June 6, 2003


by Andrew Stern · , 4:19 pm

We’ve had an array of wonderful comments in the two previous posts on artist programmers. (I just added a lengthy comment with a bunch of new links.)

Another facet of this debate: What happens when artists and programmers collaborate? The issues are more than just the potential cultural divide of freaks vs. geeks, but also the (perhaps unpleasant) issue of artistic credit. I’ve heard more than one story of a team of people working on a new media art piece “led” by a “primary” artist, who effectively takes all of the credit for the piece, when those who did the actual programming deserve at least as much credit for the success of the work. Sound familiar?

Some articles on the topic of artist – programmer collaborations:

From a post in the “code and content” list
“i’ve seen a number of collaborations that didn’t work out because the Content side and the Code side had little or no experience with one another’s fields or cultures. also, often the “content” people (artists, activists, etc.) seem to initiate and approach the collaboration from the position of “giving orders to the hired gun.”

From a recent discussion on the “biome” list
“though i think the term collaboration is another debate… there is hiring someone to do something for you as directed then there is collaborating with someone to collectively discuss and realise the possibilites i dont think one is better than the other they are just different however i think they get confused alot and ‘collaborative’ relationships break down and people get dissatisfied / power issues come into play / it is difficult if you dont know where you stand”
“I agree this ignorance always results in snobbery – one collaborates with a coder because one can’t write code or doesn’t have the hardware… Who is excercising the creativity in these situations?

A Gamasutra article “The Psychology of Artists and Programmers”
“I think there is often a disconnect at two levels: One is an important difference in goals for artists and programmers, and another is the garden-variety difficulty in communicating with which all team members must cope.”

From an essay “Thoughts from a Girl Making Boys Games in a Man’s World: Relationships”
“Unfortunately, not all programmer-artist relationships are good. In bad ones, the programmer or artist shuts down any dialogue, thinking that they have all the answers by themselves. … Something else I’ve discovered is that programmers really hate it when artists do ugly stuff with what they consider to be beautiful code”

A Brown-RISD course, “Interdisciplinary Scientific Visualization”,
“The 16 students in the class are working in artist/programmer pairs”

From a game development article “Questions Artists should ask Programmers”
“Artists want the game they are working on to look good and be fun to play. Programmers want the game they are working on to be fun to play and look good. Each team looks at the challenges from different perspectives, but the goals are the same.”

Just posted as I’m writing my post: Phoebe addresses artist – programmer collaboration in her recent comment.