The feature length biopic, Pablo, directed by Richard Goldgewicht is a brilliant initiative both in its subject matter as its approach. I’m really looking forward to seeing this film. It is planned for 2010 but here is the all new trailer to whet your appetites.



Stills from Myron Krueger’s Videoplace, 1969-1975.

Two links that I have wanted to post for a long time. Golan Levin’s essay on Computer Vision for Artists and Designers: Pedagogical Tools Novice Programmers. And Myron Krueger’s Video Place and Responsive Environment.

Excerpt from Levin’s essay:
This paper attempts to demystify computer vision for novice programmers, emphasizing the use of vision-based detection and tracking techniques in the interactive media arts. The first section of this article introduces some of the ways in which computer vision has found artistic applications outside of industrial and military research. Section II, Elementary Computer Vision Techniques, presents an overview of several basic but widely-used vision algorithms, with example code included in appendices at the end of the article.



It’s those lazy Sunday afternoon strolls that are at times most fruitful. Especially when one takes the pleasure of perusing amongst the dust and tatter of back-alley second hand book shops. Two rare gems caught my eye on this particular occasion: Graphic Design in Education Television (Beverley Clarke, Lund Humphries London 1974) A short yet precise introduction to understanding the techniques for broadcast design and in particular, educational television. Although a lot of its contents are today redundant, the book is testament to the state of graphic design in early television production. Clarke drives forward her claim for “The importance of graphic design for educational television…..(which) surprisingly has rarely been discussed.” She continues, “This is clearly an omission in a rapidly expanding profession.” Her claim is a bold stance to take for the time, graphic designers receiving little credit for their work in this domain, but foresaw a definite rise in the role of the designer and many educational programs.

Television in the 1960’s and 70’s was considered as an important medium for extending educational curriculum in schools. One of the better known instructional systems in the UK was the Open University which started transmission in 1971 and was an educational partnership with the BBC. The graphic design unit grew out of the parent department of the BBC creating a shift from presentational graphic work to informational graphics.

Interestingly, we have seen a rise in ‘information graphics’ on the Web in the past five years. Melhil Bilgil’s diploma work, ‘History of the Internet’ being one of the latest fine examples of how graphics can inform. Andrew Vande Moere’s superb website, Information Aesthetics documents this trend.


The second book to pop out from the shelves was The Technique of Film Animation (John Halas & Roger Manvell, Focal Press 1959). John Halas wrote incessantly about all aspects of animation and always with the intelligence that the finer realms of this medium demand. What is striking about this collaboration with Manvell, considered as the authoritative source book for its time, is the scope of animation they manage to present. Whole chapters are devoted to commercial work, public relations, propaganda, avant-garde, instructional and educational animation. Indeed, Halas went on to publish a complete book entitled Film & TV Graphics, a comprehensive survey of graphics in the domain from around the world.

>>> More links on Information Design

New York Lightboard Piece © Nation Film Board of Canada

The National Film Board of Canada was commissioned by the Canadian tourist board to create a film that would entice Americans to travel to Canada. The work was taken on by Norman McLaren who made a nine minute silent film using black india ink on clear white film stock. It was shown on the giant billboard in New York’s Times Square in 1961. The completed film is a purely informational work, communicating clearly the many cultural sides to Canada as well as illustrating each major city’s main attractions. It is simple in form yet the animations are absolutely stunning, even by today’s standards, using a number of typographic compositions that metamorphose into an array of graphic shapes. McLaren’s playfulness really comes through and his mastery of morphing shapes, a trait that runs through much of his work, act as effective transitions, creating a seamless animation that had many a New Yorker stop in his
his stride.

>>> Watch a selection of Norman McLaren’s works here

© Spacesick Publishing 1964

A nice selection of book cover designs from Spacesick’s “I Can Read Movies” series.
>>> HERE

Achooo Mr. Kerrooschev 1960, 1:43 min, b&w, sound

“Stan VanDerBeek is the Tom Swift of the underground, an inventor of processes and approaches. He is also a collagist, a collisionist and like Georges Méliès, whom he claims as godfather, an illusionist. His earliest films such as What Who How, are animated collages, his midway films such as Breathdeath are collages of film technique and his latest works including Environmental Movie-Drome, are collages of media.”
Sheldon Renan.

A La Mode 1959, 6:18 min, b&w, sound

UBUWeb have just put up 15 films by Stan VanDerBeek on their website. This is a wonderful collection of some of his most important works. VanDerBeek is often cited as one of the pioneers of computer animation and multimedia art and his musings can be watched here on the topic. I recently sat down for a viewing of some of his earlier works, Science Friction and A La Mode which are pertinent films in regards to the history of motion graphic technique. The use of collage and cut out, mixed with bold graphic elements, drawn animation and video are akin to the Beat Generation and Monty Python, indeed Terry Gilliam has been quoted to mention VanDerBeek as a huge inspiration. That inspiration remains strong to this day. There a hundreds of motion graphic pieces that draw from this technique, a good majority of which I’m sure have little conscious thought for this man’s achievements fifty years earlier. At the time of creating Science Friction, VanDerBeek was trying to evolve what he calles a “litera-graphic image, an international sign language of fantasy and satire. There is a social literature through filmic pantomime, that is, non-verbal comedy satire; a ‘comic-ominous’ image that pertains to our time and interests which Hollywood and the commercial cinema are ignoring.”

The graphic image has become an international sign. A system of signs that are being used for means of visual communication whether it be political, commercial, educational or cultural. Some more comedy satire though is in dire need for today’s serious matters. More satire please, more satire !

>>> 15 FIlms by Stan VanDerBeek
>>> Machine Art
>>> Exhibition & article

© National Film Board of Canada

© National Film Board of Canada

© National Film Board of Canada

There’s an amazing amount of historical and technical information over at the National Film Board of Canada website. One of the most interesting links leads to an archive of writings, photos, objects and artwork by Norman McLaren. For those interested in his artistic as well as technical approach to animated film, you’ll be spoiled for choice. McLaren documented practically all his works and they make for revealing reading. He also embarked upon a little history hunting himself, writing a short piece on animated sound, entitled, A Brief Summary of the Early History of Animated Sound on Film. / by Norman McLaren. – 1952.

Other important texts include a booklet on cameraless animation. A statement written by McLaren commentating on key themes in his work. And a letter written by François Truffaut to McLaren.

Full Archive Here >>>

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