Humanistic and Computational Thinking Through Practice

I am going to give a talk at School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong as part of the course “Creative Media Colloquium”.

See below for abstract and info:

In this talk, I will present some of my artistic works that span the areas of net art, software-based art, and electronic literature. My works examine the materiality of computational processes that underwrite our experiences and realities in digital culture that touch on cultural-social-political topics, such as Internet censorship, the economy of likes, spam and literary culture, politics of APIs, cultural machines and feminist software.

I consider computational practice as a mode of humanistic inquiry to understand the digital culture – a condition that we are highly engaged with, and surrounded by, software and networked systems. I ask how might we understand cultural systems through computational practice? This talk will unfold the importance of computational practice in my thinking and research, examining the infrastructure and implications of cultural systems.


Date: 12 Jan 2018 (Friday)
Time: 11:30 am
Venue: M6094 Future Cinema Studio, Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, 18 Tat Hong Avenue, Kowloon Tong

Slide: generator / generating discourse

I will be givng a talk and workshop together with Cornelia Sollfrank, Morgane Stricot and Matthieu Vlaminck @ ZKM on the 13-14 Dec, 2017.

/*In « generator«, not only do the technical problems that are relevant to other digital works become apparent, moreover, it also shows the problems associated with data policies and their hegemonies. The podium discussion brings these technical as well as political-economical associations to the fore, and attempts to develop strategies and tactics for the growth and effective conservation of digital works. During the workshop, initial ideas will be experimented with, perhaps social hacking or the development of a completely new API. Together with the artist, we want to discuss how the problems of propriety software could be solved, why and what it actually consists of, and which political, art-theoretical implications are concealed behind it.*/

More details:

Feminist Coding in p5.js | Can Software be Feminist?

Vocable Code (Work-in-Progress) by Winnie Soon | Medium: Software Art/Digital Poetry/Composition

I am going to organize a half day feminist coding workshop primarily for women, queers, LGBT, non-binaries and minorities who are interested in programming, exploring the intersection of art, language, technology and feminism. The workshop addresses computer code as a language that is designed for both human and machine reading. Participants will base on the artwork/digital poetry/composition ‘Vocable Code’ to learn basic coding concepts, and they will also explore code as expressive and aesthetic materials, such as computer code as poetic text that is performative and executable. Through thinking and discussing code and (non)binary logics, participants will incorporate textual materials, visual effects and recorded voices to produce their own web-based algorithmic vocable code.

– No prior programming experience is required
– Bring your own laptop with Firefox Browser installed + your smartphone.

*The workshop is free of charge

Date/Time: Saturday, Nov 25th, 2017 · 12.00–17.00
@ Høegh Guldbergs Gade 65B, DK-8000C, Denmark

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Why p5.js?
p5js is an open source Javascript library developed by the Processing Foundation and is founded by Lauren McCarthy to make coding more accessible to artists, designers, educators and beginners. Winnie shares the vision and goal of p5.js, which is to put community outreach and diversity as the priority.

What is coding in university in practice?

I am going to join a panel titled “Practising Research: Knowledge Creation Through Experimental Practices” as part of The Purpose of The Future University conference at Aarhus University in Nov, 2017.

My abstract:

What is coding in university in practice? Computer coding courses have increasingly been integrated into school curriculum, from primary schools to higher education beyond Computer Science and Engineering disciplines. One of the practical reasons is that IT-related jobs are in high demand across industries. Beyond tech companies, other sectors, such as medical health, toys and publishing, have been highly digitalized to support and facilitate new models of user engagement, as well as data capturing, processing and analytics. In other words, knowing how to code contributes to the economic value and growth of computational artifacts.

Despite aiming to develop new applications, platforms and solution, there is an increasing critical attention to the understanding, theorizing and analyzing of our digital environment through code studies (Chun, 2011; Berry, 2011). With the prevalence of technology today in contemporary culture, enormous quantities of data are generated and disseminated in real-time through a highly networked, programmable and distributed environment. The rise of so-called ‘big data’ in the 21st century has sparked unprecedented economic value through datafication—a phenomenon in which personal profiles and behavioral logs are stored on corporate server farms. Data is captured, processed, distributed and analyzed to generate new information and knowledge. The understanding of such systems through coding practice, the reading and writing of computer code, may offer opportunities for students to make inquires, create new modes of knowledge and raise different kinds of questions in the area of humanistic IT, including social, political and ethical ones.

The term ‘creative coding’ emphasizes code as an expressive material, exploring code concepts and producing creative works through experimentation (Maeda, 2004; Peppler & Kafai, 2009). In this presentation, we propose learning to code via exploration, reflexive thinking, critical making, artistic intervention and creative production in higher education. Instead of learning to code from a Computer Science perspective with a focus on technology as an instrument to tackle real world problems, the undergraduate course Aesthetic Programming has been introduced at the Department of Digital Design, Aarhus University, addressing coding as an aesthetic, creative and critical endeavor beyond its functional application.

Beyond learning basic concepts in computer programming and designing and developing computational artifacts, students in the course also explore coding as a practice of thinking with and in the world, and learn to understand the complex computational procedures that underwrite our experiences and realities in digital culture. In other words, the practice of coding is neither just focused on building functional applications; it is also a way to examine and reflect the increasing role of computation in our society and culture. More specifically, Aesthetic Programming can be seen as a practice-oriented exploration of the relationship between art, design, technology and culture, examining wider political, cultural, social and aesthetic phenomena. Through emphasizing programming as critical work in itself, the practice of coding and the production of concrete artifacts serve not only as creative expressions but also as a methodological vehicle to examine complex techno-cultural systems through the acts of creating. This presentation will discuss the methods of teaching, the structures, outcomes and challenges of the Aesthetic Programming course, which contributes to the discussion of the future university in the context of humanistic IT.


Berry, D. M (2011). The Philosophy of Software: Code and Mediation in the Digital Age. Palgrave macmillan.

Chun, W. H. K. (2011). Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. The MIT Press.

Maeda, J. (2004). Creative Code. London: Thames & Hudson.

Mortfort, N. (2016). Exploratory Programming: For the Arts and Humanities. The MIT Press.

Peppler, K. A., & Kafai, Y. B. (2009). Creative Coding: Programming for Personal Expression. The 8th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, Rhodes, Greece.

Why Code? Why Program? Why Create?

Code as both text and executable instructions, which is regarded as rich materials for interpretation and analysis. Winnie will talk about her creative (software related) works in order to unfold the importance of coding practice in her thinking and research, examining the infrastructure and implications of techno-cultural systems around us.

I am going to give a talk titled “Why Code? Why Program? Why Create?” at DLRC, Aarhus University on 4 Oct, 2017 | 14.00