Reflections on my master-studies

Published by on Wednesday January 26, 2022

Last modified on June 20th, 2022 at 15:54

January 2022. It’s my birthday and I’m meeting my longtime friend Patrik Hübner for dinner. We ordered Indian food and I re­arranged my room into a small restau­rant. As we often do, we talk about our studies in Digital Media and Experiment at the University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld, this time we reflect on our motives. What drove us to start studying again in our mid and late 30s?

My overarching goal was, and still is, to learn how to pass on my enthusiasm for Creative Coding to my students as an educator. To do that, I had to ask myself and concretize what really drives me. And that has become increasingly clear to me over the last few years.

For me, it’s about developing a positive perspective on the creative use of technology. That may sound obvious, but it’s not: If you look around the book market for titles about perspectives on the digitized world, you’ll find a lot of gloomy and even dystopian writings that predict the end of humanity. Such books sell enormously well because humans react particularly strongly to fear. However, I believe that purely negative perspectives will not get us anywhere here. I believe in the good and in the fact that we can only create a future worth living with technologies if we have a vision and hope for a self-determined life. At the same time, we need to turn on our own thinking and view developments in the digital world with sharp skepticism, because profit-hungry multi-billion corporations have turned the once free Internet into a merciless money machine. A particularly dramatic example: many people are not even aware that Meta, with Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and the planned Metaverse, is aiming for a misanthropic, centralized commercialization of the entire Internet. I believe that this is a disaster and that we have to do something about it. To counter this we don’t need fear, we need hope.

Rutger Bregman, in his book “Human Kind – A hopeful History” 2, gets to the heart of the matter by stating that Martin Luther King did not say “I have a nightmare”. No. He said “I have a dream!”

Now you may be wondering what programming has to do with the imbalance in our technologized world. Well, there are many smart people who see coding as an essential building block for a responsible approach to digital technologies. And they advocate seeing artistic programming, or creative coding, as an elementary cultural technique 1. As a creative means of expression to depict, reflect and courageously question the digital.

For me as a educator, this means transforming my students’ fear and inhibitions into courage and curiosity. This is the very task that brings me great pleasure, even though it is very difficult.

In my studies, I read a lot and wrote a lot. And in doing so, I have also been very wrong often enough. For example, there was a video essay I made in the winter semester 2020/2021, my Creative Coding Manifesto 2021, which could give the impression that I now wanted to become the great enlightener. Today I see the film as a failed attempt to find my own voice. I’m very happy with the result of the project, because I learned from it how I don’t want to appear in the future.

In my opinion, the video portrait that Nils Heck produced in 2021 is much more suitable. The video shows much more lightness and, from the current perspective, also corresponds much more to my personality.

In the next semester, I will then implement the master’s thesis, in which I will deal with the thought processes in creative coding. This is by no means the end of my journey, but rather another milestone. For me it is a great fulfillment to be able to deal with these topics.

Footnotes

1 Vgl. Trogemann, Georg, and Jochen Viehoff, Code@Art – Eine Elementare Einführung in Die Programmierung Als Künstlerische Praktik (Luxemburg: Springer, 2005), S. 9

2 Bregmann, Rutger, Im Grunde Gut (Hamburg: Rowohlt 2020)


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