Last week we kicked off the third trimester of the school year in Arts and Innovation with a Data Art exploratory session for our Middle School students. Scott Draves Beamed in from his home base of New York and delivered an amazing interactive workshop. Scott is a pioneering software artist best known for creating the Electric Sheep, a collective intelligence consisting of 450,000 computers and people that uses mathematics and genetic algorithms to create an infinite abstract animation. You may know him from such works as the cover of Stephen Hawking’s latest book and the cover of Paul Simon’s latest album.
Scott began the session by reviewing the roots of the Data Art movement, stretching all the way back to the nineteenth century, and explained the progression in both thinking and technology that has occurred over the centuries. The students were completely captivated by the beauty and brilliance of the work and I would venture to guess that their favorite Scott quote with regard to Electric Sheep was “This is what computers dream of”! Scott also explained the mathematical basis for the genetic algorithms he uses in his work – which tied into the student’s Fractal explorations in math classes – it was wonderful to see how the students reacted with enthusiasm and wonder to this unexpected direct connection to their own newly formed understanding! The session ended with an interactive exploration where students dowloaded Scott’s Beaker Notebook and experimented with the objective of creating their own Data Art.