Raven Kwok

19. February 2019

How did you learn coding? What was your first touchpoint with code?

I started as a self-taught Flash animator when I was a teen, and began messing around with scripting after ActionScript 2.0 was introduced. There were some domestic forums like Flash Empire, Blue Idea in China where people share their works and knowledge on Flash, AS and web design. Occasionally there were also reverse engineered project files posted anonymously. I had some fun tweaking digits then watching how results change, but didn’t fully understand what’s going on due to those autonomously generated object names. I started to read documents and learn coding more systematically when I was 16 or so.

How did you learn to know Processing?

I believe it was an event held at Shanghai Zendai MoMA (Which was re-named and re-located many years ago) at some point in 2008. One of the presenters introduced the Operation Smile project by Firstborn for Microsoft and briefly talked about Processing as it was the programming language used for the project. However I didn’t dive into the pool myself until late 2009.

Your work is extremely impressive! I’m a big fan of your music videos (for example for Karma Fields or Max Cooper). Are these videos all one sketch each?

Thank you. It depends. Most of the Karma Fields projects were generated by three to ten separate sketches / customized generative systems. 1DDCB (Edge of the World) video took two.

The visual content of Rule 110 (collaboration with Max Cooper) however was generated by one sketch. I deliberately made this video one continuous shot, and pushed myself to perfect a “compatible” generative system to fit all the variations I came up with during the development, while maintaining the clearness and robustness of the code itself.

It’s definitely easier to implement a smooth transformation via editing and keep different generative systems separate and less complex, but as long as time allows, I still prefer the hard way, pushing my own boundary despite the frustration.

How do you manage the complexity of these projects? Do you use the normal Processing editor?

The complexity is built up gradually. I usually break my whole idea/concept into a series of functions/modules that connect together, some are parallel, some are sequential, some are nested within others. Then I do feasibility study and exploration on each function/module, before figuring out the best implementation method. All things are eventually integrated and optimized into one generative system, which produces the visual content.

Sometimes P5’s own IDE, but mostly Sublime Text nowadays.

Why do you use Processing as your major tool?

Hmm, I have already got used to its simple syntax and work flow. Plus it is well documented and has a fairly large community for both problem solving and creativity sharing. But since you’ve asked, maybe I should think about getting out of my comfort zone.

Based on data extracted from illustration by Inkee Wang

Which technologies would you like to learn in the future?

Hmm, maybe WebGL. I did played around with three.js library and made this in my spare time last year. But comparing to learning unfamiliar tools/programming languages /technologies, I’m actually more into researching geometric forms, patterns, structures, and their underlying construction principles.

Any dream-clients/galleries/partners?

Let’s just skip this question 🙂

Who should we interview next?