Coding is a little like a super power, or at least, that’s how it feels! With code, I can make my computer, a machine that otherwise bears very little interest in me, have a two way conversation, listening and responding to the instructions given, returning interesting visuals along the way. Coding allows inanimate objects like servos, motors and LEDs to become compelling creatures that can even appear to display emotive reactions and jovial interactions.
I’ve had the pleasure of coding in lightly in Processing and heavily in Arduino for the past ten years. It’s been an exciting journey that has always left me surprised by how much more there is to learn. I taught the basics of both languages to undergrads at a Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada in an interactive art program. I’ve used Arduino to create many of my own artistic reactive projects but I have spent little time using Processing in an creatively compelling way. I’m really looking forward to working with p5.js, a library that I’ve never used, to try my hand at using it as a medium for expression.
The main reason that I code and teach others to code is that it helps me work to level the technological playing field of the future. Technology is and will continue to be our main vessel and access to human rights and freedoms. If the future of tech is not created with input and development from marginalized voices from women and people of colour, than it will never truly serve our society equitably. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching thousands of young girls and children of colour to code and I aim to continue to inspire these demographics to overcome barriers and become active creators of our digital future.
My main goal at ITP is to explore the intersection of culture, code and storytelling – namely afrofuturistic art. In this class, I’d like to test my hand at creating sketches that blur and shift identity or imagine future species of the human race. This might be seen through depicting their physical representation, imagining their modes of communication or even using p5.js as a game to discover more about the life of a fictional world made up of people who are defined as “the other”.
The code driven pieces that I find the more memorable are the ones that use simplistic shapes with deep storylines or experiences. Two app games come to mind – Thomas Was Alone and LifeLine. Both demonstrate how minimalistic visuals can contribute to a heightened imagination. Each game relies heavily on rich storytelling to keep the user engaged, drawing vast swathes of emotions for 2bit characters or lines of text. I’ll be honest, I cried at the end of Thomas Was Alone and he was just a little square on the screen. The game was so experiential and I’d like to explore ways to transport my users with the projects that I make with p5.js.
In this week’s assignment, we were instructed to create a self portrait. I really enjoyed working in the web editor! I’m so used to working in the Processing IDE that it was a refreshing change of pace to look at a more user friendly interface. I particularly liked the auto-refresh check box.
It was .a unfamiliar to work in at first, so I found that I spent the first hours testing out my code in Processing before bringing into p5.js and tweaking the syntax. Hopefully I can fully convert so that I spend a little less time copying and pasting in the future. Another benefit to testing out some ideas in Processing was that I already knew how to import an image. I used it as a tracing guide for the dots that outline my face. Here’s a still of the work in progress.
I’m looking forward to the next assignment. I think I might even like p5.js more than Processing!