Introduction to Computation

By Graham Rice | Mar 09, 2017

Into2Comp

Introduction to Computation studio course open to all RISD students that explores coding, algorithms, and computational ideas. This semester, in it’s pilot run, it is taught by Architecture Department faculty member Carl Lostritto. Each Friday when the class meets, students have varied and personal work to present within strictly defined but open-ended project parameters. The pedagogical approach of the class emphasizes an artistic approach to computing. Questions of authorship, control, craft, intention, meaning, media and tools pervade even the most technical acts.

The first assignment asks students to create an “improper” software tool. Important themes in the work included originality, ownership, distinctions between tool maker and tool user, mass production, space, illusion, and too many more to list.

Christina Johnston’s tool generated discussion because of its interesting conceptual basis, allowing the class to transcend pure computation. Her tool pours streams of color onto the screen.


In her own words, “I was interested in the relationship between color and line. It seems that too often people think of code as being inherently linear, so I wanted to make something that plays with different types of boundaries and makes color essential instead of superficial.”

Moving on from tool making, the students used their newly developed computation skills to define natural phenomena such as hurricanes, wind blown grass, crystal structures, or fungal growth.
Daniel Stone’s project simulates a field of tall grass.


Daniel describes his intentions and process, “I first created a grid populated by individual blades of grass. I wrote a script in which each blade would tangentially oppose the position of the mouse cursor, bending away from its presence. Early computer artists Colette and Charles Bangert set a precedent for the assignment, in which they devised a series of codes that could create grassy landscapes. Colette wrote of the process, ‘Grass is random and random is a natural computer facility. Computer grass is natural grass.’ I wanted my grass to be random in a similar manner, operating beyond the mouse’s input. The length and orientation of each blade fluctuates randomly within certain constraints, as if the field is constantly swept by wind. The final product perhaps looks more like a head of hair.”

You can follow the work of this computation course through the class website or on instagram.

Spring 2017 Events

  • February 23, 6:30 PM Brett Schneider, Guy Nordenson and Associates & RISD Architecture
  • March 2, 6:30 PM at RISD Auditorium Petra Blaisse, Inside Outside, Hosted with INTAR, Textiles, RISD Museum
  • February 27, 6:30 PM Jeanette Kuo, Karamuk*Kuo
  • March 13, 6:30 PM Allan Wexler, Allan Wexler Studio, Hosted with ID
  • March 16, 6:30 PM Jarrett Walker, Jarrett Walker + Associates
  • April 3, 6:30 PM Kunle Adeyemi, NLÉ, Yoder Lecture
  • April 24, 6:30 PM Nader & Katie Faulkner, NADAAA, Shoemaker Lecture
  • May 11, 6:30 PM Shumi Bose, Central Saint Martins & Architectural Association

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