#CodingisArt: 42 Berlin talks to one of the brains behind Creative Code Berlin
It seems the very nature of artists all around the world to constantly seek to push the boundaries of what can be expressed through their work … and Berlin is no exception. We spoke to Raphaël de Courville, one of the organizers of the Creative Code Berlin Meetup Group; an initiative that hosts free meetups and workshops for those interested in creative coding. Founded in 2012, the group ensures it is accessible to all, conducive to sharing knowledge and understanding, and encourages the overlap of different disciplines. Raphael runs the group alongside Abe Pazos, Rachel Uwa, and Ramin Soleymani. Raphael inspired us to see all the possible avenues coding skills can offer and the world of opportunity that lies right in front of us! Find Raphaël on Twitter here and believe when he tells you … #CodingisArt.
42: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what has led you to incorporate code into your career as it is today?
Raphaël de Courville: My name is Raphaël de Courville, I’m an artist, designer, illustrator, and educator from France. My background is in graphic design and typography, which I studied in Paris and Amiens. I dabbled with code as early as the late nineties, but the real spark happened when I was introduced to Processing ten years ago. This was a transformative experience for me as it showed me I could write code on my own, without always relying on my more technically savvy friends for support. I spent the whole summer of 2012 building all sorts of art experiments in Processing. In October of the same year, I packed my life in a small carry-on, slapped my copy of the Generative Gestaltung book on top, and moved to Berlin hoping to get involved with the German creative coding scene. I never looked back.
42: You run creative coding workshops and are part of Creative Code Berlin. What is your ultimate mission through such initiatives and how have you seen the work evolve?
RC: Many people — especially artists — believe that coding is not for them. They think it’s some scary black magic for computer geeks only. I want to show them that it doesn’t have to be that way. Coding can be weird, creative, and playful. On the other hand, coders themselves are often unaware of the existence of creative coding. The history of computer art goes back as far as the 1950s, yet the practice has remained relatively confidential. I’d like to help change that.
The last two years forced more of our activities to move online and it lowered my threshold for engaging with people on the internet. I have met many fellow artists this way. It feels like the creative coding scene is now more connected than ever. Last year I started streaming on Twitch too. I see my live streams as a farther-reaching counterpart to the work I’ve been doing in person.
42: Do you have any role models that have inspired your work? If so, what values do they work within?
RC: I’m a fan of Daniel Shiffman. Over the years, he’s introduced countless people to coding, through his books and YouTube channel. I love his enthusiastic teaching style and charmingly awkward delivery. His Coding Train videos are the perfect antidote to the unrealistic perfection of most code tutorials. Dan is trying things, he’s making mistakes, and he’s taking us along for the ride. It feels real. It feels honest. Watching him gave me the confidence to put myself out there and start live streaming.
42: For you, why is #CodingisArt?
RC: Coding is art when artists start coding.
The Creative Code Berlin group hosts bi-monthly meetings; on the first Friday of each month you can attend their Creative Code Stammtisch [a casual show-and-tell in which attendees can present their work] and on the third Saturday of each month the group hosts a Creative Code Jam.
Are you an artist and interested in using code to develop your practice? Applications for #42Berlin are still open! Apply here.