There’s an amazing world that lies at the intersections of art and technology. This interdisciplinary field merges the arts, design, technology, engineering and humanities to introduce a great variety of possibilities that further extend everyday life. This guide is meant to be a quick introduction to different creative technology tools and resources that allow and teach innovation across a multitude of emerging mediums.This guide has been developed by Ari Melenciano, an NYU Interactive Telecommunications Graduate Program (ITP) Research Fellow. This guide was created with the support of University of Denver’s Clinic for Open Source Arts as Ari was the first Contributor-In-Residence.
Her work through this residency focused on making open source and creative technologies more accessible to people of different racial, cultural, gender, and socio-economical backgrounds. Ari is especially passionate about empowering future Black, Latino/a and women technologists, all of which are under-represented groups in the technology field. She is also the founder of Afrotectopia, a new media arts, culture and technology festival, and developed a youtube channel to share the possibilities of art and technology.
Before we explore all of the exciting ways technology and art can merge to realize new realities, it’s important that there is an understanding of how technology and the humanities always operate, hand-in-hand. Technology provides exceptional convenience, and can augment every day life to great moments of awe. But, the convenience technology provides is through an exchange of personal data; the role technology plays in every day life has also often exhibited incredibly harmful effects to marginalized communities, and an awareness of how technology can continue cycles of oppression is vital to developing sustainable and ethical innovations. Below are a few resources to learn more, though there are many many more.
Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil
Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks
Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang
Surveillance Valley, The Secret Military History of the Internet by Yasha Levine
Let us begin!
1. What is Creative Technology?
Creative technology is a product of the combined super powers of art and technology. Artistic expression has reached new potentials as technology grows in capability. The art advances the experiences of technology, while the technology advances the possibilities of the art. Creative technology can take many different forms, from human-computer interactivity, installations, products, to websites and beyond.
Some common places you might have experienced creative technology is SnapChat filters that have detected the different parts of your face and overlay a perfectly mapped augmented addition (i.e. makeup, flower crowns, etc.). The incredible set designs of Beyoncé concerts? Creative technology. Pretty much any app on your phone, but especially those that allow you to express artistically: Instagram, Tumblr, VSCO.
2. Different creative technology mediums:
Using code for human-computer interactive purposes, digital media, music, data visualization, animation, and a wide variety of other artistic practices.
Platforms & Libraries:
Processing: a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. Processing has promoted software literacy, particularly within the visual arts, and visual literacy within technology. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach programming fundamentals within a visual context, Processing has also evolved into a development tool for professionals. The Processing software is free and open source, and runs on the Mac, Windows, and GNU/Linux platforms.
| Tutorials by Dan Shiffman.
Scratch: With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge.
Glitch: From useful tools that solve problems at work, to cutting-edge VR experiences, smart bots, and apps that help advance important causes, Glitch is a unique community where people have built over a million projects for you to discover, with new ones are popping up every day.
Cinder: a free and open source library for professional-quality creative coding in C++.
Bringing a variety of different sensors together, through electrical engineering techniques, to create something new.
Arduino: an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects.
Raspberry Pi: a small and affordable computer that you can use to learn programming.
Little Bits: easy and versatile 21st Century tool for invention-based learning. The ever-growing library of modular snap-together Bits are gender-neutral, age agnostic, and independent of experience or ability.
Bare Conductive: a suite of printed electronics products that enable individuals and companies to integrate electronics directly into the environment. Their conductive paint and easy-to-use development kits let anyone prototype their electronic visions of the future.
Leap Motion: Reach into the future of virtual and augmented reality with the most advanced hand tracking on Earth, used by over 300000 developers worldwide.
Virtual and Augmented Reality + Game Design:
Vuforia: an augmented reality software development kit (SDK) for mobile devices that enables the creation of augmented reality applications. It uses computer vision technology to recognize and track planar images (Image Targets) and simple 3D objects, such as boxes, in real time.
Blender: a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software toolset used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications and video games.
Maya: is a 3D computer graphics application that runs on Windows, macOS and Linux, (currently owned and developed by Autodesk, Inc.)
TinkerCAD: (aka Autodesk 123D) is a suite of hobbyist CAD and 3D modeling tools created by Autodesk. It is similar in scope to Trimble SketchUp and is based on Autodesk Inventor. As well as the more basic drawing and modeling capabilities it also has assembly and constraint support and STL export.
Rhino3D: is a commercial 3D computer graphics and computer-aided design application.
Wekinator: a free, open source software that allows anyone to use machine learning to build new musical instruments, gestural game controllers, computer vision or computer listening systems, and more.
ML5: Friendly machine learning for the web. ml5.js aims to make machine learning approachable for a broad audience of artists, creative coders, and students. The library provides access to machine learning algorithms and models in the browser, building on top of
TensorFlow.js with no other external dependencies.
Runway: Artificial Intelligence for Augmented Creativity. Runway is a toolkit that allows creators of all kinds to use artificial intelligence in an intuitive way.
These are very few out of many more programs, softwares, languages, platforms, etc that merge art and technology. If you are interested in diving deeper, or generally being exposed to technologies not listed above, take a look at the links below:
Please be mindful these are very short lists of many possible options
Examples of projects:
Institutions doing Creative Tech:
A list of creative technology lists:
New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program Course List
“Awesome-Creative-Coding” repository on Github by TerkelG
“Awesome” repository on Github by Sindre Sorhus
Where to buy creative tech equipment:
Have fun, get ready to be challenged, and know that with persistence it will be so rewarding. In my first semester at ITP, I struggled grasping many of the concepts of creative coding and physical computation. But as I built projects that merged my different passions (from music and developing sound interactive technologies, to photography and building my own camera), I learned so much, so quickly. And so will you!
Wishing you all the best,
Thank you many times, again, University of Denver’s Clinic for Open Source Arts for supporting my work in making technology a more inclusive space.