Shawn Lawson

Shawn Lawson
Professor and Department Head, Arts

Shawn Lawson is a computational artist and researcher creating the computational sublime. He performs under the pseudonym Obi-Wan Codenobi where he live-codes real-time computer graphics with his open source software, The Force and The Dark Side. Lawson’s other work explores a range of technology: stereoscopy, camera vision, touch screens, game controllers, hand-held devices, random number generators; and output formats: print, sculpture, mobile apps, instruction sets, animation, and interactive.

He has performed at NIME, Australia; Radical dB, Spain; ICLI, Portugal and UK; ICLC, UK, Canada, and Mexico; ISEA, Canada; GENERATE!, Germany; CultureHub, NYC, and more. Shawn’s artwork has exhibited or screened in museums, galleries, festivals, and public space in England, Denmark, Russia, Italy, Korea, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, and Canada; locally in ACM SIGGRAPH, IEEE ProCams, ACM MM, The Art Institute of Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, Chelsea Art Museum, Eyebeam, Aperture Foundation Gallery, Nicholas Robinson Gallery, MIT, OSU, ASU, and LTU. He has given workshops in programming or live coding in Europe and the USA. Shawn is published in the proceedings of ICLC, ACM CC, ACM SIGGRAPH, ACM SIGCHI, ACM MM. Lawson’s collaborative, Crudeoils, critiques structures of power: surveillance, economic exploitation, and authoritarian corruption.

Lawson has received support from from the Electronic Media and Film Program at the New York State Council on the Arts, the Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds Program, Kamel Lazaar Foundation, CultureHub’s Micro-Residency, and Signal Culture’s Toolmakers in Residency. Lawson studied fine arts at Carnegie Mellon University and École Nationale Supèrieure des Beaux-Arts. He received his MFA in Art and Technology Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. He is a Professor of Computer Visualization and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and selectively consults for independent artists and commercial R&D branches.


MFA 2003, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
BFA 2000, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France

Focus Area

live coding, realtime graphics, art and machine learning, computational sublime, visualization

Selected Scholarly Works

Lawson, S. Smith, R. “What Am I Looking At?: An Approach to Describing th Projected Image in Live Coding Performance.” In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Live Coding. Madrid, Spain. 2019.

Stewart, J. Lawson, S. “Cibo: An Autonomous TidalCycles Performer.” In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Live Coding. Madrid, Spain. 2019.

Smith, R. Lawson, S. “Rouge Two: Reflections on the Creative and Technological Development of the Audiovisual Duo—The Rebel Scum.”Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture10, no. 1 (2018): 63-82, DOI:

McIntosh, Kyna. Mars, John. Krahe, James. McCann, Jim. Rivera, Alexander. Marsico, Jake. Israr, Ali. Lawson, Shawn. Moshe, Mahler. “Magic Bench – A Multi-User & MultiSensory AR/MR Platform.” In ACM SIGGRAPH 2017 VR Village. New York: ACM Press. DOI:

“Sarlacc.” Proceedings of the 11th ACM Creativity and Cognition Conference, New York: ACM Press, 2015.

Lawson, S. Smith, R. “The Dark Side.” In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Live Coding. Morelia, México.

2008 "New Media and Education." New Media New Idea New Life: National New Media Art Forum of University Deans, ed. Li Wang, et al., Shanghai: Tongji University Press, 2008, 3-11.

2006 "Ray Tracings of the In Between." ACM SIGGRAPH 2006 Sketches, Sketches Chair Hanspeter Pfister. New York: ACM Press, 2006, 60.

“Performative Code: Strategies for Live Coding Graphics.” Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Live Coding. 2015.

CISL Projects