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Title: Truth to material : moving from software to programming code as a new material for digital design practice
Author: Richardson, Andrew Grant
Awarding Body: University of Sunderland
Current Institution: University of Sunderland
Date of Award: 2010
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This practice-led research project investigates the key characteristics of the use and process of programming code when applied to a creative design environment. The research is motivated by personal practice and a desire to move beyond the boundaries of software, and is set against a contemporary background of designers exploring code as a key part of their creative work. The initial contextual study considers design practice in the context of contemporary digital technology, and identifies computational design as a distinct area, apart from software-centred design. Although not a formal term or grouping, the thesis highlights 'computational design' as an area of practice which has emerged out of dissatisfaction with the 'limitations' of software tools. The research establishes links between a range of contemporary design practitioners, whose work is motivated by a desire to understand and engage directly with the process and the 'material' of the computational environment. Using the Arts and Crafts movement as a case study, the contextual review discusses the ethos, process and material of software-centred and computational design alongside those of traditional design values. The research identifies the process and usage of computation as a distinct area of study for creative design which applies a traditional concern for the material and process of 'making' within the immaterial environment of the digital arena. The identification of computation as a type of raw ‘material’ for creative practice provides the focus for the rest of the research. Based on the findings of the contextual review, the practice explores the detail of the process of ‘making’ using code, by creating two major pieces of computationally generated work, based on the botanical, decorative aesthetic of William Morris wallpaper prints. Each key stage of the work is outlined using the headings 'code', 'visuals' and 'process', providing a Truth to Material: Moving from Software to Programming Code as a New Material for Digital Design Practice. 3 detailed account of the developing process and relationship between the designer and the computational material. The study reveals that key to the use of computation is an understanding and development of structural and visual flexibility, which is inbuilt into the architecture of the work as part of the design process. The research identifies three core phases, or ‘layers’ within the process: ‘concept’, ‘data structure’ and ‘data detail’, each of which contribute important elements to the flexibility and fluidity of the structure and visuals. The research adds to the understanding of the process and practice of computational work within a creative context, increasing knowledge regarding the use and application of the formal elements of code within a creative design workflow.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Software Engineering