"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 30 August 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

SIGGRAPH Damage Report (pt. 1)

What do you call a $100K



About $99,995.00 too expensive?


Not much of a punchline, I know,

but it's difficult to grin when

you're getting sodomized by the

300-pound gorilla that we

affectionately call the Media

Industrial Complex.


That was the impression left on

myself, and not a few other

SIGGRAPH attendees, by the combined

barrage of cheezy CG, humorless

feature presentations,

uninspired "art pieces", and the

frenzy of exhibitioners and

their overpriced wares at this

year's annual celebration of all

things computer graphics.


Fittingly, the debacle was held

in LA, described in the

conference literature as "the

city that converts ancient and

modern myths to everyday





The practical effect of this

locale was felt most

significantly in the party scene

(the only part of the show most

people seem to give two shits

about, anyway.) With a few

notable exceptions (the Amazon

3d Paint party in the Hollywood

Hills was a blast - a great view

and a feisty cadre of hackers)

these scenes were, contrary to

mass opinion, the last places at

which you'd want to wind down, shake

it up, or meet

a sympathetic soul.


Unless, of course, you happen to

be one of the many who dream of

the great CG jackpot - a

glamorous position at a

production house erasing wires,

adjusting color palettes and/or

airbrushing zits off of

Sylvester Stallone's overpaid

ass. In which case a much

coveted pass to the ILM or

Digital Domain show may just

have made your career, not to

mention your day.


What's most disturbing about the

whole scene isn't the lack of

humility amongst the giants or

the dearth in moving artistic

experimentation, but the degree

to which the Big Media Hegemony

has established its stranglehold

on the new technologies

associated with computer



How can you expect great art or

even whimsy when not only the

hardware alone - nevermind the software

and maintenance expenses - on an

average power SGI runs well into

six figures? When the students

who're training to use

this crap will be paying their

student loans for the next

twenty years - all so that they

might get a precious 15 minutes? 1

hour? a week? on their school's

machine. The bottom line is that it's

all about the bottom line.


And, trust me, it showed.

[Toy Story]

Sure, Disney/Pixar's Toy Story at

least showcased some decent

character animation, but if it

seemed like the majority of the

other pieces were beer ads and

silly rollercoaster ride

excerpts, it's probably because

they were. On the other hand, if

you're a clean-freak, you'd have

loved the polished marble...


Hard to imagine, but one of the

most sorely missed exhibitions

this year was the VRoom, which

offered a few jawdroppors in its

past incarnations in early

years. The writing's on the

wall, though: VR is old news and

Interactive Communities is the

new shit.


The HotWired Lounge was one of

the the most popular areas

around, less due to people's

burning interest in the Web than

in their interest in taking long

naps on the couches. A few show

highlights did transpire there,

though, including an acrimonious

impromptu debate between geek

representatives from Word,

Razorfish, SonicNet, HW and Suck

over the future of HTML,

effective Web design, the

relative merits of "cute

Netscape tricks", and

site/content (mis)management.


[Not to worry- it all ended

fairly well. If there weren't

some degree of mutual respect

going on, we wouldn't have

bothered baring our fangs in the

first place. And, rest assured,

we've all got bigger swine to

gut than each other...]


Everybody seemed to agree that

this year's requisite

mind-blower was the T_Vision

exhibit, which allowed one to

zoom in from a satellite's

perspective of the globe to as

close to three feet from the

operator's office window.

Thankfully, the close-up views

were VR and not true

high-resolution photographic

shots, but that did little to

keep most people from being

resoundingly creeped-out by the

whole idea.


As for the Electronic Theatre -

don't ask me, I was literally

put to sleep.


And after five days and nights of

meals at The Pantry, a popular

nearby restaurant whose major

claim to fame was not only being

open 24-7 but having been so for

the past seventy years, excuse

me if I'm not suitably

intimidated by the prospect of

never doing lunch in that town




Monkeywrenching SIGGRAPH)

courtesy of the Duke of URL