Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

From Kant to Computation: Why Aesthetics Matter Now More than Ever, and What We Can Do about It

David Salasin

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
4:00 - 5:00 pm

David Salesin
Professor, Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington and Senior Principal Scientist and manager of the Creative Technologies Lab at Adobe Systems (SF)

Downloadable PDF


Our sense of aesthetics is grounded in the natural world, our place as living things. Yet our intimate connection with nature grows more tenuous every day. Indeed, within the last year the world passed an important milestone: for the first time, half of all people on the planet now live in urban rather than rural environments. In addition, more and more of our intellectual lives are spent in virtual worlds; a recent study, for instance, showed that American children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 6-1/2 hours a day attending to some form of media, such as TV, videos, computers, and games. In an increasingly manmade, urbanized, and technological virtual world it is imperative that we keep aesthetic things in our experience as a counterbalance to these forces. In this talk, I will give a brief history of aesthetics, argue the need for incorporating aesthetics into our real and virtual environments, and discuss how computer graphics can play an essential role in this pursuit.

Adobe's Creative Technologies Lab: Inventing the Future Collaboratively

Adobe was established twenty-six years ago with the invention of PostScript, work that redefined how people share documents around the world. Ever since, Adobe has been reinventing the way people engage with ideas and information. As Adobe continues to grow, deepening its technology in documents, graphics, and imaging - and broadening into new areas - where is the necessary innovation going to come from? The best strategy, we believe, is to leverage the vast amount of research already taking place at universities around the world by partnering and collaborating with them. To this end, Adobe has established the Creative Technologies Lab, with offices in Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco, in close proximity to leading universities. Our researchers, who work in computer graphics, vision, audio, and HCI, not only maintain close collaborations with academic groups around the world but also have the chance to participate in transforming their research into products used by millions. In this talk, I will give an overview of the Creative Technology Labs and describe some of our most recent research.


Salesin's research interests include computer graphics, visualization, image-based rendering. He received his Ph.D. at Stanford in 1991 and joined the Univ. of Washington faculty in 1992. He has led Adobe’s Creative Technologies Lab since 2005. He has also worked at Lucasfilm and at Pixar, and has co-founded two companies (serving as Chief Scientist): Inklination and Numinous Technologies. When the latter was acquired by Microsoft in 1999, he worked there as a Senior Researcher until 2005 (remaining on the UW faculty). Further information on Salesin is at:

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