Experiments in Art and Technology

A selection of items from coursework and independent projects.

Computer Graphics

COS 416 at the Princeton Computer Science Department involved coursework covering the fundamentals of modern Computer Graphics. The course started by looking at methods of two-dimensional image processing. Then moved onto three-dimensional object modeling using OpenGL, covering polygonal meshes and transformations. We then looked at rendering, applying lighting techniques to scene graphs, and rasterizing for two-dimensional display. Lastly we looked at animation – covering passive & active dynamics, particle systems and boids. This animation study was supplemented by Computer Animation coursework at the University of Oxford, which in addition looked at transformation chains and interpolation. Coursework involved implementation of a significant number of methods in C++ for Graphics at Princeton, and using Python & Maya for Animation at Oxford.

Below is my implementation of a morphing algorithm used to interpolate two self-portraits of Van-Gogh. The first from the Winter of 1886/87, the second from the fall of 1887.

Information Graphics

I am extremely interested in the history and development of infographics, and am a great believer in the power of good graphics to effectively communicate the truth and encourage better data-driven decision making. As such I am a great admirer of the work of Edward Tufte, and have used many principles from his and other work in the development of better informatics lenses during my work at Microsoft. This has aligned well with my academic research in Public Policy, which has studied the issues around data presentation and collection.

Presented below is an application of this work towards my research into Pakistani music. This is a chart – developed using D3 – tracking the lengths of songs and their corresponding 'Behind the Scenes' videos from musical TV show Coke Studio over the years of its airing. The numbers on the horizontal axis indicate the airing Season. Season 1 aired in 2008, with subsequent seasons repeating annually. The production of this data required manual transcriptions of the durations, as well as identifying the original track orders of the releases, which are now only available in a handful of private records and web archives. The resultant database is arguably the only canonical version of this data.

Visible in this chart is a clear trend from Seasons 2 to 6. While song lengths remain relatively consistent throughout the years – barring a few epics through Seasons 4, 5 and 6 – the Behind the Scenes videos grow in length from Seasons 2 to 6. Season 1 had no Behind the Scenes Videos. We then see a sudden drop-off to very consistent lengths for songs and Behind the Scenes Videos in Season 7, which holds incredibly well through Season 8, which completed this fall. The start of Season 7 aligned with a change in Producers, from Rohail Hyatt to Strings. The latter had expressed a desire to hark back to old years of Coke Studio. The chart shows the structural movements in this direction: a clear decision to model the newer seasons on Seasons 2 and 3. Seasons 2 & 3 being the seasons that received the most favorable response from critics and audiences when they aired, although Season 6 has grown in favor with the passing of time. The slowly growing popularity of Season 6 indicates perhaps another aspect of the need for Behind the Scenes videos: explaining the intent of the art to the audience. It is now easy to realize that Season 6 needed the long videos to explain the method and point of the songs it produced, and it is understandable that it took people longer to really appreciate it.

Rocky Listens to Kraftwerk

Repaint of a white Squire Bullet Strat – enamel on basswood. This work was inspired by many famous painted guitars, but none more so perhaps than George Harrison's Rocky. Another influence was a truck-art inspired guitar in a Pakistani shop window.

The original humbucker pickup was also replaced with one from an Epiphone, which allowed for a more rounded sound.

This became a wedding present for my best friend, with whom I had originally split its cost, and from whom I bought his half using an old Computer Networks textbook.

Posters

Following is a selection of posters made for various events during my time at Princeton University.

Photography

The following is a selection of photographs taken as part of projects in VIS 212: Introductory Photography. The first two sections contain a number of photographs taken around the Princeton and New York areas. For my work in the course and otherwise, I enjoy photographs of city scapes and of signage in particular. I took a number of photos documenting American signage from the eye of a foreigner – this was only a few months after I began living in the states and their mannerism was still somewhat alien. The third section below shows some draft prints around this theme.

All photographs were taken on film, then printed in the dark room and digitally scanned for this portfolio.