Computational artist Lisa Tolentino explains her work in the Valley

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Lisa Tolentino is a computational artist, musician and interaction designer with a background in computer science. Her work focuses on improving lives in vulnerable and underrepresented communities.

A computational artist is an artist that uses any kind of generative or digital process as the core medium of their art, Tolentino said.

“So being able to code and to translate procedures that have numbers and algorithms in it, into something interesting artistically is what I do,” Tolentino said.

She taught at a local high school for several years, starting a media arts program from the ground up. She said one of the most popular classes she taught was called “Coding is Art.”

“In that class, I imagined that students who were artists but maybe not really good at math or physics would come in there and understand the beauty of mathematics, and how they could use art to learn this different concepts,” Tolentino said.

She said she was also interested in the opposite- people who were good at mathematics but hadn’t quite tapped into their creative sides.

“I wanted to create a space where two types of minds could come together and create some really interesting things,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino draws from indigenous research methodologies and her Ilocano-Filipino American heritage, both of which provide additional tools and lenses for problem-solving and design.

She said her cultural heritage inspired a class project where she asked students to create their own cultural textile- one that comes from their own heritage, or one that fascinates them. She said this project opened a dialogue about cultural appropriation, indigenous peoples in the world, and globalism in general.

Tolentino co-directs urbanSTEW, a Phoenix-based arts-technology non-profit, and the Video Game Production program at Paradise Valley Community College.

For more information, visit Lisatolentino.com.

Lisa Tolentino, Adjunct Faculty/Fine & Performing Arts at Paradise Valley Community College

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