What is Siggraph Asia? 

SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 is an international conference sponsored by ACM SIGGRAPH (The Association for Computing Machinery).  ACM is an educational and scientific society uniting the world’s computing educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges.  ACM strengthens the profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence.

What Does That Have To Do With Us?

In November, 2013, Professors Susan Lakin (SPAS) and David Halbstein (3DDD/SOD) and I-Cheng (Audrey) Lee, a grad student in 3DDD, traveled to Hong Kong to demonstrate “The Mag Project” at SIGGRAPH Asia, as part of the “Symposium on Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications”.

The project was extremely well received; we were approached by executives from companies like nVidia and Samsung, and educators and students from around the world who expressed interest in our project because it was so unique and different from the others in the room.

The “tech-heads” in the room were not overly impressed – their experience of the project was limited to trying to break it … “How fast can I move the device before the tracking fails? What is the steepest angle I can view this at? Can I do two or three images at once?”

Admittedly, the technology behind the project is not very sophisticated – 2D image recognition and motion tracking of a rectangle is pretty easy to do. However, the idea of reaching back in time and commenting on existing art, of imagining what the artist saw, of connecting with the aesthetic, political, historical, and narrative objectives of the artists and discussing it in new ways was something new to so many people at this conference. It was as though they were so absorbed in technology that they forgot to notice the content – until they saw our images on the walls.

Students and educators at the demonstration immediately understood our objectives – that we were not talking about cool technology, we were using it to explore 2D and 3D space, to explore color, composition and narrative – and to get ourselves OUT of the lab and INTO the museum and INTO our community, and give people a new and different way to interact with art. We engaged in conversations about our approach to the paintings, our discussions about copyright and fair use, our explorations of the history, the present and the future of art all within the context of current and future technology.

It was very gratifying to know that in our small way we affected the way people think about art and technology, and about art education and experience, and caused them to generate their own ideas about how to see and experience art in new and different ways.

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