ACM History Committee

ACM SIGGRAPH Art Show Archive Project

By Bonnie Mitchell and Jan Searleman


The SIGGRAPH Art Show Archive project is currently well underway thanks to the support of the ACM and SIGGRAPH History Committees. The goal of this project is to preserve the history and achievements showcased at the ACM SIGGRAPH Art Shows from 1980 to the present, and make it accessible to researchers, academics, students, and the community at large. The project we are working on is the development of an innovative online digital archival collection of the art works, scholarly papers and art presentations from the SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia conferences, as well as the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Art Community Exhibitions. Throughout the decades, ACM SIGGRAPH has been documenting art exhibitions and submissions through print media (catalogs) and individually-built conference websites (more recently) which contain minimal information. The older websites are now outdated—currently database driven websites are the norm. Thus it was essential for us to develop an innovative infrastructure and online database to allow for the further documentation and presentation of these scholarly and creative materials.

In June 2017, Jan Searleman and Bonnie Mitchell assembled a team of students and have been meeting with them weekly (or more) since then. Some students focus on content acquisition, formatting and management while others concentrate on programming the back-end and interface. The information architecture had already been designed prior to June but evolved significantly to include new information.


The team leaders consisted of: Bonnie Mitchell, Professor of Digital Arts, Bowling Green State University and Jan Searleman, Adjunct Research Professor of Computer Science, Clarkson University. The students are all from Bowling Green State University: Troy Yarnell, programmer; Joe Jadach; Interface designer and programmer; Breeana Hinton, content management; Amanda Glass, content acquisition.

Progress to Date

The ACM SIGGRAPH Art Show Archive team has created a main page for each of the 37 SIGGRAPH Art Shows, 10 SIGGRAPH Asia Art Shows, and 7 Digital Art Community Online Exhibitions. These main pages contain basic information about each of the art exhibitions, including the theme and title, chair(s), location, jury members, committee members, reviewers, acknowledgments, and any available auxiliary information.

In addition, we have also entered all information related to 20 of these art shows. This includes 1,783 people pages, 1,455 artworks and 111 writings/presentations. People who have contributed to the SIGGRAPH Art Shows include artists, chairs, authors, speakers/presenters, collaborators, art reviewers, jury members, writing reviewers, committee members and in some cases companies that have submitted design work. Each person has an associated affiliation, location, short bio, personal website, and unique ID from VIAF, ISNI or the Library of Congress, along with any other relevant material. Not all fields for the people entered have been filled in – only the information found in the SIGGRAPH Catalogs.

Each artwork has the ability to have an associated digital image, the artist(s) names, type of artwork, collaborators (if any), title, medium, year created, size, artist statement, exhibition year, technical information, process information, contributors, sponsors, keywords and video (if available). Artwork types are 2D & Wall-Hung, 3D and Sculpture, Animation & Video, Architecture, Art Site, Artist Book, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Design, Installation, Interactive & Monitor-Based, and Performance. In some cases, a single artwork may consist of multiple, related images.

Writings may include title, author(s), contributors, writing type, affiliation at the time of the writing, session title, abstract, references, exhibition, keywords, and a pdf (if available). Writing types consist of Essay, Panel/Roundtable, Paper, or Sketch/Art talk.

Presentations include title, type, presenter(s), abstract, exhibition, keywords, and file. Types of presentations are Panel, Roundtable or Talk.

Innovative Infrastructure

One of the strengths of the approach we have taken is that all data is dynamically connected through taxonomies and data relationships. The page generation is automated through customized templates that tap into the database. The underlying infrastructure allows a user to view all of the artworks and writings for any given exhibition, and search for a person by last name and see all of the contributions that person has made to SIGGRAPH Art Shows throughout the years and more. The archive is also flexible enough to be adapted to be used for other SIGGRAPH and ACM content.


At SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, Bonnie Mitchell and Jan Searleman organized a panel focused on SIGGRAPH History, “Recapturing Our Past: Archiving SIGGRAPH’s History”. Mary Whitton and Terrance Masson were invited to also present their projects. Two of the students on the Archive team, Breeana Hinton and Troy Yarnell, attended the conference and also assisted with the SIGGRAPH Art Show Archive presentation. Both students received a huge round of applause and thanks for helping preserve SIGGRAPH’s history. The presentation room was full and the attendees were very enthusiastic and eager to learn more about the archive.

Future Work

Now that the architecture of the archive is stable, we plan to continue adding content until all of the SIGGRAPH, SIGGRAPH Asia Art Shows and Digital Arts Community Online Shows are fully entered into the archive. Some of the earliest art shows in the 1980s pose a challenge in that the material was not documented via a catalog. We also intend to experiment with different methods of visualizing the data. For example, a google map containing pins showing the locations of all artists who have contributed material would be interesting. Another visualization would be to develop a timeline that traces how 2D digital art has developed aesthetically from the 80s to the present.


Although we have made significant progress, it is apparent that to complete the project, we need more time, personnel, and financial resources. We recently began working with Marla Schweppe at RIT to integrate her student’s digital art history research into the 1980s section of the archive. We have received access to older art catalogs and other materials from Cynthia Rubin, David Em and the RIT Library. We are currently in search of grant money to continue our efforts and complete the entry of the remaining data.

Present State

The ACM SIGGRAPH Art Show Archive is available at:

ACM SIGGRAPH Art Show Archive