Back at SIGGRAPH…

July 31, 2005 | My Diary | By: Mark VandeWettering

Sorry to both all of my loyal readers, but I’ve been off with the family enjoying a brief vacation stint at Disneyland. We took the opportunity to see the 50th anniversary celebrations there prior to this week’s SIGGRAPH conference. Both the wife and son are now back in the Bay Area, while I go off and enjoy the week’s conference.

I got in around noon today, and got checked into my hotel room and then trudged down Figueroa to the Convention Center to pick up my registration. Courtesy of their new barcoded acceptance letters, I merely had to wave a letter under a laser scanner, click OK and within 30 seconds, my badge was printed. My Badge Not bad, and beats the long lines of years past. I also picked up a Boston 2006 pin to clip onto my badge. Boston will be cool. SIGGRAPH was last in Boston in 1989, which was also my first SIGGRAPH conference. I think I’ll go. :-)

It’s actually been about five years since I last went to SIGGRAPH. A combination of the dotcom bust, and various internal jugglings and departures made it seem un-fun to go for a number of years, so I just stopped going. It’s kind of nice to be back, although it doesn’t really seem to have changed much, except for the possibility that people are getting younger (or, more likely, I’m getting older in a field dominated by the young and enthusiastic).

I made a brief jaunt through the art show galleries. The coolest thing I saw was Sustainable: an installation art piece which consisted of a number of tanks of water, each with a gong suspended inside and a pair of hammers controlled by solenoids which bonked them in a periodic fashion. Each tank also contained a series of water level sensors, and they each can pump water from their own tank to the one on the right. Internally, they maintain some notion of how much water they “need”, and will vent or not depending on some calculation they internally perform. As the water level rises and falls, the pitch and falloff of each gong is modified. The ensemble of them creates an interesting, continuously varying cadence which I found pleasing. I would have snapped my own pictures of it, but I was immediately accosted by the resident security droid who informed me that photography wasn’t permitted, despite the presence of the artist himself, who assured me that he didn’t mind.

Anyway, check it out, it was pretty cool.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. I should be there for the first paper session, and have animation theater tickets for tomorrow night, so it should be a long day. Tonight, I trudged over toward the Wilshire Grand, and had a sweet sausage pizza at the California Pizza Kitchen. You can spot the SIGGRAPH attendees: they all look the same to me. More on that some other time.

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