1. I'm collecting examples
of studios/ projects where programming is used in cooperation with design.
Examples: John Maeda @ Media Laboratory of the MIT, his students, Letterror,
Typerware, etc. Is anyone else dealing with the issues that are important/influential
for you? If so, why do you admire them?
JC: I don't know anyone that's not
in this list. I admire Letterror the most. And also Petr van Blokland's
approach to design + program. I like the John Maeda stuff too, though
don't always agree with the mark 'done with anyone else's tool than mine'.
I look at his work more as experimental and artistic in many cases.
2. How did
you start with programming, and what was the main motivation to learn
it? Which language did you choose and why?
JC: I chose Python because Just van Rossum advised me. He was right
;) In my last days as student (I started a bit late) I was shocked and
impressed with Beowolf. "Wow, it changes the shape in the printer..."
*That* was what digital typefaces had to be about. It really used the
capabilities of the computer. It offered a different approach. Then when
we (Typerware) were invited to join the TypeLab in the Barcelona ATypI
conference (1995?), Just and Erik were there. I met them and asked about
how Beowolf was done technically, and where I should look to manipulate
PostScript. Just gave me some useful information, and I started to play
a bit, always in my spare time. After some experiments it seemed very
limited and complicated. So I decided to start with more flexible programming.
Just told me again to try Python. And here I am, learning Python. Python
is also the language used in RoboFog, so the choice was easy. And I have
to say that there's no program written by me that is more than 50 lines
of code, which doesn't borrow a piece of code from Just, Erik, Petr or
someone else. Usually, when I can't find how to do something, I drop a
question in a mailing-list and get their answers.
3. In your opinion
is it necessary to become a programmer if the concept of the project requires
writing a programme? What are your experiences?
JC: It's about
getting the best by the knowing the tools better. It is this way for all
tools. The problem is that the computer can be any tool. I feel like my
skills are still *very* basic, so I can't do big stuff and, just as designers
can be limited by the software they use, I'm limited by my programming
skills, though small things always help. I use scripts mainly for production,
and also make small programs to learn programming. I have a
lot of ideas for doing things as soon as I get the skills to achieve them.
I don't have my own big thoughts, I simply agree with other programmers
ideas (anyone interested in this issue should read Letterror's book, there
you have a lot of answers easily explained). There will always be limitations
in the designer's work, but the software you use shouldn't
necessarily be one. You have to find a solution, and then physically make
solution. The problem is people thinking only about the solution that
they know how to do. Programming can be useful also in the process of
design. It opens up more possibilities. I'm sure many people would find
it stupid to waste time for doing things the way I do, but I find it more
boring doing the same thing thirty times.
4. How do you see
yourself, more a designer or programmer? As a designer, do you feel some
restrictions/limits of software you are using and can you give me some
examples? If you are a programmer, how do you collaborate with designers?
Does it influence your work in some specific way?
JC: Absolutely designer. I hope some day I
will say that I'm a designer that can program. But it looks far yet and
that's not necessarily but. It's the way, just follow it while you feel
comfortable with what you're doing.
Self-made programs seem to bring a 'game' aspect to graphic design life?
How did you use programming knowledge in both 'for fun' and commissioned
projects? Are your projects published on the internet? If so, where? (URL)
JC: For me is a gift to make a script or mini-program for a project. I have
fun, I enjoy... but it's not usual. I've to find the way and the time for
doing it. I usually program something that's useful for something. Or something
that will be useful in the future for learning. Or just for having fun.
An example is a program that I made because a sports program in the radio.
They make a riddle each week, giving an anagram of the name of a known person
in the sport's world. I wrote a program to combine the letters of the anagram
and with some variables introduced I use to get the solution in a few minutes
each week. In projects it has been a few, and it was small things yet. But
I'm patient, someday...
What about the computer aesthetics? Do you attempt to reconcile the contrast
between the natural and technological looks of your results? How?
I suppose that when you make something really controlled (a difficult thing
if you don't control all the programming process) you can expect a global
thing, so the aesthetic is controlled, and it hasn't to be necessarily obvious
that you programmed something in the process.
Are you attracted to exploit the programming in order to help the computer
become more 'human' or 'emotional' (to simulate our 5 senses)? What are
JC: Not really by now. I've enough to learn to exploit
the power of the computer. I didn't think about it yet, though we were thinking
on doing some stuff where the computer learn. I've a colleague philosopher/programmer
and maybe we'll do something on it if we find the time.
8. Can everyone learn how to create a programme?
python.org gives the programming language and manuals for free for anyone
JC: Of course. If I can anyone can, seriously. Just
don't be afraid in the beginning, and you'll feel the satisfaction of
seeing that your intuition makes something work.
9. Will you be developing your programming knowledge in your future practice?
Do you have any plans in relation to the 'D + P' issues?
JC: I think that programming is nothing more than controlling the tool
that every designer uses. So the future has to be to break the limitations
of the tools we use in our everyday work (and not only use it for working
Arf, arf. I think that's enough for now. I feel like missing important
things, but maybe we'll talk about it.
with pleasure. See you on Nov 27
at the Jan van Eyck Akademie!