2021 Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts

Nina Lutz

Honorable Mention, 2021 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts
More about the artist

Code Sketches

Images generated with code written using the p5.js Javascript library, with inspiration from the p5.js community and OpenProcessing.org.

Since 2020, Nina Lutz has created daily code sketches. The practice was first recommended to her by mentor Zach Lieberman and grew to have a life of its own. Many sketches have an aspect of motion, with code that includes dynamic animation. The sketches are both a creative practice and a tool for connection and conversation between Lutz and her audience. 

As part of the process, images are posted daily on Twitter @ninasketches and an overview is visible on her Github site.

A means of iteration and expanding her understanding of creative coding, sketching, and visual design, Lutz reuses components of code as the pieces evolve. She originates new images by drawing upon her experiences in the visual arts and art history, alongside her knowledge of computer design tools and mathematical forms such as periodic motion and particle systems. The process has strengthened both her coding and her eye, though she has noted that “messy code creates some beautiful effects.”

Creating connections with other people is a critical goal of Lutz’s work as both an artist and a computer scientist. The posting of the images on Twitter, the feedback and conversation about the code, and workshops Lutz has hosted about the process allow her to reach her goal of teaching people “how to make these things in an easy and approachable way.” 

After graduation Lutz hopes to stream herself coding these sketches, in part to “normalize messy coding and stream of consciousness… and [to have] more women live coding.”

More information about the project

About the Artist

Nina M. Lutz is a Phoenix-born computer scientist and creative technologist. She holds a BS in Computer Science and Design from MIT and is a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab, where she has worked in various research groups since 2015.

Where many computer scientists want to make computers think more like people, Lutz aims to use computers to remind us to think of other people, especially people who may not look like us. Her methods in doing this reconsider the design and technology choices around the exploration of human identity through technology and art.

With a daily practice of drawing daily code sketches, Lutz has done a variety of experiments in light art and projection. She also explores a variety of participatory writing and artwork through different communities and classroom settings.

More at Nina Lutz’s website

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