Art and Computer Programming
Subject:   Art and Programming
Date:   2005-08-13 13:36:27
One of the challenges of Art is that you are starting with a blank piece of paper or canvas. In the case of the canvas, most serious artists build them from scratch--they cut the wood, glue, sand, stretch, staple, etc. etc. Until recently even, artists needed to be chemists also and they would produce their own colors. Where I can see the comparison between Art and Programming failing is when a programmer is using a high level language or using an API or for example Ruby on Rails. If you really want to call yourself a software "artist", you should go back to the old traditions--draw your own fonts, draw your own "windows"... In fact you should question these very concepts--what is a font--what is a window? Back in the 1980's trying new software was more enjoyable because you were always surprised--each program had its own look and feel--a unique interface, a unique approach... Once Windows 3.1 came out, most applications lost their originality--everything was uniform, predictable--the goal was productivity and financial gain.

Also, Art in an ideal sense is not motivated by financial gain--the "starving artist" scenario is a function of humility. Picasso had a huge ego but I would argue that we are attracted to these paintings because he is so honest in saying (or pretending) just how important he thinks he is. Art has no practical, worldly application--otherwise it would not be beautiful. Just the fact that we call most programs "applications" tells you something. The original "Game of Life" might be an example of a program that wasn't coded as an application--it was more of a curiousity (read the book "Hackers"). As we know, beauty is easily spoiled by motives. If you found out that your girlfriend was after something materialistic, how beautiful would she be then? Beauty that asks for favors or accolades or profit is no longer beautiful and not to be trusted...a farce without merit. So in summary, Art comes out of ideals: honesty, love, etc... Programming on the other hand is more about productivity, efficiency, utility, profits, personal gain, etc. If you were locked in a room with no paint brushes and only a PC and you wanted to make some art--you would better off destroying it--then take all the little pieces and make something entirely new :)