A few nights ago I had the opportunity to see the exhibition Move On…! 100 Years of Animation Art before its official opening at the Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort. I have a short film in this exhibition, in the Jong Talent (Young Talent) section, dedicated to recent work from graduates from Dutch schools, but this is not the only reason I am recommending this show.
The exhibition does a good job of showing the range and potential of animation, and it spreads out throughout all the rooms and hallways of the Kunsthal, making for a thorough experience. As you enter the show there is an arrangement of monitors in the main atrium to your right and down a staircase. These give a sampling of important animated films throughout history, like Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), The Adventures of Prince Ahmed (1926) but also modern classics like Ryan (dir. Chris Landreth, 2004). People who aren’t familiar with these works could spend a lot of time here and I think get a lot out of it.
But I was more impressed with the series of rooms on the upper floor that contained installations from artists who use animation in their work. Serge Onnen had a video of a spinning phenakistoscope projected onto a big round screen. A phenakistoscope is a pre-cinema toy like a spinning zoetrope, except simpler – just a round disc attached to a stick that you can spin. I found this to be really interesting way of displaying such a big and detailed moving drawing, it was just a shame that the looped movement was a bit jagged, and not smooth.
Jacco Olivier had a film projected onto the wall at a small scale. The film seemed to be made from painting onto canvas, but it was composited with other layers of paint blotches, so that it felt like you were inside a painting. You can see an example of his style here:
Katya Bonnenfant, who goes by the artist moniker The Old Boy’s Club, had an installation of small looped animations projected via mini projectors onto objects, and sprinkled amongst framed illustrations, stencils and vintage-looking electronics.
Turn a corner and there is a thin podium with a small zoetrope, except it’s one that takes a clever take on the pre-cinema toy. Instead of simply putting a strip of drawings on the inside of a wheel, artist Quinten Swagerman has arranged small media players in a circle, smaller than a phone. Each shows a video instead of an image. The device seems to be motion activated, so the video only starts once a viewer has spin the wheel. Here is a video of people using the device at a different gallery:
And here is a nice Making Of video as well:
Chinese artist Sun Xun was given almost an entire large room to showcase primarily a series of paintings. These often included a series of movements within the painting itself, like in this intriguing painting of a beached whale. I love whales anyway, but I liked how the artist carved the human figure into the wood surface.
There was also a monitor there with a film playing, but it was crowded and I didn’t get a good look. Here is an interview with Sun Xun when he was at HAFF in 2010.
As you move around the hallways of the exhibit you will see some scattered media players showing some animated shorts, and down one hallway a larger monitor with some recent festival favorites like Daisy Jacob’s The Bigger Picture, one of my favorite films of the year. Too bad you couldn’t really hear the audio here, I hope they have since added speakers or headphones, but I recommend stopping here nonetheless. The makers of The Bigger Picture are currently raising money for their next film, and the campaign includes information on their work process.
At a certain point moving from the main atrium to the lower level you are forced to pass two nooks with two monitors each showing the Jong Talent selections. There is a risk that this type of set up could seem like an after thought to the main exhibit, but actually the monitors are well positioned with good lighting and access to headphones. My short film One Night in Florida was on a loop with 4 or five other films from recent graduates (the other three monitors also had a number of films for a total of about 20).
On the lower level there is a proper screening room with films selected by the Holland Animation Film Festival. It seems like the duration of the exhibition will be divided up into four periods, screening the work of Andreas Hykade, Motomichi Nakamura, Piotr Dumala and Chris Landreth. It looks like each filmmaker will be visiting the exhibit to give a lecture or answer questions. This is an incredible opportunity to meet these artists, and I will try to make all of them. More information on dates of the lectures here.
The exhibit continues with a room devoted to Making Of materials – sketches, storyboards, puppets, debris. There is also a table with a praxinoscope set up with a running horse as an example (but the horse was running backwards – looks like the example graphic was flipped at some point – details, details!) and templates for you to make your own.
My camera phone was sadly not fast enough to capture the masterpiece I created:
Following the corridor leads you to an area with puppets and stages from Martha Colburn‘s latest film, a selection of films from The One Minutes and then back to the main atrium with the history of animation monitors.
The exhibition is €10, €5 for students or free with a Museumkaart. Go see this show, you won’t regret it.