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More on the coding vs artmaking question. In the comments to an earlier post, Mark contributes these thoughts about imaging and how much can or should be left to humans:
In the process of developing video systems, I've accidentally introduced a variety of bugs that create interesting and unusual visual effects. Often an understanding how the visual and the implementation are tied together has helped me to quickly understand how to correct the implementation to make the effect go away.And my reply:
It seems that going the other way -- understanding how to modify the implementation (sw, hw, algorithms) to create effects -- would give someone more "knobs," more control, more flexibility. But of course, knowing what to do with that flexibility is all the difference.
Something I don't know how to gauge is how much power is needed. I'm amazed by what artists can do with simple tools. I think I would need MatLab to draw a decent sphere.
Some people don't think drawing contributes anything to the arena of so-called advanced art (as that concept originated in the art galleries and continues in new media) while others value it far too much--e.g. the underground economy of painting that thrives in the back rooms of even so-called conceptual galleries, based on supposed authenticity of hand skill. I think the cognitive and perceptual processes associated with drawing have some role to play as art makes its transition from the vine charcoal to the 1s and 0s phase. I really can't say what or why (not succinctly anyway) other than to say that I'm enjoying continuing to draw in a field where no one can tell whether it's computer-assisted or not. (The same comments would apply to anyone with skill on a musical instrument.)
But Mark's comment makes a pretty good case for knowing some code. The problem is up to now artists and musicians have relied on technicians to develop the "knobs," and only after a product is introduced do they get to say which knobs have the potential to expand the visual/audial landscape and which are silly, soon-to-be-dated effects. Unfortunately, to date too many of the artists who code also make crappy art--and I'm talking here mostly about stuff that finds its way into galleries, as opposed to net art that is more "about" coding. The best work is happening at the low-fi end, with the BEIGE crew, say, or the music of Paul Slocum (a post about him soon). Even in Net Art, the most interesting stuff to me is often simple html, GIFs, etc.