Alek Vacura and Taylor Cook, both 2009 graduates from Pratt’s Department of Digital Arts, were awarded first and second place in the animation category of an international juried student exhibition of computer graphics and digital arts. Their work, along with the work of four other students from the department, will be on display as part of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) 2009 conference in New Orleans from Monday, August 3 through Friday, August 7.

The student animation work will be on display as part of the “SpaceTime,” exhibition at the Education Committee booth at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, curated by Dena Elisabeth Eber. The exhibition captures the state of creative computer-based student work and acts as an annual slice of the computer graphics continuum. The displayed works will tour internationally for approximately one year with the “SpaceTime” Traveling Student Exhibition conducted by the Association for Computer Machinery SIGGRAPH Education Committee.

Master’s degree recipient Alek Vacura won first place in the animation category for his film Without Arms and bachelor’s degree recipient Taylor Cook received second place in the same category for his digital animation piece titled Employee of the Month.

Alek Vacura’s Without Arms follows one of art history’s masterpieces, The Venus de Milo, as she comes to life and becomes aware of her existence without arms. While attempting to resolve her handicap she has an accident, loses her head, and finds a new body. The score, “Fantasy in D Minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is performed by Harrison Gradwell Slater and used with permission.

Taylor Cook’s Employee of the Month is a digitally animated short film that focuses on overcoming addiction, finding inner peace, and the karma involved when someone in a position of power abuses that power. His piece studies two very different characters and their oftentimes ridiculous interactions in the workplace.  

Additional selected students whose works are in the exhibition are master’s degree recipients Paris Mavroidis and Dylan Moore; current student Jean Chu; and bachelor’s degree recipients Vadim Kiyaev and Kevin Kim.

Jean Chu’s Aurelia is an interactive physical installation that is based on the Aurelia or moon jellyfish. The installation has five soft objects on top of a multi-touch screen with a corresponding screen projection of an organic creature that allows viewers to actively control and reveal the creature’s state changes.

Vadim Kiyaev’s Community Service is a character-driven animated short based on the saying “What goes around, comes around” that features a comedic conflict between an electrical worker and a housefly with an attitude.

Kevin Kim’s New Zealand urges the audience to contemplate the human impact on the environment in a surreal world where 3D animation meets live video.

Paris Mavroidis’s Divers is a short animation inspired by Busby Berkeley, mass gymnastics, and experimental cinema from the ’20s and ’30s. The animation explores large-scale choreography, the abstraction of the human body into shape, and the absorption of the individual into the mass. Parts of the film were animated with the help of a custom animation toolset developed by the director.

Dylan Moore’s Meros is an emerging artist’s thesis that examines the everyday journey of bicyclists and pedestrians in New York City, mapping their travels against captured ambient lighting conditions and time of day. The end result is threefold: First, a series of photo portraits using captured and replayed light to illuminate subjects; second, prints showing details of re-projected light maps; and finally, a physical map table showing a composite of experiences in a single New York City neighborhood.

SIGGRAPH 2009 will bring an estimated 25,000 computer graphics and interactive technology professionals from five continents to New Orleans for the industry’s most respected technical and creative programs focusing on research, science, art, animation, gaming, interactivity, education, and the Web from August 3-7 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. SIGGRAPH 2009 includes a three-day exhibition of products and services from the computer graphics and interactive marketplace from August 4-6. Registration for the conference and exhibition is open to the public.