SIGGRAPH 1997: Ongoings


  • Lynn Pocock -
    • Pratt Institute
    • New York Institute of Technology


Los Angeles, California, US


August 3rd-8th, 1997


Over the years, artists have pushed the boundaries of computer art. In their ongoing explorations, they have invented their own creative processes, and they have achieved unique visual languages. Ongoings: the Fine Arts Gallery presents an in-depth look at computer­-based artists and their work. The exhibition breaks from SIGGRAPH traditions by presenting a body of work for each of a few artists, as opposed to exhibiting a survey of recent works by many artists. Thus, the Ongoings Gallery showcases artists’ ongoing creative visions. In conjunction with Ongoings, Sketches features an Artist Presentation Session, where the artists can discuss their processes and content. Artworks for Ongoings were selected in a competitive, open-submission process. Artists were welcome to submit either a long-term progression of work, including current work, or they could submit their current body of work. We particularly encouraged submission of works that use the computer in a creative way. As it turned out, the majority of the submis­sions were print works. The Curatorial Advisory Committee spent three long days reviewing the work and composed a list of finalists; their recommendations were pre­sented to Geno Rodreguiz, a curator at The Alternative Museum, for final decisions. Once the list of artists was finalized, the exhibition evolved as individual works for each artist were selected. In the end, six artists were selected to exhibit a large number of works, and seven artists were selected to exhibit two or three works. Some of the artists are new to the SIGGRAPH audience, while others are long-time favorites.

In producing an exhibition of this sort, my goal was to create a place for the world to see the ongoing creative vision of artists who are dedi­cated to the use of technology in their art. My hope is that the audience will come away with an understanding of the passion of these artists. Ongoings: the Fine Arts Gallery would not have been possible without the effort and support of many wonderful people to whom I give my sincere and grateful thanks. While it is not possible to individually thank everyone, I would like to express a special thanks to the following: the SIGGRAPH 97 Conference Committee, the Ongoings: the Fine Arts Gallery Committee, the Curatorial Advisory Committee, and all of the SIGGRAPH 97 Ongoings artists. Without them, this exhibition could not have been possible. I would also like to thank recent Art Show Chairs, Jeon Ippolito, Deanna Morse, and Ken O’Connell, for their advice and support. Thank you to my Pratt Institute Chair, Rick Barry, and his former assistant, Deno Slothower, for providing me with the time and assistance needed to pro­duce this exhibition. Thank you to Lino Yamaguchi and all of the Pratt Student Volunteers for their hard work. Thank you to George Schuessler for his support when I needed it most. For all her invaluable advice and support over the years, I would like to thank Copper Giloth. On behalf of all SIGGRAPH artists and those who appreciate their work, I would like to thank Patric Prince for her ongoing dedication to the SIGGRAPH artist community. Finally, thank you to my family and friends for their unconditional love and support.


Lynn Pocock, Pratt Institute

Curatorial Advisory Committee

Jeremy Gardiner

Andrew Glassner, The Microsoft Network

Lynn Pocock, Pratt Institute

Print Coordinator

Jon Cone, Cone Editions Press

Public Relations Co-Coordinator

Dena Elisabeth Eber, University of Georgia

Production Assistant

Cynthia KuebelC K Studio

Public Relations Co-Coordinator

Karla Loring

Artist Presentation Session Coordinator

Jacquelyn Martino, Philips Research, USA

Artist Portfolio Coordinator

Andrea Meyer,  em̄DASH

Administrative Assistant

Mary Phillipuk, Pratt Institute

Publicity Coordinator

Karen Sullivan

Artist Presentation Session Monitors

Jeremy Gardiner

Roger Malina, Executive Editor of Leonardo Journal, Director of the NASA EUVE Observatory


Exhibition Artworks:

Exhibition Writings and Presentations:

    Title: Technophobia
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Dooley Le Chappellaine
    Abstract Summary:

    Technophobia is a collection of original multimedia art in an interactive exhibition. In addition to the original multimedia artwork, the CD-ROM includes a studio visit with each artist.

    Title: An American Gothic...Or a Pound of Prevention
    Writing Type: Essay
    Author(s): Elliot Peter Earls
    Abstract Summary:

    Manifest destiny: In “Excerpts from the Vancouver Lectures,” Jack Spicer relates the story: Yeats, 1918, a train bound for Los Angeles. His wife in a trance, automatic writing, taking dictation from “spooks.” Yeats poses the question: “What ore you here for?” And the spooks reply: “We are here to give metaphors for your poetry.”

    Poetry, according to Ezra Pound in The ABC of Reading, is language concentrated, condensed. Pound postulates that poetry “is the most concentrated form of verbal expression.” It is this metaphorical (or possibly malaphorical) condensation, this condensed cultural automatic writing, or dictation, that I strive for.

    Title: Design Speech Acts: "How to Do Things with Words" in Virtual Communities
    Writing Type: Essay
    Author(s): Anna Cicognani
    Abstract Summary:

    Cyberspace is language-based (cf. Cicognani, 1996, 1997; Winograd,1987), and so are virtual communities. The author argues that virtual communities are ideal places to experience and enhance a language for design, and for designers.

    Title: Agree to Disagree Online
    Writing Type: Essay
    Author(s): Janet Cohen Keith Frank Jon Ippolito
    Abstract Summary:

    Any collaboration is a negotiation. While most artistic teams hide the filibustering, intellectual posturing, and shifting alliances that lie behind their decisions, Agree to Disagree Online brings these facets of collaboration to the fore.

    Title: Computer Graphics as Stainless Steel Output
    Writing Type: Essay
    Author(s): Ronald Carraher
    Abstract Summary:

    A history of hand-held graphics might include Tarot cards, playing cards, the carte de visite, business cards, credit cards, and more recently telephone cards. While each of these subsets has a differing history and function, they also have shared attributes that continue to attract our interest.
    Proportions, scale, content, cast, and techniques of production all merge with more recent communication functions. Borrowing from these physical and conceptual traditions suggests possibilities for an artist using digital typography to create a kind of permanent ephemera. Incorporating stainless steel output offers an option for the designer to employ a technology similar to computer chip technology and to investigate the conversion of
    digitized art to artifact.

    Title: Hand Held Tools for Navigating Information
    Writing Type: Essay
    Author(s): David Small
    Abstract Summary:

    If computers are tools For manipulating information, they have been notoriously poor at using the hands of the people who use them. By engaging the hands af the user, it is possible to get a literal handle an complex visualizations of information. In this project, the goal is to design a more practical, productive, and fluid kind of interface.

    Title: Dynamic3: Interactive Physics and Physicality In Three Dimensions
    Writing Type: Essay
    Author(s): Reed Kram John Maeda
    Abstract Summary:

    We lose the joy of pliability in our interactions with the computer when we get lost in a cacophony of visual iconic references. There is no grace. Dynamic3 emphasizes the subtleties of interaction. Not what is seen, but what is felt. A physics-based computational model and a fluid physical interface amplify the expression.

    Title: Multimedia Interactive Artist's Archive and Retrospective
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Josepha Haveman
    Abstract Summary:
    Title: Genderbender, Smartstall, The Automatic Confession Machine
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Gregory P. Garvey
    Abstract Summary:
    Title: The Virtual Harvester Project
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Johann van der Schijff
    Abstract Summary:
    Title: Making Caricatures with Morphing
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Ergun Akleman
    Abstract Summary:
    Title: Using Video to Create Avatars in Virtual Reality
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Joseph A. Insley Daniel J. Sandin Thomas A. Defanti
    Abstract Summary:
    Title: Dream Grrrls: Metaphors
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Margaret Dolinsky Grit Sehmisch
    Abstract Summary:

    The process of designing multi-user virtual environments (VE) is similar to the process of designing code or imagery, in that it is necessary to pas­sionately maintain a catalog of ideas and references. VE design combines these passions to construct a consistent graphical user interface (GUI) with metaphors for exploration and self-reflection in a collaborative team effort.

    Dream Grrrls, a VE created in the CAVE, focuses on the immersive nature of dreams. A typical GUI hos elements or icons that function as naviga­tional tools and sit on the periphery. VE icons do not operate like a tool­box, but ore spatially based, like the galleries in on art museum. Dream Grrrls is a journey through five different environments presented in a labyrinth filled with paths and three-dimensional objects or “icons.”

    Much as art attempts to convey insight, Dream Grrrls attempts to generate a new awareness based on interaction and immersive experience in order to create an exciting new level of communication beyond verbal know ledge. Dream imagery presents itself in a way that makes the real uncer­tain. On one path, the participant can ignore the warnings (“Don’t go up there!”) and enter a commanding head. Inside, the navigational wand becomes a flashlight to reveal walls made of whispering faces and creatures. The light provides illumination – a gateway to another level of consciousness and ultimately, the many sides of ourselves.

    In a world inhabited by large vessels, the user approaches the unfamiliar territory like a desert island of loneliness. One vessel has imposing eyes that follow the participant wherever she goes. She comes face to face with what could be her psyche. If she chooses to confront it, she finds herself unable to move, rattled by the world around her, only to awaken back where she come from (the labyrinth), the same, yet somehow different.

    Dream Grrrls allows users to experience their world in a new and dynamic way, much like on active or lucid dream. Participants “cooperate” with the computer in such a way that one is uncertain of the action/reaction hierarchy. Dream Grrrls becomes a medium to create a personal performance by learning to interact with the environment and recognize its plasticity.

    Dream Grrrls could not have been possible without the artist’s library of images and the focused dedication on software by Grit Sehmisch. Audio consultation was provided by Joe Reitzer, and programming consultation was provided by Marcus Thiebaux, Dave Pope, Bor-Tyng Lin, and on Electronic Visualization Laboratory of sages. Special Thanks to Dan Sandin, Tom DeFonti, Maxine Brown, Dana Plepys, Jim Costigan, and Maggie Rawlings. 

    Title: Disability in the Arts
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Jon Berge
    Abstract Summary:

    Life with a physical disability has allowed me a unique and humbling perspective that has manifested in my art work. I create art with and for people who live with various types of physical and/ or mental limitations.

    Because my work deals with issues of accessibility, it is essential for me to make my work accessible to people with a range of different abilities. The use of non-traditional materials and technology in my installations allows me to incorporate the senses of smell, taste, sound, and touch in addition to providing the more traditional visual experience.

    Because I live with a wheelchair, collaboration has been an essential element in my work and life. Using the computer as on art medium hos allowed me the freedom and access to create virtual worlds that would have been impossible in my life. No longer do I need assistance to move a block of marble or build a room. The computer has given me all the tools I need to accomplish these tasks. Imagination is now my limitation.

    My work is often referred to as interdisciplinary because I often use more than one medium to provide additional access to communication. Often the work is interactive, so the participant can experience art rather than just see it. The focus in my studies lies in educating and encouraging participants – regardless of prior experience, physical limitations, age, or ethnicity – to examine the relevance of art and accessibility in their own lives. For example, by incorporating a medium like Braille into an installa­tion, I can attempt to change an art piece to be more inclusive for a visually impaired audience.

    I believe art is fundamentally a communicative experience that can be and should be shared by all. My research method includes a hands-on approach, working collaboratively with several different groups and individuals to create art pieces that have been specifically designed to incorporate more than the traditional visual experience.

    What one person might feel is important or beautiful another may not. have found that by displaying work without an emphasis solely on the visual aspect, artistic integrity is still maintained. By including elements such as a wheelchair, Braille translations, and audio descriptions, individuals without mental or physical limitations may re-evaluate and gain a deeper appreciation for their own abilities by not only seeing art but experiencing and interacting with it.

    Title: CyberHuman Dances Series: An Articulation of Body, Space, and Motion in Performance
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Yacov Sharir Katie Salen
    Abstract Summary:

    The CyberHuman Dance Series is an experimental dance work exploring simulations of physical and virtual phenomena in the context of perfor­mance. By integrating innovative digital technology with the choreographic and design process, this work investigates all aspects of design and performance in cyberspace, with particular emphasis on issues of real and perceived boundaries between virtual space and real space, and the possibility of a blurred distinction between two intersecting worlds.

    Questions are raised as to possible metaphors for construction of virtual spaces and the bodies that inhabit them, leading to new ideas about the behavior of the body and its expression through motion. What, for instance, are the ways in which the cyberdancer begins to claim a virtually constructed space through movement? What kind of relationship (physical, emotional, psychological) can be established between real dancers and their cyberspatial counterparts? How can narrative identities be exchanged, modified, or made explicit? Finally, how can these investigations be brought to performance as a means of formulating
    an appropriate language for dance in the virtual age?

    An analysis of the work in progress offers an opportunity to discuss design issues related to the development of cyberspatial environments and virtual bodies. Issues of space, time, physicality, and gravity are visited, as is the question of how the body is to be represented and inhabited within a virtual space. What is the connection between humans and their represen­tational presence in cyberspace and what, exactly, does it mean to be cyberhuman? How can an articulation of the process of the design of the cyberfigure provide an answer to this question? What is an appropriate representation for o physical figure in a space that lacks physicality? How can a sense of bounded space be accommodated within an environment defined through its lack of edges?

    In offering an analysis of the design and performance process, and the questions raised in the development al both cyberfigure and environment, a model for collaboration is proposed between individuals and across technologies. This model illuminates how a collaborative technological investigation infuses the work with a concern for methods of expression in virtual spaces and how innovative digital processes can be explored through experimentation with choreographic software, three-dimensional rendering programs, and their combination into output to digital video.

    The creative process of making the work is examined in the collaboration between choreographer, designer, composer, and video artist. The conclu­sion argues that integration of the working methods of a group of individu­als trained in different aspects of the arts offers insight into the range of methodologies available for study and infuses the series with an energy of human discovery.

    Title: Multi-Media Metamorphosis (or making the medium shoe fit)
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): M. R. Petit
    Abstract Summary:

    A large portion of my work has entailed toking a theme or story and giving it life in a variety of media. The Mutant Gene & Tainted KoolAid Sideshow CD-ROM (completed October 1995) is a navigable interpretation of a series of performances I staged in 1994, by the same name. The performances incorporated live and pre-recorded, multiple-monitor and projected video; animation; text; both sequenced and live instrumental music; and dramatic artifacts and performance elements such as masks and dance.

    Beginning with the psycho-dramatic confession of on extraterrestrial, the piece journeyed into a series of multicolored, entropic landscapes. My intent with the performances, and the use of technology, was to create alternate or augmented realities for on audience. I wanted the audience to be immersed in on environment of sound, light, and motion, which often paralleled the content – in essence, making certain fantasy states real. The CD-ROM emerged from a desire to break down the linear constraints of a performance to create a more personal “circular” experience, where on individual con explore the environment in any order, without being guided as a collective “audience” through various states.

    Similarly, The Grimm Tale (or the Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn what Fear Was) began as a Web site. Cloy puppets were created to represent each of the characters in the tale. Hours of footage were shot, keying the characters on top of beds of analog video patches. Then, after the video was digitized, dozens of small loopable gif animations were mode, and a continual MIDI soundtrack was constructed. In its second incarnation, The Grimm Tale is a performance, similar to The Mutant Gene, with MIDI triggering multiple video and animation events.

    Taking a piece and creating a work as a performance, CD-ROM, or Web site presents fascinating progressions and developments. Each of these media hos individual advantages, limitations, opportunities, and constraints, all of which have to be worked within, token advantage of, and manipulated to make the piece a wholly new and unique work in its own right, in its new form.
    This presentation examines the implications of traversing media, the technical issues involved in crossing medium boundaries, and related conceptual issues.

    Title: Izzy Bombus and the Story of Flight
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Sandy Lawrence
    Abstract Summary:

    Izzy Bombus and the story of flight is a prototype CD-ROM consisting of an animated story with associated games and educational activities for children ages four through seven. Izzy, a young bumblebee, discovers that according to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee cannot fly. Dismayed but undeterred, izzy collects implements from a kitchen drawer to build a flying machine and asks her viewers for help with the construction. With izzy in the cockpit, the viewer pushes the launch button, the countdown begins, the smoke swirls … lilt-off!

    What happens next? izzy bombus is a story al resolution and innovation in overcoming obstacles. Izzy is a girl bumblebee involved in activities not traditionally considered the domain of girls, such as aerodynamics, flying, building, and exploration. The adventure is accompanied by original delta blues music by Blind Mississippi Morris. Ten games and educational activities are linked to the story and can also be accessed directly from a menu screen.

    The story is complete and fully interactive ta the point where it branches to the various endings. A short, animated introduction leads to a menu where viewers choose between the story or the games menu. The “know-it-all­bug” serves as a guide, offering instruction and advice. Games and activities can be accessed as the viewer progresses through the story or directly from the menu.

    Through this project, I am attempting to make connections between my experience as a designer of traditional print graphics and new media. My goal is to produce a viable commercial product for the children’s CD-ROM market as well as to incorporate the experience into the planning and implementation of coursework in multimedia. Work began on the project in January 1996 and is continuing.

    In crossing the boundaries between graphic design for print and graphic design for new media, I explored and considered the possibilities and al the same time dealt with the realities and limitations of desktop multimedia. As a graphic designer, my interest is in innovative design that combines an understanding of traditional principles of visual communication with the unique possibilities offered by the interactive experience.

    With this project, I have employed a collage method of assembling the illustrative elements of the story in an eclectic style. Elements are painted, drawn, and assembled from old engravings. Traditional methods are used for parts of the illustrations, while others are entirely computer-generated. The combination of techniques produces a rich, textural quality and unex­pected combinations.

    Another unexpected aspect of the project is the music. The blues, a part of the unique cultural heritage of the South, has gained an appreciative audience throughout the world. Although this type of music is unusual in the domain of children’s products, the connection between the sound and the movement and activities of the bumblebee makes it an appropriate choice.

    Title: Gradus: Revealing the Shape of the English Language
    Writing Type: Sketch / Art Talk
    Author(s): Matt Grenby
    Abstract Summary: