Assessment 1: Analogue Coding

Marked out of 100 – 25%

From weeks 1 to 4, you will be introduced to computational media through the concept of Abstraction – the translation of tangible or intangible things into a set of instructions. Select one two-dimensional art or design work and abstract this image into a set of instructional actions. These written instructions should be designed for a human subject to execute with the goal to reproduce the original work. You will have the opportunity to test your ‘code’ in class and improve on your instructions. Provide this set of instructions and its execution by at least 3 people, accompanied by a brief statement (300 – 400 words) that explains the approach and process of your instructional design, its successes and failures.

Due Date:
Week 5

Written blog entry (400 words) with relevant support materials.

Assessment Criteria:
Depth and breadth of research engagement with lecture and workshop materials, and relevant references

• Effectiveness in translating image content into instructions/ pseudo codes

• Criticality in analysing the process of abstraction

• Clarity and succinctness in writing

Submission Method:
Online: a working link to your blog entry must be provided on the relevant submission post on by the due date.

Must Attempt: Yes
This means that if you do not submit a work, a Technical Fail will be automatically generated for your grade in this subject.

Assessment 2: Digital coding

Marked out of 100 – 35 %

Create a Processing sketch that translates the selected two dimensional art or design work into a digital execution. This may or may not be a continuation of your first assignment.

The completed sketch can be static or dynamic. Supply your sketch’s written code (in Processing) along with your exported Processing sketch on your personal subject blog. It is essential to include extensive comments throughout your written code to demonstrate your understanding of Processing. Borrowing from existing software is permitted but you must limit borrowed code to less than 30% of your total sketch. Wholesale copy of code is easily identified and will be penalised.

Write a 150-word statement that explains how your sketch chose to abstract a visual pattern or design as well as how your experiment relates to relevant research and media artworks discussed in the lectures and workshops.

Due Date:
Week 9  (link posed to submission post before mid-night)

Processing sketch, source code, and statement (150 words) embedded into an entry on your personal blog.

Assessment Criteria:
Depth and breadth of research engagement with lecture and workshop materials, and relevant references.

Quality of code and comments in the Processing sketch.

Execution of concept in response to abstraction process in Processing sketch.

Submission Method:
Electronic submission via

Must Attempt: Yes
This means that if you do not submit a work, a Technical Fail will be automatically generated for your grade in this subject.

Assessment 3: Project work

Marked out of 100 – 40 %

Research an existing art, design or media work discussed in the lectures and/or workshops and create a project in response to how the selected work make use of abstraction as a process.

The form/output can be images or animation displayed on screens, as prints, drawings, textiles, interactive installations, 3-d objects, or performances.

Provide a 200-word artist statement that outlines your concept, rationale, processes, and how you responded to the existing media artwork referenced. Refer to relevant lecture materials to contextualise your project in relation to contemporary media arts.

Due Date:
Week 13 in class
This work will need to be installed in the Digital Media Centre for assessment. A detailed schedule will be released in week 12.

Screen-based, paper-based, object-based, interactive or performance work
Written statement (200 words)

Assessment Criteria:
Depth and breadth of research engagement with lecture and workshop materials, and relevant references

Conceptual development of Project work in response to theme

Execution of Project work in terms of functionality and presentation

Submission Method:
Presentation of work (as directed in class)
Artist’s statement (200 word)

Must Attempt: Yes
This means that if you do not submit a work, a Technical Fail will be automatically generated for your grade in this subject.

Week 1: Computational Media means Abstraction as Instructions

manfredmohr-uhf81-1Manfred Mohr, P-48, “UHF81”, plotter drawing ink. From 1960’s series

How would you describe this early computational media work?

  • A 6 x 8 grid of circles, each showing a worm stylised into a jagged line?
  • An illustration from a biology book concerned with showing the different permutations of DNA strands?
  • 48 paths of how to move through a house?
  • Rasterised versions of shooting stars seen in a telescope?

The way in which you might ‘abstract’ this drawing into a single or multiple executable instructions is what MEDA102 is fundamentally concerned with. The key concept being developed in this subject is that:

computational media is best understood as abstraction into instructions

In other words, computational media involves taking things and translating them into a set of instructions. Visual artists engage with computational media by, for example, translating visual ideas into instructions.

Sol LeWitt, L: Wall Drawing 901, 1999 and R: Wall Drawing 1081, 2003

Sol LeWitt, L: Wall Drawing 901, 1999 and R: Wall Drawing 1081, 2003

Software programmers engage with computational media by translating real-world forms (social or otherwise), such as ‘responding to a message’, into lines of software code, and emoticon iconography.

Facebook 'reactions'

Facebook ‘reactions’

Knit-wear fashion designers engage with computational media by translating real-world forms (the human body) into instructions that take the form of knitting patterns.


In other words, we are suggesting that computational media is more concerned with HOW a form is abstracted into instructions than with the instructions themselves. What is fascinating about computational media is that the abstraction has one leg in its origins: the real-world form that is being abstracted, and one leg in its eventual form: the artefact produced by the instructions. So a master of computational media (such as Sol Lewitt, for example) has a capacity for both

Computational media thus involves working in an intermediary medium. The instructions that are written are there to facilitate the translation of a form from one material existence, to another.

This concept has a strong relation to a line of critical enquiry by Mitchel Whitelaw where he develops the notion of transmateriality. Here, however, we are concerned with the middle of the transmaterial process. Here, we argue that how a form is translated from one form to another is a function of the author’s skill and approach to abstraction. Abstraction is thus the intermediary form in Whitelaw’s transmateriality.

In this exercise we ask you to translate visual ideas into instructions that will be executed by your fellow students.

Exercise 1

Identify an example of a real-world form that has been abstracted as instructions and re-executed into a new materiality.

Hints: think knitting, cooking, Ikea furniture, kolam designs, and any thing that exists as instructions.


  1. The original material existence of the form
  2. The form’s key characteristics
  3. What is captured by the instructions
  4. The characteristics of the form as it re-births into a new materiality

Exercise 2

Step 1: Analyse

Each student will be provided one Manfred Mohr print. The student must analyse what makes the key visual ideas present in the print.

Step 2: Translate into simple instructions

Write down one, two maybe five or six sentences of instructions that describe how to reproduce the key visual idea.

Step 3: Swap your instructions

The class, together, swaps instructions with other students.

Step 4: Execute your fellow student’s instructions

The class, together, swaps instructions with other students.

Step 5: Analyse what worked, and why.


  • Did you capture the visual idea of the original idea?
  • Is the visual idea that you captured better than the original idea?
  • Are the multiple implementations of your idea better?

Coding (Lines, shapes, colours)

processing handbook

Processing … 

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

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.

  size(480, 200);
  background(0, 0, 0);

  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:

  size(480, 200);
  background(255, 255, 255);

  //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: Primitives


line(1,1 10, 10);


triangle(18, 18, 18, 360, 81, 360);

Square (or rectangle)

rect(81, 81, 63, 63);

Circle (or ellipse)

ellipse(252, 144, 72, 72);


arc(479, 300, 280, 280, PI, TWO_PI);

Exercise 4: Recreate a Donald Judd work.

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 11.42.00 am

Donald Judd was one of the most significant American Minimalist who created important work in 1960’s. Search his images, choose that one appeals to you.

Ask yourself: what is the key visual idea present in this work, and how might I translate it into instructions? Then implement it in Processing.

Alternatively, execute one of these:

Donal Judd, Untitled, 1990

Donal Judd, Untitled, 1990

Ellsworth Kelly, Nine Colors, 1951

Ellsworth Kelly, Nine Colors, 1951


Fran Stella, Chocorua IV, 1966

Fran Stella, Chocorua IV, 1966


Ellsworth KELLY, Red, Yellow, Blue, 1963

Ellsworth KELLY, Red, Yellow, Blue, 1963