Weidi Zhang’s Ph.D Qualifying Exam


  • Prof. George Legrady (chair)

  • Prof Marko Peljan

  • Prof Curtis Roads



  • Spatial data visualization

  • Image-classification algorithms

  • Non-linear narrative

  • Immersive experience 【 audio-visual interactive 】



 Research Statement​


Collage is an artistic technique for artists to assemble different pictorial motifs, forms, materials into new entities which often suggest non-linear narratives, poetic meanings, and new symbols.  The ideas and methods of collage art production widely emerged in the twentieth century in the early stage of modernism and were closely involved in modern art movements like Cubism, Surrealism, and Dada. 

While image manipulation methods (including collage, photomontage and mixed media) have been present in the art world for a long time, computational photography and image classification algorithms (including convolutional neural network (CNN) borrowed from the field of engineering) enable artists to conceive new directions by reconsidering the process of collage. This can be accomplished by embracing Surrealist chance operations and mechanisms of poetic choice and by re-examining the automatism of the Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists in the context of current and emerging A.I. age.


Oliver Grau mentioned in his book Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion that the creation of an artificial immersive virtual reality, arising as a result of technical exploitation of new inventions, is a long-standing human practice throughout history. Such environments as dioramas were made of composited images.


The technology of virtual reality enables a great many possibilities for spatial assemblage. The booming market of the entertainment industry makes virtual reality a commercial platform for gaming and 360 films.  VR art is still an area under development although it has been 25 years since the exhibition of first VR art piece Osmose (1995). 

I came up with the following questions:

  •  How do we embrace the chances and choices in relation to the subconscious in the collage-making progress? 

  • If the real world is a collage, how about the virtual one?

  • How can we transfer the image-making process into world-building strategies in order to experience images as an ever-expanding territory?  

Thus my research will focus on the development of an intelligent algorithmic system that investigates the possibilities of non-linear narrativity and semantic meanings through spatial collage of images in virtual reality environments. The tentative methodology of the research for the algorithmic spatial assemblage of images for VR world-building will include:


  • The development of data-driven image processing methods

  • Image classification algorithms (including convolutional neural network CNN),

  • Virtual reality world-building strategies and techniques

  • 3-d modeling techniques: including 3-d image-based structure generation/photogrammetry/ visualization of point cloud

  • spatial sound development. 



+ + VR history & Theory

Into the belly of image, historical aspects of virtual reality by Oliver Grau


Virtual Reality, a brief survey by Namrata Singh &  Sarvpal Singh


+ + Images Classification & Assemblage

Is deep dreaming the new collage? [2017]
Margaret A. Boden

Modeling the world from internet photo collection

Noah Snavely · Steven M. Seitz · Richard Szeliski

+ + Image & Autonomous & Simulation & Narrativity

What is an image? Harold Cohen

Schizophrenia and Narrative in Artificial Agents

++ Non Linear Narrative  & Computational Composition in Cyberspace 

Marjorie Perloff: Radical Artifice concrete poetry

The future of novel [1964]

William Burroughs

Matei Calinescu: The Five Faces of Modernity

Recombinant Poetics | VS | OULIPO [2000] Bill Seaman

An Experiment in Computational Composition , Marcos Novak

Virtual assembly using virtual reality techniques [1997] 

Sankar Jayaram, Hugh I Connacher and Kevin W Lyons*

Towards a philosophy of Virtual Reality: issues implicit in “unconsciousness reframed” [2000]

Crafting virtual reality [2018]

Lynne Heller

++ Collage & Musique concrète

collage, montage and the composer Pierre henry:

The real, the concrete, the abstract in sound art and music

++ Sound Spatialization and narrativity

Chapter 4 - Creating sound materials​

Chapter 8 - Articulating space

Chapter 10 - Sonic narrative

Composing Electronic Music - A New Aesthetic, Curtis Roads

Reader related


Related History




Giovanni Battista Bracelli





Immersed in Technology

Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature, and Culture / Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O' Hara, and Bob Dylan

Rona Cyan [2016]

Collage and Architecture

Jennifer A. E. Shields [2014]

Immersed in Technology: Art and Virtual Environments 

Bargain Price [1996]


+Optional Articles

Intermedia [1966 ]  Dick Higgins

Depth map generation by image map classification

CollageMachine An Interactive Agent of Web Recombination

constructivism meets Virtual Reality

Progressive Feedback Point Cloud Rendering for Virtual Reality Display