Ian Gwilt

Describe your field. Why are you interested in Computer Art/ Computer Graphics and what (event, need, idea, hope, obstacle) caused your involvement? Summarize your line of development (the essence of your input to the field) in relation to concurrent technology.

I have a visual arts/design background and have been using computers since the late eighties as a design/art creation tool. I completed an MA in Interactive Multimedia (University of Balears Spain/Royal College of Art (RCA) London) in 1995, and since then I have shown interactive art installations and digital print work at a number of international new media events including Transmediale Berlin film festival, SIGGRAPH, Mila, IV02 and ARCADEIII.

I was a member of the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery sub-committee 2000 in New Orleans and a judge for the art-site submissions for SIGGRAPH Nspace Gallery 2001 LA. In 2002/3 I was a co-organising chair for GRAPHITE2003 the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Australasia and South East Asia.

Does the computer allow you to think visually about some topic or process in new ways? How has this influenced your work? Describe your ultimate accomplishment.

I am interested in the relationship between the physical and digital space and the way we interact between the two. My recent digital print work references details from various graphical user interfaces and abstract onscreen visual architecture, giving physicality to images that normally exist only onscreen. By doing so I hope to change the context, and challenge the way we look at (or look past) the digital visual environment. A change in scale and location—computer onscreen to gallery wall can triggers the memory of familiar, ubiquitous visual signage from the monitor interface. I am interested in the way that the artworks can utilize these same visual elements to comment on the human condition—applied to a digital context. The images also raise questions about, just how transparent is the human/computer interface? And how transparent do we really want it to be? What are we left with when we remove the content from the graphical user interface?

Has the field of computer art and graphics progressed in the ways that you expected? What has surprised you? What do you like about its progress and what do you wish had happened differently? What do you think the future holds for visual computing in science/art? Please make some predictions or wish lists for the near- and long-term future.

The expediential growth in computational powers in computer technology has been a great facilitator to the potentials of art and technology practice in the last 10 years. However, the utilisation of this potential in terms of art practice has been received with some suspicion by the arts world at general. Often digital artworks—purely exercises in technical competence (in the guise of computer art) have not been broadly accepted beyond specialist technology art shows such as SIGGRAPH ISEA and ASCI. The synthesis of technical “know-how” within an aesthetic and social commentary context has proven to be the hardest thing to achieve—but is now, thankfully, increasingly gaining respect and validation from both sides of the community, arts and technology.

Describe your dream environment for enhancing your project ideas. What are your preferred tools for creating and how do they work? What tools (hardware/software) you have used initially had the strongest impact on your work?

A dream environment would have to be a collaborative space where artists and technologists can work together on a level playing field and have mutual respect—and a huge research grant!

Tools of choice included any image synthesis tools for still and moving image—Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Interactivity—Director and now, Fash MX. Also environmental generation tools like Cosmo worlds.

Describe how you think specific advancements in technology, (such as wireframe, hidden line removal, scanner, laser, HTML, Java applets, or any other advancement), determined the way the approaches to creating art/graphics evolved?

GPUs and major advancement in rendering times and the potential to render hi-res in real time will have a dramatic impact on the creation of digital art pieces. Also the architecture and interactive nature of gaming environments are already beginning to impact on presentation style and techniques in digital art.

How would you characterize the milestones (every ten years) in the development of computer technology? Which ones were most influential in art/graphics?

Visualisation and Simulation 1980s Interactive, generative and immersive 1990s Collaboration, subversion and augmentation 2000s.

Which persons would you indicate as the pioneers in the particular areas/stages in which decade?

To name but a few;

  • Paul Brown—generative artworks 1990s
  • Jon Maeda—interactive graphics 1990s
  • Jeffery Shaw—VR mixed space Artworks 1980/90s
  • Blast Theory—Collaborative mixed reality art 2000s