A Message from ACM SIGGRAPH Chair, Adam Bargteil

I was shocked to realize that halfway into my time as chair of ACM SIGGRAPH, I have not yet written to you. I am now committed to a monthly message about what is going on.

It would be easy to dwell on the negative things that have happened over the last year, but instead, I will focus on some of the upsides to the pandemic.

Ironically, as many of us are stuck at home, we are connecting more than ever before. Since no one has to (or can) travel to give a talk or share a beer many of the geographical and financial barriers to connecting have been broken down. I’ve had students from Pittsburgh to Australia present in my lab meeting. Just as peculiar, as we are prevented from shaking hands or meeting in restaurants, we are inviting others into our homes; our cameras show our bookshelves and artwork. Sadly I still have an ugly white wall; working on that.

Perhaps most significant for the SIGGRAPH community, conferences that once cost thousands of dollars to attend are now a tiny fraction of the cost. As a member, you can register for SIGGRAPH for just $265 (only until April 5). Personally, I attended SCA 2020 and chaired a Q&A. While not the same as being in Montreal, the discussion was great, especially the prior discussion on discord, and I did not have to deal with taxis, airports, or immigration.

Despite our lack of newsletters, the SIGGRAPH organization has been very busy. Beyond the obviously difficult work of pivoting our conferences to virtual with little notice and great uncertainty, we have run a number of events on topics from “Queer representation in game development and narratives” to “Leading effectively while working from home.” We have also introduced a new series of “A Conversation With…” where small groups gather to talk informally with some long-standing members of the community. I participated in two conversations and both allowed me to reconnect with colleagues I have not seen in a while and meet some new folks as well. Just last week we celebrated women’s history month with a series of conversations with some of the great women of SIGGRAPH. The series is expected to become monthly—the last weekend of every month.

We also have been organizing big online strategy meetings. Our first was last winter, spread over three days, spread over three weeks; we met for three hours at a time. Since travel was not an issue (sadly timezones still exist) we were able to invite all our standing chairs and a few other folks and had a cast of nearly fifty people. We spent a lot of time in breakouts and identified a few areas for us to work on: providing more support for our members, improving our online/virtual/year-round offerings, and creating more ways for our community to connect based on shared interests rather than geography. We have made progress on all three, we have a new standing committee for membership, chaired by Corinne Price; we formed an ad-hoc committee for virtual events, chaired by Adam Shay; and our chapters committee, chaired by AJ Christensen, is taking the lead on forming virtual communities around common interests. We have our next strategy meetings starting at the end of April.

Executive Committee Strategy Meeting – December 05, 2020

As we muddle through this pandemic and perhaps see a light at the end of the tunnel, ACM SIGGRAPH could use more volunteers. We have open roles throughout the organization, some with small-time commitments and some heavier. We are actively searching for a chair of our Practitioner Career Development Committee and ACM will soon be searching for editors-in-chief for both Transactions on Graphics and Proceedings of the ACM on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.

I’ll have more to say later, but I wish you well.

Adam Bargteil