High tech latte to tacos, Lee Arnold’s report from SIGGRAPH


“I’m not slacking off, my code’s compiling” (t-shirt slogan worn by conference attendee)

I attended the SIGGRAPH** computer-graphics conference this year (in Los Angeles, Aug 11-15) as one of the jurors of the art gallery.

Olesksiy Pikalo/ Latte Art Printer (OnLatte, Inc., Cambridge, MA).

Looking forward to sampling what was on offer, I started the morning with a cappuccino with computer-generated latte art. The images were created by Olesksiy Pikalo using carmalized sugar and his modified printer.

Olesksiy Pikalo/ Latte Art Printer (OnLatte, Inc., Cambridge, MA).

After waking up with a double espresso I moved on the Art & Design galleries. There were a lot of great things to see, but I found myself drawn to the many works that combined new and old technologies.

Dennis de Bel / Associative Audio Design (The Netherlands)

A group of works by Dennis de Bel, a student from Rotterdam, incorporated old machines to make new instruments. I particularly enjoyed this Zen-influenced kinetic sculpture and its references to minimalism.

Ross Racine / Digital Drawing (Canada)

Ross Racine’s digital drawings of constructed suburban landscapes, which do not use scans or any photographic images, were amazing in their subtlety.

Matt Shlian / Plotter Drawing (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Matt Shlian was at the conference as an artist in residence. He gave a fascinating talk about his intended misuse of technology to create paper sculptures and drawings. The work above was created with a digital plotter printer in which Shlian replaced the original drawing implements with Sharpie, ballpoint pen, and pencil.

Jenny E. Sabin / Fourier Carpet, tapestry, synthetic threads woven on a digitized Jaquard loom (University of Pennsylvania)

This tapestry in the design section, made by Jenny Sabin (of my alma mater), reminded me of work by the Bauhaus’ Annie Albers.

George Stiny / Chinese Ice-Rays, CNC routed plywood replica of Z-shaped ice-ray from Chengdu, Sichuan, 1800 (MIT Media Lab)

Also in the design area were a group of digitally designed replicas of Chinese patterns cut out of plywood.

In addition to the art exhibits, I also attended numerous panels and lectures covering everything from grant writing and intellectual copyright law to computational photography and art direction in the recent “Speed Racer” film. I was very inspired by my week, and especially excited to see CG art and research engaging with fine art in a more interdisciplinary way then I have witnessed so far.


After all this great art I needed to get out of the convention center and grab some lunch. What to have in L.A.? Tacos of course!

Lee Arnold is an artist whose digital animations have shown all over Philadelphia the last few years when he was teaching at Drexel University. He’s now teaching at Drew University in New Jersey.

**Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques

Read an interview with Lee Arnold.

Tagslee arnold, siggraph
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