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Generative Art Starter Pack

(Useful links:

Hello World! Generative Art can mean a lot of things, but today, for us, it means using computers to help use explore the aesthetics of systems! What the heck does that mean?

Consider nature, for instance:

The Wave

What we find so striking about these sorts of natural displays is at least in part that they represent the repeated application of cyclical forces (in the above case, evaporation and replenishment of water, probably) over very long times to produce. The rock has become an intricate record of cycles of water and wind in the area.

Computers allow us to simulate such cycles and systems at great speed, and if we connect those simulations to visualizations of some kind, we can often produce similarly intricate records or expressions of those processes. If we carefully balance order and disorder, we can produce very aesthetically pleasing results.

Why Should I Learn to Do This?

Generative art is a pleasing artistic endeavor regardless of practical benefits, but it also is a very good opportunity to become familiar with technical tools in a context which encourages experimentation and creativity, a context where even errors may open fruitful avenues of exploration.

Ultimately, (and particularly for developers working on the front end), all our technical skills require an element of creativity and an understanding of human beings. A portfolio of generative art can give potential employers a powerful argument that you have both technical mastery and the creative ability to solve hard problems in a novel way.

Why Javascript?

Javascript is a uniquely powerful environment for creating generative art because it is very easy to get started with (all you need is a browser and a text editor) and it is extremely easy to deliver you art work to its audience: everyone who has a computer has a web browser.

Plus, Javascript is one of the world's most commonly used programming languages, and while it has its famously documented warts, it is als capable of elegance and agility. Generative art is a great way to get comfortable with the language without the stress of a deliverable.