SIGGRAPH 2011 Vancouver

computer art, computer graphics history, news, presentations

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A few weeks ago I returned from the SIGGRAPH conference in Vancouver. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun in the company of Dr. Mohler, Professor Hassan and my fellow PhD student and friend Zheng. I had the great opportunity to present my study about Aldo Giorgini in the Art Papers panel and it went very well. I was intimidated by the size of the conference and the amount of people. Before the presentation I received a call from my dad in Colombia, who told me… “Don’t worry about the public, just think that they’re students,” and I think it worked. During this panel I met Francis Marchese, a professor in the department of Computer Science at Pace University. His paper entitled “Conserving digital art for deep time” was very inspiring and eye-opening as well. The practice of preserving digital art is a work in progress and researchers are looking for a feasible methodology to preserve this type of art. Digital art has been often times called “new media”, however, this “newness” is about 50 years old and it’s necessary to stop and think about the past of this discipline.
On the same day of the panel, the Leonardo journal had a reception in the SIGGRAPH art gallery where I had quite an exciting time. All the papers presented in the art papers panel where also featured in the latest issue of Leonardo, which for a PhD student counts as “two birds with one stone.” In the exhibition I had the pleasure to meet with Computer art pioneer Professor Chuck Csuri. My adviser Dr. Miller had previously sent him an introduction letter as a fellow “Buckeye”, asking him to meet me at SIGGRAPH. I saw him there and gave him a recording of a presentation he did at Purdue in 1974 or 1975 where he talked about interactive graphics.

We talked for about 15 minutes and he gave me some very good pointers in relation to the history of Computer Art. Roman Verostko was also with us and I was very excited to hear about the 1970s context. They recommended me to look up the work of researcher Margit Rosen and her historical research entitled “A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art
New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973.” Get your hands on one of these catalogs NOW. This is the most amazing study of digital art I’ve seen so far. It tells a complete different history of computer art and it compiles a large group of artists and avant-gardes. It’s kind of the missing link between optic-kinetic art and computer aesthetics. You ever wondered why the work of Cruz-Diez or Vasarelly resembled the first computer aided designs? It is because this movements were actually connected! and they were called “New Tendencies.” All the ideas of concrete art and the avant gardes in south america shared similar views with the first computer artists, in fact they coexisted around the “new tendencies” exhibitions in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) from 1961-1978.
I have the good luck to have kept in touch with Professor Csuri and I am hoping to ask him more specific questions about his relation with Aldo Giorgini and the role that he played in the computational arts movement.

Vancouver was such a blast. I am still recovering from all the information I received. I had a lot more interesting conversation with other artists and researchers, namely, Michael Bielicky from ZKM, Osman Khan and David Bowen. It was great to meet this amazing guys on a personal level. It felt good to share similar ideas about art and computers with more established artists and professors.
Here I am back in Lafayette now. I traveled so much this summer that I hardly had any time to think… but now that the whole excitement is wearing off and I come back to my normal life as an artist, a course instructor and a researcher, I can’t help but feeling the despair of not knowing what to do next.

One Response to this post
  1. Posted on March 17, 2013 by Frieder Nake

    Realöly interesting to see these remarks, reports, hints. The reason this happens to me on a Sunday morning is professional. You seem to be in touch with the past, particularly, of coure, because of Margit Rosen’s great book. At the same time, it is interesting for me to read how far away intelligent students may be from art history. Particularllarly the US is almost completely unaware of the New Tendencies and later Tendencies m,ovement. You may be one who can change this.

    Personally, I am glad to read that these revelations (Csuri, Verostko, Rosen) happened to you in Vancouver where I was teaching in 1970-72.

    Computer art, btw, started in the 1960s, not 1970s.


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