Portfolio - May 2009 - Siggraph Asia Art Gallery

One of the more interesting displays at the annual SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition is the Art Gallery, whose changing theme each year brings with it new visual experiences. In December 2008, SIGGRAPH Asia kicked off what may become a similar Art Gallery tradition, when the premier conference for the computer graphics industry made its initial debut in Asia.

While the conference is modeled after the US-held SIGGRAPH, the Art Gallery chair for SIGGRAPH Asia devised a unique theme for that region’s show. (SIGGRAPH 2008, held in Los Angeles, chose the theme “Slow Art,” focusing on fundamentalism.) The title of the Asian show, “Synthesis,” refers to a kind of creative chaos, “a random transformation of structured knowledge and exploration in digital arts and emerging technologies,” says Tomoe Moriyama, SIGGRAPH Asia Art Gallery and Emerging Technologies chair. (The Singapore exhibit combined both those programs, merging their experimental histories.)

All told, the combined exhibits featured more than 30 projects and works. According to Moriyama, the Art Gallery presented pieces that transformed, melded, and transcended current Asian paradigms. Emerging Technologies presented a “rich resource of delicate, aesthetic technologies and vivid, innovative ideas that defined the future of computer graphics and interactive techniques.”

Similar to the US counterpart, the Asian Art Gallery featured curated work, as well. That, along with other related events, including collaborative panels with the Japan Media Arts Festival, further highlighted the area’s creative communities and demonstrated its possibilities.

Singapore, host of SIGGRAPH Asia 2008, has welcomed many international festivals and art shows, including ARS Electronica. “Common to all these events is an undercurrent of creating tools, interfaces, and platforms for information sharing, collaboration, or externalizing knowledge in order to share it with society,” explains Moriyama.

“At the end of the last century, our society changed greatly, and the new media art and technology fields changed along with it. There were so many intersections between different areas of science, engineering, technology, and art that, as with the 3D boom that comes into and out of fashion, the fruitful digital art evolution of the 1960s is sometimes forgotten,” Moriyama continues. “Yet, when contemplating the peak and the origin of current trends in Asian digital content, we should not forget the underlying experimental arts and sensor experiments. At all times, there are infinite difficulties as well as pleasures for the explorers on the frontiers, as they establish new fields beyond the list of previous possibilities.” —Karen Moltenbrey