I'm halfway through Van Gogh on Demand, by Winnie Won Yin Wong, a book that explores the plight of many varieties of Chinese artists on different social and economic levels. I highly recommend the book, based on what I have read so far. If you can't find it, you can read the PhD thesis on which the book is based for free.
Is Computer Coding an Art? via How Creative is Coding? This paragraph quoting, Vikram Chandra, stopped me cold:
But the virtues of what might be called “beautiful code” are different than those of beautiful art. “Beautiful code,” he writes, quoting Yukihirio “Maz” Matsumodo (the creator of the Ruby programming language), “is really meant to help the programmer be happy and productive.” It serves a purpose. Art, by its very nature, serves no purpose. Code is practical and logical. Art is about affect, associations, and emotional responses—part of what Chandra calls dhvani. The term, developed by Anandavardhana, a ninth-century Indian literary theorist, derives from a word meaning “to reverberate.” Dhvani is resonance or “that which is not spoken,” as Chandra says. Code is explicit. Art can be irrational and leave some of the most important things unsaid.I'm especially repelled by "Art, by its very nature, serves no purpose."
Regular readers of this blog know me as a connoisseur of practical art and craft who enjoys amateur dabbling in same. One friend calls my experimentation and documentation of remaking castoffs into new clothing a piece of performance art. I take that as high praise.
Back to the point...
I am biased. I think we should expand the definition of art to those fields and materials practiced primarily by women that produce beautiful as well as useful artifacts.
But, even if art objects serve no materially practical purpose, they .can. serve a purpose. Does it illuminate some aspect of the world that was there, but not appreciated? Do the viewers come away with more understanding of the world or a better grasp of what they don't know? To repeat a cliche, art applies a mirror to society or a window into the human condition or insert your favorite phrase.
(Ok, I am not sure if making a balloon rabbit in polished metal is really art but I'll let other people go there.)
On the flip side, software aka code is not purely an abstraction. It can control physical objects, such as how a satellite operates or, as I encountered this week, the behavior of tape robots. One of these days, I want to attend Solid, a conference that explores this theme between software and tangible things.
Coding can create aesthetically-pleasing artifacts such as this 500 mb wind visualization made with help from NCEP and earth.nullschool.net.
This computational artifact of 500 millibar wind fields* helps explain weather (especially rainfall) patterns. Like (some) art, it is both pretty to look at, and provides insight.
Coders and artists both belong to the super set of makers. That's all I know for certain.
Mommy Art (and Science)
* Sea level is roughly 1000 millibars. 500 mb is the half-height of the atmosphere, if you were to look at just one level, 500 mb is a good place to start. The geopotential height of the 500 mb isobaric surface is an especially useful diagnostic tool to locate dry and wet areas; globally, proportional differences in the geopotential height are largest here.
Do you like the way I snuck in "computational artifact" several times? That's a term I picked up after reading the new College Board and National Science Foundation Draft Curriculum Framework for the new AP Computer Science Principles class.