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Siggraph 2001
Technology Change Continues
by Jim Bennett (August 15, 2001)

Visions
Personal Insights
Exhibition Hall

Some of the special programs and activities were highlighted by the Conference Chairperson, Lynn Pocock, in a special briefing on Tuesday morning. Some of my personal favorites were:

  • Computer Animation Festival 2001: A Digital Odyssey

  • Emerging Technologies

  • Creative Applications and the Art Gallery: N-Space

    The Festival

    The Film and Video Festival is global in nature and other worldly in outlook. It includes dazzling images, unpredictable script developments, edgy by design sections and the festival traverses a wide expanse of genre. This includes comedy, drama, art, music, sci-fi & scifact, action & adventure and documentary. I don't think that any category had been left out.

    Some of the showings that I enjoyed or noted others talking about included:

  • Electronic Theater Opening Sequence 2001: A Digital Odyssey
  • Antarctica: A Flying Tour Of The Frozen Continent
  • Ericsson "Lines"
  • Evolution of the Universe: Large-scale Structure and Galaxy Formation
  • Hollow Man
  • ILM Research and Development 2001
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Wild Jungle Motion Ride
  • X-Men Morphology

    Emerging Technology

    The Emerging Technologies exhibit allowed attendees some hands-on experience with lab prototypes, student research models and state-of-the-art systems. Some of my favorites included:

    The popular Carnegie Mellon University's Circle Maze achieves technical innovation in a new, fun, collaborative gaming experience by combining novel input devices with a projected tabletop. Players participate in gaming and make music at the same time, through a shared audio-visual experience. It was always busy and was enjoyed by all who participated.

    The Telecommunications Advancement Organization of Japan developed a cylindrical, multi-viewer display that presented 360-degree, 3D images without special glasses. Because the display is based on ray space and super-multi-view technologies, its images have a smooth motion parallax. In the darkened room, I felt as though I was living an episode of "The X-Files", looking at a small alien creature in 3D, with Fox Mulder standing in the shadows.

    IBM demonstrated responsive projection of information onto real world surfaces using ED projectors and a rotating mirror to project information. User interaction is detected by a video camera, so no physical contact with any computer device is required. I feel this could have real life point of sale and information applications. Reality Fusion has a consumer game based on similar technology. (see the article)

    Mobile Augmented Reality Systems from Columbia University combines mixed reality, wearable computing and situated awareness in roaming and infrastructure environments. Four attendees, wearing see-through, head worn displays are tracked by a wide-area, six-degrees of freedom tracker. They interact with a shared virtual information space. I can visualize how this equipment, once ruggedized and miniaturized, could be used in several harsh, challenged scientific and industrialized environments quite effectively.

    Creative Applications

    Creative Applications were located in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center and were used by some presenters to further explain, illustrate and demonstrate their activities and work. While my time was limited in this area, I noticed that printing on large scale fabrics has evolved significantly in quality and scale. Some of the sessions were well attended.

    Art

    Art Gallery: N-Space is the home of digitally based and inspired artwork. Ideas and expression are unconstrained by dimension and go beyond the limits, into an unlimited artistic frontier. While many fine works were exhibited, one that truly stood out above all others, in my opinion and other attendees was Protrude, Flow 2001. It attracted and held attendee interest throughout the entire Siggraph 2001.

    Protrude, Flow 2001 was a remarkable blend of art, digital technology and natural fluid dynamics. Essentially, it is a sound responsive, magnetic fluid display like nothing you have ever seen in an art gallery or anyplace else.

    Artists Sachiko Kodama and Minako Takeno, in cooperation with Tokyo's University of Electro-Communications' Department of Human Communication, have created an interactive installation that succeeds at all levels. It uses magnetic fluid, sound and moving images that are affected by sounds and spectators' voices in the exhibition hall. It creates and controls three dimensional patterns of magnetic fluid, as if it were alive. The fluid transforms itself in various ways, forming organically wild shapes. The movements of the liquid is controlled by a digital computer, which is projected onto a wide screen.

    These transformations can appear as pointed mountains, pliable organic shapes and sometimes as flowing particle streams. The magnetic fluid pulsates according to the surrounding sound and the points within the shapes also move in correspondence to the sound inputs. This is a captivating and innovative artist expression, skillfully coupled to digital technology. Well Done!

    Exhibition Hall

    Visions

    Copyright 2001 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.

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