August 25, 2003
Early in the Summer we had a discussion about the craft of programming in new media art (Artist Programmers: an ongoing discussion, Meaning Machines, Collaborations) in which I took the position that new media artists should program (or understand computational thinking) because it enables a deeper engagement with computers as meaning machines (Meaning Machines). But what would an introduction to programming for art and design students look like if it was fundamentally organized around programming as a medium? Last week I began teaching Computation as an Expressive Medium (original syllabus, current syllabus), a new core course in Georgia Tech’s masters program in Information Design and Technology. This class is an alternative introduction to programming, juxtaposing readings from the New Media Reader with programming projects designed to exercise specific programming competencies while simultaneously exploring conceptual and theoretical issues raised in the readings. Rather than using a special purpose programming language that has been designed specifically for artists, I’m teaching Java. I’m hoping that using a full-featured, general-purpose language will give students a broad understanding of programming as well as give them skills in a widely disseminated language that will be useful in future projects. I’ve included links to both the original syllabus and the current syllabus – I’m sure the syllabus will change as I adjust to the realities of teaching this course. As the semester progresses, I’ll post updates on how the course is going.