Carnegie Mellon University
Spring 2015

Spring 2018 Courses

54880 - Graduate Special Topics in Media: Mediated Reality

Instructor: Lawrence Shea, Associate Professor, Video & Media Design - School of Drama (

This course is an advanced studio course that investigates the potential applications of mediated-reality technologies and location-based interactivity for live performance. Several technical and cultural trends are converging — trans-media storytelling, gamification, locative artworks, augmented reality — creating opportunities for artists and designers to create experiences that merge live performance with digital information, imagery and 3D visualizations in low-cost and widely distributable formats (e.g. apps). This course is the initial part of a 3-year investigation into this area supported by the Center for the Arts in Society.

Reading discussions, site visits and presentations from outside experts (CMU faculty, visiting artists), will introduce students to a range of relevant topics, disciplinary/creative perspectives, and potential avenues for investigation. Specific areas of focus will include Pittsburgh labor history, local effects of the financial system, local ecological dynamics, and Pittsburgh sub- cultural histories. Students will then identify 2 or 3 locations as sites for the creation and presentation of new narrative experiences for the pubic, using a variety of mediated-reality technologies.

Several themes will structure the class’s conceptual investigations: Site – the socio-political and material histories of a geographic or cultural “place.” Mapping (Representation /Abstraction) – how do these new tools provide ways of rethinking our relationships with the environment, both locally and non-locally, and with things we can’t directly experience, like the past, distant places, ecological systems, financial networks, sub- cultures, or other subjective experiences? And how do they open up new possibilities for narrative expression? Presence/Embodiment – how are these experiences changing in a world of persistent, overlapping networks, multiple social roles, divided attention, and proliferating screens? What rules are evolving? How do they affect our sense of self & other, engagement & possibility? Emotion/Affect - What are the roles of empathy and other human emotional processes in this brave new world?

These explorations will be paired with a rigorous technical agenda that culminates in group- created projects that utilize a variety of technologies.

Multiple technical workshops will cover:

  • Live performance capture using both stereoscopic HD camera systems as well as Kinect- based motion tracking.
  • 3D object creation in software (Autodesk Maya) as well as simple 3D scanning of real objects.
  • Scripting these resources together with image & location-based information using the Unity game engine.
  • Combining it all into site-specific performance; including mobile video projection and hand held display (tablets, phones).

Please contact Lawrence Shea ( if you would like to participate as a student or a presenter.