[ARENA] The Machine that makes art. FORM+CODE in art, design and architecture

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Quarta-Feira, 19 de Janeiro de 2011 - 16:07:10 WET

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Digicult presents:


by Sabina Barcucci and Bertram Niessen

Digimag 60 - January 2011

FORM + CODE is the new book by Casey Reas, Chandler McWilliams and LUST, recently published by Princeton Architectural Press. Contents are clearly expressed through an historical overview on the code development in electronic art, and in some of its conceptual art "natural language programming" forerunners (based on instructions series set up not for the machines but for the public). The graphic layout is a well-kept and an inseparable part of the publishing project, including a selection of pieces of work and breathtaking images (at a very reasonable price, it must be said).

Primarily designed as a book for students, FORM + CODE is also an important volume for another reason. The simplicity of its technological advancement explanation let emerge one of the most important messages concerning programming in art and design: its accessibility. We come then to question if authors intention is to inculcate a kind of awareness regarding everybody's ability to think about its complexity.

It's impressive to think how programming has changed the nature of electronic art in recent years. Practices such as live coding, generative design, and real time parametric visualization have quickly become popular and accessible assets. As generally happens in rapid transformation phases, however, this usage is often accompanied by a substantial lack of awareness about what goes beyond the merely technical issues. And we're not thinking about the examples given by FORM + CODE, which gives in 176 pages an overview on the most interesting, exciting and revolutionary examples in the field.

However, if we need to find a limit to this text, it is precisely the hesitance in dealing with the critical and problematic elements in the relationship between art and code. A renunciation, which, as Casey Reas and Chandler McWilliams have explained in the interview that concludes this article, is absolutely justified and planned. However, many of the issues at play are precisely structured around this point. What are the limits of author intervention in generative art? Do the complex data visualizations, beyond any appealing aesthetics, always have something interesting to say? What is the real added value of certain programming solutions in interactive installations?

Complete article & interview to Casey Reas and Chandler McWilliams

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