Processing and Creative Coding as a medium for the Arts

Being a volunteer at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has given me access to some amazing resources. It’s been both an enriching and engaging experience. I’ve met some of the most creative minds (ever) volunteering and one of the latest ventures involves Processing.

At first, there was a fair bit of trepidation taking the Processing 101 class. I have never programmed or coded before but I wanted to get a glimpse into the creative side of it. Since many of the artists I research have utilized some form of new media, in particular, creative coding and computational design, I figured I would immerse myself in the technology that serves as their medium. However, I have to admit, it wasn’t a great feeling introducing myself in class. It was intimidating. Going around the circle and introducing ourselves and realizing my classmates were either a) an interactive designer, b) a programmer, c) a design +  technology educator, or d) an engineer! What tha?! The inner monologue was definitely thinking, “Ummm, I thought this was a 101 class!”. However, being the only art writer there and sharing my purpose, which was to learn a thing or two about processing and how new media artists use creative coding to better inform my writing piqued some folks interest and that was welcoming, indeed.

What have I learned after this week’s Processing classes?

  • Beautiful art can be done with Processing
  • Processing allows for two things: 1) creative outlet and 2) a place to practice your problem solving skills
  • Processing/Coding takes A LOT of practice: Yes, you’re using language to process and tell the computer what you want it to do but it’s the way in which you execute commands and all of the little details but it’s rather addictive!
  • Ben Chun, our instructor, is phenomenal teacher and creator of

Overall, Processing has been a great way for me to learn more about new media arts and the technology that helps artists extrapolate abstract ideas. Below are some of the artists that have used Processing to create some cutting edge art…

Below, you will find a video of Berlin based Information Designer, Stephan Thiel, and how he created a data visualization of Shakespeare’s work. It’s such an innovate approach at viewing how one reads and understands narrative. It’s also an incredible method of investigating reading habits and commonly used words within Shakespeare’s texts. Fascinating! To learn more about the project, please click here.

Process N°2 / Dramatic Structure from Stephan Thiel on Vimeo.

How about interactive installation done by artist, Niklas Roy? Roy uses a Surveillance camera, computer vision, and a motorized curtain to create some “privacy”. It is one of the most ingenious art installations that uses Processing I’ve seen thus far. One of the great things about interactive art and design is its engagement with an observer. In this case, the most curious onlooker completes the work. I highly recommend visiting his site!! His work is beyond awesome. Seriously.

3 responses to “Processing and Creative Coding as a medium for the Arts”

  1. wow, this is so exciting, D! how awesome to be able to take a class like that as a volunteer!

    1. Hey Gladys!! Thanks for reading and checking out processing and creative coding. There are hybrid Artist/Technologist that are utilizing technology in such amazing ways. The class has allowed me to meet some phenomenal folks. I’ve already thought of ways I could use this newly acquired knowledge to create my own art and incorporate into projects I’m already working on. In any case, I’m going to post a few more artists working with this medium. Thanks again, G! 🙂

      1. that is great that you’ve found another way to create the kind of intellectual/artistic life you’re searching for! also, you know it would be awesome if you posted much more here on your own art projects as well. 🙂 i for one would love to read more about them.

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