ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Field—a new environment for making digital art

By Marc Downie
SPECIAL ISSUE: Media Arts (Part II), [Vol. 6, No. 4]

DOI: 10.1145/1461999.1462006

This article will describe an environment for developing digital artworks, named Field, that has underpinned some of the most technically challenging real-time artworks made to date. This new tool was recently released by the author under an open source license. Created to specifically support exploratory and improvisory code writing, this environment, which hybridizes text-based programming with dynamic visual metaphors, stands in contrast with the dominant tools available to digital artists today—either the graphical data-flow programming systems or the more recent interest in “live” code-based tools. Field creates an environment where the boundaries between design, development, debugging, and deployment are explicitly porous and ready to shift as the process of forming the artwork out of its formal algorithmic conception demands. This article will articulate the philosophy of this tool by comparison with programming systems, old and new, and describe in detail the ways in which code can be written in it. Examples showing how the fusion of graphical and text-based programming representations can foster specifically the practices demanded by large collaborative artworks will be drawn from the recent work of the OpenEnded Group, spanning real-time graphics, interactive performance, music, and print media.

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