Alasdair Swenson: OK.81.2

I chose to adopt this slide from the Visual Resource Centre whilst I was perusing the collection categorised “Computer art”. I immediately liked the slide’s amusing juxtaposition between its title of “Realistic image” and the image its self, which whilst writing this in 2015 looks anything but realistic.

The image contains clues as to its origin, the watch face shows “1981“ and “SIGGRAPH”. 1981 I assumed was the year the image had been created, making sense of the seemingly overhyped title. I was already aware of SIGGRAPH being the “Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques” who run annual conferences and regularly present papers on new techniques to be implemented in all aspects of the creation of digital 2D/3D media.

With this information I was able to find the original paper containing this image in “Computer Graphics” the publication produced by SIGGRAPH. The relevant article from 1981 is titled “A reflectance model for computer graphics” and details methods for reproducing material reflections in 3D software.

I really enjoy seeing how quickly computer graphics have started to look representative of their time, in a similar way to how it can be easy to guess a date on a photograph by its appearance. It is also I think the same for computer graphics possible to put these images in a time bracket by their aesthetic despite computer graphics possibly being thought of having a history of only forty years.

Alasdair Swenson
Technician – Digital 3D
Manchester School of Art

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