Marc Alexa

Expressive Digital Shapes, or why Michelangelo would have been unable to create the ‘David’ using today’s tools

I talk about concepts and tools for creating digital and real shapes with the help of computers, considering characteristics of human perception, cognition, and established workflows in art and design. Traditionally, real objects were created and optimized based directly on their visual impression. With the introduction of CAD/CAM, this immediate feedback has been lost, replaced by an engineering pipeline that capitalizes on mathematical representations and accurate machining.

The research necessary for the new tools is concerned with data structures and algorithms that support the optimization of virtual and real shapes so that they possess and clearly convey desired features. It is aimed at user interfaces for shape design based on features that humans understand and already use for communication. It also requires techniques that optimize the geometry of shapes so that the desired features stand out in likely viewing and illumination conditions.

While the research is primarily concerned with geometry, it relies on results in perception, cognitive science, mathematics, and other disciplines, and by means of cross-pollination might be useful across the boundaries of computer science.

Short Bio

Marc Alexa is a Professor in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Technical University of Berlin and heads the Computer Graphics group. He is interested in representing, modeling, and processing shapes and images, as well as intuitive interfaces for these tasks. For his earlier work on morphing he received a PhD in Computer Science from Darmstadt University of Technology. He has chaired and served as a member of several committees of major graphics conferences.