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— Tristan Whitehill

fragment shader by Ilithya

With excellent design skills and a never ending creative drive, Ilithya is a technomancer for the new age. Her practice includes shredding GLSL shaders anyday as well as designing jaw dropping websites. Frogmod is so lucky to have been able to catch up with her and discuss how she manages to make all of this magic and hopefully if you are reading this you too can be inspired by her exciting ideas and creative practices.


Follow Ilithya here!


Ilithya, you are living in Hamburg, Germany. Can you let us know a bit about your world there and any insight into what brought you there?

Hola :)

I came here because I wanted to experience living in a big German city before leaving this country. Hamburg was the winning candidate because I wanted something big, but not as big as Berlin. Also, I liked the water surroundings and the people in the north of Germany.

About my world, given the current status worldwide still experiencing a pandemic, it might not be as different than others in another place. I work as a freelancer fully remote for short periods, to have free periods for my art explorations, continual programming studies, hobbies, and myself. I spend a lot of time with my partner and best friend. I stay active with daily long walks and low-impact cardio exercises at home.

You are also a designer and have an amazing website you made. You have been busy working on your craft. Can you tell us about your creative visual world, recent work, and some of the principles you use to stay organized and motivated?


Right now, I’m in love with the new media arts. Generative shader visuals and audio-reactive experiments are my favorites. But I also enjoy working with 3D in WebGL and playing with interactivity.

My most exciting recent work has been a set of visuals I designed and coded with shaders for a band in the U.S. that started touring end of April. It was my first paid VJ gig. I created short loops for each of their songs planned for a concert set. I can’t wait to get the footage!

My principle to stay organized and motivated is to give myself enough time daily to continue exploring all digital arts I’m currently curious to learn. Maybe some days are for reading a book or blog posts, browsing for inspiration, playing with a technique or tool, following a course or tutorial. I try to, at least, finish one creative digital creation a week, which does not necessarily have to be perfect.

When you work with GLSL as a design tool, how does your perception of design or animation change from other tools? Are there connections between your personality and GLSL?

I guess, when working with shaders, I have a sense of more freedom when it comes to the limitations of what I can do design- or animation-wise. I feel like I’m painting and communicating with the computer directly using the pixels to paint. As soon as I understood some of the language and syntax, I felt I could quickly tweak and make abstract shapes, patterns, or moving sketches with vast effects that arise from my imagination by typing.

Though I’m far from advanced GLSL coding techniques, when I work with shaders until now, I can bring more ideas rapidly into a visual sketch rather than with other tools, libraries, or languages I’ve tried. I like to think of writing shaders as a superpower because the visuals done with them are fast since we’re working directly with the GPU.

By the way, this is my personal experience with shaders. I am sure someone reading this could completely disagree because everyone has to find their most comfortable tool for creative coding.

About the connection I found between my personality and GLSL, it could be that I discovered I can apply some of the worlds I like and mix them — art, math, design, logic, structure, uncertainty, and abstraction.



Audio-reactive fragment shader by Ilithya with music by Aaron Graham

Your collaboration with Eliza SJ under the pseudonym Curiously Minded, how is this project developing and what are some goals you intend to achieve together?

Glad you ask! I feel my collaboration with Eliza has been growing very organically. We started curiouslyminded end of 2020 after a couple of months of collaborating on shader explorations while pair programming. We found a flow and connection fast after getting to know each other, and turned out we also had similar goals towards what we wanted out of the creative coding scene.

With curiouslyminded we want to inspire people starting with creative coding or curious about the intersection of art + technology to be confident about learning to code as a medium of expression. We want to lift other women that are creative coders. We want to demonstrate that even coding your shaders with GLSL, which could be an intimidating programming language, can be learned with patience, practice, and without a CS or math degree. We’re both self-taught with different backgrounds outside the CS world and have made it here, so we hope others like us can see they can do it too.

We hope this collaboration helps us grow as artists. By exploring various paths within the realm of the digital arts, we learn together. Learn from each other. Learn from other artists we invite to collaborate. And learn from the community we're trying to cement.

5. For the other curiously minded people, what are some resources for getting deeper and discussing GLSL shader writing or any cool tips for getting started?

I wrote a blog post last year as I was still getting started with shaders where I highlight many tips:

https://www.ilithya.rocks/blog/starting-with-shaders/

One resource recently added there I think it’s fantastic is this post by Lionel Radisson:

https://observablehq.com/@makio135/creative-coding/

A must-see resource is a creation by Patricio Gonzalez Vivo and his wife, Jen Lowe:

https://thebookofshaders.com/

Get started by doing. Your first shaders might be nothing like you imagined because you have no idea how to get there. But be patient and kind to yourself. Read a bit, do a course, or watch a tutorial. Try, play and practice. Be frustrated, but don’t give up. Rewind, and start again.

If you feel like sharing some of your progress, I started a small challenge for myself last year and since then invite anyone who wants to practice shaders to use the #anydayshaders hashtag when sharing content on twitter or instagram. I made a little bot for it on twitter @anydayshaders_

6. What does the future hold? Where are you creatively heading towards and where can we see the journey you are going on?

Well, I’m not a big planner. I go with the flow. I don’t know where I’m going too far ahead of time. I know what I want to do this year, and there’s still so much more I want to learn.

For now, I’ll still be doing something with shaders and WebGL. I’m hoping to showcase my work in more installations and have more people experiencing my art creations. There’re a few opportunities in the pipeline. If anything happens, be sure I’ll share it on my website and socials.

I want to do more VJ work. Music has always been a big inspiration for me. When I work with music, I feel electricity that makes my soul happy.

I’m educating myself with some machine learning at a slow pace. One of my goals for this year is, at least, to make one decent experiment with ML and shaders on the web. Maybe later take it to an interactive installation level.

I also have slowly learned to make some sounds with code, and when I have something okay-ish, I’ll share those explorations, maybe combined with shaders as well.

Overall, I hope to collaborate and work with more musicians and digital artists to combine skills and explore foreign settings.

Thanks for having me.
Peace :)