working artists


Zachary Booth Simpson

artist statement | technical statement | process


Much of my work involves creating simulations which often turn into tricky mathematical modeling problems. For example, a page from my journal dated 17 Dec 2000 shows my thoughts as I worked out the butterfly model for the first time.

Later I realized that the butterflies looked better if I made the two wing polygons intersect a little bit. The next image shows a sketch of the revised wing model and notes the vertex functions. (Also seen on this page are sketches from La Sagrada Familia. I was living in Barcelona at the time and apparently I had gone there that day; my journals are often intertwined in this fashion.)

Often enormous effort will go for naught. Below shows work on a parametric model of a tree-like branch. The idea was abandoned after a few days of work when I realized that the time it would take relative to its interest level. This is the fate of 80% of my ideas.

One of the most complicated parts of the system is the calibration which no one but me ever sees. Figure 4 shows some of the original design for how the calibrator would function. Most of this is a diagram for a state machine. I often model computer algorithms in a storyboard fashion such as this.

Figure 5 shows the first diagram which illustrated the technical workings. I had already built the system by the time I drew this but had not yet installed it formally. When I drew it out carefully I realized that it would be better to project from above rather than from waist level (as I had drawn) because it would allow people to pass behind one participant without disturbing them. A quick after-thought sketch in the corner captures my realization as well as the fact that I would have to pay for this with a keystone effect.

Of course, ultimately all of my artistic ideas must be realized in code which must be debugged. Little scraps of paper litter my desktop with typical programmer hieroglyphics. Figure 6 appears to be debugging notes regarding address of a corrupt linked list written on the corner of a doctor's prescription.