TypeMachines – A workshop at écal Lausanne

Published by Tim on Saturday May 16, 2020

Last modified on January 25th, 2024 at 14:07

Actually I was supposed to travel to Lausanne in May 2020 to hold my five-day workshop at the écal. I’ve been enormously interested in the renowned design and art school for many years. It somehow manages to constantly produce highly innovative, technologically demanding projects. Probably that’s because the students there are introduced to code-based technologies at an early point in their studies. But just teaching tech does not solve the problem of motivation, inspiration and innovation. However, the teachers there seem to spread a strong spirit of curiosity.

The request for a workshop there was a great pleasure for me. Due to the Corona crisis, however, we had to have everything done remotely, which surprisingly worked out very well.

Workshop Showcase

Restrictions versus creative freedom

During the five days all participants worked intensively on an individual project. Everything was allowed in terms of content, but i have defined a few formal parameters:

  1. Work with Processing
  2. Use two predefined colors
  3. Use two predefined font files
  4. Export videos in HD resolution

In my experience, working with formal restrictions has two essential advantages: Firstly, it focuses creativity on a certain point and strengthens it enormously. In this workshop, the aim was to find an individual, personal theme and then to work it out visually. Since the decisions for font, format and color had already been made, the students didn’t have to deal with it anymore. On the other hand, such an approach gives the results a clear visual language so that they fit together in the series.

Processing

I believe Processing is the most accessible and easiest programming language for creative people. The software is very well documented, the forum provides a comprehensive answer for almost every question and there are tutorials for almost every use case. This helps enormously when conducting such a workshop, because for technical questions a link to an explanatory video or the right place in the extensive reference is usually sufficient.

Access to my eLearning area allowed the students to view my tutorials if they had questions.

Besides the large variety of resources, the principles of Processing are universally valid and applicable beyond syntax to almost any other code-based technology.

As always I tested the concept of the workshop intensely with my own experiments. Mostly I start to make notes and scribbles with pen and paper. Above you can see text fragments that came up for the animations.

Remote Communication

The corona crisis and the restrictions it brought with it made an on-site workshop at the écal impossible. But even though this “new” type of digital communication felt very unfamiliar, the whole thing worked surprisingly well and was very efficient. All exchange took place completely via Slack and the whereby.com-rooms of the écal.

A quote by John Maeda, found in his book “How to speak Machine”

Thanks

Many thanks to Mika, Nora, Rayanne, Malik, Ignacio, Valerio, Basil, Valentine, Dorian and Sebastien. All of you did a great job!

And of course many thanks to Pietro Alberti for his great assistance throughout the workshop, Patrik for giving an insightful talk on Generative Design during this week and to Pauline Saglio for the invitation to écal.

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