Sunny Yaying Zhang
Research assistant, Teaching Assistant & MSc student in SIAT, SFU    |    Explorer, creator, sharer.
Movingstories Lab    |    Metacreation Lab   |   LinkedIn   |   GitHub   |   |   Curriculum Vitae


Master of Science
School of Interactive Arts + Technology, Simon Fraser University

Bachlor of Engineering
School of Software Engineering, Chongqing University
Bachlor of Arts
School of Art, Chongqing University

Research Interests

I'm extremely fascinated by fields where Arts and Logic meet. Currently I'm exploring research areas in Data Art, Generative Art, Movement Visualization, Human Computer Interaction, and Narrative.

Scholarly Contributions

Peer-Reviewed Publications



Student Volunteers


On Going Projects

Aesthetic Movement Visualization
In collaboration with: Cale Pult, Lucía Sepúlveda, Ewelina Bakała, Dr. Philippe Pasquier
Movement data is fascinating to data artists for its richness of expression and great potential. We explore this kind of data, for the sake of generating video sequences, and create MAVi, a new tool for video creation that allow movement data visualization, real-time manipulation, and recording.
Generative Design on Web: Processing Programs from "Generative Gestaltung" Using P5js
Generative Gestaltung is a book written by Benedikt Gross, Hartmut Bohnacker, and Julia Laub illustrating generative design from a various of layers and perspectives. All the insights are demostrated by a set of corresponding processing programs and togather systematically tell the story of Generative Design. The programs in the book are written in Processing desktop version and is open source on GitHub. This project is to write and transfer the programs into browser side using P5js library.

Past Projects

Seed: A Collaborative Game to Explore Emergent Interactive Narratives
In collaboration with: Frederico Machuca
Seed is a collaborative game, in which two players using different controls to play the rolesand complete the story. One player acts as a forest spirit (traditional control), and anotherplayer acts as a forest god (motion cueing control with Leap Motion device). The playershave their own power and have to collaborate to save the forest.
Creative Catalyst for Pair-Choreography Based On Genetic Algorithm and Kinect
Creative Catalyst is extensively used in artistic activities like choreography to gain ideas. For this kind of highly inspiration-driven work, to work in pairs might provide the artists with surprisingly solution and push the artists beyond their personal boundaries. However, while there hides great value, little researches has cast light on the movement catalyst for a specific pair-choreography condition. We present a system using Kinect as real-time input for initialization and a genetic algorithm to generate creative movement catalyst for a pair-choreography context. The use of this creative catalyst is to generate new movement style user two original styles and break the boundaries of personal habit.
MoComp: A Tool for Comparative Visualization between Takes of Motion Capture Data
In collaboration with: Carl Malmstrom
MoComp is an interactive visualization tool that allows users to identify and understand differences in motion between two takes of motion capture data. In MoComp, the body part position and motion is visualized focusing on angles of the joints making up each body part. This makes the tool useful for between-take and even between-subject comparison of particular movements since the angle data is independent of the size of the captured subject.
Publication: MOCO '2016, ACM
In collaboration with: Kristin Carlson, Jordon Phillips, Dr. Thecla Schiphorst, Dr. Tom Calvert, Dr. Hervert H Tsang, Norman Jaffe
idanceForms is a choreographic application for the iPad that plays movement files on the iPad. Movement file formats include LFA (Danceforms), Collada, and BHV (motion capture) files. The development of the idanceForms software for mobile devices enables users to access intuitive touch screen-based interaction, to explore interface design for more complex movement procedures and to engage with physical and experiential spaces through technology. This includes the ability to sketch out ideas using dance figures, sound integration, and 3D file format support. The choreography software lets you author, visualize and transform movement on a timeline. Additional features will utilize embedded sensors in the mobile device such as the camera, accelerometer and touch surface, and explore integration with natural user interfaces such as the Kinect and Leap Motion. The development of the idanceForms software supports innovative embodied design processes through creative and natural movement means.
The Technology in Collaborative Choreography: Current Situation, Challenges and Opportunities
Choreographic is a highly inspiration-driven work which requires both choreographic expertise and personal inspiration. When two choreographers collaborate, not only there will be more ideas, but also with the new perspective interjected, the two ideas will evolve, develop, and thus push the choreographers beyond personal boundaries. However, while there hides great value, there are little researches had cast light on the collaboration of art creation and how can techniques better serve this kind of collaboration. Looking at the behaviors in choreographic collaborations and the technique use within, this research did an initial online questionnaire study and a follow-up qualitative interview study to inquire into the situation in a collaborative choreographic context and the uncovered opportunities of technologies in this kind of collaboration. The results of the questionnaire study revealed the fact that choreographers do not collaborate often and used technology infrequently. From the successive interview study, we discovered the situations and the opportunities of technology in collaborative choreography.
(Photo Credit: Judith Garay)
How do audience See dance: An Audience’s Perspective of "The Fine Line ~twisted angels"
In collaboration with: Shannon Cuykendall, Dr Thecla Schiphorst
“The Fine Line ~ twisted angels” is a multi-media contemporary dance piece carried out in 2012. This research focus on an audience’s perspective towards an improv session in this dance piece and compare it to a performer’s perspective. We conducted open-ended interview to collect the audiences’ interpretation by both talking and drawing. We used grounded theory method for the transcription and close-reading method for the drawings to analyze the data. By doing this, we gain a fruitful discovery about how do the audiences feel, sense, see, imagine about the dance content and reveal a huge difference between an audience’s perspective and a performer’s perspective. This finding will also contribute to the next stage of study, the digital archiving and movement visualization of the dance piece.
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