London- The Barbican Centre is proud to present Watch Me Move: The Animation Show, on view until September 11th. Watch Me Move is the most extensive exhibition ever mounted to present the f ull range of animated imagery produced in the last 150 years. It brings together industry pioneers, independent film-makers and contemporary artists including Etienne-Jules Marey, Harry Smith, Jan Svankmajer, William Kentridge and Nathalie Djurberg alongside the creative output of commercial studios such as Walt Disney, Aardman, Studio Ghibli and Pixar. Presenting animation as a highly influential force in the development of global visual culture, Watch Me Move explores the relationship between animation and film and offers a timely insight into the genre as a cultural phenomenon. Cutting across generations and cultures, the show features over 170 works, from iconic clips to lesser-known masterpieces. Taking the viewer behind the dream-world of the finished film, it includes puppets, stage sets, storyboard drawings, wire-frame visualisations, cel and background images.
Transforming the gallery into an immersive environment, the exhibition is divided into seven interconnected themes: Apparitions, Characters, Superhumans, Fables, Fragments, Structures, and Visions. The first section Apparitions focuses on the emergence of the animated image, from early scientific experiments with photography to computer generated imagery. A pioneer of time-lapse photography, Percy Smith, captures the unseen wonders of the natural world. In The Birth of a Flower,1921, snowdrops and roses blossom in seconds. Speeding up time with his split-second frames photographer Eadweard Muybridge created now iconic images of animals and humans in motion are also on show. Breathing life into static objects, John Lasseter?s first film for Pixar Animation Studios, Luxo Jr, 1986, follows the antics of a small desk lamp, as its elder lamp affectionately looks on. Contemporary artist Christian Boltanski’s Shadow Cinema, 2011, features cut out silhouettes flickering gently on two large lightboxes, reminiscent of the modest graphic origins of animation.
In the 1930s there was a distinct shift from the early experimental animation to a series of cartoons and feature films designed to attract the masses. Characters presents a host of some of the biggest stars of our animated screens ( on cinema and TV) many borne of that time and still popular now. They include Mickey Mouse, Koko the Clown, Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Simpsons, Nick Park?s Creature Comforts and the celebrated cast of Toy Story. Whether drawn in pencil, cut with scissors, modelled from clay or generated by the click of a mouse, Characters demonstrates animation?s ability to construct strong, funny, emotive and complex personalities. This section also includes less well-known characters, showing the power of animation to convey social and political issues. For example Tim Webb’s award-winning film, A is for Autism, 1992, which combines word, drawing, music and animation by people with autism.