SIGGRAPH 2009 Report 8/5(Day3)

There is an interactive installation in the Information Aesthetics showcase called “decibel 151”, which mixes the concept of social networking with musical taste and music recommendations. 

It works with a member entering a virtual space wearing a headphone. Stepping into different white circles projected onto the ground will allow him to listen to the different music that is assigned to each circle. On each circle is tagged with the name of the person to which it belongs to, and the title of the music, and each circle follows the path taken by the person when he was within the virtual space.

The concept behind this original idea seems to be a paradox. As written in the explanatory notes, headphoned individuals can 'hear' other headphoned individuals, henceforth connecting with their surroundings using the same means they had used for disconnection. 

I tried on the headphones, and found myself trying to follow the paths of each moving circles to continue listening to the music assigned to them; moving onto new ones only when I lost the previous one. After I was done, I stepped out, and seeing my own circle projected in the space gave me a strange sense of satisfaction knowing that I too have left my mark for someone else to find and listen to.

A talk by two different speakers on creating painterly effects in the morning made me think about “right” and “wrong” in the entertainment (or creative) industry. The first speaker was from Disney, and he demonstrated the method the team went about in creating the abstract look in their new movie “Bolt”. The second speaker, a freelancer, too talked about creating abstract images using Lighwave. However, he started his presentation by saying that the speaker from Disney had already covered everything he was going to, and disclaimed that Disney's method was the “correct” way, while his was the “wrong” one. It drew laughs, and that might have been his intention, but I wonder if that sentence did in fact reflect what he really felt - inferior to Disney, and acceptive of that, if only because it was a world-famous and successful company. 

Both talks were equally interesting and informative. However, I listened to the talk on Disney's method with the secret elation of a fan being revealed the behind-the-scenes secrets, and listened to the talk by the freelancer while scribbling down notes like an eager student. The freelancer's method, which made use of commercial software as opposed to Disney's in-house shaders and programming, was accessible to an amateur like me, and therefore easier to understand. In fact, it inspired me to do something similar.

To me, the freelancer's method and results were in no way inferior to Disney's. There is no “right” or “wrong” in the creative field. Of course the result had to match what was required in the first place, but what mattered was the experimentation, the process of getting a problem solved. 

YING TONG