Archive for February, 2010

Week #8: Peter Burr

Peter Burr performing live with Cartune Xprez

Peter Burr is an artist and curator from Portland, OR. He is the founder of Cartune Xprez, an experimental cartoon project that is part video label, part live theater, part psychedelic insurrection, and part touring road show.  As the principle organizer of this project he creates a platform for video artists who remix commercial imagery to the extent of anarchy and animate their way out of Sunday Morning Cartoons. Previous shows have included Bruce Bickford, Takeshi Murata, Paper Rad, and Shana Moulton who have since been featured in the Whitney Biennial, the MOMA in New York, the Sundance Film Festival, and many others.

He has released two DVD publications and organized six international tours resulting in more than 150 events in 19 countries. His touring programs have become a touchstone of this offbeat experimental genre, with his newest touring show offering a rare opportunity to see a theatrical roundup of contemporary animated videos at the Silent Movie Theater on February 28. Adding to the spectacle, his cartoon performance project Hooliganship will combine videos, music, and installation to create an electroluminescent stage show around the screening.

Sebastian Buerkner- "Realms Pin"


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Week #7: John Musker

John Musker continues to be a major force in the art of animation and one of Disney’s greatest resources. From The Little Mermaid and Aladdin to the epic comedy Hercules, his irreverent wit, strong visual style and unconventional approach to storytelling helped to create some of the most successful films in motion picture history.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Musker first began drawing while in grammar school and knew by the age of 8 that he wanted to become an animator. Inspired by such Disney classics as Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio, as well as Bob Thomas’ primer The Art of Animation, he developed a thorough understanding of the animation process. His fascination with comics, cartoons and Mad Magazine further stimulated his desire to draw.

At Loyola Academy, a Jesuit high school in Wilmette, Illinois, Musker became a cartoonist for the school paper. His special brand of caricature, which included outrageous sketches of teachers and school celebrities, quickly caught on. This preoccupation with caricature and cartooning continued throughout his college years at Northwestern University, where he majored in English and drew cartoons for The Daily Northwestern.

Following graduation from college in 1974, Musker put together a portfolio and set out for California to pursue a career as an animator. Initially rejected by Disney, he enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts the following year to master his craft.

After completing his first year, which included a summer internship at the Disney studio, he was offered a full-time job as an animator. This time Musker turned it down, opting instead to complete the second year of his training.

In 1977, Musker started work at Disney, where his two training tests were enthusiastically received and he began as an assistant animator on The Small One. He also animated on The Fox and the Hound and did story work on The Black Cauldron.

Musker and Clements joined creative forces in 1983 to write The Great Mouse Detective and went on to co-direct the film along with Burny Mattinson and Dave Michener. This successful collaboration led to a reteaming on The Little Mermaid, the award-winning film that helped to revitalize feature animation at Disney and generate new excitement for the genre as a whole. Since then, Musker and Clements have co-written and co-directed two of the funniest and most memorable animated features ever, Aladdin and Hercules. Their next project was the Disney animated feature Treasure Planet, a swashbuckling intergalactic adventure based on the classic novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Of his successful partnership with Ron Clements, Musker says, “We’re both relatively agreeable Midwestern types, and we each have slightly different strengths and approaches. Ron is more structure-oriented and makes sure that the overall story doesn’t disintegrate during the course of too many rewrites. I tend to be more concerned with specific details and gags. We constantly go over each other’s scenes and drafts and add new ideas and suggestions in the process.”

Clements and Musker have joined forces once again to usher traditional, hand-drawn animation back to Walt Disney Animation Studios with their next feature animated fairy tale, The Princess and the Frog.

Musker and his wife, Gale, whom he met at Disney, have three children (including twins). They live in La Cañada, California.

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Week #6: iotaCenter Salon

Paul Glabicki - Object Conversation

A Description of the iotaCenter Salon program:

For this special presentation of iotaCenter Salon,  we will be treated to a screening and discussion of new experimental works, along side some animated classics. The host of tonight’s program is Jeremy Speed Schwartz, curator of iotaCenter Salon.

The theme for this Animation Seminar screening is “Strategies of Abstraction.” We will be examining a range of works that have radically different driving forces, and asking questions about aesthetic, rhythmic,and conceptual choices. Students are invited to join the discussion, ask questions and share their impressions of works. Filmmaker Joaquin “Kino” Gil will be present to answer questions about his two films featured in tonight’s line-up.

iotaCenter Salon Program:

Object Conversation– Paul Glabicki

Sausage City– Adam Beckett

3/78 (Objects and Transformations)- Larry Cuba

Come Closer– Hy Hirsh

Unperceived Dimensions– Sylvia Pengilly

8.1– Oerd Van Cujilenborg

Memb– Robert Darroll

One– Michal Levy

Night Fishing with Cormorants– Betsy Kopmar

The Secret Intimacy of Plants– Joaquin “Kino” Gil

Dot Story– Joaquin “Kino” Gil

Hy Hirsh

Hy Hirsh- Come Closer

Adam Beckett- Sausage City

Larry Cuba
Larry Cuba- 3/78

iota Collections and Curatorial Focus:

Although iota’s interests span many interconnected areas of historical experimentation, the medium for which we have the richest collections and resources is experimental film and video work with a special emphasis on abstract film, animation, and films from West Coast artists.

Abstract Film and Animation: Historically, the artistic exploration of abstraction in the moving image has taken on many forms with a wide variety of names: Lumia … Color Music … Mobilcolor … MusiColor … Absolute Film … Video Synthesis … Rhythmic Light … Abstract Animation. Today the medium is commonly referred to as “Visual Music.” We believe that there is a vast amount of interconnectedness between these varied techniques and titles, and that their common artistic goals can unite them into a single art of light and movement. As the first arts organization to dedicate its mission to visual music, we continue to expand our resources and collections in this area.

West Coast Experimental Filmmakers: According to the bulk of literature covering the history of avant-garde filmmaking in the US, New York filmmakers constitute the bulk of the canonical filmmakers in this genre. In his 1960 graduate thesis for UCLA, Robert Pike wrote about the “West Coast Experimental Film Movement” as a movement distinct in form and focus from its east coast counterpart. Pike later formed a distribution company called Creative Film Society, which collected (amongst other genres) a substantial number of experimental works with a distinct emphasis on West Coast artists. In 1996, iotaCenter worked with Pike’s wife Angie to negotiate the donation of of a large number of these films – including works from such artists as Pat O’Neill, Kenneth Anger, John and James Whitney, Ernie Pintoff and Patricia Marx – to our collection.

iota’s mission statement:

iota is a public benefit, non-profit arts organization founded in 1994. Our mission is to inspire both new and existing artists in a historically dispersed and constantly changing technological environment. We aim to do this by foregrounding and contextualizing historically underrepresented experimental works, enriching current scholarly and academic inquiry into the artists and works in our collection, and providing our community of patrons with a foundation with which to a) study historical work and b)create new work. In other words, the end of one work’s life cycle can inspire the beginning of another.

iota is dedicated to fostering a community of artists by engaging them with our four programs: community, exhibition, research and preservation.We work with other like-minded organizations to exhibit and distribute underrepresented experimental works; foster research and discovery by maintaining an archive, on-site library and website; and preserve the films, artwork and paper material in our collections.


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Week #5: Jerry Beck

Jerry Beck is an animation historian and cartoon producer. – and currently co-writes the animation blog CARTOON BREW. His twelve books on the subject include The Animated Movie Guide, Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide and The 50 Greatest Cartoons. He is a former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney, and is currently a consulting producer to Warner Bros., Universal and Disney for their classic animation dvd compilations. Beck has programmed retrospectives for the Annecy and Ottawa Animation Festivals, The Museum of Modern Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He has taught animation history at NYU, SVA, the AFI and UCLA. He is the host/producer of the annual “Worst Cartoons Ever” screening at the Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Beck started his career in film distribution, working at MGM/UA, Orion Classics, Cannon Films and Expanded Entertainment (Tournee of Animation), before starting his own company, Streamline Pictures in 1989, the first U.S. distributor to import anime features such as Otomo’s Akira and Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle In The Sky. Beck was instrumental in launching Animation Magazine, and has written for The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Beck was also the West Coast Bureau Chief for Kidscreen magazine in 2000. He has also created, written and produced animated films for Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon.

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