How Creative Coding Takes Center Stage in Future Sketches

While technology is at the forefront of 21st century art, it has an even stronger presence in Future Sketches by Zach Lieberman — where code is the backbone and inspiration of all the installations.

In addition to creating art, Lieberman is also a researcher and educator. He writes his own software to create his artwork, and is a co-creator of openFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit used for creative coding, which brings together several libraries that are commonly used by software developers.

The basis of the work featured in Future Sketches, creative coding offers a view of the mechanics of programming as a tool for artistic exploration. As a creative coder, Lieberman plays with code, essentially instructions for computers, to create playful, thoughtful, beautiful pieces that adjust our idea of the typical uses of computer science. Part of the show even features a dedicated section called Code Lab featuring reimagined works along with the code used to create them.

“Even if coding feels foreign to you, I want you to feel what code feels like,” Lieberman adds of the show.

Housed inside the Code Lab is Re-Coded by Lieberman and the School for Poetic Computation, where visitors explore the code behind visual forms. The installation is an homage to innovators such as Vera Molnar and Muriel Cooper whose work exists in the space between art and technology.

Celebrating these pioneers, this piece presents significant works of computer- and algorithm-based art alongside the code that drives them. The larger project behind this installation is focused on preserving computer art by translating them into a more modern programming language and bringing them back into public view. Visitors could adjust aspects of the pieces using different knobs that will change certain parts of the code that in turn change the visual creation. This piece aims to help visitors see what creative coding looks like and the relationship between code and result.

"We picked five artists and the students created sketches based on their works. The visuals and code were side by side so when a number in the code changed, the visuals changed as well," Lieberman explains. "You could see the direct relationship between the code and visual form. I got so inspired by the students and their love of sketching that I started doing it."

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