Birds of a Feather:
by Wendy Ju
July 24, 2002
In contrast to the ballroom of hundreds upstairs in the Papers
sessions, there are only nine people in room 217A where the topic
of the day is interactive tools for spatial 3D art. The sounds of
the presenters voices hardly make it to the door on the other side
of the room. Drawing closer, I can see that the group is sharing
Oreo cookies and milk as they speak.
This Birds of a Feather session on InSpace is a gathering of people
who, in the words of organizer Steven Schkolne, "make new media
for creating new visual constructions." It's a pithy topic,
very much tied to the heart of SIGGRAPH's joint interests in technical
inventions and artistic expression. Steven Schkolne, a doctorate
student from Caltech, discusses his work on Surface
Drawing, a set of tools that track the artists hands in space
to create three-dimensional ribbons of color in the virtual environment.
Brown University's Dan Keefe recounts his experiences with his own
and shows views of his three-dimensional creations off his laptop.
Takeo Igarashi from University of Tokyo demonstrates his explorations
of interactive techniques for three-dimensional graphics by drawing
clothes for a 3D teddy bear. And Sheriann
Ki Sun Burnham closed the session with her presentation of her
work that transitions between various images by replacing colors
of specific value ranges.
this intimate setting, group members comment thoughtfully on each
other's work and discuss new directions worth exploring. The tone
is distinctly unlike the brisk proficiency exuded by the Papers
presenters or the determined self-promotion of the working artists
in the Art Gallery. "This is an important piece for me,"
contemplates Keefe as he shows dicusses the process he used in creating
a richly textured sketch model of a woman playing guitar in a chair.
"I learned a whole lot making it." Supportive murmurs
In some ways, it seems like the group members have troubles distinguishing
their interests from those of the larger SIGGRAPH community. "We
wanted to bring people together who are creating free-form geometries,"
said Keefe. "Creating mediums," corrects Schkolne, "because
a lot of people here are creating geometries." However, the
key differences seem to lie in the difference between invention
and design. Igarashi's teddy-bear dressing system, for example,
does not perform any feats that could not be accomplished with other
modeling tools, but is astonishing in its intuitive elegance of
interface, in the apparent ease with which Igarashi can transfer
two dimensional designs onto the three-dimensional surface. It was
hard not to compare the system to the complex demonstrations of
cloth modeling demonstrated by the folks who created graphics for
"The Clone Wars" earlier in the conference. The clothes
on Yoda look somewhat better, but is probably several orders of
magnitude more complex than the applet that dresses the teddy bears.
The shared interest in the fuzzier aspects of tool design--form
and fit, rather than mere functionality--is palpable throughout
the comments and discussions. "The Papers don't really address
whether something is easy or intuitive, just whether it's possible,"
opines artist Jen Gray. "There's not enough people looking
at that connection between the human body and image-making in a
direct and immediate process."