Algorithmic Craft: the Synthesis of Computational Design, Digital Fabrication, and Hand Craft

April 30, 2017


Jacobs, Jennifer. Algorithmic Craft: the Synthesis of Computational Design, Digital Fabrication, and Hand Craft. Media Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, August 2013.


Programing is a singular creative tool with the potential to support personal expression. Unfortunately, many people who are new to programing view it as a highly specialized, dicult and inaccessible skill that is only relevant for career paths in science, engineering, or business fields. Despite this perception, programing enables novel forms of creative expression and communication in the medium of computation. Visual and physical art, craft, and design are interrelated domains that offer exciting possibilities when extended by computation. By forging strong connections between the skill of programming and the construction of personally relevant physical objects, it may be possible to foster meaningful creative experiences in computation and making for non-professionals. The combination of computational design, digital fabrication, and hand craft to create functional artifacts offers an opportunity to make programing compelling for people with an interest in craft sensitive forms of making. I define the synthesis of these fields with the term algorithmic craft . This thesis describes my work in developing a set of software tools that attempt to make the practice of algorithmic craft accessible for novice programers. Through it, I describe the design of each tool and discuss my experiences in engaging people in the creation of objects that are imagined by the mind, designed with programming, formed by machines, and shaped by hand.

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