Siggraph Hong Kong 2011

I’m actually going to have to divide my posts into three parts: work, night time and day time. Why? Because the entire time I was in HK, I spent most of the daylight inside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center at Wanchai. By the time I’d go out of the convention center, dark had already descended and there was nothing left to see but overly lighted shopping malls.

Like I mentioned in my Singapore trip, the next time I visit a country, I must add LEISURE to my itinerary because what the heck is traveling for if you can’t even enjoy what the land has to offer? Luckily for my HK trip, I had half a day/weekend (just before my flight) to go around. Still not enough because we should’ve been able to explore history, art and culture.

Ok, let’s start with work.
(You can view all 90 photos at the Facebook page, along with each exhibitor’s artist notes. It’s difficult to choose, really, and I ended up with 21 photos for this blog still.)

Siggraph is the brainchild of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and is usually held in the US and Canada. This is the Asian leg. What you’ll normally expect are presentation of technical papers, art exhibits (and by that I mean multimedia art, not just visual art), emerging technologies and animation festivals.

My thoughts on that at the end of this blog post.

I heard that this cover was done by Bryan Sola, a former student.

Now this is a multimedia installation art. That thing over there changes shape depending on what’s being projected. The logic is simple, really, but the results are amazing.

A booth by an animation studio.

Autodesk’s is my favorite even though it looks weird. Haha!

Lucasfilm is one of the partners of Siggraph Asia 2011.

I had my lunch in the mall adjacent to the convention center. This strangely feels European.

Back to the convention center. The place is so huge, we almost got lost. The only comparison I can name is probably SM Mall of Asia x 2. You can put around 4-6 SMX’s inside it, I think.

Cris testing a Korean invention that’s reminiscent of Alexander Graham Bell’s earlier experiments with his assistant Thomas Watson.

After a few seconds, your reflection on the mirror changes into that of a holographic animal. Here, I see a giraffe.

This is actually my favorite piece in the entire exhibit. Judith Darmont is a photographer but instead of stopping at regular still images, she demonstrated her multimedia arts expertise by coming up with an interactive experience for her audience. Full explanation starting here. (I included her artist notes among the photos.)

This interactive painting is from Japan. If you look closely, I am sitting at the table, supposedly celebrating my birthday (I lighted the candle at the middle), while one of the creatures comes out with my cake. At the middle of the painting is a furry animal carrying my cake.

A rather simple presentation, but very beautiful. I was drawn to this.

Here is a game you play by moving your entire body. Controlling that projection can be quite tricky. If you move too fast, the character falls off. If you move too slow, you don’t get to reach the goal.

A coloring book coming to life in 3D right before my very eyes.

Aaaand I took a photo of Cris with Adrian as he was demonstrating the project…because I thought he looked cute. LOL.

These little robotic critters would follow you around.

Ken Perlin of New York University discusses graphics.

I love how he is talking on the podium but plays with a holographic image on his projection. The topic was about the future of user interfaces and how human beings are hard-wired for face-to-face interaction despite the advancement of technlogy.

Cris having a discussion with Lucasfilm people after a seminar.

Can’t leave Siggraph without a photo. Hehe.

Ok, on to my thoughts:
Professors and industry practitioners in our Philippine multimedia scene would probably stab me with pitchforks for this but it has to be said. It saddens me that we are not participating in such a research-oriented endeavor but I can see why.

Schools are still busy internally arguing whether multimedia programs should be based on Fine Arts, Computer Science, Media Arts or Behavioral Science when this shouldn’t be so. We have gone beyond fine arts, beyond technology, beyond traditional media. Most local schools are either one way or the other, when it shouldn’t be so. I’ve seen university projects in the exhibit that have shown that they can marry Fine Arts concepts rather well with Information Technology, even interweaving terminologies expertly in their artist notes.

(Heck, animation itself is not solely about aesthetics, but there’s a lot of physics involved. In Siggraph, you don’t hear multimedia students and practitioners complain that they only want to do photography. Instead, they take pride and joy in pushing the boundaries of their craft to the next level, expertly using technology as a tool in order to do so.)

Now for our industry…We don’t put much value on research and design because many companies think that it is not profitable. Which is true. And sad. Because I don’t really want to be a third party developer forever. I want to innovate and come up with something that I can call my creation, even at the expense of my own pockets. Like the universities that are sponsored by exhibiting companies in Siggraph. (Watching Ken Perlin up there made me sorely miss being a professor, experimenting with stuff that I would later present and get funding for.)

We have a long way to go, it seems. We’re still stuck in “this is how things have always been done” thinking when we should be breaking out of the industrial age way of doing things, especially since we’re handling new media. But I dunno…Somehow, Siggraph gave me a lot of realizations about the things I really want to pursue and I’m looking at the coming year as my waiting period, since I can’t do anything but absorb information in the meantime.

Up next: 
What we did in HK every night, at the end of each conference day.

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