Chapter 20 R pour l’art

The process of preparing programs for a digital computer is especially attractive,
not only because it can be economically and scientifically rewarding, but also
because it can be an aesthetic experience much like composing poetry or music.

Donald E. Knuth in his Preface to The Art of Computer Programming (1973)

Two perspectives:

  1. Computer programming as an activity that provides aesthetic experiences: Aiming for functionality, clarity, and efficiency, but also aspects of elegance and beauty.

  2. Using computer programming to create artistic expressions.

The latter is clearly possible (e.g., when creating visualizations), but judging their merit depends on a wide range of factors — and often less on the creator’s intentions than on the recipients viewing the results.


i2ds: Preflexions

  • What could correspond to beauty in code?

  • What is art? Who evaluates its merits?

  • Map different data types to different types of (visual and non-visual) expression.