Personal Making Assignment 6: Seeing

Part I: An image

“All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo.’” - Toni Morrison

Recall how, in one of our first readings for this class, the authors argued that AI cannot be artists because AI, unlike humans, cannot make commentary on culture. In the final personal making assignment of this course, it’s your turn to make a personal commentary on computing culture. Computing can take many forms: it could be the current tech industry, computer science as a discipline, historic aspects of computing (like punch cards or Ada Lovelace), the Pomona (or 5C) CS experience, a previous internship you’ve experienced, computational ways of thinking, generative AI, NFTs, the military-digital complex, etc—the important thing is to pick something you’re passionate about 1.

Art is about seeing: a good piece of art not only captures how you see the world, but also convinces those who engage with your art to understand your perspective. In that sense, we can agree with the Toni Morrison quote above that all (good) art is political. We now have a good grasp on how to make art with computers (creative coding, using machines like laser cutters, using custom built software tools), but what does it mean to make art about computers?

Your task for Part I is to create an image that comments on some aspect of computing: an image about computing. What is your message that you want others to see through your image? Your image may be any medium: a photograph (recommended, easiest), a drawing, a Figma mock up, AI generated, some combination of the above. (Video art–moving images–is also OK if that is your preferred medium. As are websites–interactive images.) The image should be visually compelling (for instance, you wouldn’t feel embarrassed if an influential organization posted it on their Instagram), so pick a medium you feel comfortable with and a medium that is appropriate for your message.

In addition to creating the image, you should write a brief (max 250 words) description explaining how your piece comments on computation.


Here are some great pieces about computation:

Part II: A computational tool designer’s statement

Another one of our first readings was about how anyone can be a maker. Now, as we wrap up the semester, with your past experiences in using and designing tools in mind, it’s your turn to articulate your identity as a tool designer. Many fine artists have “artists statements” that accompany their work describing their art making goals, their personal values and philosophies, and their own perspective of their work. Sometimes statements include background of their personal lives, how they draw their inspiration, and what gets them to create. For the second part of this assignment, write a brief (max 250 words) statement on your perspectives as a tool designer (and/or artist). Note that tools don’t have to be purely creative tools: think at the expansive level of the Zipcrits we’ve been having.

Your computational tool designer’s statement should answer:

  • What do you personally believe to be the most important reasons to design tools?
  • What do you believe to be the ideal relationship between computation and tools? How have/will you achieve this ideal?
  • What kind of future of computational tools do you hope for, both on a personal and societal level?

Optionally, you may also touch on:

  • What do you believe is the place of computation in creativity?
  • Going back to our in class discussion, do you identify more as a craftsperson, a designer, or an artist? Why? Or do you reject the categories?
  • How, if at all, did your relationship to art and being an artist (or craft, or design, etc.) change throughout this course?
  • How does your personal identity impact the work you’ve made in this course?


  • If you’re stuck, free write first and jot down notes. What was the underlying thread in your work for this class? How did you incorporate your values—and what are your values? When you were coming up with ideas for the final project, how did you judge if they felt “good” to you or not?
  • Here is a guide from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on writing artist statements.
  • Here are examples of artist statements from famous artists.
  • Here are examples of artist statements from not so famous artists in the context of a career development website.

Grading & Submission

On Canvas, a PDF that contains:

  • Your image
  • A max 250 word description of how your image comments on computing culture
  • Your max 250 word tool designer’s statement

In addition, please copy/paste your image and a few sentences from your tool designer’s statement in this Google Slidedeck before classtime next Tuesday April 23. We will be going through the slidedeck as our crit. Do not include the description of how your image comments on computing culture—your classmates will guess.

Estimated/expected time: I expect this project to take no more than 3 hours: 1 hour to brainstorm what your commentary is, 1 hour to execute it, and 1 hour to write your tool designer’s statement. The learning goals of this assignment are, after a whole semester of talking about and critiquing the intersection of art and computation, to make some pieces of your own and figure out where you stand!


  • ✓+ : A ✓, but the image has extremely high execution quality (would likely take you more than the suggested 1 hour)
  • ✓ : Students created an image that was a deep commentary on computation; the commentary was evident from engaging with the artwork. Students have a thoughtful tool designer’s statement.
  • ✓- : Students did not deeply think about their commentary (e.g., just submitted an AI generated picture of a robot overlord looking over human laborers), or had a generic tool designer’s statement. PS: If you submit a ChatGPT generated statement, you will get a 0.

  1. And we’ve seen many such great commentaries already in this course, such as how mining for phone precious metals leads to the mistreatment of Congolese miners, or how the IDF is treating the output of AI programs as if they were human made decisions when bombing Palestine.