference will be made available via on-line sources from the course web site links under the resources page.


{NOTE: class schedule subject to adjustments}