ICM 9/6- Computation Self Portrait

I haven’t made stuff in years. I mean, made stuff, made stuff. Every creative in advertising talks about making stuff but I found out quickly that I was terrible at it. Churning out ideas? Sure, lemme at it. But making things IRL, I relied on others to do the heavy lifting for me, with mixed results.

That’s why I wanted to be here at ITP: to learn how to make stuff. With other humans. Oh, and to make art again. 13 years ago, I moved to Brooklyn to draw and paint at Pratt. It’s so far in my past that if I picked up a drawing pencil again, I’d probably start sweating. I’m so excited to get back to what first brought me to New York in the first place.

That said, our first Intro to Comp Media assignment is to create a composition using code, not a drawing pencil. Allow me to walk you through the creative process… and bear with me. I’m new and this could get patchy.

I’m going to start with a sketch and then attempt to recreate it using JavaScript. Here is what I drew out:

Being a self-portrait and all, I’ve decided to simultaneously portray my tendency to be introverted (not shy necessarily, but that I need to recharge after a ton of stimulation) and my fear of being trapped. I felt trapped in advertising and ITP was an open window!

First, I’ll set the canvas size to 400×400 pixels and background color. I found a nice off-white in Photoshop and copied the RGB:

Next, I’ll add all the ellipses because, for some reason, I drew a ton of circles in my sketch. It was a lot of trial and error when setting the X and Y axes:

Because you have to layer the code in the order you want the computer to draw the shapes, I had to re-order a lot of the code to fit in all the rectangles. I changed the canvas shape to match the proportions of my sketch. I also had to add 40 pixels to all the shapes on the X-axis to move them over to the right:

Ok now l’ll add strokes to the shapes that need it. Also omg the code starts to run away with you and your brain starts to go fuzzy in terms of the order. My rough patch right now is getting the tiny circle in the rectangle to appear, as well as correcting their order. Oof:

Aaah! With some reordering, trial and error (again), and “noStroke();”, I figured it out! That was pretty satisfying. Voila, my introverted, fear-of-being-trapped self-portrait!

Now a little about how computation applies to my personal interests. To recall what I mentioned earlier: I want to make stuff by becoming proficient in the language necessary to collaborate with others. Years ago, I found myself camping out at developers’ desks at the agency I was working at, hoping they’d have availability to help me out with a pro bono project for Amnesty International. Their time was limited and I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed. For a pro bono project, I found myself prioritizing my needs over those of others. I took for years and years, from brands and clients, and I feel ready (especially in today’s political climate) to give back.

I can’t quite imagine exactly what I’ll make this semester- but I can imagine that, whatever it is, it’ll feel good. I’d like to create art that targets a specific human need and improves a person’s life while telling a simple and universal story. I can’t wait to get started.


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