By Ben Henderson, ACM SIGGRAPH Chapters Reporter
The 2011 SIGGRAPH Art Gallery, entitled “Tracing Home” is an exploration of the concept of home and how we connect to that idea in an age of digital devices, virtual networks and portable lives. Home may be represented in a thousand different ways and take on a variety of meanings for each individual. However, what remains the same and what so many of the gallery’s pieces reference is a sense of connection. Each piece explores that connection: some do so physically, others emotionally; each interpreting how that connection is affected by technology.
When first entering this year’s gallery you are greeted by Memoirs by Yunsil Heo and Hyunwoo Bang. What appears to be a simple retro 1950’s television actually captures your photo using a digital camera. It then displays this photo as a virtual Polaroid on the screen below. The exhibit is interactive, engaging and, in a way, nostalgic. Dating back more than half a century, televisions have been associated with “home.” Memoirs captures that era while concealing updated technology. The Polaroid photo that digitally/virtually develops and falls into the screen is shared worldwide via the internet, almost as if you are being developed and delivered to the world.
The idea of home can be interpreted in countless ways by different individuals. Reveries and Line Drawings by Georgia Wall and Nick Bastis plays on the concept of interpretation by showing the way two people, using different techniques, translate the same description of the narrator’s home.
Just around the corner, nestled in a dark nook, Hildepromenade 4 by Philipp Engelhardt continues this theme of interpreting memory. Here, a collection of found photos are displayed in an album. The piece imagines the path taken between the moments captured on film.
Resonating throughout the gallery, Peter Traub’s Itspace captures the familiar sounds of home that often go unnoticed. Step on up and push a button to hear the squeaking of a recliner, the ringing of an egg timer or the wrapping of banister rails; play them simultaneously and the soundtrack of home expands into a musical composition.
The 0h!m1gas: Biomimetic Stridulation Environment by Kuai Shen Auson also brings awareness to the unnoticed by giving a voice to the movement and communication of an ant colony. Oh!m1gas analyzes the motion of the ants, interprets the data and translates it to the scratching of turntables.
Continuing though the Art Gallery, the sheer size of MOSTON by Anya Belkina, is a statement unto itself. The piece is a reflection on the artist’s experiences as a transplant from Moscow, now living in Boston. A large inflatable sculpture, it conjures the image of a human heart or Russian nesting dolls.
Another large installation is the Garden of Error and Decay by Michael Bielicky. This oversized interactive piece displays up to 250 unique animations, each triggered by key words received through a live twitter feed. These key words relate to the world’s current political, social, and natural challenges. Michael even encourages viewers to take action by targeting and shooting these animations from the screen using a joystick. Though, in the end, it is not the viewer’s actions, but the rise and fall of the stock market, which brings about change.
Natural and man-made disasters are also the basis of Michael Cox’s Tomorrow Will Get Better. Consisting of graphite drawings and laser cut paper, the works are as delicate as the houses they depict. This piece also demonstrates how we have limited control over circumstances, though hope for a better tomorrow remains.
Out of even the most devastating conditions beauty can emerge – this is a theme explored in Transplant by Heidi Kumao. This piece is a mixed media artwork that depicts the story of Japanese families building a sense of home by cultivating gardens in the midst of the adversity and desolation in World War II internment camps.
Travel Stones by Jacquelyn Martino suggests, rather than rebuilding a sense of home, you can carry it with you wherever you go. Based on a fictitious ancient culture, these stones are used throughout generations to pass on a physical representation of the spiritual sense of home while exploring the unknown. They can also serve as a way to recount stories to travelers.
Traditions passed down through generations create culture; this can define home as much as any object. The Insatiable by Jawshing Arthur Liou captures viewers’ attention with a free form flowing depiction of an outdoor food market in Taipei. Using high definition video taken at night from an aerial perspective, Jawshing stitched together an intestine-like object that snakes across the screen. Stand close to the screen and viewers can actually see the individual people walking through the market.
With a quick turn to the left, viewers are faced with a bright white screen sitting upright on the floor. Go ahead and approach the display and a dog will approach the front of the screen and peer out. Wait, by Julie Andreyev and Simon Overstall explores the companion relationship between man and their canine counterpart. Viewers wait for the dog to react to their presence, and the dog in turn waits for the viewer to give a command. The piece thus challenges how we view our relationships with those who are reliant upon us.
The sense of presence is sometimes a welcoming one, even if it is only acknowledged subconsciously. RolyPoly by Design Incubation Centre is a hands-on, interactive experience that uses two large egg-shaped objects that are connected to one another by a digital network. If you place a hand on one egg and move it in any direction, the second egg will mimic that movement. The subtle movement of the egg offers a sense of home by allowing two people to connect in a physical way even when they are not in the same space.
And then there is the cool breeze that blows through the Gallery, the one created by Tele-present wind. In his piece, artist David Bowen reproduces the essence of home in a real-time experience by bringing nature indoors through the use of a digital network. Using real-time data collected from his home in Duluth, Minnesota, he creates a patch of dried plant stalks that blow in the wind in the middle of the Gallery. The imperfections in both the data and their delivery (to the mechanism that drives the movement) add to the authenticity of the fabricated natural phenomenon.
Third Skin by Andrea Zapp takes an impersonal collection of aerial and surveillance photography (that minimizes the individual) and stitches together a strong fashion statement. Through a series of hand-made dresses, the artist takes social ownership of otherwise detached data, making it both personal and wearable.
Finally, in the middle of the Art Gallery stands Open House by Patrick LeMieux and Jack Stenner. This hard-to-miss piece has a level of interactivity that puts the viewer in direct control of an actual home. This installation includes a large metal doorframe and two live projections; one of the interior and the other of the exterior of a house in Gainesville, Florida. When the viewer walks through the doorway, a digital signal is sent to a small motor that controls and then opens the front door of the house. Depending on the day and time, the viewer may even see someone run through the open door on to a slip-n-slide laid out in the front lawn. The home finds itself in limbo, a victim of the housing collapse. Viewers of the piece are in essence invited and encouraged to virtually squat inside.
This year’s Art Gallery provides attendees with insight into sixteen unique interpretations of “home” and what it means in today’s digitally networked age. Utilizing many different forms of media, the artwork embraces a wide array of engaging and often interactive ideas that will inspire attendees, as they leave the gallery, to ask the question “what does ‘home’ mean to me?”
Interview with SIGGRAPH 2011 International Resources Committee Co-Chair: Sandro Alberti and Exhibits Manager: Mike Weil
By ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter Reporter Ben Henderson
In the first part of our interview, Sandro Alberti, the International Resources Committee Co-Chair and Mike Weil, the Exhibits Manager provided an insightful look into this year’s international involvement. Below they talk about some of the difficulties international participants experience and what help SIGGRAPH can provide those traveling from abroad.
What unique challenges does an international exhibitor face?
Mike: International traveling and shipping are probably the two biggest challenges an exhibitor faces. Challenges related to documentation and visas that are required from those entering outside the host country have gotten stricter in recent years. The United States is stricter than Canada in terms of visas, which in some respects has helped us in our efforts to attract more organizations to exhibit at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver.
Sandro: Language: Not everyone speaks English perfectly, but the conference content is in English. Overall, English is quite a ‘lingua franca’, but there are, of course, cases, where there is a bit of a language barrier. To alleviate this, the International Resources Committee assists international attendees in matters of registration, submissions, and some content translation. Various registration questions are routed to us, and filtered to a specific committee member that can best provide an answer applicable to the world region in question. Regarding submissions, we offer a service to review and improve the level of English in the descriptions. And finally, we try to provide translated overviews of the conference, as well as translations of particular submissions (typically Art Gallery and Emerging Technologies).
Travel: Something that American travelers don’t usually think about (even in the case of Vancouver), is how easy they have it. Even if they need to renew their passport, they can just do it at the post office. In countries like Mexico, on the other hand, the mere act of replacing a passport entails making an appointment 2-3 months in advance, followed by the entirely separate process of obtaining a travel visa (which, in the case of Canada, has turned out to be very difficult, especially for students who don’t have a substantial income or full-time job or other reason to convince the Canadian government that they will not simply stay in Canada after the conference). This is why Registration assistance is a main service that we provide. However, we don’t have influence with the government, and can simply help with recommendations on process and required documents.
What, if anything, does SIGGRAPH do to encourage international participation? Are any special services provided?
Mike: We have appointed an international shipping organization to work with the exhibitors and help them through the shipping process. This firm has been working with exhibitors and has been helping them every step of the way to ensure a smooth shipping process from whatever country the exhibitor resides.
Sandro: At the conference, we have the International Center, with a presentation area and a lounge where people can meet, finish personal work, or even take a short break. As opposed to other international submissions at the conference, the presentations at the International Center have a highly regional (and at times cultural) focus. This is where you find out about what is happening in Computer Graphics in different countries of the world. Because the presentation area is relatively small, some of this ‘international’ content spills over to Birds of a Feather, when the gathering reaches several 100 people. This causes a little bit of confusion as to where one goes to see international events and meet international attendees, but it still works out ok, considering space and budget restrictions.
Every year, we also offer multilingual podcasts of the content shown in the Art Gallery and Emerging Technologies. These are audio descriptions of the various works in some 6 to 10 different languages (depending on availability of translators in any given year). These are available during and after the conference, and so can be used as guides or archival reference.
We also take care of the English Review Service, which offers submitters an opportunity to refine their English descriptions before they are reviewed or appear in printed catalogs and other media.
Outside of the conference, we work year-round to strengthen relations between the conference, ACM SIGGRAPH, and our international members and other organizations.
What changes would you like to see in the future to encourage more international exhibitors?
Mike: I would like to work more closely with the International Resources Co-Chairs on the SIGGRAPH Executive Committee to see if we can offer additional resources or tools to organizations that choose to exhibit at SIGGRAPH from countries outside the United States. We have discussed surveying the international exhibitors after SIGGRAPH 2011 to see what other ideas they may have that we could help provide for to make the entire experience even better in future years.
Sandro: I am interested in making the International Resources Committee into a more prominent and pertinent entity. Only in the past few years have we defined specific world regions amongst which to distribute all our committee members, and I am now looking into assigning 2 people to each of these regions. This will entail some recruiting but should prove beneficial in the future, since with enough support we’ll be able to implement new services and content. We need to grow comfortably into our multi-focus role, that includes: Connection, Translation, Innovation, and Presentation.
I would also like to expand our role as pathfinders at the conference. We are working on focused maps and hopefully also technology that will make it a fun and learning experience for international attendees to discover the conference (and each other).
Interview with SIGGRAPH 2011 International Resources Committee Co-Chair: Sandro Alberti and Exhibits Manager: Mike Weil
By ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter Reporter Ben Henderson
From a few hundred people in 1974 to tens of thousands attendees today, SIGGRAPH has become the premiere venue to showcase and experience the art and science of computer graphics. From the beginning, SIGGRAPH has been an opportunity to meet, mingle and collaborate with industry professionals and as SIGGRAPH has expanded, that collaboration has grown to include companies and individuals from around the world.
2011 marks the 38th year of the SIGGRAPH International Conference. This year SIGGRAPH ‘International’ takes on new meaning, as the conference ventures outside the U.S. for the first time. We recently spoke with Sandro Alberti, the International Resources Committee Co-Chair and Mike Weil, the Exhibits Manager to find out more about international participation.
Why do you think international participation is important?
Sandro: Although located in America, SIGGRAPH is an international conference (and has expanded international interest, now that we’ve had SIGGRAPH Asia for several years). In the end, I see the academic and professional endeavor of computer graphics as a global, international venture. Our presenters and attendees come from different parts of the world, and it’s common to cross international boundaries these days, whether as a foreign exchange student, a relocated professional, or making international friends on Facebook.
Mike: When an attendee steps into the Exhibition they have an opportunity to interact with the leading organizations from across the world, not just from the United States, Canada, or North America. The SIGGRAPH Exhibition is proud to host the leading organizations and hot-new upstarts from all around the world. Interacting with so many diverse international organizations in our industry can only be done at SIGGRAPH 2011. Interacting with such important organizations will lead to a better attendee experience and that is something we are proud to deliver to the SIGGRAPH 2011 attendee.
What does an international presence bring to the conference that’s unique?
Sandro: Beyond the fact that, these days, things ‘just happen’ to occur in an international context, there are cultural and region-focused aspects that are important to highlight. It is interesting to discover new cultures and ways of thinking and ways of doing things. Sometimes, cultural values can act as compelling content for interactive games, digital art, and video production, among others. Also, particular countries offer specific benefits to producers of digital media. Finally, a cultural connection with someone else could kick off fruitful collaborations in the future.
Mike Weil recently provided statistics, published by the SIGGRAPH Media Blog, regarding the growth in international exhibitors at this year’s conference. Have you seen a similar trend in other areas of the conference; submissions, presenters, or registered attendees?
Sandro: We don’t have very specific numbers regarding growth in various areas, because we have only started to do so in recent years. But the International Resources Committee has recently begun to track these numbers.
(Below is a breakdown of international participation by country, based on information provided by Mr. Alberti.)
Note: Some of these numbers were taken earlier in the year and may have shifted slightly. Also, these are based on submitter contact information, which in some cases might not be fully ‘international’ (could be an international franchise of an American company, or a part-time address of someone who actually lives/works in the USA, etc).
Has there been a specific push by SIGGRAPH for more international exhibitors at this year’s conference?
Mike: Yes, we have been reaching out to a greater extent to Asia and Europe. And since SIGGRAPH will be in Vancouver this year, we have reached out to a larger number of prospects in Canada as well.
Are there any countries or regions of the world where there has been a clear increase in the number of participants?
Sandro: In the areas where we notice an increase, that increase is generally gradual. Good examples are the Middle East and Latin America. The case of Latin America is interesting. People there are eager to participate in computer graphics and interactive techniques, and it is a region full of design studios as well as a couple ACM SIGGRAPH Chapters. For years, we have had good attendance at our ‘Latinos in CG’ meeting at the International Center. But it wasn’t until 2009, New Orleans, that we began to see countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica setting up booths at the Exhibition Hall. Now, this has become a recurring trend. We also see increasing interest and funding from the part of Latin American chambers of commerce. However, we don’t see many content submissions from countries in Latin America. Hopefully, this will begin to happen in the next few years.
Are there specific areas of the industry (e.g. animation, gaming, research & development, etc.) where you see more international involvement than others?
Sandro: Percentage-wise, we see a large amount of international submissions in the various areas:
Emerging Technologies- Half of the content here is from Japan, 3 submissions from France (one of the conference’s Emerging Technologies is typically a winner of France’s Laval Virtual).
Technical Papers- Of about 100 Papers, only some 50 are from the USA, while 11 are from China, 9 from Switzerland, 7 from France, and the rest from England, Japan, Korea, and other countries.
Art Gallery- While about half of the content here is from the USA, the other half is from other countries.
In the second part of the interview, Mike and Sandro address the unique challenges international participants face and the resources SIGGRAPH International provides to encourage worldwide involvement.
UCF School of Visual Arts and Design
Center for Emerging Media
April 21, 2011 (6:00-9:00 pm)
On April 21, The UCF School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD) will hold its annual Premiere and Exposition from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at the Center for Emerging Media, 500 West Livingston St., Orlando.
Selected undergraduate and graduate students in Art, Digital Media and Architecture will exhibit their creative media projects in “science fair” style. The projects span a wide range of areas, from creative interactive art to novel mobile media to new applications of videogame technology. In fact we don’t know everything that will be shown, because it’s being invented right now.
Three animated films produced by UCF students will be premiered. UCF faculty, alumni and industrial affiliates will also be on-hand to discuss their media related creative work and research. The event provides an opportunity to meet potential future employees, see and experience leading-edge experimental media, and catch up with old friends.
6:00 PM – Exhibition opens. Refreshments are served
6:30 PM – First showing of Premieres of three animated films
7:30 PM – Second showing of Premieres
8:00 PM – Awards presented for best exhibits in several categories
9:00 PM – Exhibition closes.
SVAD combines the former Art and Digital Media Departments with the new joint UCF/VSC/UF program in Architecture. Over 1500 students pursue BA, BFA, Bachelor of Design, MA and MFA and degrees in Art, Digital Media and Architecture.
Please visit www.ucf.edu for more information.
The event is co-sponsored by the Digital Media Alliance of Florida (DMAFlorida) and Orlando ACM SIGGRAPH, the Professional Chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH (Special Interest in Computer Graphics) of the Association of Computing Machinery.