Behind the Screens: Carolien Teunisse
An interview with creative coder and co-founder of Creative Coding Utrecht Carolien Teunisse.
Carolien Teunisse is a creative coder who creates immersive experiences, installations and performances by using computer code connected to sensors and projectors.
In this interview we’d like to talk about her practices and tools, as well as work in the community and the way she copes with the radical and drastic changes in her practice resulting from the corona crisis.
What is your first encounter with live coding and what are sources of inspiration?
The first time I encountered live coding was at FIBER’s Algorave at the OCCII in Amsterdam, I then already had heard and read about it but never experienced it for myself and I was blown away. I assisted in the production part of the visuals, we had the code of the performers projected all around and even on to a disco ball, allowing the visitors to really be inside the code. The performers and the visitors were super enthusiastic, it was a feeling of creating something truly new together. Although the musical aesthetics were not of my taste all the time, the energy that night was amazing, something I hadn’t experienced before.
Which platform do you use and why?
I use visual programming languages vvvv and Touchdesigner to create my live-coded visuals. This is a bit unusual in the livecoding scene, I think it’s in a way harder to follow for people not using that specific language. I like to contribute to livecoding events with these languages nonetheless, to show this is another taste of programming to create awesome stuff. Also for people new to programming, I myself had a really hard time learning to program till I tried the visual languages, which are more compatible with how my brain works.
How has live coding influenced your way of making things?
Through live coding I have learned to be more comfortable to improvise on stage, to present an output of my code while I’m not sure how it will look beforehand. This was really scary to do at first, and I still feel a bit anxious before I go on stage to live code, because things can go wrong, I will make mistakes and things can look awful. But then I realise visitors of live coding events and the community are in a way more forgiving and supporting than at other art gatherings.
This sense of trust and feeling okay with not knowing what the output will be, changed my approach to the creation of our other performances and installations, making them increasingly spontaneous and generative. In a way I am having a conversation with the computer and the code instead of trying to be the director of it all.
Looking back on the times of lockdown, how has your practice been the past few months and are there things you’re taking with you when you return to your practices?
The work I make usually needs a live audience, so I didn’t present anything during these months. I used this time to rest, to be in nature a lot and to take a step back to reflect on what drives me to create art. I discovered this evolved the past few years from ego to eco: the things I make are less about me and what I can do or show, and are more about the collective, about sharing an experience together and connecting with each other and with nature.
I kept on teaching Creative Technology students remotely during lockdown and discovered how important the live aspect of teaching really is. To be able look each other in the eyes when conveying information is super important, next to it being easier to see if they understand what you are saying, it gives a sense of gratification which makes it more fun to do. When this is over I will appreciate being together in a classroom more and will use new techniques to make my classes more interactive.
How did the lockdown influence your projects and did it influence you to work on something new?
The lockdown gave me the opportunity to share my skills and enthusiasm for programming with kids at home. Together with CCU we organised live webinars to learn how to program in Scratch and we are now finishing a webinar series for kids and teachers to learn creative coding in the classroom or at home.
Together with members of DEFRAME we have thought of some great new ideas and concepts for art installations which we are planning to work on after the summer, so stay tuned!
Find more about DEFRAME here:
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This article is part of the 10 Minute Livecoding Challenge by Creative Coding Utrecht and Netherlands Coding Live — a series of events where digital artists and live coders create a piece in ten minutes.
The 10 Minute Live Coding Challenge is sponsored by Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie.