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A picture of Kate Compton

Kate Compton

Artist, inventor

in artist, developer, game, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an inventor, artist, and PhD student at UC Santa Cruz, go banana slugs! I worked in the games industry for 5 years, at Maxis, making algorithms to design the planets on Spore, and scripting the fire system on the latest SimCity. I went back to grad school to get my PhD in Computer Science with the Expressive Intelligence Studio, a group of interdisciplinary artificial intelligence researchers using AI for expressive purposes, like digital characters and interactive art. At the same time, I founded Seebright, a startup for the phone-based VR/AR headset that I'd invented (as far as I know, I was the first to use phones for VR!)

I'm most recently well-known for popularizing and educating people about procedural content generation in games and generative methods in many fields, with blog posts and GDC talks, and developing the popular newbie-friendly text-generation language Tracery. I also make a lot of strange generative works of my own, including several Twitter bots.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 2015 MacBook Pro and the ultra-light 2016 Macbook for travel. But many of my art installations use very unusual interfaces and a wide range of hardware toys, like Laser Pico projections on styrofoam heads, a projection on a spandex screen with a Kinect interface, a Leap Motion controlling a wall-sized projection, and most recently, a slime-filled balloon and an Arduino.

And what software?

I use JavaScript almost exclusively now, after years of Java. There are so many good libraries! I use Sublime, Transmit, and after some dissatisfaction with LightPaper, I'm writing my own text editor for my dissertation work.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I have my dream setup! Lots of oddball toys at home, plus my lightweight laptop for easy travel when backpacking between conferences. I would dearly love a big workshop with a laser-cutter and a CNC machine, though.