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Wolfville, Nova Scotia


Processing Alpha

Chris Campbell

I've discovered a new environment for developing and exploring the possibilities of digital media. One of the problems in working with digital media over time is that if you change tools and as things evolve it becomes difficult to work with older material. The other challenge is that the tools that you use tend to push you in a certain direction. You don't have to follow that direction, but it's harder to swim against the current. I've used a bunch of different tools and I'm fascinated in how the history and evolution of tools can be embodied within them. As time goes by I notice how new tools always seem to have all the answers, but overall it doesn't seem as if things have evolved that much.

Back in the old days when I started using version 4 of Director it was much that you could do. Now the hot tool is Flash and it seems as though Macromedia is revising their product line using years to maximize the profit. Even though I've used a lot of versions of Flash, I'm getting tired of constantly updating. I've been thinking for years that there is a need for an open-source or free tool for developing things a bit more advanced than what you can do with other programming languages.

Now I think I may have found it in Processing, which was started by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. It's designed to allow the exploration of programming more within the context of electronic art. What's neat is that it is built upon Java, so when you're done you export your work as Java and it can be placed on a Web complicated plug-ins, etc. I've started playing with it and I hope to have some experiments up soon.