Recurse Center

What I worked on at RC: Thais Correia

Rachel Petacat

Thais Correia first came to RC in early 2018 for a one-week batch. In 2019, they returned for a full 12 weeks, and spent their time creating beautiful shaders and pieces of generative art. We talked to Thais about how they approached their time during their second batch of RC, and their thoughts about programming and making art.

Thais Correia

Thais Correia

RC: What did you work on at RC?

Thais: My main projects were:

  • Box Gazer: a web experience about paying attention to a pretty box as it bounces around your screen. It uses WebGazer.js for eye-tracking and Three.js for graphics.
  • I worked through The Book of Shaders and made dozens of different shaders while learning about shaping functions, matrix manipulations, randomness and noise, etc.
  • Bismuth Generator: a system for generating bismuth (like the mineral) shapes, using react-three-fiber for the geometry and shader rendering.

Apart from that I paired with folks on more shaders, 3D graphics, and TidalCycles, went to arts and shader meetings, and helped out with the RC Zine a bit!

Bismuth Shader

Bismuth Shader

Why did you decide to work on those things?

In the past, my relationship to learning and creating with code has mostly been about job security and financial stability. I’d ask myself “What do I need to learn to pass this class? What do I need to learn to do well in interviews? What do I need to learn to complete this project at work? What do I need to build to be put up for a promotion?” and whatever I made followed from that. But I’ve also always been inspired by other people doing creative work with code and by other fields and my interests outside of programming. Any idea I had or thing I wanted to learn, I’d write it down. So finally, at RC, I realized I had an opportunity to work on those types of projects! I picked the things that were least relevant to my career thus far, things I couldn’t even really imagine being paid to do, that seemed really fun to make, that would make me think about programming in a new way, and that I’d enjoy talking to other Recursers about.

Interdimensional Travel

Interdimensional Travel

What did you get out of coming back to RC for another batch?

Apart from the things people commonly say they get out of RC (time and space to do focused work, supportive community, inspiration from peers, etc), doing a mini batch and then a full batch was a uniquely positive experience for me. I had a really great time during my mini batch so my feelings leading up to coming back were all positive versions of excitement and not so much anxiety wondering what it would be like. Also, because I treated my mini batch like a sprint and was super focused during it, returning to the space put me back in a really focused headspace (well…. most days!). And lastly, it was extra special to be in the space and run into old RC friends during alum hours1 or events!2 There are so many people making art with code in the RC community. They’ve been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement for me and I’m super grateful for getting to spend in-person time with them.

Glitch Shader

Glitch Shader

What’s your approach to programming? To making art?

I think the foundations of my processes for both are really similar! First of all, I know I can’t do my best work if my mental and physical health aren’t well so I spend a lot of time and energy on my routines to maintain those. I’m a naturally curious person so I find inspiration easily from just living my day to day life. When something catches my interest, I tend to go on pretty deep dives to learn more. I write down all of my ideas, some times I’m even jolted awake by an interesting thought and I’ll write that down. I talk to people who are excited about what they do and I ask them lots of questions, trying to capture some of that excitement for myself.

When I’m on a project, creating documentation comes naturally to me. I take screenshots and progress photos, I write down thoughts and questions that come up, I save all my rough sketches and inscrutable notes from working out something tricky, I save resources and references that I use, and I summarize conversations I have related to the work in text. Finishing a project is always the hardest part for me. I have to set deadlines for myself and constantly fight the pull of perfectionism. I’m definitely still refining my work process and I love to hear about other people’s so please send me any writing you’ve done/read on the topic, whoever is reading this :)

You can see more of Thais’s work on Instagram and Twitter.

If you’re a programmer interested in learning and working alongside folks like Thais, apply to RC!

  1. While Monday-Wednesday is reserved for folks who are in batch, Recurse Center alumni can spend time programming in the space Thursday - Sunday, and mornings and evenings.

  2. We host lots of social events during batches, including game nights, end of batch parties, and technical talks. Recursers also self-organize events like non-technical talks, LED soldering workshops, and more.