your story. You look and say, “Well, gee,
that’s stupid!” or “That doesn’t make
any sense!” Well, yeah, it’s a bug!
My second observation about the interaction of art and science is related to
the early days of Disney when filmmaking and animation were brand new.
This was also part of a technical revolution at that time. They had to figure out
how to do color and sound and matting
and so forth. They were working out all
of those things for many years before
the technology matured. Now people
look back historically and all they see
is the art that came out of it. Very few
people pay attention to the role of the
changing technology and the excitement of what went on there.
When computer graphics became
practical, it reintroduced technical
change into this field and invigorated
it. I believe that technical change is an
important part of keeping this industry
vital and healthy.
Yet the tendency of most people is
to try to get to a stable place. They just
want the right process, which I think
is the wrong goal. You actually want
to be in a place where you are continually changing things. We’re writing
our new software system now—strictly
speaking, we don’t have to do that. I
believe the primary reason for doing
it is to change what we’re doing. We’re
keeping ourselves off balance, and
that’s difficult to explain to people.
Most people don’t want to be in an
unstable place; they want to go to the
comfort zone, so you’re fighting the
natural inclinations of most people
when you say where we want to be is a
place that’s unstable.
hanRahan: You’re in a very unusual
situation to have so much art and science mixed together. It would be nice
if software companies and technology companies had more of those two
kinds of people involved.
At Stanford we have an arts initia-
tive in place right now, and one reason
it’s popular is not because everybody is
going to become an artist, but because
everybody should learn about art and
the processes that artists use, such
as drawing and sketching and brain-
storming. We think that even if you’re
a mechanical engineer or a computer
scientist, if you get exposed to the arts,
you’ll be more innovative. Art adds so
much to technology and science just
by encouraging a few different ways of
A Conversation with Kurt Akeley
and Pat hanrahan
A Conversation with David Shaw
Future Graphics Architectures