Kings of their Craft
As I write this editorial, the world continues to mourn the loss of one of the world’s biggest pop-culture icons, Michael Jackson. Much can be said about him—and it was, in just about every media outlet possible. Controversy aside, Jackson was an entertainer and an ambassador of his craft. Throughout the years, Jackson had been lauded for his musical genius and groundbreaking endeavors. On the surface, some of his contributions belie their complexity. A single glove. Four sliding steps backward. A music video. But in context, they were unforgettable moments that transcended history. A style. The Moonwalk. The Thriller video that defined the MTV generation.
Jackson received adulation during his lifetime for the seemingly endless list of contributions to his industry, for instance, having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. All too often, though, it takes a tragedy before great contributors to their field receive their just recognition. Rather, we should celebrate such achievements while these folks are in their prime—as their star, and talent, continues to rise. Fortunately, that is something SIGGRAPH does annually during the first day of its conference for special contributors to the CG industry.
This year, the following luminaries received these SIGGRAPH awards in recognition of their efforts in the field of computer graphic technology:
• Michael Kass
Senior scientist at Pixar—The Computer Graphics Achievement Award is given yearly to an individual for outstanding long-lasting achievements in computer graphics and interactive techniques. ACM SIGGRAPH presented this award to Kass for his extensive and significant contributions to computer graphics, ranging from image processing, to animation, to modeling, and, in particular, for his use of optimization for physical simulation and image segmentation.
• Robert L. Cook
VP of advanced technology at Pixar—The Steven A. Coons Award is given in odd-numbered years in honor of a person’s lifetime contribution to the field of CG and interactive techniques. Cook was given this award for his foundational contributions to physically-based reflectance models and distribution raytracing, and his enduring work on behalf of the SIGGRAPH community.
• Wojciech Matusik
Senior research scientist at Adobe—The Significant New Researcher Award is given to a researcher who has made a recent significant contribution to the field of CG and is new to the field. The intent is to recognize people early in their career who have already made a notable contribution and are likely to make more. Matusik is receiving this award for his innovative work in data-driven material representations and systems for data acquisition and display.
• Lynn Hershman Leeson
Professor emeritus at University of California–Davis and chair of the film department at San Francisco Art Institute. Roman Verostko, professor emeritus at Minnesota College of Art and Design—The Distinguished Artist Award recognizes artists who have created a substantial and important body of work that significantly advances aesthetic content in the field of digital art. The first recipients of this award are: Leeson, for her paradigm-changing innovations in applying emergent media to visionary forms of creative expression with insightfully cultural discourse; and Verostko, for his contributions to the aesthetics of algorithmic art, by fusing his knowledge of computer programming with a long engagement with diverse cultural traditions to produce masterful prints.
As the year and the stunning achievements in CGI progress, let’s not forget who laid the initial building blocks for the work, and who built the solid foundation that made these works possible.