Carnegie Mellon University School of Art

Course:         60441, 60741 - Advanced SIS/ETB:

Urban Intervention: Curiosity, Desire and Pleasure in Public Space

Times:        MW 6pm-9pm

Location:         Doherty Hall-D200

Facilities:         CMU ArtFab @ Doherty Hall

                Digital Arts Studio @ Dougherty Hall

Contacts:        Instructor: Ali Momeni (, Assistant Professor


This course introduces students to theories, practices, and communities for critical investigation of urban spaces and play within them.  

The course unfolds along two parallel trajectories: research (literature review, lectures, demonstrations) and design (three individualized projects that culminate in a fourth larger scale final project).  The first half of the course will introduce students to a wide range of theories and techniques within urban intervention that draw from fluxus, the situationist international, activism and hacktivism, as well as public policy, philosophy, psychology and economics.  Students will study theoretical and practical frameworks for artistic intervention into public urban spaces, while concurrently researching actual sites and communities within Pittsburgh for experimentation.  Students are required to conceptualized projects on larger (urban) scales, and find ways to implement their projects safely and legally by pursuing the necessary administrative, social, technical, financial steps required to create meaningful interventions in public spaces.  

This class will specifically explore three media for urban intervention:  1) Live performance, 2) Outdoor Architectural scale outdoor video projection, 3) Robotics, Autonomy and Mobility in the way of remote control vehicles (e.g. cars, quad-copters, etc.).  There will be four research and four design assignments that last from one to three weeks each.

The undergraduate (60441) and graduate (60741) sections of the course meet concurrently and follow the same syllabus and assignments.  In addition to the coursework documented in the syllabus, Graduate level students are expected to write a research paper suitable for submission to a notable relevant academic conference. This process includes a rough draft, revisions and a completed and formatted paper ready for submission.


Urban Intervention is a complex interdisciplinary practice that requires expertise in a wide range of domains.  In order to maximize each student’s potential for creating meaningful work during the semester, students are strongly encouraged to work collaboratively.  Projects undertaken in teams are therefore entirely within guidelines of the course, to a greater number of participants/contributors yields greater expectations for the ambition and execution of the project.  Collaborative projects must be presented as such during the initial project-proposal-day; discussion of potential roles for each participant should be included in the presentation.


During the course of the semesters students will gain training on various fabrication machines.  Upon completing training, each student will gain access to an online reservation system that allows him/her to book hours on various machines.  Students are required to acquire a key for CMU ArtFab Lab (Doherty C200).


The  primary course objective is to propel the creative agenda of each student by allowing him/her to create a final project that is born of his/her practice. The course is therefore divided into three phases, titled: research/learn, design/make, refine/document; these phases are outline below.  The next section of this document outlines a full weekly schedule for the course; throughout this document, all DUE material are highlighted in orange.

  1. Weeks 1: Performance in public space 1 - solo
  1. Week 2:  Performance in public space 2 - group work
  1. Week 3-4: Intervention with light and projected media
  1. Week 4-6: Mobility, Remote Control and Autonomy (ARCM) in public space
  1. Week 7-8:

All assignments are 1) posted on the blog in the form of audio and video documentation, text and linked references; and 2) posted to BlackBoard as a response to a posted assignment; the contents of the BlackBoard response should simply be a hypertext URL to the corresponding blog post.  

All blog posted must adhere strictly to formatting considerations discussed in class and set in provided examples.  Poorly formatted blog posts will be removed and the students will not get credit for the assignment.

Project Proposal: This presentation shall cover the project’s social, political, artistic and technical considerations, and influences, as well as a concrete timeline for accomplishing the task at hand.  Specifically, a project time-line should include three milestones; concret intermediary steps to completing a project by the end of the semester.  There Milestones will serve as individualized assignments for each student for the rest of the semester; they will be evaluated by the student, during in one-on-one meetings with the instructor.   This proposal should be posted as an embedded Google Presentation or Prezi on the blog and should last no longer than 5 minutes; students are encouraged to use auto-advance and timing features to assure strict adherence to the time limit.

Students are encouraged to edit, adjust, expand and reshape their timelines as the semester proceeds, in consultation with the instructor.  Note: Due dates for Milestones as well as a feasible distribution of tasks among the three intermediary steps is NOT subject to change.

Final Critique will be held the week of April 14; note that this is LONG BEFORE finals week.  This allows for students to present their final project at the best state possible by the date, but still have a two weeks after the critiques to complete the work and create proper documentation


Consistent attendance is mandatory.  Students are allowed two unexcused absences; further unexcused absences will lower your grade for the session by one letter for each additional absence.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class.  If you arrive later than 15 minutes into the class period, you will be counted as absent.  Every three occurrences of arriving to class more than 15 minutes will count as an absentee.

If you have a class or work schedule issue & anticipate being somewhat late on a regular basis, please see see the instructor during the first week of the semester.


Attendance on critique days is absolutely essential.  Failure to attend will impact both your class participation grade and your project grade.  On critique days, all students are expected to be set-up & ready to participate at the beginning of the class period.

READING LIST                



Attendance is mandatory; inadequate attendance will lower your final grade.  Class participation is based on conduct and contribution to class blog, presentations, discussions, and critiques.  

The course will make use of a class blog, as well as the Blackboard system.  Students are expected to share their research findings on the class blog on a regular basis, in the form one or more posting per week. These blog postings contribute to the overall participation portion of the final grade. Students are also expected to post a detailed blog entry for each Milestone in his/her project; these project updates should employ text, pictures, videos as well as other necessary media (e.g. code) to convey the incremental advances made towards the completion of final project.  To assure timely submission of these important incremental assignments, a Blackboard assignment for each Milestone will collect project updates; the assignment submitted to blackboard should simply be link to the corresponding blog posting.  Late assignments will not be accepted.

Each research assignment will be  be graded on a scale of 0 to 2 (with 0 indicating incomplete or insufficient, 1 indicating adequate or sufficient, and 2 indicating excellent or outstanding).

Each design assignment will be graded on a scale of 0-2, twice for concept and execution. The average score between the two branches of evaluation is assigned as the grade for the assignment.

The final project will be graded on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 representing excellence in conception and execution.

The final grade for the course will be calculated based on the following formula:

Attendance:                                 mandatory

Class participation:                         20%

Research assignments 1 to 4:        20% (5% each)

Design assignments 1 to 4:                20% (5% each)

Final project:                                40%