Festival Watch
Immersed in Domes, Falling Bodies and Stereo Vision: Where's the Gravity?
Janeann Dill · September 1, 2005 | I think SIGGRAPH 2005 was meant to prepare our bodies for space travel and, doubly, for the loss of earth's natural environment by redefining "nature." Simple-looking earphones that simulate a virtual loss of gravity while one is simultaneously walking on a ground of gravity; chromosomal mapping of strangers in relationship to a simple protoplasmic device, which pictures that individual's movement on a 40-foot screen; haptic video; and cyber-fashionable skirts. These skirts sense when another smart skirt is approaching and feed information about the other to its wearer. "First impression" certainly takes on new meaning.

It is interesting that the more immersed the collective "we" become in representing three-dimensional space, the less involved we become with being in it.

The old adage of the more you know, the more you know how much you don't know has advanced a parallel adage of contemporary importance: the more you sense, the more you sense how much you don't sense. At what intersection in our development as humanity did we need to sense ourselves as bodies—intellectually, emotionally, and physically—through a device? Contrary to what you think posing this question might lead the reader to preconceive, I am neither cynical towards nor opposed to raising the technological ceiling to yet far greater heights, in concert with George Lucas' impetus to do so as referenced in his keynote address at SIGGRAPH.

Paraphrasing film director Akira Kurosawa, Lucas framed "the secret" of artistic innovation as being "a quest for immaculate reality." One finds it philosophically stirring to go up against such a quest but especially daunting when its guardians are, arguably, two of the most established film directors in Eastern and Western histories of filmmaking. That said, let us awaken to the process of an artistic quest per se, to its language of form and content, and to the innovations evidenced (or not) in the juried films screened in SIGGRAPH's Computer Animation Festival.

Want to read the rest of this festival review?

You'll find it and many other articles in the September 2005 issue of fps, available as a free download.
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