Over the past decade artists and designers have increasingly integrated code based (programming) approaches to their practices. As these practices become standardized and fully integrated into university curricula new pedagogical challenges emerge.

In our experience, New Media art students face a novel set of challenges when asked to realize their creative vision with code-based projects. While fine art and design students are very adept at manipulating forms and structures they often find the transition to code based, syntax driven, modes of production challenging. The abstract effects of code are unlike the material and formal explorations that comprised much of their artistic study prior to University. Mixing colours, lighting scenes or explorations with pencil, for example, all have immediate embodied consequences that can be linked to the construction of meaning. The effects of code however are linked to meaning abstractly through logic, not through embodiment.

With the support of Ryerson’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement fund, we have developed a system of tangible tiles and integrated software ‘code factory’ that helps fine art students build bridges of understanding between proposed interactive and networked experiences and the required computer syntax, software libraries and hardware that animate those proposals.

TEI 2015 paper