Intersecting Python, code and art


This talk is about the many ways art and code, specifically Python code, can come together. People can learn from this talk how they can experiment with being artistically creative while they do code-y things.

Talk Description

Outline of talk: Introduction: From livecoding to Raspberry Pis, people have come up with so many ways to bring the worlds of art and code together. There is a somewhat common belief that coding is only a logical and analytical process. However, I think that programming is an inherently creative process! After all, when you make code, you are literally creating something new. (Or altering it to make it better if you’re dealing with legacy code.) So that means you have an excuse to try whatever creative thing you might be vaugely interested in, whether that’s making art code or just plain old art.

I’ve come across a few different ways that Python and other languages can be used to make artsy things:

Raspberry Pis: Raspberry Pis are really cool things! If you’re not familiar with them, they’re pocket sized computers that can be used for a lot of purposes. You can code them to make LED lights blink in pretty patterns. You could attach a screen to it, make some generative art code, and put it on your wall to make a fancy “installation” on your wall. I could tell you about all the ways you can use Raspberry Pis for fun art things, but that’s another talk. There are lots of communities online where you can learn more about making with Raspberry Pis.

PyGame: If you like to play games, PyGame is a great way to learn about making games! PyGame is a free and open source Python library that helps you make multimedia applications. Most people use it to make games, but it seems pretty versatile. One possible way to use it for art is to make an interative art piece - PyGame is all about user input and interaction. Side note: The PyGame website has good documentation if you like learning about things via documentation.

Livecoding: Live coding is when people make code on the fly. It’s usually done at parties or things called algoraves, which are specifically parties based around live coding. People who livecode do a lot of different things, but they usually fall into the realms of musical art and visual art. One thing you can do make code that you project on a wall with cool patterns that change when you alter/add code. This is usually done while music is playing, so a livecoder might be playing around with the visualization in response to the music.

Music21: Speaking of music, you can also make music with code. Music21 is a Python library made by MIT for “computer-aided musicology”. Personally, I’ve used it during the workshop “Making Musical Code” at Codeland 2019. It was was run by Katarina Hoeger, who taught me and other participants how to make a midi sound file using strings and dictionaries with Music21. It’s a very versatile library, if you’re interested, you should check it out!

Closing: As seen from my presentation, there are many ways to combine art and coding. I hope that if you get one thing out of this talk, it’s knowing that if you want to create something, there’s lots of fun ways to explore that!

About the Talk