The image is © Ben Fry, 2009. See our image rights statement.


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Print, Deprocess

This is a Print. It was designed by Ben Fry. It is dated 2006 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is digital print on archival paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Deprocess is a visualization by Ben Fry showing the program flow for a piece of code written by Casey Reas. To generate the Deprocess piece, Fry created a simple, rule-based animation [defined a set of conditions] using the Processing software. The text of Reas’s code, Process 6, is shown in gray. Blue lines trace the sequence and repetition of the code as it runs. The lighter blue lines represent sequences run earlier in the program; the darker blue lines show sequences run more recently. As a path is traveled over and over again, the lines build up. Rather than making the lines thicker as they repeat, Fry added noise to the lines to create a spindly, fiber-like texture, evocative of the processor jumping to different sections of the code. Fry then executed his program, let it run, and stopped it to capture a particular moment in its run-time. The piece was at a point of repetition where an additional build-up of lines weren’t necessary to convey the elegance of Reas’s underlying code.

Deprocess visualizes the redundancy in Reas’s Process 6 code, revealing the clarity and cleverness of the code’s structure. Rather than repeat lines of code, Reas wrote connections between elements in his code, emblematic of the DRY principle in programming – Don’t Repeat Yourself. The DRY principle is aimed at reducing duplication and unnecessary complexity in software development, and is indicative of a skillful programmer. Deprocess shows us not just how Reas’s piece runs, but celebrates how it was built in what is itself a graceful portrait. Fry’s piece, with its furls of blue lines, evokes the motion and fluidity of a running program.

Moreover, both Deprocess and Reas’s underlying code, Process 6, were created with Processing. Processing is an open-source programming language that Fry and Reas started in 2001, as graduate students at the MIT Media Lab in John Maeda’s Aesthetics and Computation research group. Processing was built as a tool to teach programming fundamentals for visual expression, and has evolved into a development tool used by professionals. With it, users can create simple animations, interactive pieces, and generative compositions. Processing was included in Cooper Hewitt’s 2006 exhibition “Design Life Now: National Design Triennial.” Fry created Deprocess to represent Processing in the exhibition’s installation and made an edition of five fine art prints.

This object was donated by Ben Fry. It is credited Gift of Ben Fry.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 91.4 × 27.9 cm (36 × 11 in.)

Cite this object as

Print, Deprocess; Designed by Ben Fry (American, b. 1975); digital print on archival paper; H x W: 91.4 × 27.9 cm (36 × 11 in.); Gift of Ben Fry; 2017-11-2

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