2 February 2010

Missing myself

Detail from Nature by John Maeda

Sounds egoistic, and maybe it is. I didn't bother me much, until I've looked back and realized how I've changed. Well, we all change, we interact, we change others in return and so on. I used to draw more, create more, not better, just more. I was annoyed I didn't know enough code to make some of my ideas work. A few random events, like Jared Tarbell throwing one of his laser cuts wood models at me at FOTB'07...

... winning an Arduino at LFPUG, a few dozen coin flips always ending on the same side and I ended up studying Creative Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. There was a lot of new material to cover (like Java, Processing, OpenGL, MaxMSPJitter, openframeworks, etc), but I've managed to do a decent job and I don't think I did it by my own.

Back in 2007 I just started to tinker with code(as2.0) and I was pretty bad at it, plus the amount of knowledge I had to cover scared me. AS3.0 was out and that was even scarier. When I was at FOTB I had a copy of Essential AS 3.0 which I used to get autographs from most of the great developers there like Keith Peters, Andre Michelle, Brendan Dawes, Erik Natze, Carlos Ulloa, etc.

In my head it was like I had their 'go-ahead'/approval and I'd owe it to them to learn all that. I managed to get a job in London in late April, early May 2008 which meant for a while I commuted from Canterbury, each morning waking at 5, sleeping a few hours a night and had to hand in my projects for Fine Arts and Digital Media at that time. Daily bus journeys meant 4 to 5 hours a day which meant when I wasn't instantly falling asleep after running to catch the bus I would read. The 'good luck charm' worked.

I got scared again when I had to start Creative Computing. Not a problem, I got Robert Hodgin's signature on my copy of Processing: A Programming Handbook
for Visual Designers and Artists
. I started to learn Processing and started to play with OpenGL a bit. I still regret I haven't caught James Patterson, although I did put about 10 or 11 forms in 2007 and in 2008 John Davey managed to get him on stage.

This year I am finishing my undergraduate studies. This is a bit unbelievable as this would be the 5th University I'm studying in, but the 1st degree I seem to finish. Now I don't know for sure where I will head, but as usual I 'smell' a direction and keep hitting walls from side to side in order to move forward. Sometimes I find shortcuts, sometimes I get lost for a while, it's all part of learning.

Now fear was creeping in regarding my direction, but I found a bit of light tonight.
I just got back from an amazing talk at the V&A given by John Maeda. I didn't realize how much I went into this whole computing thing and technology, I was thinking more about the geeky details than the ideas. Getting lost into creating tools and the most efficient way to build tools that I ran out of time to actually use them. As Jonathan Harris mentioned, tools are using me, not the other way around.

Thank you John Maeda for reminding me to finish what I've started. Oh, and thank you for the 'go-ahead' as well.

It is always great to meet your heroes in person, as a great man once said.