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June 15, 2007

Processing: The Book

cover of Processing book

Time and time again in the past few years, when I've seen a jaw-droppingly beautiful work of interactive video art and then asked the artist how they did it, I've received a one word answer... "Processing".

Processing is a programming language...a little like Java, but easier to learn and use...that is uniquely suited to manipulating audio and video. It was developed by interactive media artists at MIT and UCLA and has been championed by digital media heavyweights like Ben Fry, John Maeda, and Casey Reas. Word has spread about Processing, and its use is starting to reach a critical mass, just the way Photoshop did for graphic designers 20 years ago. Right now, in art school dorm rooms and computer labs, an army of inspired, sleep-deprived students...the next generation of video artists... are hacking together all sorts of stunning digital assaults on our senses, all because of the Processing language.

And all of this has happened despite the fact that there's no book on Processing. At least, there wasn't until now. Just last week I got my copy of Processing: Creative Coding and Computational Art by Ira Greenberg, and it's a great work. The book lays out the basics and intricacies of the language, but it does it with an artist's sensibility (which makes sense, given that Greenberg is both an artist and a professor... who happens to hold joint appointments in both the art and computer science departments at his college).

I'm thoroughly enjoying hacking together stuff with this book's help, and I those of you are there who are fellow computer artists will too. You may wind up bleary-eyed, but your computer screen will look amazing.

(Speaking of amazing, the stunningly beautiful iTunes music visualizer
Magnetosphere was developed in Processing.)

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at June 15, 2007 04:51 PM