Workshop Week 10: How many repetitions to create significant variation?

This week we continue with research and development of your final project, but we ask you to consider one very important question: How many repetitions will you need to allow the variation to hold significance?

Part 1: Thinking about count of repetition

Consider the following works and estimate the repetitions used. Could these works have been done with less repetitions? Would these works be better with more repetitions?

Vera Molnar, 25 Carrès (25 Squares), 1989

Vera Molnar, 25 Carrès (25 Squares), 1989



More information here:

This second “Life in Adwords” video shows an alternate method of presentation for the same work:


Richard Long, Line Mae by Walking, 1967


Ai Wei Wei, Bang, 2010-2013, 886 antique stools, installation view, 2013

Is there a difference between repetition and simply large numbers of objects?


Ai Wei Wei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, October 2010. 100.000.000 seeds, with a total weight of 150 tons.

“Like Ai Weiwei’s other works, ‘Sunflower Seeds’ is a work closely related to the society, politics and economy in China, and also a project that can be accomplished only in this country. It alludes to the globalisation and mass production in China that caters to western consumerism, and to the deemed insignificant element at the bottom of the production chain – thousands of cheap labors, assembly lines in gigantic factories, and tedious procedures. Absurdly, ‘Sunflower Seeds’ provided work for 1,600 artisans in Jingdenzhen, a fact that is an ironic reflection of the social reality. “(, accessed 10/2015)

Triple Elvis 1962 Acrylic silkscreened on canvas

Triple Elvis 1962 Acrylic silkscreened on canvas

Some ideas about exploring social media: (note that these don’t explicitly involve repetition)

Part 2: Documenting work development

Create another blog post on your personal Blog, documenting any development of your concept. Post a link to your blog post on the links provided below.

You might include:

  • Found images
  • mock ups (perhaps done in photoshop)
  • word maps highlighting key words and concepts
  • idea maps
  • drawings (scanned or photographed and uploaded)

Etienne’s classes please post a link to your blog posts here.

Mat’s classes please post a link to your blog posts here.


Workshop 10: Back to the Physical World

BREATHING ROOM II[Antony Gormley, [1]Breathing Room III, 2010]

(start at 2:45)

In weeks 10 to 12, we will be focusing on developing and creating your Project Work. This week we will look at how certain artworks have engaged with the notions of repetition and variation. You will also be quickly introduced to the Arduino in relation to idea of ’Physical Computing’ where software is used to design the translation of experiences from physical to digital, and back to physical.

PART 1: Research and discuss

In a pair, look at the following object works. Choose one to research and analyse. Present an analysis of the work to class by answering the questions listed below—think in terms of the Project Work.

[Maya Lin, Systematic Landscapes, 2009]

[Sol LeWitt, Five Modular Structure, ]

[Antony Gormley, Quantum Void I, 2009]

[Lucas Samaras, Chair Transformation Number 20B, 1996]

[Alexander Calder, Nineteen White Discs, 1961]


  1. What are the representations inherent in the work … and what questions do they give rise to?
  2. What is the experience of the work from the perspective of the human body?
  3. What role does repetition/variation play in the form of the work? What does it point to, what does it reveal?
  4. Is the repetition in the creation of the work, or in the final form of the work?

PART 2: Physical computing/ Arduino

The following works all draw physical inputs through a technological device (sensor or camera) into a programmed system (micro-controller—tiny computers, or computer with running software programs). The software programs determine how these inputs will be processed and translated into forms of physical outputs.

In each case, can you identify:

• the inputs
• the outputs
• the algorithm/process that determine how the input is translated to the output?

[Jonas Jongejan and Ole Kristensen for Recoil Performance Group, [5]Body Navigation, 2008]

[Jaap Blonk and Golan Levin, [6]Ursonography, 2007]

[Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at Barbican Centre, London 2010]

[Camille Utierback, [8]Text Rain, 1999]

Arduino is a micro-controller board that can take in sensory inputs via devices such as sensors. Software written in Arduino determines how the inputs will affect the outputs. The board is programmed using the Arduino programming language, which is based on Wiring while the Arduino development environment is based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer

[An Arduino microcontroller]

[Arduino interface]

Part 3: Research/ Discuss/ Consult: Project work

  1. Read the Project Work outline carefully and make sure you are clear on what you are asked to do for the project. What are the parameters of the project
  2. Create an ideas-map for your Project Work: what is the central idea that interests you? How does this idea relate to the processes of iteraon? What are the different ways you can explore and convey this idea? What physical forms can the work take? Connect these ideas together on a map.
  3. Analyse one existing work that interests you and on which you may build and develop your ideas. You can choose from any works discussed in the workshops or lectures. You may have seen a work in an exhibition or web that interests you.
  4. Consult with your tutor.
  5. Begin work by creating drawings,experiments, and prototypes.

Workshop 5: Processing 1 / Introduction

processing handbook

This week we will be introducing Processing as our digital programming environment (at last!). We will begin by revising what we have already learnt about the principles of programming. We will launch into Processing with a ‘Hello Word!’ and a static sketch. 

Part 1: Introduction to Processing

  • What it’s for?
  • Who uses it?
  • How to use it? The environment, tutorials, examples, reference etc.

Part 2: Interpret drawings as pseudo code

Exercise 1: Pretend you are Manfred Mohr. You have just had 3 fantastic ideas for new works (illustrated below). You now want to turn these drawings into instructions for a computer to execute.

As a group of 2 or 3, write the instructions for the below wall drawings. Make sure you capture every aspect of them!




Exercise 2:  Identify the following instruction constructs in your code/instructions:

  • Objects
  • Methods (or functions)
  • Loops
  • Loops within Loops
  • Forks (or “if” conditions)
  • the program entry point,
  • and its exit point.

Exercise 3: Now below are the links to the actual code, compare this with your pseudo identify the same programming constructs, but this time find them within the actual code.


Exercise 4: Find out:

What does a semicolon mean?
What do brackets mean?
What do squiggly brackets mean?

Part 3: Processing tutorials

Go through Getting Started tutorial:

Exercise 1: ‘Hello World’

Open Processing. Copy and paste the following code into the Processing window.

Write a comment (after each line) describing what that line does. Use “//” to make a comment. Notice how the text goes grey.

void setup() {
  size(480, 200);
  background(0, 0, 0);

void draw() {
  fill(255, 255, 255);
  text("Hello World!", 200, 60);

NOTE that:

  1. There are 2 methods… one sets the drawing up, the other does the actual drawing

Exercise 2: Draw something

Now try the following code:

void setup() {
  size(480, 200);
  background(255, 255, 255);

void draw() {
  //fill(255, 0, 255);
  • Uncomment the “fill” line
  • Change the colour of the ellipse: Use different values in side the fill() command
  • Change the colour of the line: eg. stroke(204, 102, 0);
  • Change the thickness of the line: strokeWeight(2);

NOTE that:

  1. How to change colours, (with numbers represented as RGB)
  2. 0,0 (which is X, Y) is at the top left of the screen.
  3. Methods take ‘arguments’ … this is all the information that is required to draw that shape.

Exercise 3: Make a loop

Open Processing. Copy and paste the following code into the Processing window.

void setup() {
 size(480, 200);
 background(255, 255, 255);

void draw() {
 // In this loop,
 // X starts at 50, and keeps going up by 20 
 // as long as it is still less than 500 
 for (int x = 50; x < 500; x = x + 20){
    ellipse( x,50,80,80);


  1. The syntax of the loop command!

Exercise 4: Make a loop within a loop

Open Processing. Copy and paste the following code into the Processing window.

void setup() {
 size(480, 220);
 background(255, 255, 255);

void draw() {
  // noFill();
  for (int x = 50; x < 500; x = x + 20) {
    for (int y = 50; y < 200; y = y + 20) { 
      ellipse( x,y,80,80);


  1. Loops within loops make grids

Exercise 5: Randomly vary one aspect of the copied shape

Open Processing. Copy and paste the following code into the Processing window.

void setup() {
 size(480, 220);
 background(255, 255, 255);

void draw() {
  // noFill();
  for (int x = 50; x < 500; x = x + 20) {
    for (int y = 50; y < 200; y = y + 20) { 
      int diameter = (int)random(100);
      ellipse( x,y,diameter,diameter);


  1. Configuring the random method will change things significantly. Control the randomness!

Part 4: Reproduce (the graphical idea of) an artwork

In this exercise, you will reproduce the below artworks. Have a think about how you might ‘abstract out’ each works’ essential graphic idea … and produce something that captures it.

  1. Look up the Processing Reference ( and Tutorials (
  2. Best way to look something up is to google it … and include the word “processing” … for
    Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.43.57 am
  1. Choose one of the artworks below and create it in Processing.
    1. Bridget Riley’s Encircling Discs with Black.
    2. Vera Molnar, Interruptions, 1968/69.
    3. Kazimer Malevich’s Self-portrait in Two Dimensions
    4. Georg Nees Mikadospielhaufen, 1969
    5. Frieder Nake. Walk-Through-Raster, series 7.1, 1966
    6. Frieder Nake – 105/130 (1965)




Controlled Substances Key Painting (Spot 4a) 1994 by Damien Hirst born 1965







Part 5: Publish

  1. Post a screen capture of the artwork on your blog
  2. Write down a brief summary of your own processes in creating the sketches in Processing.
  3. Post a link to your blog post on this post


Workshop04: Abstraction / Iterations

In week 3’s workshop, we learnt the concept of algorithm as essentially sets of instructions to be carried out step-by-step (or executed procedurally). Cooking recipes are algorithms, as are driving instructions from your ‘Sat-Nav’. How about the how-to-use instructions on your shampoo bottle: Rinse and repeat? Sol LeWitt’s instructions to produce his artworks raise a number of interesting questions about the authorship of art, and the compression of information (a wall drawing into three sentences).  To explore the computational medium, we are interested in the use of algorithms.

In week 4’s workshop, we continue our adventures into coding tangible materials by engaging in in the practice of knitting and writing patterns. The focus is on iterations or loops .

PART 1: Discuss Lewitt’s Wall drawings

  1. Where is the art work? (instructions, execution, finished product, all, or none?). Which is most likely to be understood as a commodity?
  2. Would you say that his art is accessible? (explain)
  3. How might Lewitt’s work be compared to how an architect works?
  4. Do you think Lewitt hopes for variation in the execution of each set of instructions? Does he control the variation?
  5. Is there such a thing as a wrong execution?
  6. Could his instructions be understood as a system? What would that imply?
  7. How does he write the instructions? Do you think he creates the drawings first, then turns them into instructions?
  8. Is it easy to write instructions to create aesthetically engaging artworks? if not, why not?
  9. How would you go about creating instructions that result in aesthetically engaging artworks?

Discuss the notion of abstraction. Abstracting a visual aesthetic. Can a system contain an abstraction?

PART 2: Introduction to knitting as code

[Dave Cole, The Knitting Machine, 2005]

Knitting as code/Knitting patterns as programs:

  • Actions as procedural (step-by-step)
  • Use of loops to repeat
  • Compression of information into text (and abbreviation)
  • Objects: stitches, rows; properties: numbers
  • Methods/ functions: what the yarn is doing e.g. Knit (k), Purl (p), Make (m), Decrease (dec), Increase (inc), Cast On (CO) etc.

Read the following rhymes along with the actions depicted in the videos:

Cast on:

Knit stitch:

In through the front door,
Once around the back,
Peek through the window,
And off jumps Jack!

In through the front door,
Up over the back,
Peek through the window,
And off jumps Jack!

Jack goes in,
Puts on his scarf,
Comes back out,
And takes it off.

Purl stitch:

Down through the bunny hole,
Around the big tree,
Up pops the bunny,
And off goes she! 

In through the back way,
Then rope the hog,
Back out the gate,
And jump off the log!

Purl or Knit stitch

Under the fence,
Catch the sheep,
Back we come,
Off we leap!

In front of the fence,
Catch the goat,
Back we go,
Jump off the boat!

Different ways to write instructions (patterns/syntax)

knitting pattern example

knitting pattern example

PART 3: Reading Patterns

In groups of 4, in the knitting pattern examples provided:

  • Decode the common abbreviations in the pattern
  • Translating the instructions to full sentences (as how you would convey the information in spoken words)
  • Identify: objects, functions, loops, entry points, exit points, forks
  • Focus on iterations or repeated actions in the instructions. What are these iterations written? How is information compressed?

Present to class:

  • Draw the pattern graphically (provide key), what does it look like?
  • Does the pattern make a garment?

Some information here:


Part 4: Research/Discuss

How is knitting different to programming?

How is knitting similar to programming?

loom[Jacquard’s Loom with punched card]

Research/ Discuss:
Knitting as programmable activity is not the only example when a physical act or craft is related to a computational technology. Babbage’s idea to use Jacquard’s Loom’s punched card in his Analytical Engine and Hollerith tabulating machines’ (precursors to IBM) development of the punched card system are two examples one processing method draw on another.

  • Can you think of or find other examples?
  • Do you think there is correlation between these activities? If so, what are the parallels and why do you think they exist?
  • Is there something common in the languages we use to communicate instructions? What are these commonalities?
  • When communicating instructions, are we speaking like machines? Or do machines speak like us?

[Debbie New, Knitted Tea cups]

Workshop Week 3

Workshop 03: Analogue Coding/ Instructions


In Week 3’s workshop, we introduce some principal elements of programming. Specifically, we explore instructions and procedural actions in creating flowcharts and making some Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings.

Part 1: Writing instructions

In a group of 3, draw a flowchart that describes actions and possibilities in ONE of the following tasks:

  1. How to loose / gain weight
  2. How to quit smoking

Talk us through your flowchart.

Flow Chart symbols

Research/ Discuss:

  • What is an algorithm?
  • List 3 common programming paradigms. Which is the most common one?
  • What is the difference between an object and a method?
  • What are procedural actions in programming?
  • What are iterative actions or loops?
  • What kind of programming language is HTML?
  • What is logic?

In Georges Perec’s flowchart for The Art of Asking your Boss for a Raise, highlight/ identify:

  1. 3 objects
  2. 3 methods (or functions)
  3. 3 loops
  4. a start point
  5. 3 end points
  6. 3 forks


Part 2: Executing instructions

In a group of 4 to 5, create one of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings provided in class.



4. Copied lines. The first drafter draws a not straight vertical line as long as possible. The second drafter draws a line next to the first one, trying to copy it. The third drafter does the same, as do as many drafters as possible. Then the first drafter, followed by the others, copies the last line drawn until both ends of the wall are reached. Pencil.

5Four color composite/pencil. A wall is divided into four horizontal parts. In the top row are four equal divisions, each with lines in a different direction. In the second row, six double combinations; in the third row, four triple combinations; in the bottom row, all four combinations superimposed.

6. A square divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts, each with lines and colors in four directions superimposed progressively.

7. Bands of lines 12 inches (30 cm) wide, in three directions (vertical, horizontal, diagonal right) intersecting.

8. On a wall divided vertically into fifteen equal parts, vertical lines, not straight, using four colors in all one-, two-, three-, and four-part combinations.

9. A wall divided into fifteen equal parts, each with a different line direction, and all combinations.

10. All architectural points connected by straight lines.

11. Ten thousand lines about 10 inches (25 cm) long, covering the wall evenly.

12. The first drafter has a black marker and makes an irregular horizontal line near the top of the wall. Then the second drafter tries to copy it (without touching it) using a red marker. The third drafter does the same, using a yellow marker. The fourth drafter does the same using a blue marker. Then the second drafter followed by the third and fourth copies the last line drawn until the bottom of the wall is reached.

Part 3: Research and discuss

Find examples of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings and accompanying instructions.

  • What is LeWitt’s main concept or rationale in creating these works?
  • What are his processes?
  • In LeWitt’s works, what actually constitutes the art (i.e. the executed wall drawing or the instructions)?

Document your experiences and findings (assessment 1):

  1. What is the name/ title of drawing you did? Find an image of a version of the completed drawing.
  2. What is your result? (Include images of your completed drawing.)
  3. Write down how you would break down the instructions for the wall drawing you created.
  4. What is the most difficult part in creating the work?
  5. Is there a better way to write the instructions to create the work? If so, provide your improved instructions.

Workshop Week 2

Bakewell 1848

In week 2’s workshop, we delve further into the processes involved in the transmission of information. Specifially, we explore the practice of codification—turning information into codes. We will become the ‘Human Fax Machine’. 

PART 1: Discussion

Last week you designed/adapted visual signals to encode, transmit, and decode information. Have you thought about how these processes were carried out? What are the principles of codes?

  • Identify a set of rules you might follow if you were given the opportunity to design a code again.
  • What might we mean by the term ‘compression’. What do you think might be an advantage and a disadvantage of compression?
  • What are the different types of information that are signified in your code? Letters? Words? Instructrions? Actions?
  • What is the difference between interpretation and compilation?
  • What are some of the differences you might encounter between codes designed for human-to-human messaging, and codes designed for machine-to-machine communication?

PART 2: Research

In a group of 3, research one of the below types of codes (in the images):

Tell us/ present to class:

  • What are they used for?
  • What is its history of development? Is it being used today? Tell us an example of its use (past or present).
  • Describe the processes of encoding/ decoding, and transmission. How does it work?
  • Who or what is communicating?

Secret codes/ cryptography

Resistor colour code

code_keyboard scan code

Hexidecimal colours

QR Code

PART 3: The Human Fax Machine


  • Research the history of fax machine: who invented it? When? How does it work?
  • What are the main principles of its operations?


In a group of 6 (2 x subgroups of 3):

Document your experiences and findings:

Answer the following questions as a comment on the class blog posts.

  • What is the picture faxed (title of work, name of artist, ? Who is the artist?
  • How does the artist ‘code’ the information in the line/ abstract drawing/ prints? For example, what information is being omitted? What is being retained? What determines this process?
  • Describe how your encoding process work.
  • Detail the rationale for the way you designed the code. For example, what elements have you choosen to encode (e.g. lines, shapes, points, directions, distances, units etc.) and why.
  • Describe your transmission process. For example, what are the protocols you establish when transmitting the fax?
  • What works particularly well in transmitting the information?
  • What doesn’t work at all?
  • What more is needed to make the transmission work?