“Making Computer Graphics History Public” by Llach, Gaboury, Kasik, Newton, Smith, et al. …

  • ©Daniel Cardoso Llach, Jacob Gaboury, David J. Kasik, Adele Newton, Alvy Ray Smith, and Mary C. Whitton




    Making Computer Graphics History Public



    This panel concentrates on publications in diverse formats, mainly
    books and video documentaries, that make public the research about
    the history of computer graphics and interactive techniques. Both
    of the books presented in the panel have been published recently
    by MIT Press, making this a unique opportunity to listen to the
    authors: The panel has three presentations by key scholars and

    1.1 “Image Objects” — Book presentation by
    Jacob Gaboury
    This talk will introduce my new book on the early history of computer graphics titled Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer
    Graphics (MIT Press, 2021). The book explores the important role
    that computer graphics played in the development of computer
    science in the second half of the twentieth century, with a focus
    on the archives and historical collections of the research program
    at the University of Utah from roughly 1965-1980. Adopting an
    “object-oriented” approach, I explore five technologies produced
    by Utah faculty and alumni that fundamentally reshaped the field
    of computer science and helped to transform the computer from a
    calculating machine into an interactive medium.

    1.2 “A Biography of the Pixel” — Book
    presentation by Alvy Ray Smith
    The Great Digital Convergence of all media types into one universal
    digital medium occurred, with little fanfare, at the recent turn of
    the millennium. The bit became the universal medium, and the
    pixel—a particular packaging of bits—conquered the world. Henceforward, nearly every picture in the world would be composed
    of pixels—cell phone pictures, app interfaces, Mars Rover transmissions, book illustrations, videogames. In A Biography of the
    Pixel, Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith argues that the pixel is the
    organizing principle of most modern media, and he presents a few
    simple but profound ideas that unify the dazzling varieties of digital image making. Alvy’s story of the pixel’s development begins
    with Fourier waves, proceeds through Turing machines, and ends
    with the first digital movies from Pixar, DreamWorks, and Blue Sky.
    Today, almost all the pictures we encounter are digital—mediated
    by the pixel and irretrievably separated from their media; museums
    and kindergartens are two of the last outposts of the analog. Alvy
    explains, engagingly and accessibly, how pictures composed of invisible stuff become visible—that is, how digital pixels convert to
    analog display elements. Taking the special case of digital movies to
    represent all of Digital Light, and drawing on his decades of work
    in the field, Alvy approaches his subject from multiple angles—art,
    technology, entertainment, business, and history. A Biography of
    the Pixel is aimed at anyone who has watched a video on a cell
    phone, played a videogame, or seen a movie.

    1.3 “SIGGRAPH @50 History” by Mary
    Whitton, Adele Newton, and Dave Kasik
    As part of the advanced work for the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference’s
    50th anniversary in 2023, the SIGGRAPH History Committee is
    conducting interviews a wide range of graphics pioneers. Their personal stories trace how they got involved in computer graphics and
    contributed to the Conference’s storied past. Their stories provide
    insight into drivers for long careers and capture their passion. The
    contributors share stories about graphics, graphics devices, and
    applications that drove innovation in engineering, science, industrial design, education, and any field that uses images as part of
    its vocabulary. The oral histories complement the other panelists’;
    excellent books.

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