eTech & Art & More

My Impressions of SIGGRAPH

by Ben Wyrick

I came to SIGGRAPH expecting to see grungy legions of pasty-faced computer geeks oogling over the latest software trinkets for creating flaming logos. Walking into the convention center on Sunday I discovered my mistake.

The grungy legions did exist, but not nearly in the epic proportions I had envisioned. Most of the people wandering the halls were a lot like me: they had showered recently, were fiercly interested in computer graphics, and ... normal. It was a pleasant surprise.

I saw men and women, people of different races, people from different countries--in short a healthy mix of graphics aficionados, all united under a metaphorical teapot banner.

Shortly after checking in and receiving my press credentials, I attended a course on public policy. The subject matter dealt with intellectual property and things like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the arrest of hacker Dmitry Sklyarov. I noticed a guy about my age (24) wearing a black tee-shirt with the words "Free Sklyarov" on the chest. There was also an anti-DMCA symbol on the sleeve. I thought to myself: "These people really take their computer-related issues seriously." It's nice to know that the people at this conference are really into the world of computer graphics. They love it as much as I do.

After the course I tried to familiarize myself with the mammoth Los Angeles Convention Center. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of cool things to see and do. I stopped to talk with a group of young people who looked friendly. They were all recent graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design and had come to SIGGRAPH mainly to get a job. Instantly there was a bond between us.

Like them, I am a student who will soon be looking for gainful employment in the graphics industry. So I talked to them a while and found that their interests were similar to mine. I wrote down their names and took a picture for this story. They took a picture of me, too.

After rapping with them I came to realize that SIGGRAPH isn't just about papers and exhibits, it is a social gathering where you meet people who are a lot like you. You meet strangers and old friends. Walking the halls I felt like I was in an airport: people would approach from different directions, recognize each other, and exchange hearty handshakes. There is even a message board in the South Lobby for facilitating such get-togethers. Messages are posted there, filed alphabetically, written in different languages.

After things seemed to be winding down at the convention center I went to the 14th Sake Barrel party and wrote a story about that. Afterwards I went back to the Hotel Figueroa where I was staying. I saw a lot of SIGGRAPH-types hanging out at the pool and cruising the bar. This certainly is a friendly and sociable convention.

I saw the Electronic Theater Monday night and it floored me. First of all the venue was fabulous. The Shrine Auditorium was lavish and classy. And the animations were tremendous. I imagine that the creators of the 47 works accepted into the prestigious Electronic Theater felt really proud to see their animations up on the big screen. I think it is great that SIGGRAPH supports these animations because this is stuff you can't see anywhere else.



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This page is maintained by YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh All photos you see in the 2001 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY