Josh Nimoy is an artist who uses code as his paintbrush. Born in Hollywood, his parents were both physicians – something, he said, which gives him a compulsive desire to fix things. During his presentation he gave an overview of his work and shared his insights into coding as an art form.
Growing up, Josh dabbled in traditional art forms before he eventually discovered coding. After developing his skills in fine art and then in a range of programming languages, he eventually found himself to be a purveyor of something he calls ‘sexy bullshit.’ Working in the grindhouse of advertising studios, he began to create beautiful motion graphics pieces for clients that included Nike and the band Modest Mouse.
His outlook has always been somewhat academic. As well as creating work for high-profile clients, his research into what makes games such as Tetris addictive led him to create awesome pieces like Ball Droppings.
Nimoy says that he often gets rejected as a designer, and instead falls into the category of ‘code artist’. He argues that terms like ‘coder’, ‘code artist’, ‘visual programmer’ and ‘hacker’ are often intermingled. He feels that hacking has its own distinct set of tools and state of mind, whilst ‘visual programming’ is not visual enough to describe his practice.
He clearly identifies himself as an artist who codes, and as a creator who would rather create content than maintain tools. He’s also an open source advocate who would rather hand over his creations to the community. Notable work includes the film Tron, on which he helped to create moments such as the DNA repair and the pulsating, shrinking globe.
The future of art direction, he says, is working in algorithm, the ability to take a step back and see the larger picture of a scene. The example he gave was of a large battle sequence, where individual sword actions are superseded by the larger vision of what is taking place.
A key takeaway from this presentation was that a key skill to cultivate as a code artist is the ability to communicate nuances in your work. Being able to define ‘scatter’ vs. ‘noisiness’ (for example) is crucial for effective collaboration.