I'm writing this from Aspen, Colorado where I'm taking a one-week intensive class in Processing with acclaimed artist, Joshua Davis. This is my second class in Processing, an open source programming language for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions. I regularly use digital tools in my practice, but I have rarely integrated code into my creative process, until now.
Joshua is teaching us how to use the code by starting with a grid. We began with a simple structure and started building out from there. The code pulls shapes from vector files, which are files that are based in points and lines. For me, this is where it gets very interesting. I already convert many of my shapes, characters, and compositions into vector-based graphics, so using code was very similar to me doing monotyping (a printmaking process that I would call "analog").
While I was here, I had the realization that my printmaking practice (when I do monotypes) and digital practice fundamentally are based on the same steps.
Shapes make up the composition - I start out with shapes and constructions that will make the whole. These shapes are usually really curvy and as they begin to layer one above the other, they create new shapes.
Being open to what happens - When I do monotypes, I have to be open to accidents, to surprises, and to things not working out. You have to let the ink and the paper talk to you, and slowly things take shape. But you can't plan out too much. The beauty of monotyping is that things happen accidently.
The scripts I'm working on in Processing are also accidental - we have designed them that way. The code arranges the shapes in random orders, it tweaks the sizes, and randomly modifies the scale. In the chaotic randomess, you can find beauty.
And finally - through Simplicity, you can develop Complexity. My instructor said this to us the first day, and it rang so true after hours of coding. The code took my shapes and compositions, and generated random chaos, that then I was able to manipulate to make something beautiful.
Here's some of what I'm working on. I'm really happy about how things are turning out.