On February 24th, Casey Reas kicked off the Spring semester of the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium at UC Berkeley, discussing the work he’s created through Processing, the programming language he co-wrote while at MIT with Ben Fry. The standing room only event was a huge success, and was followed by an energetic question and answer session.
Casey began by showing the great variety in his work. From pieces that focus on microimages, to process, to networks, to collage, Casey exhibited the extensive possibilities art formed through software affords. Some of his work used data to create visual effects, others relied on audience participation to feed the software with decisions and develop a generative viewing space. But all his work depended on the most basic of choices: what information to remove, what to amplify, and how to do so. Casey spent the second half of his lecture addressing the process that allows him to make such decisions.
Characteristically humble, Casey prefaced his discussion with an acknowledgement that creating art through software is not new. He then displayed for the audience the sketchbooks he uses to quickly map out vague ideas in a material form. Afterwards, Casey finally opened Processing on his computer to show how he swiftly codes these concepts so that he’s able to see their quality of motion. The rapid iteration the program provides allows him to study his work to uncover new opportunities. It is this ability to look critically at his art that distinguishes Casey, as he experiments with his work, visualizing the same ideas in various forms, building on what he’s begun over and over again. By experiencing the project in manifold ways, he manages to discover the essence of his art. Not that this is a fast operation – Casey admitted that some of his work developed from simple exercises he began a decade ago while exploring processing. These basic ideas, however, grew into the building blocks for whole bodies of work.
BCNM was thrilled to host Casey Reas and gain insight into his amazing oeuvre through the ATC series. You can listen to his lecture here.