Before I was an artist, I was a computer programmer.
As well as being a scientific, mathematic and precise occupation, programming can be intensely creative. As computers worm their way more and more deeply into our lives, so the potential for a computer program expands. The ability to write a computer program is a blank canvas – anything you can imagine that a computer can do – anything it can display on a screen, play through its speakers, or control via an external device, is possible by writing a program. The only limits are the ability of the programmer, both in terms of technical know-how and intellectual insight, and the time and effort required to develop the program (which can be considerable).
The reality of a job as a programmer, however, is typically a long way from this ideal of vast creative potential. Far from being free to be the god of one’s own personal universe, a programmer is a slave to the market, and what they are working on can be both hugely frustrating and mind-numbingly boring.
I have recently taken up programming again as a hobby – initially to write a tool for developing my website. I soon remembered how frustrating and tedious, yet exhilarating and rewarding it can be. Having finished my web development tool, I was keen to continue, and I decided to resurrect the beginnings of a 3D graphics program I had been working on years before. Here was a way to make a window into my own world and allow me the creative freedom that I remember glimpses of from my days as a professional programmer. Alas, however, progress is slow and hard-won, as it must be for the solo programmer (and an out-of practice one at that), and it is just one more activity fighting for its share of my time.