PhD Thesis: Artist-Programmers and Programming Languages for the Arts

With some minor corrections done, my thesis is finally off to the printers.  I’ve made a PDF available, and here’s the abstract:

We consider the artist-programmer, who creates work through its description as source code. The artist-programmer grandstands computer language, giving unique vantage over human-computer interaction in a creative context. We focus on the human in this relationship, noting that humans use an amalgam of language and gesture to express themselves. Accordingly we expose the deep relationship between computer languages and continuous expression, examining how these realms may support one another, and how the artist-programmer may fully engage with both.

Our argument takes us up through layers of representation, starting with symbols, then words, language and notation, to consider the role that these representations may play in human creativity. We form a cross-disciplinary perspective from psychology, computer science, linguistics, human-computer interaction, computational creativity, music technology and the arts.

We develop and demonstrate the potential of this view to inform arts practice, through the practical introduction of software prototypes, artworks, programming languages and improvised performances. In particular, we introduce works which demonstrate the role of perception in symbolic semantics, embed the representation of time in programming language, include visuospatial arrangement in syntax, and embed the activity of programming in the improvisation and experience of art.

Feedback is very welcome!

BibTeX record:

    title = {{Artist-Programmers} and Programming Languages for the Arts},
    author = {McLean, Alex},
    month = {October},
    year = {2011},
    school = {Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London}

RIS record:

ID  - McLean2011
TI  - Artist-Programmers and Programming Languages for the Arts
PB  - Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London
AU  - McLean, Alex
PY  - 2011/10/01


  1. Thank you for making this available Alex. I’m looking forward to reading your thesis, especially for the sense of community – that there are others out there who work and think in similar ways…

  2. YES,

    looking forward to read your Thesis ~ the relation between arts and digital media is sometimes quite tense if it comes to code ~ courious to your point of view.

    Thanks for publishing
    your Thesis
    wish you well

  3. Thanks for sharing your work, Alex. From the abstract, it looks very interesting.

    I’m definitely going to read through your thesis and spend some time with Tidal.

  4. Hi Alex, it seems that the link is broken, I would be really pleased to discover your work, do you plan on re-uploading it ?

    Thanks a lot !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *