Programming Politics: Using p5.js to Create Interactive Art Connected to Current Events

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Conference Proceeding

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This lightning talk describes a proposal for a class that includes a mix of programming and politics. Students would use the p5.js library to learn basic programming, making this class appropriate to undergraduate non-majors. With a focus on interfacing with an audience, students learn variables and arrays, loops, if then statements, text animation, and functions, as well as p5.js specific libraries for video and the Kinect. For a major/final project, students are asked to consider a social issue (e.g., poverty, global warming, gun reform) and create an interactive art exhibit using a PC, Kinect, keyboard, and/or mouse, and their choice of photography/graphics/video. All viewpoints are accepted. The integration of social science (e.g., Political Science, Sociology), humanities (e.g., American Studies, Gender Studies), and programming would offer a wide spectrum of students with an immediate and tangible product, while also broadening their concept of what can be accomplished and communicated through code. Additionally, students would study other example of interactive installations as a means to see what is possible and come to terms with what forms may constitute art. Most significantly, this alternative version of project-based learning would motivate students to apply and continue to learn what is necessary to implement their artistic vision and communicate their views. Furthermore, each student's unique project would minimize the risk of cheating and require students to synthesize not only specific programming tasks, but also an understanding of audience and concepts of usability relevant to the brief time a user may interact with the installation.



Lightening talk given at the 50th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 28, 2019. This item is included in the conference proceedings.

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