The Digital Rube Goldberg Processor is the outcome of a workshop The Product collective gave at the HfG Karlsruhe (Design School). The team was invited to give a 4-day Processing workshop for the communication design students there. Since they understand it is impossible to teach programming to beginners just within 4 days, they decided to focus more on the essential topics behind generative and computational design, to provide a grounded starting point for the students.
Jens explains: We first gave a quick introduction to the processing environment, thematically centered around the actual matter of generative design, namely digital data. Given the fact that any stored data is binary code in the end, it is the encoding and decoding algorithms that make digital data meaningful for us. To create an awareness for that, we came up with the idea of the rube-goldberg-processor (wiki). It is an potentially endless line of sub-processors that transform the same dataset from one state into another. Each group of students had a translate-from-to assignment, e.g. from moving image to sound. To make the steps more comprehensible for observers, the transfer was made in an analog way (camera pointing to monitor, microphone in front of speaker…) In the end, this obvoiusly led to an indecipherable outcome, but on the way, the teams had to negotiate basic “protocols” and concerned themselves with several techniques that are used in computational design.
The Product team provided the first step (image to text) as well as the last step, the flickr uploader. The rest was done by the students.
For more teaching by The Product, see the-product.org/category/teaching
The Product a berlin-based spatial and media-related design practice. They conceive design concepts. They create installations. They animate surfaces. They design spaces. They develop objects. And they extensively think about the application and combination of technologies in meaningful ways.
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