An introduction to the ideas of computer programming within the context of the visual arts that also serves as a reference and text for Processing, an open-source programming language designed for creating images, animation, and interactivity.
It has been more than twenty years since desktop publishing reinvented design, and it's clear that there is a growing need for designers and artists to learn programming skills to fill the widening gap between their ideas and the capability of their purchased software. This book is an introduction to the concepts of computer programming within the context of the visual arts. It offers a comprehensive reference and text for Processing (www.processing.org), an open-source programming language that can be used by students, artists, designers, architects, researchers, and anyone who wants to program images, animation, and interactivity. The ideas in Processing have been tested in classrooms, workshops, and arts institutions, including UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, New York University, and Harvard University. Tutorial units make up the bulk of the book and introduce the syntax and concepts of software (including variables, functions, and object-oriented programming), cover such topics as photography and drawing in relation to software, and feature many short, prototypical example programs with related images and explanations. More advanced professional projects from such domains as animation, performance, and typography are discussed in interviews with their creators. “Extensions” present concise introductions to further areas of investigation, including computer vision, sound, and electronics. Appendixes, references to additional material, and a glossary contain additional technical details. Processing can be used by reading each unit in order, or by following each category from the beginning of the book to the end. The Processing software and all of the code presented can be downloaded and run for future exploration.
Essays Alexander R. Galloway, Golan Levin, R. Luke DuBois, Simon Greenwold, Francis Li, and Hernando Barragán
Interviews Jared Tarbell, Martin Wattenberg, James Paterson, Erik van Blockland, Ed Burton, Josh On, Jürg Lehni, Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn, Mathew Cullen and Grady Hall, Bob Sabiston, Jennifer Steinkamp, Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt, Sue Costabile, Chris Csikszentmihályi, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, and Mark Hansen
Casey Reas is Professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA and coauthor of Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists (MIT Press, 2007).
Ben Fry is Principal of Fathom, a design and software consultancy in Boston. Together, Reas and Fry cofounded Processing in 2001.
An internationally recognized leader at the intersection of design and technology, John Maeda is Executive Vice President/Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient. He was the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He is the author of Design by Numbers, The Laws of Simplicity, and Redesigning Leadership, all published by The MIT Press.
A whole generation of designers, artists, students, and professors have been influenced by Processing. Now, a handbook is published that goes far beyond explaining how to handle the technology and boldly reveals the potential future for the electronic sketchbook.
Joachim Sauter, University of the Arts, Berlin, Founder, Art+Com
Processing, the handbook and tutorial, is an indispensable companion to Processing, the integrated programming language and environment that has developed from phenomenon to revolution. Bridging the gap between programming and visual arts, the Processing handbook, in a concise way, connects software elements to principles of visual form, motion, and interaction. The book's modular structure allows for different combinations of its units and self-directed reading. Interviews with artists who create software-based works and extension chapters that expand software practice into computer vision, sound, and electronics successfully connect the realms of art and technology. Now used by artists, visual designers, and in educational institutions around the world, Processing has been groundbreaking not only as an alternative language for expanding programming space, but as an attempt to nurture programming literacy in the broader context of art and cultural production.
Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art
Processing is a milestone not only in the history of computer software, of information design, and of the visual arts, but also in social history. Many have commented on the pragmatic impact of the open source movement, but it is time to also consider Processing's sociological and psychological consequences. Processing invites people to tinker, and tinkering is the first step for any scientific and artistic creation. After the tinkering, it leads designers to their idea of perfection. It enables complexity, yet it is approachable; it is rigorous, yet malleable. Its home page exudes the enthusiasm of so many designers and artists from all over the world, overflowing with ideas and proud to be able to share. Processing is a great gift to the world.
Paola Antonelli, Curator, Architecture and Design, MOMA
This is an elegant and practical introduction to programming for artists and designers. It is rigorously grounded, informed by a vast amount of practical experience, and visually compelling. The worked examples are terrific. There's no better starting point for visual artists who want to learn how to think computationally, or for programmers who want to give visual and spatial expression to their ideas.
William J. Mitchell, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT
This long-awaited book is more than just a software guide; it is a tool for unlocking a powerful new way of thinking, making, and acting. Not since the Bauhaus have visual artists revisited technology in such a world-changing way. Ben Fry and Casey Reas have helped a growing community of visual producers open up fresh veins of expression. Their work proves that code is open to designers, architects, musicians, and animators, not just to engineers. Providing a powerful alternative to proprietary software, Processing is part of a new social phenomenon in the arts that speaks to self-education and networked engagement.
Ellen Lupton, Director of the graphic design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and author of D.I.Y: Design It Yourself
With Processing, Casey Reas and Ben Fry have opened up the world of programming to artists and designers in a manner that inspires playfulness and creativity with code.
Red Burns, Chair and Arts Professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University