Code as Creative Medium

Code as Creative Medium

A Handbook for Computational Art and Design

By Golan Levin and Tega Brain

An essential guide for teaching and learning computational art and design: exercises, assignments, interviews, and more than 170 illustrations of creative work.
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An essential guide for teaching and learning computational art and design: exercises, assignments, interviews, and more than 170 illustrations of creative work.

This book is an essential resource for arts educators and practitioners who want to explore code as a creative medium, and serves as a guide for computer scientists transitioning from STEM to STEAM in their syllabi or practice. It provides a collection of classic creative coding prompts and assignments, accompanied by annotated examples of both historic and contemporary projects. These are enriched by more than 170 illustrations of creative work and a set of interviews with leading educators. Picking up where standard programming guides leave off, the authors highlight alternative programming pedagogies suitable for the art- and design-oriented classroom, including teaching approaches, resources, and community support structures.

The book first offers a collection of syllabus modules, each built around an open-ended assignment or prompt, and all tested, adapted, or observed by the authors over twenty years of practice and teaching. Examples have been selected for their explicability and for their representation of varied approaches. The book then presents brief programming exercises relevant to artists and designers, helping readers learn computational techniques to control elementary visual (or in some cases, auditory or textual) patterns and forms. Finally, a diverse group of educators—including Dan Shiffman, Lauren McCarthy, and Taeyoon Choi—discuss the challenges of teaching expressive and critical studio arts through the tools of software development.


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262542043 288 pp. | 9 in x 7 in 161


  • "Code as Creative Medium is a must-read and an invaluable teaching tool for the creative coding community, from computer scientists and artists to teachers and students of computational arts. Developed by two of the most accomplished practitioners in the field, this book expertly expands knowledge in both coding and digital art history, offering the best of both worlds.”

    Christiane Paul

    Adjunct Curator of Digital Art, Whitney Museum; Professor of Media Studies, the New School

  • "Code as Creative Medium is both practical and poetic in its walkthrough of ideas large and small that can fluidly be integrated into a computational studio setting. This handbook represents a landmark task in updating centuries of traditional art practice to this very moment, when we can choose to either create with the machine or just get left behind.”

    John Maeda

    technologist; author of How to Speak Machine

  • "This remarkable book brings code to artists and brings art to code. Teachers and learners can use these creative prompts to explore the building blocks of digital technology. The book itself seeds our minds with questions—not just answers—about how rule-based systems, user interaction, global connectivity, and virtual experience bridge the gap between computer science and the arts.”

    Ellen Lupton

    Betty Cooke and William O. Steinmetz Design Chair, Maryland Institute College of Art; coauthor of Health Design Thinking

  • "I am struck by Brain and Levin's use of 'make it meaningful,' highlighting the critical core of this timely book—it links deeply the why to the how of teaching and learning creative coding.”

    Chris Coleman

    Professor of Emergent Digital Practices and Director of the Clinic for Open Source Arts (COSA),University of Denver