Tech+Art Podcast: Connor Bell

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OVERVIEW

Welcome to the new Tech+Art Podcast!

Join us on this adventure as we meet & speak with: artists, makers, researchers, designers and creators from all background and fields.

Our objective is to understand their creative perspective, dive into their workflow & creative process, be inspired by new ideas and their work – and stay one step ahead of cutting-edge industry developments.

I use tools a lot and I write my own tools as well [...] I think it’s a crucial part of my workflow to enable myself to create faster and iterate faster.

IN THIS EPISODE...

In this episode, we’re chatting with Connor Bell. Connor is a freelance graphics programmer, artist, and designer based in Montréal. He develops surreal experiences influenced by nature, math, and organic forms. He works with whatever medium best suites the idea, but is accustomed to Unity, AR/VR, Three.js.

You can follow Connor’s work online:

There’s a full list of all resources mentioned at the bottom of the post!

Question 1: How did you end up getting your start with generative/computational art?

Video games are just compositions of all these different types of art, you have: sound design, game design, environmental design, making the models for the games, story lines, and everything. […] Often times you see everything together and you’re like ‘oh it’s video game, it’s supposed to be like this’, but they’re really quite beautiful and creative when you look at them in a finer detail.

I started designing procedurally generated levels, like geometry worlds that never end or worlds that I didn’t just build in a 3D modelling program, but I built with code. And then I kind of realized that people do that intentionally to make things that aren’t video games like procedural art.

Question 2: What is your creative process like? How do you balance creating for yourself with creating for a living? Are they one and the same?

My creative process – it’s hard to say what that actually is, cause my whole process there are various aspects of my process that are creative, that I apply creativity within. But it’s not just one thing. […] I think it starts with an idea phase, where I’m trying to generate an idea of what I actually want to work on. I don’t usually just jump right in […] And then it’s decomposed into engineering tasks – it’s like: ‘ok, what’s actually required to make this happen’…

Basically during this engineering phase, you try to keep in mind how you can enable creativity in more of a flow state, where you can give yourself time to play with whatever you made to generate something. […] You setup the parameters so that you can sort of explore the space in which you created, in a way that is not limiting to you having to change the code every time. […] so you can stay in the visualization your created without having to go change the code all the time. I find that really helpful and a crucial part of the creative process, because it just helps you iterate fast – exploring what is possible within the bounds of what you created.

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Question 3: Are there any tools that you use in particular or that you’ve created to help you better explore some of these possibilities?

I use tools a lot and I write my own tools as well. I write a lot of my code in the Unity game engine […] and then within Unity I write tools to help my workflow.

I think it’s a crucial part of my workflow, it’s like writing tools to enable myself to create faster and iterate faster.

Question 4: Where do you think the future of the industry is headed?

It’s hard to say, but maybe it can be predicted by the niche schools that are popping up – like the School for Poetic computation. I feel like more places like that will pop up. […] It’s hard to classify what the creative coding industry is because it’s so broad. It can be applied in so many different contexts.

I feel like there will be more conferences surrounding creative coding. Often times it’s grouped with designers and web programmers and stuff. I feel like there will be more of a focus and appreciation once the culture grows. And obviously I think it will be applied to new, emerging platforms as well, like it already is with AR and mixed reality. Because a lot of the things you see at first are creative demos; demos as in someone made a little proof-of-concept […] and then post it to Twitter. And it’s not something that you can go and download and use. But people are using new technologies for experiments; and those experiments being creative code and experimenting with new platforms. It’s like you kind of have to be creative if you’re working with something new and fresh.

RESOURCES

Here are all the most important links/resources mentioned throughout the episode:

 
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