I have always been interested in art, even though I haven’t always displayed a talent for creating it. My father should shoulder the responsibility for taking me at an early age to the Tate in London and encouraging me to fight through the crowds, to gaze at the works by Picasso and Dali. School boy attempts to draw were met with the usual parental adoration but it wasn’t until my late teens that I attempted with varying degrees of success to copy the works of Aubrey Beardsley and John Tenniel. I came to Generative Art the same way, I guess I’m easily led, having tried in the past to learn coding and always abandoning the effort, until a colleague, James Winchester, introduced me to a program called Po-Motion. James and I (his excellent blog “SEN Classroom” can be found here) trialled Po-Motion in our classrooms and observed the way that students with autism became engaged and interacted with it. From that experience an interest in interactive software developed and following discovery of Matt Pearson’s inspirational site AbandonedArt, an obsession with “Generative Art” was born.
I’m not a designer or coder by qualification, driven by a sense of frustration with the amount of interactive sensory applications available for students with autism, I began to start coding with Processing, an open source programming language and creating interactive applications for students with learning disabilities. Recently this has led to jointly developing and adapting applications that use the Microsoft Kinect for interactivity and an invite for us to collaborate with Anthony Rhys an ICT co-ordinator and teacher in Wales, whose Wiki was created to assist anyone interested in using the Kinect with SEN students, to find applications and information to get started. I really recommend checking it out, it is a fantastic place to start and looks to be building in to a valuable resource.
Opensen exists to promote awareness, showcasing some of the interactive software we have found to be of value and encourage taking a proactive path in exploring ICT, that can be used creatively to engage and stimulate students with learning disabilities.
It is only out of the generosity of the open-source community and the creative coders who share their work, that the software we have used exists and so our experiments in coding, been made possible. I hope that by creating opensen with the objective of sharing the work we have started and by encouraging others to use, whether you work in education or are interested in “Generative Art” or coding, in some small way pays off part of the debt we owe.