ACM SIGGRAPH Announces 2012 Award Honorees

ACM SIGGRAPH is excited to announce its 2012 award recipients: Greg Turk, Computer Graphics Achievement Award; Karen Liu, Significant New Researcher; Jean-Pierre Hébert, Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art; and David Kasik, Outstanding Service Award.

The awards will be presented during the SIGGRAPH Keynote session on Monday, August 6, at 11:00 am in Los Angeles. The awardees will give their individual talks on Monday, August 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm.

Listed below is more background on the recipients.

Greg Turk, Computer Graphics Achievement Award

Greg Turk is being recognized with the 2012 Computer Graphics Achievement Award for his contributions to physically-inspired mathematical application in graphics, particularly his work on texture synthesis, geometric modeling, and physical simulation involving thin structures.

Greg’s Ph.D. thesis work on textures generated by reaction-diffusion equations, a notion originally proposed by Alan Turing, showed how to generate realistic-looking patterns like leopard spots or zebra stripes. Furthermore, in studying these “in situ” rather than via a parameterization, he developed a physically-inspired sample-selection scheme for surfaces, in which adjacent samples repelled one another, leading to a sampling pattern with roughly equal inter-sample distances. This early work on reaction-diffusion evolved into other texture research throughout his career: texture synthesis by example, stitching textures using graph cuts, geometric textures, texture transfer from one shape to another, and even the formation of patterns of vegetation in wetlands.

He has also done extensive work on meshes, from image-guided simplification, in which the metric for simplifying a polyhedral object was view-dependent, to automatic remeshing techniques to improve mesh characteristics needed for faithful simulation and other computations, to “zippered meshes”, in which multiple geometric scans of an object are joined into a single continuous whole, most notably the “Stanford bunny,” a mesh that has served as a test-case in hundreds of SIGGRAPH papers.

Above and beyond his research, Greg has been an enormously effective advisor and mentor, not just to his own students, but to many others with whom he’s come in contact. He’s always willing to share advice and encouragement. His short essay on writing technical reviews, produced when he served as the SIGGRAPH 2008 papers chair, has served as a guideline for responsibility and civility in our field’s reviews ever since.

Greg is currently a Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is a member of the School of Interactive Computing and the Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center.  He received a Ph.D. in computer science in 1992 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Karen Liu, Significant New Researcher Award

ACM SIGGRAPH is delighted to present the 2012 Significant New Researcher award to Karen Liu, in recognition of her pioneering contributions in the field of computer animation, particularly her work in optimization and control of human motion. Liu’s seminal contributions lie in physics-based animation, character animation, and computational biomechanics. Her work can be broadly characterized as employing optimization and physical simulation to discover fundamental and natural patterns of human motion.

Karen has amassed an impressive body of work beginning with her first ACM SIGGRAPH paper in 2002, “Synthesis of Complex Dynamics Character Motion from Simple Animation”. Her work is marked by a principled and biomechanically sound approach to modeling the human form. This scientific grounding for her optimizations causes her results to naturally represent such characteristics of lifelike behavior as appropriate forces and energy efficient strategies. Her work is rife with compelling examples that span much of human behavior and include a small child pulling on the hand of a parent as they walk together (“Composition of Complex Optimal Multi-Character Motions”), human grasps that include the soft contacts of the figures (“Dextrous Manipulation from a Grasping Pose” and “Controlling Physics-Based Characters Using Soft Contacts”), and the elastic elements in shoes, tendons and ligaments that enable natural gait patterns on rough terrain (“Learning Physics-Based Motion Style with Nonlinear Inverse Optimization”). Her recent research has expanded on the theme of optimization to create motion and control for creatures swimming through water (“Articulated Swimming Creatures”).

Karen Liu joined Georgia Tech in August 2007 as an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing. Before moving to Atlanta, she was an assistant professor at the University of Southern California, after she received her Ph.D. and M.S. in 2005 and 2001 from the University of Washington. Karen has been honored by the Georgia Tech Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award (2011), a Sloan Research Fellowship (2010), the Young Innovators Under 35 (Technology Review, 2007), and a NSF Career Award
(2007).

Jean-Pierre Hébert, Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art

Jean-Pierre Hébert is being recognized with the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art for his pioneering achievements in creating art through computer programming and leading the way towards new forms of creative expression using algorithms and innovative techniques.

Hébert’s work uses the computer algorithm at its heart, at least in a technical sense (as he points out below, it is the aesthetic and spiritual imperatives that come first). As one of the founders of the ‘algorists’ this is only natural, but, as with all digital artists, the particular algorithms he has turned to have a personal and unique enquiry behind them. Also remarkable in his work is the range of media to which Hébert has employed over the years. The image above shows just one example, while the use of sand as a medium is one of the most delightfully unexpected applications of the algorithm in art.

Algorithms: Hébert has been drawn to algorithms with a mathematical basis, particularly those which seem to expose the underlying structures of the physical world. Hence we see traces of natural processes in the images, those of water, the forces that shape fabrics, the effect of winds on vapour and sand.

The Plotter: Although Hébert has experimented with a wide range of media, the majority of his pieces are executed with the plotter, enabling the use of high-quality inks and art papers. Plotters are generally being replaced in the industries that used them with laser or inkjet printers, so artists like Hébert are having to rely on machines that can no longer be replaced.

The Virtual Plotter: Hébert has written software that generates bitmap images from the plotter codes that his programs generate. This means that a ‘virtual’ plot can be generated and saved to disk for printing with high-quality light-fast printing processes now available. The Virtual Plotter acts a little like the ‘rasterisation’ routines that convert a PostScript or other vector information into a bitmap for printing or manipulation in a paint program. However, the Virtual Plotter needs to preserve the sequence of mark-making to capture the original plotted image. The actual marks that the pens make on paper, and the way that ink bleeds into the fibres, are harder to simulate however.

Sand as a Medium: Although Hébert prefers to keep the details of the mechanisms hidden, his sand pieces allow for his algorithmic explorations to drive a ball through sand in order to create relatively ephemeral artworks reminiscent of Zen gardens. A natural extension of the process has been the introduction of the time element: the movement of the ball through the sand is part of the piece, unlike in the creation of the plotted works.

Since 2003, he has been an artist in residence at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

David Kasik, Outstanding Service Award

For his leadership, dedication, and expertise, ACM SIGGRAPH recognizes David J. Kasik’s commitment to our community with the 2012 Outstanding Service Award.

Dave has been actively involved in SIGGRAPH for many years. He attended the very first SIGGRAPH conference in 1974 and is the only person to attend every SIGGRAPH conference!  He has contributed to the organization in almost every way possible: technically, logistically and organizationally. His main organizational contributions
have been in two areas: the conference exhibits program and the development of a mentoring program for high school students.

A major factor in the growth of SIGGRAPH, both the organization and the conference, throughout the late 70s and especially in the 80s and 90s, was the rapidly evolving use of graphics in 3D CAD. Nowhere was this excitement more evident than on the exhibits show floor at the annual conference. Income from exhibits helped SIGGRAPH explore new ideas for the conference and adapt and innovate to match the changing needs of the computer graphics community.

During the 80s the annual conference grew from a strong base developed by volunteers to a professionally managed conference with the same amazing qualities. Key to this was a close relationship between the professional management firms and the volunteers. The teams were responsible for ensuring an appropriate balance between a “business-like” approach and the grass-roots enthusiasm that propelled SIGGRAPH to the top rank of ACM conferences. Dave was a major driver of this transformation. He was volunteer Exhibits Chair for SIGGRAPH ‘80 in Seattle, the first year a professional exhibits management firm was employed, with all 25,000 square feet of the Seattle Coliseum selling out. This set a pattern that established exhibitors as equal partners with other stakeholders. Dave returned as volunteer Exhibits Chair in Orlando in 1994, selling out 104,000 square feet. He served as Exhibitor Advisory Committee Chair from 1981-92, providing continuity and an active voice for the exhibitor community.

Equally important is Dave’s contribution to SIGGRAPH’s future. As head of Computer Graphics Pioneers a decade ago, he established a mentoring program to attract high school students to computer graphics. He has had a leading role in this organization every year since then. His dedication and enthusiasm for bringing new people into our community is truly impressive. Over 100 students have participated to date, with perhaps half going on to careers in computer graphics or related areas.

Dave Kasik is Boeing’s Senior Technical Fellow in visualization and interactive techniques, exploring new ways to visualize huge amounts of geometric and complex nongeometric data. He earned a Bachelor’s at Johns Hopkins University (1970), and a Masters in Computer Science at the University of Colorado (1972).

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