By Donna Mo

Art and technology have often been thought of as separate domains. But in recent years, artists have been integrating more technology in their work.  “Computation shapes the way people make things,” said Stanford Computer Science researcher Jennifer Jacobs to a crowded room in Elings Hall during a Media and Art Technology seminar last week.


Although computational tools and computer programs are used more now than ever it can be difficult to fully integrate technology into art and design because of how different each artist is. “Developers of computational tools struggle to provide appropriate constraints and degrees of freedom to match the needs of diverse practitioners,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said it’s hard to create a program that fits all artists. She has focused on creating digital programs for artists who create with their hands.  

Jacobs discussed her research into two computer programs that are simple to use but can create complex art.  

Para, a digital illustration tool, allow artists to directly manipulate vectors and lines to create intricate patterns and complex visual arts. Dynamic Brushes is a system that allow artists to create brush stroke drawings using a stylus. These strokes can then be modified and manipulated to create complex forms.  

“New technology is always rapidly changing, rigid and complex,” said Jacobs. She hopes to continue to see programs built along the lines of Para and Dynamic Brushes, which allow artists to easily work with technology and still be able to maintain their artistic voices.

Donna Mo is a fourth year Communication major and Theater minor. She is a Web and Social Media Intern with the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.