open source

September 17, 2007

this week we are focusing on open source. as emerging digital artists, consider for a moment your own digital studio… do you have one? if you need to build one, what is it going to involve and how are you going to finance it? are you going to buy a new mac every 5 years, plus all the software? open source can be useful in this difficult task. while open source software has some obvious weak points (difficult learning curve, instability, etc), its strengths are its low cost and freedom for experimentation-two things that have helped artists survive for thousands of years. to make things even easier, dell and ubuntu have recently partnered to offer dell pc’s with ubuntu pre-installed. on a box like this you save several hundred bucks because you don’t pay for windows or os x.

open source also helps artists with access to digital materials like open source web design and the open clip art library, to name just a couple. even more exciting, at least to me, are applications like processing-a program designed to teach artists how to build their own software by “sketching.” there are also tons of specific oss programs for artists out there (we’ve already seen mozodojo), sketchup is a new one from google that is popular. another interesting one is contextfree (which i just found last night). these oss programs for artists have expanded the possibilities for creating digital images in dramatic ways. of course digital images are just a scratch on the surface of possibilities for digital artists working with oss or floss. every year in bergen, norway open source artists gather for piksel-an international exhibition of open source art. piksel is quickly gaining a reputation in the international contemporary art scene as one of the best exhibitions of digital art. open source remains contested territory for artists and developers-see this article here for an example of some of the issues.

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