I’m going to try and keep this post a bit brief, since my last one about SIGGRAPH kinda waxed on. There’s a lot that I can and could say, but I think this post is best left to photographs and a few words.
I’ve volunteered with SIGGRAPH for the last four years. Sometimes when you’re in really deep with something you develop this cultish devotion slash obsession slash infatuation sort of feeling towards it. If I could say “yeah, that’s what I feel” without coming off as totally creepy, I would. But it’s not that. (Or is it? Joking).
This conference allows you to touch the most fascinating and game-changing technologies you’ve ever seen. It showcases images generated by powerful machines manned by talented humans – images that we blink at now but our grandparents and great-grandparents could only have dreamed. It pushes you to envision what the world will look like for our children and grandchildren and fills you with drive… to not only visualize what that future could be, but to start constructing it. Drafting it. Connecting brains to hands to good taste and intellect. Asking for answers to questions that don’t exist. Creating tools you can hold, touch your soul, tools that sixty years from now will make a small child look up at you, still wide-eyed, but not able to understand the word “impossible.”
I help provide the operational support for this conference. It’s staffed by student volunteers, and I’ve been fortunate to be in a position of leadership for the majority of my time with the program. All technology aside, the people in this community of volunteers are the real treasure of the conference. Every time I work with this group it brings a new sense of direction and insight, and this year was no different. In the span of 9 brief, breathtaking days, I learned lessons about relationships, respect, mentorship, empowerment and humility that I’ll carry with me for the rest of mine.
Anaheim is where it all started for me in 2013. The last time I stepped into this building, I was 21, fresh off my very first plane, fresh out of heartbreak, directionless, undergraduate, and not sure what I was signing up for. Coming back to this place 3 years later, I don’t recognize the Emma who was here first. I mean, in some ways I do and always will – but the act of revisiting these life landmarks really forces you to reflect not only on how far you’ve come, but who you’ve become, too.
The person typing this still has as much to learn as the girl from 2013. But the person typing this now can look back at the girl who drank blue curaçao at 2pm in Tangerine on Katella; who said “yes” to jumping into a shared van with strangers who would later become dear friends; who danced in that cute backless mint dress with a stranger in all white… and feel proud of how far she’s come. Because for all the intellect she feels she lacks and poor judgements and indecisiveness, she was a person who was finally unafraid to be herself. This conference and these people drew it out of her. They still do. And I’m still thankful.
I know there will be more to write about SIGGRAPH in future days. But until then, I want to sit with this experience and understand it in all the ways that are mine.