December 4, 2008
Whoa! Christmas shows up early for Montreal animation lovers. This year's Sommets du cinema d'animation de Montreal (Montreal Animation Summit) literally explodes this year, with an expanded lineup, including exhibits and great guests.

As in recent years, Marco de Blois, animation curator at the Cinematheque quebecoise, has gathered some of the year's best animated shorts in two programs screening on Friday and Saturday. This year, the audience gets to vote on their favourite and award a public prize to the best director.

This is just the beginning. This weekend includes a program of the notable international student films from 2006, 2007, and 2008; the best recent Canadian animation; and a free screening of Acme Filmworks and Animation World Network's The Show of Shows, presented by Ron Diamond.

I'm not done yet: A major restrospective, Du praxinoscope au cellulo (From Praxinoscope to Cel), is divided into three programs, two of them specifically targeted to include younger viewers. This film series focuses on the evolution of French moving images, and touches on drawings, marionettes, and pin, cell, cut-out, mixed media, and computer animation. This is an extraordinary chance to see shorts by Emile Cohl, Ladislaw Starevich, and Paul Grimault, among others.

Now get a load of these prices.
Free 0–5 years accompanied by an adult
Free Show of Shows
$4 6–15 years
$6 students and seniors
$7 adults
$50 CinéSommets passport, all-access pass


For the full schedule, including parties and concurrent exhibits, download the PDF program.

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August 13, 2008

Gallery Nucleus in Los Angeles will be hosting The Great Great Grand Show, beginning August 16th and continuing until September 1st.

Saturday's opening reception runs from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and you're encouraged to show up in historical garb if you have it (ninjas and pirates welcome).

Two of the artists exhibiting are Scott Campbell and Graham Annable, both Hickee comics anthology contributors. Scott C has also contributed work to I Am 8-Bit and Totoro Forest Project, and Graham's known for his comic foray, Grickle, whose misadventures continue in animated form. He is also a story artist on Coraline, Laika's much anticipated feature. Here's The Last Duet On Earth, a little future history until you get to see Graham's latest, From Whence Before Times, which debuts at the show.



The show is rounded out by Flight regular Israel Sanchez, and Jon Klaasen, who animated the super-sweet Eye for Annai. Several of us fps-side are huge fans of this short.



So if you're in LA on Saturday, you know where you need to be.

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November 21, 2007
(click image for complete schedule.)

UPDATE: There is a misprint on page 2 of the program. Saturday screenings are as follows: Program 2 at 5:oo p.m., Program 1 at 7:00 p.m.

The Montreal stop of the annual Sommets du Cinema d'Animation will be at the Cinematheque Quebecoise on Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24. Over two days, Montrealers can see some of the best animation shorts in recent memory, from the haunting Madame Tutli-Putli, the harrowing Milk Teeth, to the laugh-out-loud funny Cold Calling. And that's just Friday Program 1 (both programs are showing on both days). Almost every short in both lineups is a Quebec premiere.

It all begins on Friday at 5:00 p.m. with the launch of the Isabelle au Bois Dormant/Sleeping Betty exhibit featuring the latest work of Claude Cloutier.

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September 21, 2007
Last year, the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art (also just known as Museum of Tokyo or MOT) held a notable exhibition, The Art of Disney. A beautiful catalogue was also published for the exhibit featuring works that were once thought lost. This summer, the DVD catalogue of the exhibit was released in Japan as well.

I decided I was going to see whatever exhibit was showing at the museum when I was in Tokyo, as I like to do in any new city I visit. It ended up the major exhibit was also animation-related this year: a retrospective of work by Art Director Kazuo Oga.

Kazuo Oga worked on a diverse animation projects such as Barefoot Gen, Dagger of Kamui and Wicked City before creating the background art for My Neighbor Totoro at Studio Ghibli. He went on to work on all of the subsequent features for the studio, and last year, directed his own film for the studio, Taneyamagahara no Yoru.

The lush scenery he creates with his brush is truly breathtaking, and the museum selection was as dense as an of the green forest background he is known for. The sheer number of pieces was more than I have seen for comparatively-sized art exhibitions of any type, and I have never seen its like for animation artwork, mostly from the Studio Ghibli archives. He captures the spirit of the countryside, but also of everyday Japan with a balance of love and accuracy.

Almost all of the art is unphotographable. Near the end of the exhibit, after a room of multiplane setups, there are a number of backgrounds that are blown up so that people can pose in front of them, but most people just step back in wonder to take a whole new look at the art. (I couldn't help posing with Totoro, though.)

Afterward, everyone was invited to fold an origami Totoro in an open room, with mini-backgrounds. Here's mine.

Like the Art of Disney catalogue, a catalogue has been published for this exhibit as well. A DVD is forthcoming for the end of the year. The exhibit has been extended until September 30. If you find yourself in Tokyo, you won't want to miss it.

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September 18, 2007


After I attended the closing ceremonies at the Worldcon in Yokohama, a group of us, mostly Canadians, Americans, Brits and Aussies, hopped on a bus for Mitaka to visit the Ghibli Museum. The visit was extraordinary, but, like much that involves Studio Ghibli artwork, unphotographable. If you find yourself in Japan, and happen to be in Mitaka, be forewarned that pictures can only be taken of the grounds and the exterior of the building.

I'd rather not give anything away, because part of the fun is discovering the place for oneself. I was with one person who had already been there more than once, and he still had a great time, but I think that first time - well, no one should ruin certain parts for you.

What I will say is that you will get more than your money's worth. If you live in Japan, you must wait to acquire tickets, as the demand is huge. Many of the people I spoke to during my trip were surprised to know that many non-Japanese knew all his films and loved them, too. At least the people at the museum realize this, and with a little preparation, you can acquire your tickets but not have to wait the months that a resident would.

The museum is not huge but packs a lot in. It's surprising how much is still lodged in the space. Perhaps it is due to the size, but this is not the Studio Ghibli Museum, it is mostly the Miyazaki Museum (Hayao mostly, but nods to the latest film by son Goro). I didn't mind until I really stopped and thought about it, but I would not have minded seeing work from other films and I didn't find anything related to Iblard Jikan at the museum or even its gift store. That's not to say the exhibits were not satisfying or that it was solely composed of Miyazaki's art. In fact, a lot of visual information is provided on the process of making animation, including several variations of zoetropes. A large portion of the permanent exhibit is devoted to conceptual art. The Ghibli Museum makes space for foreign art and animation as well. I just thought I might see work from other Ghibli efforts, such as Whisper of the Heart or Pom Poko.

An exhibit of a film Hayao Miyazaki decided not to make, The Three Bears, was currently on display, and featured Russian artwork from children's books, and stills from Yuri Norstein's work. There have been past exhibits on Pixar and Aardman Animations, and during my visit, books and posters for My Love and Azur and Asmar were prominently displayed, both of which have screened or are screening in Japan, but may get lost in the cracks otherwise.

The gift store: Simply put, a Totoro explosion.

A final note: Instead of feeling miserable about the pictures you cannot take, and feeling frustrated when you should be enjoying your visit, buy the guide book when you leave for the year's exhibits for 800 yen (about 8 dollars) at the gift store or the convenience store right across the street. It contains snapshots of the interiors to help preserve your memories.

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May 8, 2007
I've got to find a way to get to San Francisco. From June 2 to September 9, the Asian Art Museum plays host to Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga, an exhibition focusing on the work of the man who revolutionized manga and anime. Anime hipsters take note: without Tezuka's lovable, cute-as-a-button characters, you wouldn't have Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Death Note to swoon over. You can pay the man his due by visiting the exhibit, which will feature over 200 pieces of artwork from the God of Manga, including. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, with presentations, screenings and other events accompanying the exhibit. Can't make it to SF? Then at least check out the podcasts on the man and the manga. (You'll find them under the "Tezuka" link from the entry page.)

A couple of festivals are looking for animation submissions: Romania's aniMOTION European Animation Festival is accepting entries until May 20; the Woodstock Museum Film/Video Festival in New York has an early deadline of May 31.

Don Bluth and Gary Goldman still want to make a feature-length prequel feature based on the Dragon's Lair arcade game. In the right hands, I think I might enjoy the comedic adventures of Dirk the Daring as a young, somewhat hapless knight. I just don't know who "the right hands" would be.

A team of Iranian animators aims to produce two animated works with the theme of "National Unity, Islamic Solidarity" on July 5, with the intent of establishing (or breaking?) the record for the world’s fastest animation. Uh, how is that measured, exactly? I can make animation pretty quickly—it just wouldn't be particularly long. Anyway, the films will be produced between the morning and evening calls to prayer.

Animator Steve Moore has launched Flip, an online magazine entirely created by animators and animation artists. The first issue features an interview with storyboarding guru and all-around nice lady Nancy Beiman.

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April 26, 2007
This has been kicking around on my hard drive for some time, and I was surprised to discover I hadn't posted it here before. Someone has posted an extensive collection of opening credit sequences from anime robot shows on YouTube, spanning from 1963 to 1996. The first collection starts with Tetsujin 28, the very first giant robot show, and the last collection closes out with Gaogaigar. A nice look at what hasn't changed (catchy pop songs, lots of crazy camera moves over zooming mecha) and what has (the sudden transition from black and white to colour, the creeping introduction of CGI) over the first 33 years of robot anime. Old-school anime fans can also see the original openings to Go Lion (brought over here as the five-lion Voltron), Dairugger XV (the vehicle Voltron, my favourite), Mazinger Z (Tranzor Z) and UFO Robot Grendizer (Grendizer, Goldorak and Goldrake in English, French and Italian).

Last week we kinda snuck a little note in our newsletter about a special going on at Amazon.ca right now, where several dozen anime DVDs are being sold for up to 42% off. Strangely enough, one of the discounted titles is the decidedly Danish The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear, which René Walling reviewed in our May 2005 issue.

From May 4–25, the Stay Gold Gallery in Brooklyn, New York is hosting the latest Too Art for TV exhibition, in which artists who have worked on such productions as Ice Age, SpongeBob SquarePants, A Scanner Darkly and Venture Bros. present their own artistic creations.

Black Entertainment Television are putting three new animated series into production: Bufu, an animated sketch comedy; Cipha, a near-future science fiction story in which young people rebel against the outlawing of hip-hop culture; and Hannibal the Conqueror, a series that aims to tell the life story of the legendary military genius. The variety of genres certainly looks promising, and the sort of thing I was hoping for when Denys Cowan signed on at the network.

New Israeli studio Animation Lab is embarking on a feature with a script by Philip LaZebnik, Alex Williams as director and Jim Ballantine as producer. Between the three of them they've worked on Mulan, Pocahontas, Open Season, Robots, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Brother Bear 2 and Bambi II. The movie is called The Wild Bunch and is about "a group of genetically modified cornstalks who attack a group of common wildflowers." That's the best you guys could do? Really?

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March 19, 2007
On Thursday, March 22nd, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will continue its free screenings of classic Disney features with Cinderella. One of my favourite touches in this film was the pumpkin carriage, which was inspired by the work of Beatrix Potter (one of the things I learned by attending the superlative exhibit, Once Upon a Time Walt Disney, to which these screenings are linked). If you can't make it for the film, Fantasia is showing on Friday, and I can't wait for Pinocchio on the weekend. See you there!

Don't feel for a feature film on Thursday? How about shorts?

Steamboat Willie, 1928, 8 min
Mickey's Orphans, 1931, 7 min
Mickey's Pal Pluto, 1933, 8 min
Mickey's Fire Brigade, 1935, 8 min
The Band Concert, 1936, 9 min
Donald and Pluto, 1936, 8 min
Thru the Mirror, 1936, 9 min
Clock Cleaners, 1937, 9 min
Don Donald, 1937, 8 min
Modern Inventions, 1937, 9 min

La Cinémathèque Québécoise will be screening these Mickey Mouse shorts (with appearances from the rest of the gang). These are all 35 mm prints.

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March 14, 2007
Just corrected a minor oversight: For people who'd rather not download our last two video podcasts but are still interested in the interviews, I've added two audio-only versions for your enjoyment, with the earlier one back-dated to when it was supposed to go up. You'll find the Bruno Girveau interview here and the Lella Smith interview here.

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Much of the artwork seen at the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit comes courtesy of the Disney Animation Research Library, which is under the direction of Lella Smith, who was present for the exhibit's opening at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

Photo credit: Emru Townsend

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Much of the artwork seen at the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit comes courtesy of the Disney Animation Research Library, which is under the direction of Lella Smith. In this video podcast you can listen to my interview with her while watching a slideshow of some of the Library's artwork that's on display at the exhibit.

Watch the video

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Much of the artwork seen at the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit comes courtesy of the Disney Animation Research Library, which is under the direction of Lella Smith. In this video podcast you can listen to my interview with her while watching a slideshow of some of the Library's artwork that's on display at the exhibit.

Photo credit: Emru Townsend

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March 12, 2007
Veteran Disney animator Andreas Deja was an unexpected guest at the press conference for the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I sat down with him and talked about how he was inspired to become an animator, and how he feels about anime, CGI, and people referencing his animation the way he used to reference his predecessors.

Listen to the interview

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Veteran Disney animator Andreas Deja was an unexpected guest at the press conference for the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I sat down with him and talked about how he was inspired to become an animator, and how he feels about anime, CGI, and people referencing his animation the way he used to reference his predecessors.

Links
Andreas Deja (Wikipedia)

Photo credit: Emru Townsend

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First presented at the Grand Palais in Paris in fall 2006, the exhibition Once Upon a Time Walt Disney: The Sources of Inspiration for the Disney Studios makes its way to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where it will undoubtedly create quite a buzz. It is indeed a rare occasion when animation films—let alone Disney—get the limelight in a museum.

The exhibition's companion catalogue is a luxuriously illustrated book whose scholarly analyses invite us to re-examine the Disney aesthetic through its relations with European fine arts.

Read the review

Review by Marco de Blois

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March 10, 2007
Two days before the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit officially opened in Montreal, members of the press and other guests were invited to roam the museum during the morning press conference and the evening reception. Although the sheer amount of material is staggering, we hope this selection of photos will give you a taste of what's on display.

See the photos

Photos by Emru Townsend and Roy Patrick Disney

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There is lots of programming today at the Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). There's something for everybody.

If you missed the documentary Il Etait Un Fois... Walt Disney when it aired late last year with English subtitles, it will be showing again today and Sunday in French at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where the exhibit of the same name has just started its North American run. The program begins at 2:00 p.m. (4:30 on Sunday) and is preceded by a documentary (with some animated sequences) on Kinder Surprise, a guilty pleasure of mine. (Note that today and tomorrow are also your last two chances to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the museum).

If you're all Disneyed out, at 4:30 p.m. there is a screening of Parnography, a documentary about Estonian animator Pritt Parn and his contemparies. It repeats later in the week.

The documentary airs with Drawing Lessons and Histoires Mysterieuses d'Aujourd'hui, a collection of six Japanese tales of horror and does not have the typical hallmarks of mainstream Japanese animation. Both sound utterly fascinating.

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March 8, 2007
Matt Forsythe has posted in words and pictures over at Drawn! and Flickr about his experience at Tuesday's preview of Once Upon A Time Walt Disney, which opened today to the public. It's wonderful to read him write about his discovery of Mary Blair, one of my favourite Disney artists.

While I'm on the subject, Mark Mayerson posted a second fantastic commentary on a sequence of Pinocchio at the beginning of the week.

We'll be posting some more about the exhibit in the next little while as well. For now, don't forget to check out the video podcast with curator Bruno Girveau.

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March 7, 2007
The Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit opens tomorrow at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and we did a tour of the exhibit yesterday. We've got a lot to say about the exhibit, but right now I'd like to point you to our first video podcast, in which we give a taste of what's on display, and interview curator Bruno Girveau. (Anime fans will also want to check out the interview for a surprise Girveau drops toward the end.)

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On March 8th, the exhibition Once Upon a Time Walt Disney opens at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Yesterday we did a tour of the exhibit, which presents the work of the Walt Disney Studio from 1928 (the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy) through to 1967 (The Jungle Book), in its artistic context. Hundreds of production drawings, concept sketches, background paintings, character studies and film clips are presented side by side with classical artwork and contemporary media to show how Walt Disney and his artists drew from the world around them to create animated movies that are still astonishing to this day. In this podcast I interview the exhibit's curator, Bruno Girveau.

Links
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Shop
Once Upon a Time Walt Disney (hardcover)
Il était une fois Walt Disney (hardcover)

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On March 8th, the exhibition Once Upon a Time Walt Disney opens at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Yesterday we did a tour of the exhibit, which presents the work of the Walt Disney Studio from 1928 (the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy) through to 1967 (The Jungle Book), in its artistic context. Hundreds of production drawings, concept sketches, background paintings, character studies and film clips are presented side by side with classical artwork and contemporary media to show how Walt Disney and his artists drew from the world around them to create animated movies that are still astonishing to this day. You can see a sampling of the exhibit in this video podcast, as well as my interview with curator Bruno Girveau.

Links
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Shop
Once Upon a Time Walt Disney (hardcover)
Il était une fois Walt Disney (hardcover)

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February 26, 2007
As fascinating as it may be to see the inspiration, pre-production and final images from various Disney animated features, the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibition wouldn't be complete without seeing the final products being discussed. To that end, the Cinémathèque Québécoise and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts are both screening Disney films to complement the exhibition, starting in March.

The Cinémathèque starts things off this Friday with a collection of Alice shorts, the series that Walt Disney worked on before the Disney studio we know was formed. These silent films mixed live action and animation—and when you think about it, that wasn't all that uncommon back then—and will be screened to live piano accompaniment. The other two programs will feature Mickey Mouse shorts and Silly Symphonies. All of the programs will repeat at least once between March 2 and April 5; you can see the schedule on the Cinémathèque's Cinéma d'animation page.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will be screening eight Disney features (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan) between March 8 and April 29. (They'll be showing all of the Disney movies until The Jungle Book through to the exhibition's end in June; the rest of the schedule will appear on the site in time.) There will be English and French screenings, and admission is free, though you do have to pick up a ticket; details are on the museum's Films at the Museum page.

Are you going to the screenings? And if so, which films are you looking forward to the most?

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Disney fever will be sweeping Montreal shortly, what with the Il était une fois Walt Disney (Once Upon a Time Walt Disney) exhibition coming to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for a three and a half-month run. If you're in town between March 8 and June 24, why not enter our Once Upon a Time Walt Disney contest? We're giving away two double passes for the exhibition, and all you've got to do is click here to enter.

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October 7, 2006
Last month I pointed to Didier Ghez's blog postings about "Il était une fois Disney" ("Once Upon a Time Disney"), a fantastic exhibit of Disney artwork that starts its tour in Paris. I mentioned that we'd be following up with Didier's reports about the show until it made its way here in the spring, but Didier, busy fellow that he is, didn't have time to do more than post a bit about two people responsible for the show, curator Bruno Birveau and author Robin Allan. However, just yesterday he started to post a few images from the exhibit itself. We can't wait until we can see them for ourselves.

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September 3, 2006
One exciting show, two cities. From September 16 to January 15, Les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, described by Didier Ghez in his blog as "a museum in Paris that is almost as important as Le Louvre," will be hosting Il était une fois Walt Disney (Once Upon a Time Walt Disney), a collection of hundreds of works that show the links between European art and the Disney studio's productions from 1935 to 1967. By "links" I mean the centuries' worth of Western European art that Walt and Roy Disney specifically exposed their artists to, as well as the work that resulted from that inspiration. Most of the Disney art on display will have never been seen before; Didier also notes that the basis for the exhibition is Robin Allan's Walt Disney and Europe: European Influences on the Animated Feature Films of Walt Disney.

Didier will be at the inauguration of the event on September 14, so we'll be checking back with him then. While we'd love to head to France to check this out, we'll have to content ourselves with waiting for March 8, when the exhibition ends up in our backyard at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (curiously, with the "Walt" missing from the title) until June 24; the show may also progress to other cities after, but there's no definite word on that yet.

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August 30, 2006

The Japan Foundation in Toronto, Canada has an upcoming show of interest. Shojo Manga! Girl Power! Girls' Comics from Japan runs from September 6 to October 4, 2006. The exhibits at the Japan Foundation are always top notch, and so if you are in T.O. in the next month, be sure to stop by. There's also a reception & talk by curator Dr. Masami Toku on September 6, 6:30 - 8:30 PM, RSVP required. See upcoming.com or jftor.org for more details.

More from jftor.org: "Shojo Manga! Girl Power! is part of an international touring exhibit that has traveled to California State University, Chico, University of New Mexico, Columbia College Chicago and The Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. Dr. Masami Toku is an Associate Professor of art education at California State University, Chico. Her research interest is the cross-cultural study of children's artistic and aesthetic developments in their pictorial world and how visual popular culture influences children's visual literacy. In her lecture, Dr. Toku will provide an overview of the works exhibited in the current exhibit and examine more closely the individual creators of Shojo Manga, providing a deeper look into the development and impact of this form of visual pop culture. For more on Dr. Toku see csuchico.edu/~mtoku/vc"

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February 25, 2006
If you live across the pond and have been silently cursing because you couldn't catch the Pixar: 20 Years of Animation exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, you can stop gnashing your teeth. The exhibit will be moving to London's Science Museum starting April 1. Looks like Kino Kid and I have an excuse to go visit our cousins.

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January 16, 2006
What? You say you're in or near New York and you haven't been to the Pixar Animation Studios retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art yet? Stop reading this blog and hie thee hence right now—Mike Caputo stopped by, and he presents compelling reasons for you to go too.

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June 27, 2005
In one of those strange coincidences, I happened to be listening to Fat Jon's "Visual Music" at the same time as I was reading about a presentation of the same name by the Hirshhorn Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

In this case, Visual Music refers to a class of films that use experimental techniques to attempt to create a visual representation of musical forms. You can think of it as just a particular class of abstract films, but the Hirshhorn press release speaks of synaesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which people experience one sense as another (for instance, seeing sounds).

This exhibition includes the work of animated visual-music pioneers like Oskar Fishinger, Hans Richter, and Len Lye, and runs from June 23 to September 11 at the Hirshhorn.

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