SIGGRAPH 2021 honors the history of computer graphics with a one-of-a-kind program


How does the industry’s history inform and inspire the work we do today? SIGGRAPH’s new retrospective program aims to answer that question through a series of panels as well as an exclusive featured speaker session that will kick off the week-long live conference: “Turing Award and Beyond: In Conversation With Ed Catmull and pat hanrahanon August 9 at 8 a.m. PDT.

“Designing this one-of-a-kind offering from the conference has been a real pleasure,” shared the SIGGRAPH 2021 Retrospective Chair. Andres Burbano, from the University of the Andes. “This program presents an opportunity for our community to discover and celebrate the richness and complexity of history where we usually find the technological future.”

The retrospective’s curated lineup for 2021 touches on everything from techno-cultural diversity to museums and collections to publications and industry legacy, revealing multiple perspectives that explore the yesterday of digital media technologies. Researchers, practitioners, critical thinkers, historians, inventors, engineers, artists and curators from over 10 countries have contributed to the program. Highlights include:

From Brazil: A forest of infographics and interactive techniques | Retrospective
Monday, August 9, 11:30 a.m. PDT
This panel is dedicated to the history of the deep, diverse and rich contributions of Brazil to global digital culture, from the beginnings of computer art and the design of the Lua programming language to the use of digital media by contemporary indigenous communities. Details.

museums, computer history and institutional issues | Retrospective
Tuesday, August 10, 9 a.m. PDT
Learn about the challenges facing the compelling and exceptional institutions and museums that collect the hardware and software of computer history and the history of computer art, with speakers from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien and the Computer History Museum. Details.

Silicon Graphics Legacy | Retrospective
Tuesday, August 10, 11 am PDT
This panel will feature the infographic pioneer jim clark and is a collaboration with the Computer History Museum. The session will review the historic contributions of Silicon Graphics, the company that put graphics in silicon and brought silicon to Silicon Valley. Details.

Sisters of Code | Retrospective
Wednesday August 11, 9:30 a.m. PDT
This panel includes three separate talks that will explore the contributions of the tremendous legacy of work produced by women in fields such as information visualization, computer graphics, computer arts and digital aesthetics. Details.

celebration of Cinefex | Production sessions Special session
Wednesday, August 11, 11 am PDT
This retrospective live event will pay homage to the historic legacy of Cinefex magazine. Where publication was once considered a risky long shot, it is now a renowned cornerstone of the visual effects and film industries. Details.

Making Infographic History Public | Retrospective
Thursday August 12, 5:30 p.m. PDT
In this session, hear from the people who literally wrote the book on the history of computer graphics. Authors Alvy Ray Smith (“A biography of the pixel”), Jacob Gaboury (“Image Objects”), and Mary Whitton, Adele Newtonand Dave Cassick (“SIGGRAPH @50 History”) will discuss their publications and how they help document the industry’s past. Details.

Retrospective sessions will be available for participants at the Ultimate and Enhanced registration levels. Learn more and register for SIGGRAPH 2021, the 48th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, at

MCA, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, bringing together educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address challenges in the field. ACM SIGGRAPH is a special interest group within ACM that serves as an interdisciplinary community for members in research, technology, and applications in computer graphics and interactive techniques. The SIGGRAPH conference is the world’s leading annual interdisciplinary educational experience showcasing the latest in computer graphics and interactive techniques. SIGGRAPH 2021, the 48th annual conference hosted by ACM SIGGRAPH, will take place virtually with live events August 9-13 and on-demand content available August 2-October 29. Click here for news from the conference and its partners.


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