Thursday, May 9, 2024

If Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh lived in the 2020s how different would their art be? Would they use any computer science principles just like students taking CS 383: Computational Digital Art Studio?

This third-year class teaches students how to create artwork using “advanced computer science techniques like computer vision, 3D graphics, generative agents, audio processing, real-time data streaming, distributed systems, and more,” says Professor Daniel Vogel who taught this course for the Winter 2024 term. Ultimately, students use these methods to devise interactive art installations.

CS 383 is cross-listed with FINE 383 in the Faculty of Art's Fine Arts department, and the content balances art and science. For example, Professor Vogel delivers seminars about related contemporary artists and art theories such as generative art, networked art, and interactive installations, alongside coding workshops. 

photo of students, ta, and Professor Dan Vogel

A group photo of Professor Daniel Vogel, his teaching assistant and students taken at the exhibition.

Top (from left to right): Elaine Zhong, Frederica Zhang, Professor Daniel Vogel (instructor), Matthew Lakier (teaching assistant), Inchang Huh, Lam Pham, and Rayhan Moidu.

Bottom (from left to right): Oroni Hasan, Annie Sun, Shannon Cui, Hannah Choi, and Georgia Berg.

All photos taken by Joe Petrik

Throughout the term, students create three independent computational artworks, the third being their final project drawing from all their experience, knowledge, and expertise. This term’s class held an exhibition on Wednesday, April 4th, 2024, in East Campus Hall. 

“This exhibit showcases highly original and creative digital artwork produced by students taking what I believe is the most unique course in our computer science program,” says Professor Vogel.

Below are descriptions of some students’ artwork.

Whiplash by Nimun Bajwa

 screen reads "Colorado's Biggest and Most Dangerous Gangs Continue to Grow"

This data-based artwork displays headlines with a Google Street View image to critique media sensationalism and regional economics.

Python scripts search and retrieve Google Street images and headlines matched using geolocation data. The artist, Nimun Bajwa, generated her own data source using a News API to fetch headlines based on positive and negative words and used a Natural Language Processing API to analyze its sentiment. She also matched each headline source with a Google Street View image. A p5.js script uses the custom data source to present the viewer with alternating positive and negative headlines.

A key aspect is that positive news headlines are drawn from the poorest counties, while negative headlines are from the richest counties. This subverts expectations and prompts viewers to think about how news headlines can define a place.

No Place Like Home by Georgia Berg

2 people standing in front of the exhibit, one person is holding a flashlight in front of one room of the house A woman shining a flashlight in front of a room in the house

Have you ever felt like an outsider to something you were once familiar with? For example, how would you feel if your family moved out of your childhood home and relocated to somewhere else? This artwork embodies these concepts through two parts: on the left is a child-like model of a house with various rooms, while on the right is a construction resembling a television set. The participant uses a flashlight to explore the house, where a clever computer vision technique detects what 'room' the flashlight is illuminating and then reveals a generative dreamlike 'portrait' of the room in the "television". These portraits are generated in real-time from photos of the artist’s childhood home, AI-generated images, advertisements, and digitally drawn textures.

The artwork mixes ‘familiar’ elements with ‘unfamiliar’ elements, such as real photos with AI-generated images or a child-like dollhouse with generated components. This stark contrast evokes an uncanny feeling for the viewer, conjuring a feeling of looking back on childhood memories rooted in a personal space. It gives a new eerie meaning to the saying there’s no place like home.

Goodbye by Hannah Choi

The artist standing in front of black screen. the middle is a drawing (shape is large oval) that has various mult-coloured waves inside. Surrounding the blob is random multi-coloured waves

Oftentimes, we are so focused on the end result, that we never enjoy the journey itself. We become too attached to things we create that we don’t realize there is beauty in risk-taking. Goodbye explores these ideas by inviting the viewer to create an impromptu abstract artwork that dynamically changes and evolves, but also slowly disappears, leaving an empty black screen.

The artist, Hannah Choi, created a distributed system to track and convert real-time touch patterns on an iPad into a generative 3D drawing projected on a large wall-sized display. Her code carefully controls the viewer’s experience in stages: from creation to generation to loss.

Goodbye hopes that viewers will appreciate each moment of their artistic process rather than focusing on the final image. During the exhibition, there were various reactions. When visitors realize that their creation will fade away, they might be prompted to take a photo to preserve their memory.  

Interfacing by Sophia Irene Julia Deak

Photo of an attendee wearing the headset  black background with a tall mount filled with multiple blue, green,pink and purple glaciers  left is a blank computer monitor and the right is black screen with a slanted pink cube and the floor are printed circuit boards

Left: A photo of an attendee using the headset

Middle and Right: These are images that the viewer may see during their virtual experience

Interfacing incorporates elements of mixed and virtual reality (VR). When users put on the headset they are whisked to another reality: the floor is covered with several printed circuit boards, the wall features a glacier of bright and colour-changing crystals and there’s a stack of 3D-rendered computer monitors displaying a real-time video feed. All of these features are unrealistically large, for example, the computer monitors tower over the viewer. The creator, Sophia Deak, was inspired by how newer extended reality applications can be difficult and confusing and may not improve productivity and efficiency. She designed a landscape that was aesthetically pleasing but intentionally wasn’t useful. For example, the monitors display the video feed from the front camera, which is what someone would see if they weren’t in VR.

Fractal Dreams by Rayhan Moidu

Photo of an attendee viewing the animated piece, which features ever-looping scene of a young girl with long curly hair standing in front of a tree.

Created using computer simulation, generative agents, and real-time animation, Fractal Dreams is an animated piece that explores the fractal relationship between our world and a higher-dimensional space. The artist, Rayhan Moidu, used sharp yet simple shapes to pay homage to vector and geometric art. He wanted to evoke a general emptiness within his artwork to convey a dreamy mood. 

This eerie piece depicts an ever-looping scene of a young girl standing in front of a tree. It’s almost like she is looking at a lone observer— the attendee. Everything is static except for the girl’s hair and the tree leaves. Notably, the real-time generated animation lacks sound, as Rayhan wanted Fractal Dreams to embody a fugue-like atmosphere. The piece’s foundational element is randomness, as depicted in the leaves and hair but also in how the features’ positions change with every loop, such as the hill and girl. 

The Intruder by Lam Pham

 background is red. inside if a smaller recentage mimicing a video feed (you can see 2 people). Their faces are marked with a red rectange, with the word "intruder" and the left top corneer is a REC sign, bottom right corner is a timestamp black screen with red pixels. The left top corneer is a REC sign, bottom right corner is a timestamp  larger one is a red background. the smaller frame shows the man's face and surrounding background.   The left top corneer is a REC sign, bottom right corner is a timestamp. There's a red square square the man's face, marking him as the "intruder"

This installation is a motion detection heatmap that employs computer vision techniques for body tracking. When attendees enter the space, they are met with a black screen with a recording symbol and a timestamp at the bottom, indicating that someone is watching them. They will also notice some faint static sounds and that their movements are captured as red pixels. Using a combination of face and movement tracking, the system translates a viewer’s movements into brighter pixels and louder sound effects. This builds more tension for the attendees. If the system detects too much movement, then the black screen converts to a video feed and an alarm system will ring. Their face will be enclosed with a red square, marking them as The Intruder. However, if the attendee stops moving, the video feed will convert back to its initial view. 

The most distinctive feature is that the participant’s eyes are always pixelated even in dark mode, embodying The Intruder’s theme of visibility and surveillance in the digital age.

Dreambox by Annie Sun

Photo of an attendee drawing on a star on an ipad.  there's an iPad lying flat. There's a plexi screen that has a hologram of a blue-green-yellow star propped by a string

When an attendee visits Dreambox they see a hologram of an object propped by a string. They are invited to draw on a pad. Once they finish, their design disappears from the pad and is projected in front of them, replacing the original hologram.

The creator Annie Sun constructed this hologram using a frame, a plexiglass pane, and an iPad. She used distributed computing to render the iPad’s drawings in 3D.  When this server receives a request to display a design, the current hologram will transition into the new hologram.

Dreambox explores the theme of letting go, especially transitioning from childhood to adulthood. The attendee cannot keep their finished drawing and must leave it for the next participant. Eventually, their hologram will disappear, forcing the attendee to let go of their creation.

Annie wanted participants to have a child-like joy while drawing. Dreambox incorporates several elements to help produce a child-like illustration: the drawing pad looks like a colouring book, the colour options are all bright, and the brush is immutable which leads to a messing and uneven design. 

NTC (Nerve Traffic Control) by Frederica Zhang

 green, magenta, blue, yellow and orange) spreading across the canvas. Kinda looks like a 3D computer-generated brain mapping

This piece plays seven live Air Traffic Control (ATC) streams, each represented as a brain nerve. ATC officers have one stressful job— they must put their full attention into managing air traffic and preventing any incidents. Hence, the piece expresses the thoughts, connections and ideas that are countlessly forming in our brains. A generative algorithm draws and spreads 'nerves' across the canvas, depending on their respective ATC tower’s activity. For example, if there’s a pause in a stream, then the nerves will slowly fade into the background until the ATC operates again. Whereas the more active an ATC tower is, the more nerves it spreads. Each ATC tower has its own colour such as green, magenta, or orange, which are colours commonly shown in a 3D computer-generated brain mapping. Although the artwork reflects the mind of an ATC officer, it also represents the attendees whenever they feel overwhelmed or stressed.  

Mondrian by Elaine Zhong

 standing in front of a screen holding a controller. back is facing the camera  standing in front of a screen holding a controller. back is facing the camera

Mondrian tackles the popular debate— should video games be considered art? It features an adapted version of the arcade game Snake, where the titular character is represented by a brown stripe, and various roads are represented by red, blue, or yellow stripes. It also has a controller where the viewer can move the snake. However, this version of the game does not eliminate players if they lose. Instead, players can design patterns by turning the snake, and make up games to play with it.

The creator, Elaine Zhong, strips Snake of its gameplay elements like elimination and rules, and incorporates more art-like elements such as how the game’s roads are reminiscent of the roads from Piet Mondrian’s painting Boogie Woogie. Through these blurred lines, the audience must examine what constitutes something as a ‘game’ or ‘fine art’.

  1. 2024 (57)
    1. June (11)
    2. May (15)
    3. April (9)
    4. March (13)
    5. February (1)
    6. January (8)
  2. 2023 (70)
    1. December (6)
    2. November (7)
    3. October (7)
    4. September (2)
    5. August (3)
    6. July (7)
    7. June (8)
    8. May (9)
    9. April (6)
    10. March (7)
    11. February (4)
    12. January (4)
  3. 2022 (63)
    1. December (2)
    2. November (7)
    3. October (6)
    4. September (6)
    5. August (1)
    6. July (3)
    7. June (7)
    8. May (8)
    9. April (7)
    10. March (6)
    11. February (6)
    12. January (4)
  4. 2021 (64)
  5. 2020 (73)
  6. 2019 (90)
  7. 2018 (82)
  8. 2017 (51)
  9. 2016 (27)
  10. 2015 (41)
  11. 2014 (32)
  12. 2013 (46)
  13. 2012 (17)
  14. 2011 (20)