Emacs Lisp Animations

Emacs, a programmer's text editor with roots in the 1970s, is a great tool for animation. In Fall, 2010 I taught a digital art class at NYU's interdisciplinary Steinhardt art school. Clearly, the thing to do was to teach how to make animations in Emacs by programming it in Lisp.

These exercises are meant for non-programmers to get a glimpse of what a program and a language can do, by creating "physical" objects, in this case punctuation marks on the screen. ASCII art is the future, yes? At the very least, ASCII art in the '70s was to computer science what post-minimalism was to the contemporary art of the period. Think of a pile of ampersands and exclamation marks as earth art.

,,,,,,,,#
,,,,,#
,,,,,,#,,##,,,#,,#
,,,,#,,,#,,,,,,#,,,#,#
,,,#,,,#,,,,,,,,,,,#
#,,#,,,#,,,,,,,,#,,,,,

Below are links to the class notes. They get a bit more lively—and informative—as the weeks go on. With luck I'll flesh out the earlier weeks and work on a better sequence.

Here is a page describing a few useful Emacs Lisp commands.