Inside Siggraph 2004


Heather Elliott-Famularo
SIGGRAPH 2004’s Emerging Technologies Chairperson
Interview questions by Dee-Marie, Editor in Chief of the Renderosity Interactive Magazine.

Q. How does this year’s SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies program differ from past years?

Heather: A unique aspect of this year’s exhibition is the inclusion of both fine art pieces and technological prototypes. As an artist myself, I felt it was important to show both the science and the aesthetics of using technology. My hope is that the inclusion of fine art within the venue will provide a richer experience for SIGGRAPH attendees, offering a broader range of content in order to provoke thought. For example, we will be showing an extremely contemplative piece, Imagination Environment by David Shamma and Kristian Hammond. This piece uses the closed captioning in a standard TV signal, plugs the text into a web search engine, searches for imagery of this text, and displays real-time these connections on the eight monitors surrounding the original video, simultaneously offering a commentary on popular culture and the world wide web. Another thoughtful piece is Inter-Culture Computing: ZENetic Computer. This art piece offers a method of feeling and understanding Zen and Japanese culture by creating and exploring a virtual world, while in the setting of a Zen rock garden.

One dominant theme in this year’s exhibition is Displays technology. There is a lot of research in both interactive and high-range displays. We have two approaches to Real-time 3D live video displays, 3DTV, and LIFLET: Light Field with Thousands of Liflets. High-resolution displays are also big. The High Dynamic Range Display is a cost competitive flat panel display with 300 times higher contrast, 10-30 times lower ‘darkness’ and 38% better coverage of the NTSC color gamut. IRIDORI is a six-primary-color projection display system that produces 1.6 times larger color gamut than conventional projection system. The potential future impact on the industry of these technologies is unlimited.

Q. Emerging Technologies covers a wide range of topics can you refine the definition of Emerging Technologies?

Heather: One definition of emerging is “newly formed or just coming into prominence”. In the context of SIGGRAPH, the Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, we try to include research particularly in these fields – computer graphics and interactivity - within the Emerging Technologies venue. However, our objective is to include the BEST research, so we intentionally keep the definition very open! In the past we have had work that touches on nearly every type of technology. In 2002 John Fujii did a “SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies History Mapping Project” that tracked the then 11-year history of Emerging Technologies, so you can get a bit of a sense of its history and more detailed information here:

Q. How did the SIGGRAPH committee choose Enhancing Life for this year’s theme?

Heather: Each year the individual Emerging Technologies Chair chooses the theme and direction of their year’s show. This is one of the really exciting aspects of this position and also why the show varies so much each year. I have always been excited by the idea of how science and art can enhance life, and how technology has become so invisibly entangled in our everyday lives. As a result, I wrote a Call For Participation that specifically addressed this concept.
( )

Q. How many applicants did you receive for this year’s Emerging Technologies program, and how did you narrow the field to the current exhibitors?

Heather: This year there were 134 applications, of which only 115 were complete and judged. In 2003 there were 88 entries, and years before somewhere around 60 completed submissions, so the competition gets stiffer each year. From the group of 115, we selected the 29 best projects (the top 25%). Emerging Technologies has a very rigorous jury process. This year, because I included both art and tech pieces, I selected a jury with artists, scientists, and people that I felt merged the two. I looked for people with vast knowledge of expertise, more renaissance people, in lieu of experts in one particular area.
(List of jurors: )

Q. As in past years, will each contributor also be giving a verbal presentation with a questions and answer session? Besides the Emerging Technologies contributor’s presentations, will SIGGRAPH participants be able to interact with the exhibits?

Heather: Last year’s chair, Joshua Strickon, began the Emerging Technologies presentations. I felt this was an excellent way for SIGGRAPH attendees to get a behind-the-scenes look at how these projects developed, so I continued this tradition. This year we have eight different presentation sessions, thematically grouped with three to four projects per group. Emerging Technologies is THE hands-on venue of the conference, so from Sunday through Thursday, all SIGGRAPH attendees will be able to come to Emerging Technologies and actually try out the exhibits. They will usually also be able to interact with and ask questions of the contributors because they are required to staff their booth during the open hours.

Q. How did you become this year’s Chairperson for the Emerging Technologies program?

Heather: The SIGGRAPH Conference Chair has the job of selecting the Program Chairs for each individual venue. At the annual conference, there is a “Get Involved”, where people interested in volunteering for next two years’ conferences can meet the Chairs. There is an online application process, then interviews. People come forward, express an interest, and fill out an application. If the chair is interested, they contact the person and interview them. The chair’s choices must be approved by the Conference Advisory Group before anything is final. This year, the “Get Involved” is on Wednesday, 11 August at 5:30pm.

Q. As an artist, you have a wonderfully innovative eclectic style to your works. What art medias do you prefer, and what software programs do you use to enhance your images?

Heather: First and foremost, I consider myself a conceptual digital artist. So, I use technology and choose media based on what I consider will be the best solution for the particular piece I’m working on. Usually I create some kind of interactive installation. I often create videos as part of the installation, using Media 100 and AfterEffects. Interactivity is always important, so Director and use of an EZIO board allows me to use sensors and make the piece more “immersive.” Sometimes I create a series of digital images using Photoshop, or create an audio piece that will be part of the installation as well. But I never let the media dictate the project. The concept of the work determines what media I will use.

Q. Technology has been predominantly a male dominated field. Through your artwork — from your MFA exhibit, Peep Show, to your recent artistic contribution to Chicago’s Betty Rymer Gallery, Social Seduction — have proven that woman are accepted in the world of art. How do you feel that female artists have been accepted into the world of Technology?

Heather: I think technology offers a really exciting way to make statements about gender issues and femininity in particular because the female image has always been a huge icon in film, TV, and advertising. So often times, my artwork reflects the way women have been portrayed throughout contemporary history, and what the expectations of women are, and have been, in society.

Digital Arts is a relatively new medium, with a 40-year or so history, and as such, just as in the case of video art, women embraced it in its infancy, so it is void in a lot of ways of the patriarchal baggage of older, more traditional media with much longer histories. As a result, I think women have had a lot of opportunities to succeed in the realm of technology. I have found this industry, and SIGGRAPH in particular to be very open-minded in regards to women researchers. One of the amazing aspects of this conference is this fantastic respect between and mixture of scientists, researchers, engineers, artists, and educators in industry, education, research, and fine art. There is generally a mutual respect among SIGGRAPH attendees that is one of the most unique and unifying elements of the conference.

Q. Do you see Emerging Technologies going into a specific direction within the next five years?

Heather: Computers are getting smaller and faster each year. This of course, impacts the ability to make things portable and more integrated into other technologies. In regards to interactive technologies, I believe strongly that virtual 3D environments will become really important in people’s lives in the near future. The developments in Augmented (or mixed) Reality in particular have been astonishing in the past few years. This combination of the real and virtual worlds, especially when it happens real-time, has an unrivaled potential for effecting people in their daily lives. Also, new developments in displays technology that provide more intuitive ways for people to interact with computers will also have a huge effect. We have been moving further and further away from the desktop personal computer with keyboard and mouse, heading toward more exciting human-computer interfaces which provide much more natural modes of interaction.

Q. What advice would you give potential contributors who wished to exhibit next year in the SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technology conference?

Heather: Get really good documentation of your project. Video is the best way to document your work, but use a tripod and watch your exposure and white balance! Try to really show the essential concept of your work and demonstrate people interacting with your project. Make an effort to really answer the questions being asked. The submission form breaks down all of the specifics – technical innovations, goals, future – so that the jury can easily compare the submissions. This helps you to present your project in the best light possible.


Emerging Technologies

Conference: 8 - 12 August 2004
Exhibition: 10 - 12 August 2004

The Facts
  • SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies includes 30 installations selected by a jury of industry experts from a record 114 submissions.
  • SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies features a wide variety of interactive installations that enhance, or could potentially enhance, our daily life. There will be a series of panel discussions on the technologies, implications, and challenges associated with each Emerging Technologies project during the conference.
  • Ranging from cutting-edge technology with a major emphasis on display technology to thought-provoking immersive art installations, the works represent a broad cross-section of research in virtual and augmented reality, mobile communication, real-time graphics, sensors, haptics, wearables, and fine art.
  • Installations are from research labs, universities, independent artists, and industry from around the world.

    A Quote from the SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies Chair

    "In our daily routine we are surrounded by technology that enhances our life in many ways, both physically and psychologically," said Heather Elliott-Famularo, SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies Chair from Bowling Green State University. "The SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies exhibition showcases both scientific advances and fine art, with a major emphasis this year in display technology. Attendess will experience virtual and augmented reality, imaging and video technology, interactive displays, robotics, mobile communication, real-time graphics, sensors, haptics, wearables, and interactive fine art installations that may enhance our lives in the near and distant future."

    Highlights from the SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies Program

    -Hiroaki Yano and Hiroyuki Fukushima, University of Tsukuba, and Haruo Noma, ATR Media Information Research Labs
    CirculaFloor is a locomotion interface created by a group of movable floors that employ a holonomic mechanism to achieve omni-directional motion. Circulation of the floors enables the user to maintain their position while walking in a virtual environment, allowing them to walk in any direction in the virtual world.

    -Brian Knep
    Healing is an interactive artwork containing a floor projection with a pattern that changes in response to users. When people interact, they create wounds in the design. When left alone, the pattern grows to cover these wounds, but is never the same as before it was wounded. As in nature, contact causes change, and therefore has a destructive quality, but change also forces growth, making it simulataneously regenerative.

    Non-Photorealistic Camera
    -Ramesh Raskar, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL)
    Nonphotorealistic Camera is a multi-flash camera that automatically generates stylized images and videos. It enhances the imagery to make it easy to understand the relative depth, or 3D structure, of the objects in the scene. The approach is inspired by techniques used by digital artists to make images more comprehensible by accentuating important features and reducing visual clutter. The system works well in low-contrast conditions such as imaging mechanical parts, plants, or human surgery, and can also be used to stylize imaging in art and entertainment.

    -Jussi Angesleva, Media Lab Europe
    Last is an analog clock that uses a live video feed to paint its face over time. Instead of displaying only the current moment, Last shows a time buffer of one minute, one hour and 12 hours in the trails of its hands, therefore providing an overview of the dynamics of a space. This rhythm, in turn, offers a means of reflection upon events, or can open a channel between two remote places through cross-streaming. This artwork enables people to feel each other's presence without having to use direct videoconferencing.

    Lumisight Table: Interactive View-Dependent Display-Table Surrounded by Mutiple Users
    -Yasuaki Kakehi, The University of Tokyo
    Lumisight Table can simultaneously display different information to four viewers at one table on a shared screen, and capture their gestures, enabling face-to-face communication. In collaboration, nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and the handling of physical objects, are essential, but often lost in computer presentations. Lumisight Table maintains this nonverbal communication and collaboration, potentially enhancing the efficiency of cooperative work in daily life.

    The Invisible Train
    -Thomas Pintaric, Daniel Wagner, and Dieter Schmalstieg, Vienna University of Technology
    The Invisible Train is a collaborative, multiplayer game that extends Augmented Reality to mobile devices. The game environment consists of a miniature wooden railroad track outfitted with fiducial markers for visual post-tracking. Unlike common toy trains however, the actual wagons have been replaced with virtual ones that are visible to users only through their PDA display. Players control the game by changing speed and operating track switches, altering the paths of their virtual trains. In a multiplayer game, each player is assigned her own train and tries to prevent them from colliding. The game state is shared between clients and synchronized by wireless networking. The game ends after a certain time has elapsed or when players collide.

    Tickle Salon
    -Erwin Driessens and Maria Verstappen
    Tickle Salon is a haptic system that provides a sensual, soothing experience where users lay back and relax, while a robot gently tickles and strokes their skin. Tickle Salon merges meta creativity, biology, artificial intelligence, and pleasure to create a machine that generates delicate bodily sensations that are normally considered out of the question in the context of robotics.

    SIGGRAPH 2004 Emerging Technologies opens Sunday 8 August at 1:00 pm and closes Thursday 12 August at 5:00 pm.

    Complete Emerging Technologies information