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Explore the core ideas of computer programming for the visual arts

UCLA Social Software examines the social impacts and possibilities of making with software. Led by software artists Lauren Lee McCarthy and Casey Reas, Social Software is housed with the Department of Design Media Arts at UCLA, one of the nation’s top art and tech departments offering a comprehensive, multidisciplinary education in media creation, which fosters individual exploration and innovative thinking.

Geared specifically for high school students, the Social Software Summer Institute is a two-week program with morning and afternoon classes introducing core ideas of computer programming for the visual arts.

This institute explores questions such as:

  • What is the potential of software within the visual arts?
  • How has software affected the visual arts?
  • As a designer or artist, why would I want (or need) to write software?
  • What are the power relationships, inequities, and biases embedded within software and technology?

The institute is taught by professionally trained instructors using the most current software and technology. The institute culminates in a final exhibition and the creation of portfolio-ready work that students may include in their college applications in related fields.

Fees and Payment Info

The program fee includes the unit fees for the UCLA coursework offered as part of the program and thus varies by UC student status. In addition to the program fee, students are assessed other campus and administrative fees during the summer. This is a summary of fees that commonly apply to the selected student type.

Actual tuition and fees are subject to change by the University of California. Visit the fees, payment, and financial aid section for important disclaimer, as well as more details on fees, payment instructions, and information on delinquency, refunds, and financial aid.

Program Fee
Registration Fee
Document Fee (for first-time Summer Sessions students)
Total Estimated Fees:
* Fees only apply for certain student types

Meet your instructors

All faculty and teaching assistants are practicing artists, computer programmers, and educators affiliated with UCLA Social Software, with extensive experience and expertise in their respective course subjects. Each course will be led by a faculty instructor and teaching assistant, with additional staff to provide support.

Lauren Lee McCarthy

Professor and Co-Director, Social Software

Lauren Lee McCarthy is an artist examining social relationships in the midst of surveillance, automation, and algorithmic living. She is a Creative Capital Awardee, United States Artists Fellow, LACMA Art+Tech Lab Grantee, and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from Sundance, Eyebeam, MacDowell, Pioneer Works, and Ars Electronica. Her work SOMEONE was awarded the Ars Electronica Golden Nica and the Japan Media Arts Social Impact Award, and her work LAUREN was awarded the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction. Lauren’s work has been exhibited internationally, including the Barbican Centre, Haus der elektronischen Künste, SIGGRAPH, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, Science Gallery Dublin, and the Seoul Museum of Art. She is the creator of p5.js, an open source programming language for learning creative expression through code online with over 10 million users worldwide. She expanded on this work from 2015–2021 in her role on the Board of Directors for the Processing Foundation, whose mission is to serve those who have historically not had access to the fields of technology, code, and art in learning software and visual literacy. She holds an MFA from UCLA and a BS Computer Science and BS Art and Design from MIT.

Casey Reas

Professor, Department Vice Chair, and Co-Director Social Software

Casey Reas is an artist and educator who lives in Los Angeles. His software, prints, and installations have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia. His work varies from small works on paper to building-scale software installations, and he balances solo work in the studio with collaborations with architects and musicians. Reas’ work is in a range of private and public collections, including the Centre Pompidou and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2001, Reas collaborated with Ben Fry to initiate Processing, an open source programming language and environment for the visual arts. He holds a masters degree in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT as well as a bachelors degree from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati.