Have you ever experienced true novelty? Something so mind-altering that it questions your definition of what you’ve known to be true for so long. I imagine the first people to watch a film or see an airplane felt this. It’s an inexplicable energy that has the power to redefine. In many ways, artists have been at the center of challenging commonly held beliefs, and using entirely new mediums to express speculative ideas.
While never the first thing to come to mind when discussing art, creative coding is revolutionizing what art is and can be. As we enter a more digital world, creative coding may be the contemporary art movement we need in order to articulate major societal challenges we are facing as technology advances.
What is creative coding?
Put simply, creative coding is an emerging specialty that utilizes code and programming as a medium to create art. Programming’s versatility and ubiquitous nature makes it especially expressive, allowing it to manifest itself as digital paintings, data visualization, or even robotics.
Unlike the functional focus of most uses of code - like the code lines of a navigation app - creative coding uses programming languages for a solely artistic purpose.
As artists, we generally hold a stigma regarding coding having high barriers to entry, and as engineers, we also hold a stigma surrounding the difficulties of creative expression. However, these fields no longer need to be separate entities, as they are more closely tied than people expect.
How to get into creative coding
With programming resources being incredibly open-source and creative inspiration democratized across the internet, getting into this field is as easy as watching some coding tutorials on Youtube and making a Pinterest board.
Here are some interesting fields within creative coding that you can experiment with once you get started:
Machine learning: The development of computer algorithms that automatically learn and improve their performance through experience and data.
Projection mapping: A technique to project video on irregularly shaped surfaces, such as sculptures or buildings.
Generative design: An iterative design process in which a program, usually using algorithms, generates a certain number of outputs based on a set of constraints.
Live coding: A form of performance art in which coders program in real-time. It usually involves sound, image and light design.