Hi Peter! Can you tell us a bit about your background and what you do?

Hi! I’m a communication designer that graduated from the Graphic Design program at OCAD University. I worked at an independent publication called WORN Fashion Journal for a few years where I had the chance to experiment with editorial design. After that, I interned at a digital agency called Triangles because I wanted to move away from print design. I was eventually hired and was there for almost two years. I recently left my position at the agency to focus on my freelance work. When I’m not busy designing, I’m experimenting with code or working on personal projects.

Earlier this year, you finished your 365 Processing project, where you learned Processing through rendering 2D designs for a year. What inspired you to delve into the world of coding?

I think it has to go all the way back to high school when I joined a social network called AsianAvenue. Even though it was really basic, the platform allowed you to design and style your page through HTML/CSS. I had some really awesome layouts based on my current interests at the time, like t.A.T.u or Dragon Ball Z. The platform didn’t give you that much control but it really piqued my interest in design and code. Since then, I’ve been interested in the marriage of design and code so I’ve tried to inform my design education and practice around that.

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What were breakthrough moments for you in learning Processing? Which of your renders specifically do you think reflect your education process?

A good portion of where I learned Processing came from The Nature of Code by Daniel Shiffman. There’s one chapter called Autonomous Agents that demonstrates flow fields. This was really interesting to me to see how individual objects can behave from an underlying force. This prompted me to research more into flow fields and I discovered an array of mathematical equations that I tried to apply in my work. The majority of May, I tried to translate the equations into Processing to visualize underlying fields that aren’t perceived by the human eye like electric fields.

Another breakthrough moment was when I decided to explore coding in 3D space. I didn’t have many rules when I started the project other than the sketches had to be in black and white. I contemplated keeping everything 2D but then I remembered that I started this project to learn as much as possible. I found another resource that was very influential in my learning of Processing called the Plethora Project by Jose Sanchez. Taking in what I learned from Sanchez, I applied it to day 217 and it took me by surprise because I was able to create a sketch that was very cinematic which was a quality that was missing from previous sketches.

Towards the end of September, I stopped at the second last chapter of Nature of Code because it was getting into territory that I wasn’t prepared to learn yet or embrace (artificial intelligence is scary!) but also it was hard for me to see how I can relate it to a 15s animation. I came across a Tumblr called Bees & Bombs by Dave Whyte and he creates very simple but mesmerizing GIFs that loop. I wanted to try to recreate those characteristics in my day 270 sketch. Although sketch day 270 is simple in comparison to previous sketches, it was one of the first times where I sat down to think about how I would recreate something on my own oppose to following a book or tutorial.

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What particular elements motivate you about working in and with technology?

I recently was in NYC and while I was there I made sure to check out Cooper Hewitt. They reopened last year in December after a three year renovation to incorporate interactive experiences. My time there was very exciting because they designed a custom Pen that had many functionalities. I was able to collect and save objects to a digital archive by pressing the end of the Pen to a RFID reader—to access the archive I was given a custom URL. Part of that archive would also host other items such as a 3D render of a hat that I designed or a wallpaper that I made in the Immersion Room. What engaged me the most was when I was drawing random strokes on the large interactive tables to discover the museum’s archive. When you drew a line in any form, the table would find a piece of work that had the same characteristic as your line. It was a great way to explore the museum in a different way.

My whole experience at the Cooper Hewitt could have been gimmicky but instead, it demonstrated why I love technology. I was able to engage with the museum in a playful and meaningful way through the interactive experiences. I was no longer a visitor to the museum but a participant.

What advice would you give from your own experience to those makers out there looking to approach new technologies?

Have a project in mind and work through it. For me, it’s hard to keep motivated to learn a new skill if I don’t know how I’m going to apply it. The project doesn’t have to be big like a 365 project but it should have enough substance to keep you going. But also keep in mind that what you create is probably not going to be great—and that’s okay because it’s a learning process and with each project you do you’ll build on your craft.

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What awesome ideas and projects do you have planned for the future?

I’m currently working with two other people and Action Potential Lab to create a Processing workshop for APL’s youth group. The workshop is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I’m really excited to inspire and to excite younger people to code. The workshop will be launching early next year.

I’m also working with Zoé Noble Fox to create an interactive exhibition. I originally wanted to exhibit my 365 Processing project but I’m ready to leave that behind and challenge myself to create something new.

Find out more about Peter and his projects at his website and through Instagram


 

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