How to teach your computer to make art.

DISCLAIMER: The following is a project was originally done for the Kano Computer Kit, but can be done on any Mac, Linux or Raspberry Pi computer.

This project has three levels.

Level 1: 10 mins + download time

First, you’ll tell your computer to fetch some files. Then you can leave them to download for 45–55 minutes.

Level 2: 5 mins + download time

This will take about 3 minutes to code. Then you can leave the programs to install for 25–35 minutes… just enough time to play a round of Pong.

Level 3: 10 mins + playtime

Finally, we’ll explore a little of the “magic” behind your computers’ new powers — and make some incredible RobotArt!

It would be a great idea to start the project in the morning, then let your computer download and install the programs while you have lunch, or spend some time outside.

Get ready!

Quick! Read through the notes below — they’ll help you complete each level.

Please note: You need a Kano Computer Kit an Apple Mac laptop/desktop or a Raspberry Pi or Linux machine in order to complete this project.

Get to know your keyboard

Have a look at your keyboard. It’s full of characters.

A character is a letter, number or symbol — everything on your keyboard is a character.

You might discover some brand new characters in this project. Before you continue, see if you can find these on your keyboard:

~ : ;

Here are the buttons you need to press to make them appear (on a Kano Computer Kit Keyboard).

Do you feel prepared? Good!

Do’s and Don’ts: Terminal Typing.

Terminal is a powerful program. You can give your computer commands that go straight into it’s brain.

Terminal pays attention to everything you type — every single character is important! This means that you need to make sure you type each command exactly as you see it written.

When you are asked to type a command into Terminal, remember these Do’s and Don’ts.

  1. Include every space and capital letter.
  2. Double check that you have typed exactly the same characters.
  3. Only press enter when the project asks you to.

Have your password ready.

Do you know your Computer Kit password? You will need it to install the program files. Write it down on a piece of paper right now, and keep it next to your Computer Kit.

Hint: Have you changed your password? If you haven’t changed it, your password will be ‘kano’.

Are you ready for Level 1?

Let’s Go!

Start the project in Classic mode. Make sure you are in classic mode on your Computer Kit, and put your keyboard down on a flat surface.

Awesome!

Open your Terminal

You will use the Terminal to give your computer commands. These commands go straight into the computer’s brain.

You will use your trackpad and keyboard — don’t worry, the instructions will help you.

Find and copy the program

Let’s install the program that will let your computer make art.

Type this text into your Terminal, exactly as it is written here. Remember the characters you found earlier, and the Do’s and Don’t of Terminal Typing.

Type:
cd ~

Press Enter.

Great!

Now type:
git clone https://github.com/torch/distro.git ~/torch — recursive

Press Enter.

You have just told your computer where to find the right program.

clone means that your computer is now copying files from a folder on the internet.

This might take a minute or two.

The cursor will start flashing in the last line, after your user name, once the program has installed.

Download 10,000 pieces of art

You are about to give your computer all the information it needs to run the program. Don’t worry — it won’t take up too much space.

Remember the Do’s and Don’ts!

Type: cd ~/torch; bash install-deps;

Press Enter.

Your computer is busy downloading the code it will need for this project. Booyah!

Because the program your computer will run needs as much information as possible, this will take about 60 minutes.

How about some lunch?

Don’t forget to come back in an hour.

Project continues on the Kano Blog.

Technology for creation, not just consumption.