Truth to Material: Moving from Software to Programming Code as a New Material for Digital Design Practice

Richardson, Andrew Grant (2010) Truth to Material: Moving from Software to Programming Code as a New Material for Digital Design Practice. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

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Abstract

This practice-led research project investigates the key characteristics of the
use and process of programming code when applied to a creative design
environment. The research is motivated by personal practice and a desire to
move beyond the boundaries of software, and is set against a contemporary
background of designers exploring code as a key part of their creative work.
The initial contextual study considers design practice in the context of
contemporary digital technology, and identifies computational design as a
distinct area, apart from software-centred design. Although not a formal term
or grouping, the thesis highlights 'computational design' as an area of
practice which has emerged out of dissatisfaction with the 'limitations' of
software tools. The research establishes links between a range of
contemporary design practitioners, whose work is motivated by a desire to
understand and engage directly with the process and the 'material' of the
computational environment. Using the Arts and Crafts movement as a case
study, the contextual review discusses the ethos, process and material of
software-centred and computational design alongside those of traditional
design values. The research identifies the process and usage of computation
as a distinct area of study for creative design which applies a traditional
concern for the material and process of 'making' within the immaterial
environment of the digital arena.
The identification of computation as a type of raw ‘material’ for creative
practice provides the focus for the rest of the research. Based on the
findings of the contextual review, the practice explores the detail of the
process of ‘making’ using code, by creating two major pieces of
computationally generated work, based on the botanical, decorative
aesthetic of William Morris wallpaper prints. Each key stage of the work is
outlined using the headings 'code', 'visuals' and 'process', providing a
Truth to Material: Moving from Software to Programming Code as a New Material for Digital Design Practice. 3
detailed account of the developing process and relationship between the
designer and the computational material. The study reveals that key to the
use of computation is an understanding and development of structural and
visual flexibility, which is inbuilt into the architecture of the work as part of the
design process. The research identifies three core phases, or ‘layers’ within
the process: ‘concept’, ‘data structure’ and ‘data detail’, each of which
contribute important elements to the flexibility and fluidity of the structure and
visuals. The research adds to the understanding of the process and practice
of computational work within a creative context, increasing knowledge
regarding the use and application of the formal elements of code within a
creative design workflow.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Computing > Software Engineering
Divisions: Faculty of Applied Sciences > Department of Computing Engineering and Technology
Depositing User: Barry Hall
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 09:15
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2017 16:38
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/3311

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