PBS Off Book: The Art of Creative Coding, Graphic Design & Other Explorations

PBS Off Book continues its exploration of cutting edge art, the artists that make it and the people that share it online. Here we have creative coding, graphic design, the spread of internet comedy, a look at bad behaviors online and other thoughtful provocations. 

 

Programming plays a huge role in the world that surrounds us, and though its uses are often purely functional, there is a growing community of artists who use the language of code as their medium. Their work includes everything from computer generated art to elaborate interactive installations, all with the goal of expanding our sense of what is possible with digital tools. To simplify the coding process, several platforms and libraries have been assembled to allow coders to cut through the nitty-gritty of programming and focus on the creative aspects of the project. These platforms all share a strong open source philosophy that encourages growth and experimentation, creating a rich community of artists that share their strategies and work with unprecedented openness.

 

Comedy is a huge part of entertainment and culture, but for decades there have been very limited opportunities for comedians to reach audiences and succeed. Fortunately, the internet has blown that wide open, providing new venues for the creation of comedy, removing the limitations of the old guard, and opening new doors to laughter. Podcasts, Twitter, and sketch videos are brand-new mediums that have given birth to new kinds of humor, and allow comics to connect with audiences in a deeper, more meaningful way.

 

The internet is a powerful tool for communication, but it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. As most of us have seen or experienced, the internet can bring out the worst behavior in people, highlighting some of the cruelest and most hurtful aspects of humanity. Issues such as bullying online and trolling have garnered a lot of attention recently, prompting questions about who does, and should, regulate the internet, and what free speech means online.

 

Though often overlooked, Graphic Design surrounds us: it is the signs we read, the products we buy, and the rooms we inhabit. Graphic designers find beauty within limitations, working towards the ultimate goal of visually communicating a message, be it the packaging of a product, the spirit of a book, or the narrative of a building. Utilizing a language of type and imagery, graphic designers try to make every aspect of our lives defined and beautiful.

 

The world of journalism has changed in the internet era. Newsrooms are significantly smaller now than they were 10 years ago, and news is no longer a once-a-day product, but instead a constant flow of information. The rise of Twitter brought concerns within the industry - would this overwhelming source of direct raw information put professional reporters out of business? Journalists are now faced with the challenge of adapting their roles in this digital era, finding new ways to add value to content, and helping to ensure that the internet is changing our worldview for the better.

 

We live in a digital world that gives us all the media we could possibly dream of at the click of a mouse, yet many people miss the old school physical formats from our past. Listening to vinyl and cassettes allows us to connect with music in a different way than MP3s. VHS and 8mm create visual aesthetics and atmospheres that are difficult to replicate in digital video. And the surprises inherent to analog instant photography help embed an organic quality to the recording of our memories. The challenges these retro formats present to capturing and experiencing media actually enhance our appreciation for the sound or image, making the art we love a bit more intimate, and real.

 

Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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