+CODE electronic art festival 2018, Argentina

by Aarón Montoya-Moraga

I represented Processing Foundation at +CODE, an electronic arts festival held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 2018. In this article I’ll be sharing a summary of my participation and my reflections on the experience.

Students at a p5.js workshop organized by +CODE festival 2018, Buenos Aires, Argentina. [image description: Eighteen students sitting around a table, looking at the camera. The p5.js website is displayed on a big screen behind them.]
Aarón Montoya-Moraga is a Chilean artist, educator, and programmer. They are a contributor to the p5.js project and led the translation to Spanish of both the p5.js book and website. They are a graduate of the NYU ITP program, and now part of MIT Media Lab’s Poetic Justice research group. [image description: Headshot of a person looking sideways, with digital fake brown hair.]

For the festival I led two creative coding workshops with p5.js, joined an artist panel, and met wonderful people working with Processing tools and other open-source efforts.

Workshop: Intro to creative coding for graphic arts with p5.js

Students at the p5.js workshop. [image description: Eighteen people sitting at a shared table with their computers, learning p5.js.]

This workshop was hosted by ODD, a co-working and creative coding space in Buenos Aires, and was attended by 18 students. We did a three-hour session where we discussed web technologies, HTML/CSS/JS languages, and how they interact with each other. We started coding from scratch, and people with no coding experience were highly encouraged to attend.

We discussed how the canvas element and the DOM in the browser allows us to create interactive graphics, and how p5.js gives us artistic freedom through its variety of timing functions, interactivity with webcam and peripherals, and callbacks. Also, we introduced the students to all the p5.js educational material that is available in Spanish, including the website and the book.

p5.js homepage in Spanish. [image description: People in shadow looking at the p5.js homepage in Spanish, projected onto a large screen on a wall.]

This workshop had people of various backgrounds and ages, ranging from front-end developers, to people who had never programmed before, and people who had used Processing for years but never tried p5.js. The diversity of the crowd helped everyone learn from each other, and share interesting approaches to incorporating p5.js into diverse disciplines, such as data visualization, installation art, video mapping, web art, and computer poetry, among others.

We used the p5.js web editor, which allowed everyone to easily share their code and publish their work online. Beginners were happy that they could start creating interactive web art with just a few lines of code. They also liked the fact that the web editor allowed them to share online both the code and the results, so that other people could learn from it or even reuse it. We used the p5.js documentation in Spanish, released in 2018, which helped overcome any language barriers.

Students programming with the p5.js web editor. [image description: Students work at their laptops.]

The documentation of this workshop can be found both in this GitHub repository, and in the CODE festival website.

Workshop: Intro to interactive art with p5.js and Kinectron

This workshop was held at El Cultural San Martín, and introduced students to two free libre open-source tools: p5.js and Kinectron.

Kinectron is a software library developed by the NYU ITP community that lets you stream data from Kinect sensors to multiple computers. For this workshop, we set up one Kinect in the room and everyone shared the data from it. We combined the Kinectron and p5.js libraries to make interactive art on the browser, which was controlled by our physical bodies in space.

Since Kinectron is a streaming platform, you can make your p5.js sketch depend on a Kinect sensor that is in another physical place, across countries and continents. I recommend checking out Lisa Jamhoury’s work for examples, one of the co-creators of Kinectron.

Students collaborating and coding together. [image description: Students helping each other with coding questions on each other’s computers.]
All the students at the p5.js and Kinectron workshop. [image description: Students gathered for a group portrait after the workshop.]

Panel: The communities’ role in reconfiguring contexts

The +CODE festival also organized a series of artist panels and master talks, addressing different topics such as the relationship between code and materiality in art, imagining new spaces, and the philosophy behind technological discourses, among others.

Artists and moderator discussing the communities they are part of. [image description: Five people sit on couches, discussing both among themselves and the audience, while behind them a schedule of panels is displayed.]

In the panel I was part of, called “The Communities’ Role in Reconfiguring Contexts,” we discussed how technology empowers communities to create the worlds they want to inhabit and how technology development needs to include ethical discussions. We discussed the implications of how this works in Spanish-speaking and Latin American contexts. We agreed that open source software is key to the development of artists in Latin America, mainly because of the fostering of communities, their sharing culture, and the educational material surrounding open-source. Additionally, open source allows us to freely create and distribute artwork without censorship or political constraints.

The artists on this panel included the #VIVAS, an Argentinean feminist art collective who focus on performance and sound art, and Lolo Armdz, a creative technologist, who works on interactive art using FLOSS. It was moderated by Merlina Rañi, curator of the +CODE festival.

Other activities

I led an additional workshop titled introduction to live coding using two free libre open source computer music tools: ChucK and Pure Data, hosted at Universidad Nacional San Martín. It was also aimed for beginners, and I have since taught it at the International Live Coding Conference 2019, in Madrid, Spain, and adapted it to the library p5.js.sound and taught it at Processing Community Day 2019 in Quito, Ecuador.

During the +CODE festival I attended Andrés Colubri’s “Escaping the Gated Garden” workshop, where he taught Processing for Android, which he is currently developing. We learned how to build Android apps with Processing, and also how to immediately upload them to our phones and share them, with no necessity of using the Google Play Store. Here are the contents of the workshop.

In the context of the +CODE festival, I was interviewed by hipermedula.org and discussed my thoughts on programming as a social tool (it is available both in Spanish and in English). I talked about my experience teaching creative programming with open source tools in Spanish-speaking contexts, and how my goal is to foster a creative, experimental, and critical community of Latin American media artists.

I want to mention the amazing people I met during the festival’s activities, including Magdalena Molinari, architect and visual artist, Euge VJ Choque, video and theater artist, and Manoloide, creative coder working with FLOSS.

Thanks to everyone at the Processing Foundation for inviting me to the festival and making this possible, including Lauren McCarthy, Casey Reas, Johanna Hedva, and Dorothy Santos, and to everyone at +CODE for organizing such a beautiful activity, including Cristian Reynaga, Merlina Rañi, and Iris Saladino.

Processing Foundation

The Processing Foundation promotes software literacy within…

Processing Foundation

The Processing Foundation promotes software literacy within the visual arts, and visual literacy within technology-related fields. Our publication posts articles about and by members of our community.

Aarón Montoya-Moraga

Written by

artist, programmer, educator. @medialab, @itp_nyu, @p5xjs @kinectron

Processing Foundation

The Processing Foundation promotes software literacy within the visual arts, and visual literacy within technology-related fields. Our publication posts articles about and by members of our community.