Teaching at Anderson Ranch

Wes and his students.I just returned from a week-long workshop at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, Colorado, where I taught a workshop on making art with data. It was such an amazing experience to see artists with no programming experience turn into creative coders in under a week. The workshop consisted of 10 students and an intern, mostly coming from backgrounds in the arts and with little programming experience.

I started the workshop with a day away from the computer. Hiking in the the Rockies! Hiking in the Rockies While hiking, students collected data samples on the trail from which we would tell a story at the end of our hike.

On the second day, the group assembled Arduino environmental sensors that collected noise and light data that the students collected from various locations around Snowmass Village.

By Day 3, everyone was ready to hunker down and get to work, learning the basics of Processing and the key aspects of how to manipulate visual elements and tie those to the data collected (we grew a deep affection towards the map() function).

ArtworkFinally by the end of the fifth day, we all had art made in Processing from our data! This was a great opportunity to introduce artists not only to code as a medium, but also the use of actual data.

The focus was not on finding insights (though some were found) as much as it was how to explore visual ways of representation for purely creative purposes. And the outcomes were pretty amazing, especially considering this was an entry-level for students with little coding experience.

One of the highlights of the experience was that I rode my motorcycle from Oakland all the way to Snowmass Village (about 1,200 miles each way). Highway 50 through Nevada and Utah was a new discovery that boasted the beauty of the West.

Utah Hwy 50