Creativity in computation

Here's a great video of Daniel Shiffman, an assistant professor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program*, talking about why everybody should be learning to program. He uses Processing as an example of how programming can be an artistic medium. There's a fundamental point in this video that seems basic but I think is really strong, which is that computers shouldn't be an end unto themselves, they should be used as a means of creation. While Processing is only one tool in the digital creator's toolbox, I think this hits on what's great about it. It's structured around the goal of requiring only the most basic amount of programming to create something really compelling. The magic of computational or generative art is how a relatively simple algorithm can create something much greater than the sum of its parts.

* Man, three months ago I knew nothing about ITP, and now it's popping up everywhere from the books I'm reading to the people I'm working with to conversations with friends. If the stuff in this video is exciting to you and you're in the market for a graduate program, give it a look.


Speaking of things I found via New York Magazine, check out LA production company Everynone. Most of their work seems to consist of quick-cut montages of everyday scenes, assembled to fit a larger theme. The images, the music, the editing and the light are all gorgeous. Very evocative. Ex: "Words"

NYMag Food Trucks

I love these food truck illustrations from New York Magazine. They not only make me hungry for some gyoza from Rickshaw, they make me glad to be a subscriber. There's a lot of reasons out there for a print magazine to be cutting costs wherever they can, so it's great to see them putting the extra dime into details like this. I totally want these as a series of vinyl toys.


I've been messing around a bit lately with Processing, an open source programming language for visualization (among other things). It's been a lot of fun, mostly because it strikes the right balance for me between making visual art and tinkering around with math and logic. I like the way that writing in Processing feels like the programming equivalent of drawing in a sketchbook. You can pretty quickly put together something visually interesting, and then iterate it into something more complex as you go. My first finished project in Processing was a visualization of traffic coming to all of Situation's client sites on a given day, based on data from Google Analytics. There were a lot of fun challenges in putting this together, like wrangling the analytics data into a format I could use, figuring out how to match the coordinates to the projection used by the map I had, and (most exciting for me) creating the simple "throw" physics for when you drag the map around. I was helped along quite a bit by the excellent tutorials on the Processing site and by the amazing community of other Processing sketchers. The whole project came together over a long weekend. Check out the video below or click here to download the finished application.