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Carnegie Mellon students get naughty, nice with new-media art

Artist Golan Levin's Interactive Art and Computational Design class inspires both high-tech high jinks and geeky wizardry -- and proves the two aren't mutually exclusive.

A frame from the video for "The Human Theremin," a Kinect-based project by students Duncan Boehle and Nicholas Inzucchi. Screenshot by Edward Moyer/CNET

It's end-of-term time, which means brainy college students throughout the land are busily quaffing coffee and eschewing sleep to get their final projects sewn up.

That means too, of course, that many of these compelling projects are being put on display for the first time.

We got an e-mail from Golan Levin, a professor of new-media arts at Carnegie Mellon University, about student work in his advanced class this spring: "Special Topics in Interactive Art and Computational Design." Levin has put together a Web page of videos, and the projects display an admirable diversity of interests and approaches (and in some cases a mischievous sense of humor).

They range from Kinect-powered 3D soundscapes to virtual houseflies to sexy long-distance physical-stimulation devices (digital foreplay, anyone?).

They also offer a glimpse of what's happening on campus these days and of the kinds of technological shenanigans our future artistes and engineers are getting themselves up to.

We've put together a "video slideshow" to showcase some of the works. Click the embedded slideshow tease above to get there; then check out the screen grabs and -- more importantly -- look below them to the caption area to watch videos of the projects in action.

But before you set out, here's professor (and artist) Levin's brief description of the class:

"Twenty-eight students, hailing from nine academic departments, created personal research investigations into arts-engineering, freestyle computing, and expressive new media. Their projects explored experimental interfaces, information visualization, games, real-time audiovisuals, computationally generated forms, interactive robotics, body-based interactivity, physical computing, and many other topics. Spanning the range from sophomores to doctoral students, and with many different interests across art, design, and technology, the only rule was: everybody codes."