Art and Computer Programming
Subject:   Well of course it's art
Date:   2005-07-06 05:33:56
From:   kbw333
In recent years it has been said that art is something produced by an artist. This goes on to imply that if you're not an artist, your products cannot be seriously considered art. It justifies an artist's messy room as art, and everyone else's as a messy room. This point of view is also used to justify the publicity awarded to particular popular artists, while keeping the lid on others. Occasionally, as if by osmosis, an new artist will be discovered and he/she'll join the ranks of established artists.

When I was younger, there was talk of Arts and Crafts. These days it's the arts that get focus and there's little talk of craft. Craft seems to be implied in art. For example, a clever photograph will often require skill with a camera and until recently, with film processing. This is an example of arts and crafts being bound together. These huge metal sculptures I keep bumping into are clearly art, but require knowledge of metal working to achieve them; again arts and crafts. I don't think you can have one without the other, it's a matter of emphasis.

It is said that the most complex structures built by mankind are software systems. This is not generally appreciated because most people cannot see them. Maybe that's a good thing because if we saw them as buildings, we'd deem many of them unsafe. But this obscurity leads to a generally unrecognising of the beauty of some software.

It is clear that software construction is a craft. But you just need to try it to realise that it's art too. The whole idea of design patterns was an attempt to elevate the art in novices. There are many ways to construct software, but it's artistic input that makes it manageable, beautiful, and reliable.