Coding without computers: the human fax machine experiment
One of the major challenges in teaching computational art to creative arts students lies in finding effective means to convey features of system, algorithm and instruction in an interesting and engaging manner. While there are all sorts of contemporary efforts to make programming accessible - through a focus on graphic experimentation and the like - these efforts typically approach the problem very literally. They rely on the standard model of students writing actual code, struggling with errors and staring at screens.
The problem with this approach is that as computing is becoming less focused on this kind of disembodied, isolated interaction (as it becomes locative, mobile and socially directed and embedded) we still insist upon forms of engagement that many students find alienating and uninteresting. Without altogether rejecting the model of computational solipsism, there is a vital need to introduce fundamental features of computation via other more socially oriented and human-collaborative means.
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