SIGGRAPH: Q&A with conference chair Marc Barr
August 10, 2015

SIGGRAPH: Q&A with conference chair Marc Barr

LOS ANGELES — SIGGRAPH is taking place this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Here, Karen Moltenbrey — Chief Editor of Post’s sister publication CGW — chats with Marc Barr, the 2015 SIGGRAPH chair about his connection with this important event. 

The trade show and exhibition has called many cities around the country “home,” and last year, Canada welcomed attendees back to Vancouver for the second time. This year, though, SIGGRAPH returns to its home base of sorts, Los Angeles.

How does this year’s theme resonate with you on a personal level?

The main thing that has kept me involved with SIGGRAPH is the diversity of people and ideas. I’ve always found the most interesting things happen at the edges and intersections of culture. 

SIGGRAPH is one of the places where there is equal value placed on the sciences and arts, and how the technology brings them all together.

How has SIGGRAPH influenced you personally and professionally?

When I was a student and as an educator, I always found myself equally interested in various areas. It honestly not only caused me problems as a student, but in academia, as well. SIGGRAPH is one of the few places I’ve discovered that this diversity is valued. All you have to do is take a look to your left and right at our attendees and you’ll just as likely see an artist as you will a computer scientist or engineer.

SIGGRAPH is a place where I have been educated, informed and inspired.

Professionally, my involvement with SIGGRAPH has been highly respected and valued by the department I teach for at my university.

I have been able to get a number of faculty and students involved, and my department chair, having had a long career in film and television, has been an attendee and always been a supporter.

It has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with an incredible assortment of talented and creative people from across the globe that otherwise I would not have had.

On a combination personal/professional level, I have the total pleasure of working with on my committee people who I’ve known since they were just out of high school, who were students of mine when they were in undergraduate school and now have very successful careers of their own. For an academic, that is very worthwhile.

What positions have you held with SIGGRAPH?

I have been involved with both the SIGGRAPH organization and various conference committees for 25 years.

My first involvement was as an attendee, and then became involved with its Education Committee. I first served as its booth manager and then was elected director for education. I served on multiple review committees for education-related content.

I served on the sigKIDS committee in 1994 and was its chair in 2000 and 2002. I was chair of the Educators program in 2006 and organized a Teapot Exhibition that year, as well.

I was Education committee chair for a few terms after that, and most recently as conference chair for this year.

What will be some of the highlights?

In addition to the new and continuing venues I mentioned previously, our keynote speaker is Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab. His school and his own career embody our theme and graphic identity.

We also will be having a Special Session celebrating the 40th anniversary of ILM, hosted by multiple Academy Award-winner Dennis Muren.

I also want everyone to keep an eye out for Paulo Mechado, the Brazilian animator who, although bedridden his entire life, was able to virtually attend our conference for the first time last year through the technology of Double Robotics. He’ll be back this year and will be participating in a planned tour of many film, game, and software facilities in the US and Canada.

Why should a person attend?

Unlike many conferences, we don’t have single point of focus, such as games or film. We are not only a trade show, but have content in the areas of education, research, arts, and entertainment. If your interests lie in any area related to the use of computer graphics or interactive techniques, this is the one conference where you can see and experience it all.