Meet the Makers – Jim Plaxco

Jim Plaxco

Tell us about yourself.
I am a digital artist and the creator of a variety of digital art programs, including algorithmic and generative art programs. I am also an advocate for new media art and give public presentations on a variety of digital art topics – with one of my favorite venues for such programs being science fiction conventions.

What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
I will be running a workshop on the Processing programming language, a programming language created specifically for artists, musicians, and other creatives who do not have a background in computer programming. Specifically I will be teaching about how to use Processing to create digital spirographs and harmonographs and will be providing students with several model programs that I have written. There is some additional information in this presentation.

Why is making important to you?
It’s all about the process and the challenge of creating something new. As an artist, it’s about creating new visual experiences but for me it neither starts nor ends there. As a software engineer it’s about being able to create new digital tools that I can then use to create art that is uniquely my own. I derive far more satisfaction creating art using tools that I have created than in creating art using tools that someone else created.

Jim Plaxco

What was the first thing you remember making?
As a child I think I specialized in making messes. But speaking with respect to digital art, it was an animation I created as a part of a graduate level class on computer graphics offered by my university’s art department. It was my first taste of using the computer to create art and it is truly amazing how quickly the field has advanced in the intervening years.

What have you made that you are most proud of?
Again speaking with respect to my digital art activities, one example would be the creation of software that I call gestural algorithmics which made it possible for me to dynamically interact with what would have otherwise been a straight forward algorithmic process. An example of a work of art created using this procedure is a work titled “Finding My Center of Gravity” which you can see online.

Given an unlimited budget, what would you make?
A wall-sized electronic artwork that was interactive with and responsive to its environment – with the additional capability of being tunable to the particular type of atmosphere the collaborator(s) wanted to create.