eTech & Art & More

The Studio

Clarissa Lingas

    Walking into The Studio, one immediately gets an idea of what one is getting into: an extremely popular SIGGRAPH venue. The long, winding strings of people waiting to get in can attest to that. Often The Studio is filled up by morning, but that doesn't deter attendees from returning to wait in line all over again for a mere chance. The patient and the lucky take their place in this grand arena for a portion of the day, to work to their heart's content on their personal artistic endeavors. Constant, energetic action in the air is maintained by busy left and right-brainers alike who labor for the glory of computer-aided art. And the Studio by every means makes sure these attendees do not work unprepared: The entire place is a highly sophisticated technological center, equipped up the wazoo with the latest and greatest of today's technological tools - the Batcave (if Batman devoted his efforts to computer art instead of crime). The sight of this wondrously equipped interior can lend inspiration to any artist, a true marvel found only in SIGGRAPH.

Of course, The Studio--nor anything similar to this venue--wasn't always available at SIGGRAPH, and that is where the story of The Studio begins. There had been a time when there were no 2D venues to be found in SIGGRAPH. Enter Pat Johnson, who in 1993 founded an impromptu gallery involving 2D applications, naming the gallery the Guerilla Gallery. A year later, Pat invited Jon Cone, the IRIS guru, to bring an IRIS printer (the ultimate of acclaimed printers at that time) to SIGGRAPH and print the works of attendees. By 1995, one could find at the Guerilla Gallery what one can find at The Studio today: SIGGRAPH attendees being gifted with free access to state of the art technology for their personal artistic purposes. The Guerilla Gallery quickly grew in popularity due to the amazing access it offered people, yet it remained an unofficial event at SIGGRAPH for some time and thus had no budget to work from. In 1997 the Gallery's widespread popularity grew to the point of $3 million in donated technological equipment. To make the story short, it took until 1999 for the Guerilla Gallery to be dubbed an official event of SIGGRAPH. The Guerilla Gallery was renamed The Studio and given a small budget, but The Studio relies primarily on donations even to this day.   

The goals of The Studio have always remained the same: to allow everyone, absolutely everyone, access to sophisticated technology and knowledge for their artistic applications. The machinery at The Studio is as highly respected in its field of use as the members of the committee are in their respective professions. This year, The Studio intends to generate more interactivity: "SIGGRAPH is a conference of interactive graphics," says Studio Chair Jon Cone. "In past Studios, most of the attendees have come in and their goals have been output-oriented, without any regards to the people sitting next to them or around them. And that doesn't make a studio. It makes what is called an output or service bureau. So this year the goal was to have people interacting with each other, to have them take mediums they would never think about mixing, and mix them." The end result is something phenomenally more human, and more hands-on activity between art and equipment--something definitely not all screen and keyboard. We see 3D modelers scanning sculptures in instead of manually negotiating perfection with their wireframe's vertices on the computer screen. People are printing, coloring, scanning, exchanging ideas and learning from the environment around them as well as sitting in front of the computer.

The challenges are still there for The Studio, however, the biggest challenge being an ironic spawn from its success. It seems The Studio's popularity is growing faster than the accomodations at hand. There are simply very long lines of people and few resources available--a noteworthy problem, since the key to The Studio's arsenal of high-end technology lies in the donated equipment received. This year The Studio had the good fortune to have Pixar set up its animation department, while SGI, who was to donate computers this year, couldn't for various reasons. Yet the Studio remains one of the most popular venues at SIGGRAPH, and Jon Cone gives a heartfelt concurrence. "I find that there are two types of attendees at SIGGRAPH. There are those who sign up for events like Papers and Panels...and there are the others, usually of the younger generation, who come here to learn. It is because of the latter attendees that I can see interactive learning events like The Studio spreading throughout SIGGRAPH." And despite the seeming shortage of resources for the ever-growing masses, Jon smiles comfortably as he thinks of The Studio's future. "This is a big venue, but I can imagine it getting bigger."





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