SIGGRAPH 1997: Electric Garden


    In 1961, Archigram published a series of experimental projects that began to explore the new and emerging technologies of the period. This small group of British architects adopted audio/visual display systems, projection television, computer technology, entertainment facilities, exhibits, gantries, and electric lights as the building blocks of their designs. They imagined temporary cities of activity and light. Through their projects and proposals, they predicted a blurring of boundaries and a convergence of technologies. They realized that these technologies would begin shaping and altering the world in ways that they could only begin to imagine. The Electric Garden at SIGGRAPH 97 was inspired by this group.

    Over 30 years later, Archigram’s vision of the future is being realized through the inventors, artists, programmers, and designers of today. The fabulous machines they imagined and the wonderful speculations they engaged in are now becoming a reality. As they predicted, these machines are shaping and altering our world in many ways.

    The Electric Garden was an instant city that celebrates new and emerging technologies. Our garden was full of beautiful technology that we can experience today. There were remarkable things to see, hear, and touch in this rich, sensual environment. Computer-generated images displayed by a variety of 2D and 3D systems provided color, motion, and beauty in the garden. Motion-capture systems and electronic cameras captured gestures and expressions, and allowed attendees to manipulate a synthetic world. Computer-controlled electric motors and machines provided surface information, telling us about the density, weight, and texture of a virtual object. In the garden, attendees experienced the power of a volcano or the cool breeze of a mountain glacier; played basketball in cyberspace and felt the weight of the virtual basketball; traveled to another planet and hovered in its atmosphere; visited Berlin, Tokyo, or a remote part of Finland and learned about their cultures; and digitally transported their bodies into a computer-generated world by walking in front of a camera array and laser range finder.

    The Electric Garden was a place where we can experience and celebrate our spectacular new electric toys.

    It delighted and amazed us.

    It challenged all that we know.

    It allowed us to forget convention and law.

    It seduced us.

    Contributors from around the world came to SIGGRAPH 97 to show us their wonderful creations. They filled the Electric Garden with sights and sounds. For a few days, we could see their inventions and experience all they have to offer. We are delighted by the possibilities, and we thank them for sharing their flowers with us.

    Rick Hopkins SIGGRAPH 98 Electric Garden Chair

Electric Garden Chair:

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