The creative coding class exposes us to cutting-edge technology. Incredible artist/engineers project giant video heads on to church roofs, musicians score touch-activated ambient tracks, and data visualizers interactively graph subway ridership. It’s cool, it’s empowering, and it’s overwhelming.
My first reaction is shock and awe. My second is empowerment as I now have an inkling how to program something similar. Lastly, I’m overwhelmed, a beginner thrown into a tank of experts. I can write a Rock-Paper-Scissors app for a smart phone, but I can’t keep up with the pyrotechnic explosion of technology. If professional teams of software coders, graphic artists, and hardware engineers have worked for a decade on projects like illuminating the Sydney Opera House, what can this clumsy dinosaur contribute?
Everything. Anything. A secret to creativity is to do your own thing, to live your own dream. Don’t jump on new technology just because it’s trendy. I’m doing my own thing; I make LED arrays that I embed either in clothing or as screens. I program these lights algorithmically without slick commercial software for a retro 8-bit aesthetic.
I may soon broaden my palette and foray into other expressive media. I’ll create a signature look through my own flailing implementation. In the meantime, I’ll stop worrying that I’m falling behind professional crews of installation artist in the technological arms race. They can make commercial productions of spinning projected cars. I’ll stick to glowing lights.