RE: [-empyre-] capacious processing

Hi Jim,

Thanks for an excellent review of Director and its strengths and failings. I have just one final comment before we leave the tools behind.

Processing is being developed by Ben Fry at MIT and Casey Reas at UCLA, along with a selection of other programmers. I've developed some libraries for it, but apart from that my involvement is simply that I use it to teach and that I am active in the community.

I think it is safe to say that Director has played a pivotal role in the history of media art. Many of my favourite electronic artists either cut their teeth or still continue to work using Director, producing works that astound me. It made interactivity and computation available to visual artists and designers at a point when the only alternative was command-line compilers.

I am frankly amazed at some of the work that has been created using Director, perhaps even more so because I could never get comfortable with it. Herein lies the rub: Different people think in different ways. Some will take to text-based programming languages like C++ or Java, others will excel at combined timeline/script environments like Director or Flash, while still others will use visual programming environments like Max/MSP or VVVV to create wonderful things.

My background in text-based programming gives me a strong prejudice. I love the purity of code, and I find it easy to express myself within it. To others it might be as useful as hitting your head with a brick. Some have argued that text-based code is the most "efficient" way of expressing computational concepts. I would have to disagree since that's only true for code-literate and code-minded people.

Ultimately, I like to use text-based code in my teaching because it jars the students out of their traditional ways of thinking. To draw a curve, you must specify the 4 x,y points of a Bezier segments, and so learn to think about how a curve actually works as an abstract concept. But when all is said and done, most of my students will return to the safety whathever other, non-text-based tools that serve them better.

But I'm very excited about teaching a workshop in VVVV later this spring, my first time teaching with a visual programming environment. That is sure to prove as much a challenge to my own skills as to the students.

Marius Watz - Amoeba / Unlekker

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