A robot that “speaks” to a virtual environment. Dancers that generate graphics and sounds through their movements. A 3-D sculpture created with rapid prototype machines. These are just a few of the artist installations that were on display at SIGGRAPH Asia 2016, an annual conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques, held in Macau, China, in December. SIGGRAPH Asia is an off-shoot of SIGGRAPH, which takes place annually in the United States or Canada and is the largest international conference of its kind.
This year, Yuko Oda, associate professor at the College of Arts & Sciences, presented her digital sculptural installation, “The Unbearable Lightness and Heaviness of Being,” at the conference. Her piece was part of “Mediated Aesthetics,” a juried section highlighting digital art projects created with alternative methods, such as 3-D printers.
“My current work pushes the boundaries of artistic disciplines of sculptural and installation art by juxtaposing traditional methods of installation art with cutting-edge technologies of digital sculpture and 3-D printing,” Oda said. “When I saw the theme of the art gallery, it really resonated with what I had already been working on.”
Oda's piece was one of 19 chosen for the section. “There were several inspirations for my installation. The sculptural forms are made of butterflies with roots. This symbolizes contradicting elements: Butterflies trying to take flight, but are rooted,” she explained. However, her thinking went even deeper than that: “As humans we are always trying to take flight, but there are roots that hold us back.”
Oda illustrates these contradicting elements through her sculpture and also through the materials she used to create the piece. “The sculpture is made using advanced 3-D printing technology, but the way the butterflies are installed is more traditional. For that I used fishing lines and transparent thread, a technique I often used with my installation art practice. Also, the synthetic butterflies are installed as if they are flying out of organic soil found in Macau. I often experiment by bringing together these seemingly unrelated methods and materials to create new ways of expressing ideas.”
Thousands of computer graphics professionals from around the world attend the annual convention. “SIGGRAPH Asia has quickly grown to be an important annual event for industry professionals to exchange ideas and screen the world’s latest research, inventions, and artwork,” said Oda. “To have NYIT represented at the conference is very positive in many ways.”
Not only is NYIT is represented as a leader in 3-D printing technology, but it is also seen as being on the cutting edge in the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques.
“Being a part of the conference was wonderful. I put up an installation I was happy with, and it was just a great experience for me,” said Oda.