Archive for the 'conference' Category

Real Knowledges, Virtual Designs Panel at AIGA Converge

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

I just presided as chair on a panel discussion around emerging design practices in VR called Real Knowledges, Virtual Designs: A Roundtable On Conducting Practice-Based Research In Virtual Reality at the AIGA Converge Conference in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. The group featured an eclectic collection of VR practitioners including me, Samantha Gorman from Tender Claws, Kate Parsons from FLOAT, Tonia Beglari from Browntourage, and Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz from RUST Ltd. It was nice to hang out at USC with Adam again, who put this all together and was the best Teacher Assistant ever a few years back, when I taught IML-400 there.

Visiting UCSB to talk about Virtual Reality

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

My friend and computational geometry genius Pablo Colapinto invited me to give a talk on VR at the Media Arts and Technology Graduate Program in his alma mater UCSB. I met Pablo a while ago when visiting Colombia for a similar reason, where we quickly bonded over symmetry groups, OpenGL and cinema.

Instead of talking about what’s usually understood as Virtual Reality, I decided to talk about what Virtual Reality means to a person like me, currently working in the field within the constraints and requirements of an overly supportive yet confused and almost pathologically optimistic entertainment industry. In that context, there were three points that I wanted to make as clear as possible:

There are ways to talk to the Web that go beyond the page/scroll metaphor —imagine pulling data from the web like you pull thoughts, impressions and memories from the corners of your mind.
Immersive video matters and it requires a language of its own —memories and other sampled content are at least as important as simulations.
The web browser is today the most powerful storytelling machine —the web browser is the only platform we have today that can fully touch across all aspects of digital media.

The content of my talk will eventually be available online here.


After my presentation and the discussion that followed, I was invited by Director JoAnn Kuchera-Morin to play with their AlloSphere, and I spent the next few hours immersed inside the most spectacular stereoscopic scientific visualizations you could ever imagine. There is something about the AlloSphere that makes it incredibly effective at rendering virtual objects in space when wearing 3D glasses. You can almost touch the damn things floating around you. I took some pictures but none of them make it justice. Just like with Virtual Reality, you have to experience it yourself before you can fully understand what it is.

New Context Conference – From Cinema to Virtual Reality

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

The New Context Conference, an annual conference hosted by Digital Garage and Joi Ito, co-founder of Digital Garage and current director of the MIT Media Lab, took place this year at Toranomon Hills in Tokyo, and focused on The Future of Digital Currency and Virtual Reality.

I was invited by Digital Garage to represent Wevr and talk about our virtual reality cinematic work. I also participated in a panel moderated by Joi with Daito Manabe and Rei Inamoto. I was proud to be part of such an impressive line-up.



Tilings and Friends: Celebrating Roli

Sunday, May 18th, 2014


A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to participate in a math conference called Kaleidoscope. The purpose of this conference was to celebrate the 60th birthday of an important Mexican mathematician called Roli by gathering the people he has influenced to talk about stuff he likes.

Roli happens to be a very good friend of mine, as well as one of my all-time mentors. Together with Luis Montejano and Jorge Arocha, he introduced me to contemporary geometry, and helped me find new directions in digital art and computational design. It was a big deal for me when I was tasked to deliver the closing keynote to the event. A great honor, and a big challenge: I was expected to hold myself together for an hour in front of an audience of world-class mathematicians, and I haven’t practiced any mathematics since my days at MIT. But I have never stopped making math-inspired art, and luckily, most of the conference attendants were my friends, and there was a deep pool of shared memories I could use to weave a thread through my personal experience of mathematics, art, and Roli.

My talk, entitled Tilings and Friends, narrated the story of a thirty year old friendship centered in a passion for the intersection of art, history, and combinatorial geometry in the form of tilings and low dimensional polytopes. Here is an excerpt from my notes:

If you read the abstract of my presentation you might have realized it didn’t make a lot of sense. At best I hope it made you laugh. It was inspired by a legitimate desire to challenge traditional representations of social engagement as mere connections in a network where individuals are reduced to labeled points.

I’d like to imagine—if not propose—alternative models, that will hopefully reflect upon things like friendship in a more truthful manner. Perhaps I am naive to be saying this, but we all know there is more to friendship than a simple connection. This is why most of our friends in Facebook are not really our friends.

Friendship is a process.

The reason I’m here is the friendship relationship I have with Roli, and with a group of mathematicians that were my teachers and classmates around twenty years ago.

To honor this relationship, and especially the projection of it that finds Roli at it’s epicenter, I want to suggest a model of friendship that goes beyond combinatorics, and takes into consideration the geometry of personality.

In this model, friends are tiles that share matching edges and fill portions of the plane. A friendship starts when a set of tiles match or fit-in together, and evolves as more tiles are added to the plane.

This friendship will be compromised once the tiles reach a configuration where they fail to tile.

A number of years ago, Roli told me a story about a construction worker or “maestro mosaiquero” as one would call him in traditional Alupyecan lingo. This worker’s job was to take piles of tiles and paste them over the surface of bathroom walls. He got used to work with squares and hexagons the most, a lot of times printed with patterns that limited the ways in which the tiles could be arranged. Through years of practice, he developed a good intuition of the seventeen crystallographic groups without ever knowing of their existence.

“What will he do if we give him a box full of pentagons?” —asked Roli. Years later I proposed this same question as the basis for my final project in the Symbolic Programming class at MIT, and the professor almost offered me a PHD based on it… just a good example of the depth in Roli’s insight.

For the next half hour I am going to touch upon ideas that are connected to an aspect of Roli that is not easy to find: His everlasting desire to establish a functional creative conversation about mathematical ideas with non-mathematicians.

One of them being me.

I met Roli a little over thirty years ago because he is the cool brother of my best friend from junior high and he once took us to a soccer game in the Azteca. We were roughly twelve or thirteen years old, and I didn’t see him again until college. But I remember that day well. A gentle and quiet man, he took us back to the apartment where he lived with Irene and Felipe in Villa Olimpica, and offered us limonadas. Felipe was probably seven eights of a year old, and was wearing a home-made helmet to keep him from bumping into furniture corners. There was a big tome of the lord of the rings on a table, and a blackboard with a drawing of something I had never seen before: a mathematical graph.

If you’re still with me after all this text, you probably got the picture. My keynote went really well and the conference was a great experience, hanging out with old friends and meeting some of my heroes from back in the day, like the legendary Egon Schulte (master of the polytopes), Asia Ivic Weiss (H.S.M. Coxeter‘s last student), and the not less amazing Chaim Goodman-Strauss, who’s had his own fantastic incursions in the realm of math-art.

Propagación de Ficciones

Sunday, October 20th, 2013


Maria Paula Lorgia y AnaDK me invitaron a participar con una plática en el Seminario Transmedia y Narrativas Audiovisuales 2013 en Bogotá, Colombia. Después de mucho deliberar, AnaDK y yo decidimos expresarnos en forma conjunta, y combinar nuestros pontos de vista con el objeto de discutir los populares conceptos de Transmedia y World Building:

Los términos importados World Building, originado en la ciencia ficción estadounidense para describir la construcción de escenarios capaces de albergar mitologías y épicas completas, y Narrativa Transmedia, originado en discusiones académicas recientes de teoría crítica para describir métodos de propagación de historias o superhistorias a través de plataformas múltiples, describen en si mismos técnicas de construcción narrativa que aprovechan al máximo los recursos de comunicación característicos del medio digital.

Esta charla busca despejar el aura esotérica que rodea ambos términos al examinar conceptos paralelos y ejemplos que aprovechan técnicas similares para crear sistemas narrativos abiertos, y establecer, de una u otra manera, un espacio de agencia creativa y participación para el público que los consume.

La charla completa se encuentra disponible en YouTube para quienes puedan estar interesados:

En el ámbito del evento tuve el privilegio de conocer y convivir con fascinantes personajes en la impresionante ciudad de Bogotá. Entre ellos cabe mencionar a nuestro viejo amigo vVvA y su paisano/tocayo Andrés Burbano, que hablaron de Modos y Logicas Transmedia, y Arqueología de la Ficcion, respectivamente (y fueron condensados en el mismo video, a pesar de hablar por separado), y el artista metamático digital Pablo Colapinto, quien nos habló de los laberintos en su cabeza.

La ciudad de Bogotá respira profundidad, color e historia. Una vez más, estar de visita en América Latina me hizo revivir lo familiar, todas las cosas que me han hecho falta durante mi exilio Norteamericano, incluso viviendo en una ciudad invadida por mexicanos como es Los Ángeles. Aquí hay unas imágenes que jalé del Instagram:

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Gira TelmexHub UNAM

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

@Nachotl de PaseUsted me invitó a participar en la Gira TelmexHub UNAM, donde impartí una conferencia enfocada en el tema de La Experiencia Narrativa en La Era Digital. Básicamente propuse la misma linea argumental con que participé la vez pasada, explorando la intersección entre comunicación social, teoría de la información y cultura, pero más interesado en el espacio en que contamos y consumimos historias, en lugar del espacio del arte en general. Como era de esperarse, el resultado termina poniendo más atención a la industria del entretenimiento que al sistema del arte.

Me llenó de gusto tener la oportunidad de compartir mi trabajo y mis ideas con los estudiantes de la UNAM –mi alma mater– y haberme encontrado con una Cultura Digital vibrante, llena de propuestas y preguntas.

Al igual que cuando estuve en Puebla, la Gira TelmexHub demostró reunir una buena colección de talentos, entre quienes tuve oportunidad de conocer y convivir con el educador e inventor Raul Gutierrez, el cineasta experimental Jacob Krupnik y su productora Youngna Park, y el poderoso taquero electrónico Redmarker, a quien ya conocía por cierto.

A note on Sopa/Pipa

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

We all know most of the decisions made in the U.S. congress have a direct impact on the rest of the world. Even though most of our countries suffer from some degree of internet censorship, and some people might suggest that we should protest our own disastrous legislations first, the state of the internet in the United States is something we all use to our advantage, something worth protecting, and a good-enough example to look after for some. Perhaps it’s time for the world to take a stand and USE THE INTERNET to tell the U.S. congress that people everywhere have something to say about the decisions they make, like for example, that SOPA/PIPA belongs in the toilet.

I am not going to black out my site because, honestly, I don’t think anybody will care, but in case you happen to see this today (or any other day), I leave you here in the hands of Science Fiction superstar Cory Doctorow, delivering a keynote where he paints a pretty good picture about the current state of things. Additionaly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has more information on this and other issues central to your freedom online.

Update: The same Cory Doctorow just posted another video on boingboing, where the Khan Academy explains the implications for legitimate sites in a world where SOPA/PIPA is law.

Update Two: Clay Shirky’s take on SOPA/PIPA “Get ready because more is coming”: