Jennifer Jacobs
Blending Computational and Manual Drawing

Session Two - June 18-24, 2017


Course Description
The introduction of programming as a way of making art has resulted in new creative opportunities for artists. New programming tools have emerged which support the production of complex, dynamic, and generative compositions. Yet while coding offers new forms of creation, it also lacks many of the forms of expression found in manual art. In particular, drawing by hand enables subtle variation and expression through physical engagement. This class will explore techniques and practices for blending drawing with code, and drawing by hand. In the first part of the workshop, participants will be introduced to several different forms of creative coding software (Processing, NodeBox, and Para), and shown techniques for writing programs which incorporate and respond to drawings they have produced by hand. Towards the end of the week, participants will have the opportunity to focus on an individual project, using one or more coding platforms of their choice.

Artist's Biography
Jennifer Jacobs is a researcher who examines ways to diversify participation and practice in computer programming by building computational tools for art, design, digital fabrication, and craft. As part of her research, she has conducted craft and technology workshops around the world. Her work has been presented at international conferences, including CHI, DIS, and SIGGRAPH, and has been featured in the press, including Wired and Le Monde. Presently, Jennifer is completing a Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab in the Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group. She received a Masters of Science from MIT in the High-Low Tech group and a Masters of Fine Art from Hunter College in Manhattan. Her work has been exhibited in Ars Electronica, Art Basel in Miami, Boston Fashion Week, and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon.

Artist's Statement
Computer programming, and the computational technologies it enables, extend the possibilities associated with existing mediums and allow for the creation of new practices. Yet, integrating digital technology and art is challenging. The complexity, abstractness, brittleness, and rapid change of digital technology make it difficult to use as an expressive medium. Although much human-computer interaction is focused on goals of efficiency and ease-of-use, art creation goes beyond this. It involves diversity, exploration, risk, personal taste, and respect for materials. Bringing these qualities to computational tools requires an understanding of the nature of creative practices. As an artist and researcher, I question how computation and artistry can be reconciled to enable diverse forms of expressive practice. For example, how can interfaces be built to allow the direct manipulation of algorithmic processes? How can computational automation compliment rather than eliminate manual practice? How can programming become more like drawing? These questions call for multidimensional research in fine art, craftsmanship, interaction design, and computer science. As an artist and researcher, my primary focus is on building software tools that enable artists to blend manual skills with computational techniques. I’m interested in understanding the qualities that manual artists value in their materials and practice, and in developing new interactions and interfaces which embody some of these qualities. However, my work is also motivated by my personal experience in studying fine art and computer science. Programming is different from drawing, and yet, like drawing, it is a powerful tool for thinking and for making. I see the development of computational tools as a way to probe the relationship between thinking through programming and thinking through drawing. While these two domains will always retain some distinctness, the effort to interweave them can inform our understanding about how to build technology that is meaningful for a diversity of creators.

Website: Jennifer Jacobs

Supply List
Participants should bring a sketchbook and any drawing media of their choice. In addition, participants should bring personal laptops (Mac or PC is fine) We will install all required software during the workshop.

Begin your application process now!

Jennifer Jacobs

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