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Gordon Cameron

November 97 Columns
Entertaining the Future

Gordon Cameron
Next aticle by Gordon Cameron

I am delighted to present the November 97 issue of Computer Graphics, focusing on fine art. The past years have seen startling progress in the realm of "computer art" in its many forms, e.g. installation, virtual reality (VR), animation, collage, manipulation, painting, etc. Regardless, it is still most definitely a young field with its fair share of vocal opposition. Perhaps one possible reason for this negative feeling is that it has taken some time for the tools to develop and be taken on board by artists as well as the early-adopter technicians (certainly not mutually exclusive groupings!), and for those creative individuals to feel comfortable working both with the tools and on what is essentially a new canvas.

One cliche about early computer art has it characterized by images of checkerboards and reflective spheres (see J. Otto Seibold's article in Computer Graphics 31(1) February 1997). I think that we have moved well beyond and are now witnessing the beginnings of an acceptance that computers can (and will) be used to create unique works of art - the computer as tool rather than (necessarily) "master," expanding rather than limiting the artist's vision. Perhaps also, in the not-too-distant future, we will see the line between scientist and artist soften, and computer graphics may be one of the harbingers of this change back to what has been, at many times in the past, a natural state of affairs.

The SIGGRAPH 97 Art Show, Ongoings, reflects the evolution of the medium, with its small select group of artists presenting a body of their work. You can view images of the pieces from the show in the art slide set, as well as the technical and education sets, in this issue of Computer Graphics.

The thought-provoking collection of FOCUS articles in this issue has been expertly gathered and guest edited by Claduia Cumbie-Jones. I thank both her and the writers for presenting their views on the fast-changing world of computer graphics within the fine arts.

It is my great pleasure to welcome a few new regular columnists into the fray. First off, Scott Fisher and Glen Fraser head up a column covering real-time graphics. Scott brings with him a wealth of experience from a diverse range of fields, including VR and telepresence. Glen has been instrumental in working on some of the better known VR installations, and did an excellent job in guest editing the November 1996 issue of Computer Graphics which focused on "real" virtual reality.

Teresa Lang, an independent animator, brings to bear her considerable artistic and comic talents with a regular comic in Computer Graphics beginning this issue. (You can see some other examples of her work in the Motion Capture Forum at

Last but not least, Judy Brown and Bob Ellis are teaming up to present a spot on a topic of increasing importance within the computer graphics community - public policy. Many of you, I'm sure, are well aware of the extensive work that both these columnists have done for SIGGRAPH.

In addition, Cover Editor Karen Sullivan has agreed to extend her About the Covers spot to include more detail on the people and stories involved in the creation of the imagery. We are actively on the lookout for potential cover material to use each issue, so if you have something that you think would be relevant, please get in touch with Karen or myself.

Gordon Cameron
Software Development
3510 boul. St-Laurent
Suite 400
Montreal, Quebec
H2X 2V2

Tel: +1-514-845-1636 ext.3445
Fax: +1-514-845-5676

The copyright of articles and images printed remains with the author unless otherwise indicated.

The introduction of colour within this issue is another step in the effort to strengthen content and presentation, and this effort to better serve will continue with forthcoming issues of Computer Graphics. I hope you like the changes we are making. As always, if you have questions, suggestions or complaints, please feel free to fire them my way. I'll do my best to address them in my flame-retardant-letter-reading-wear!

As well as working on improving the paper-based magazine, the editorial team is preparing to spread its wings and take things on-line with a Web presence. We are currently deciding on the exact form this presence will take, as well as canvassing for people who may be interested in helping out. If you'd like to be involved, I'd be delighted to hear from you - whether you are a programmer, writer, designer or fine artist.

SIGGRAPH 98 will mark the 25th anniversary of the conference. To tie in with this event, the February issue of Computer Graphics will feature a forward looking retrospective(!) on the field.

See you then!