The last few weeks I did some research on the trendy topic generative art and design. I was very enthusiastically for reading the Form + Code book from Casey Reas, Chandler McWilliams, and the agency LUST.
The content of this book is very well structured. The first chapters introduces programming and the special characteristics of computers in design and art very well. I really appreciate it, that they chose the more concept introduction, then a technical focus. For this reason the reader gets a very good picture why the computer and programming could be helpful for creating new experiences. The transition from the introduction into the toolbox of creative coding is perfectly done. They explained the concepts of Repeat, Transform, Parameterize, Visualize, Simulate pretty good. Especially, the chosen examples of artworks for the various toolboxes are very appropriate. Therefore this book is a very useful resource for research in a scientific environment. The positive argument is also the little weakness of this book. In a theoretical terms everything is fine. The reader gets a very good introduction in this new topic. In practical terms the reader is very often alone with the code examples. Only two or four pages are too less for inexperienced programmers and designers. They are not going to understand and even learn so much from these code examples. The book delivers so much good content, but on the practical site if failed for me. For German-speaking and French-speaking people it is not worse, because the book Generative Gestaltung (review comes soon) is the perfect complement for this book. The book Generative Gestaltung has got some minor weakness on theoretical aspects, but the practical part and the learning from code is perfectly done!
However, this book belongs to every book collection of visual programmers, new media artists and designers. It is definitely the money worth! I enjoyed the reading very much.
Reminder for Flashers:
This books reminds me strongly on the creative coding beginnings, like it was with Flash 4, 5 and 6. Flashers, please don't forget your roots! Have also a look on the the old Flash Math Creativity Books (edition 2). Further good code examples are available on Liquid Journey. Joshua Davis and Branden Hall created a very good Flash library for generative design. Check out their Hype Framework!
Now I am almost studying Interactive Art for one year. Me, as a Flash and Flex Developer, like coding with audio-visual and interaction-based content. But if I am honest, in the last time I did not use Flash in my projects at all. I had to deal with some other powerful creative coding tools. Some of these tools provide me, as an artist, much more freedom than the Flash plattform can ever provide. For example, creating a visual output for multi-displays applications, programming on hardware (arduino), some real-time video tracking (face detection) experiments, using special Open-GL Renderer for 3D graphics and so on. But I also ran into problems, which I would never have with using Flash. Especially, when I worked together with unexperienced programmer. For this reason, I will describe some of these creative coding tools with their inherent advantages and disadvantages. After this article you should have a good overview about the available tools in creative coding.
I am glad to hear that my and Hennings artwork 100101 aka. "Binary Visualizer" is exhibited on the Incuratable Art exhibition at La Bellevilloise in Paris. If you are in Paris from 7 to 16 April 2010, visit the exhibition and have fun with the Art Collider Project