Wanafoto, Art & Imaging Blogzine - Webzine


Expositions, Art contemporain, Art moderne, Photographie, Design, Patrimoine, Architecture, Art vidéo, Films, l'image dans toutes ses dimensions, Publications

Art Exhibitions, Art Fairs, Visual Arts, Photography, Graphic Arts, Design, Video Art, Architecture, Films, Photo / Imaging Equipments, Publications


April 12, 2007

IPAX Focus Feature: Barry Weiss and Robin Linn

The transition from student to employed professional can often be a little rocky. This is especially true for animators, who usually have to strike a balance between art and the realities of the marketplace. Barry Weiss, Senior Vice President of Animation Production for Sony Pictures Imageworks, believes promising young people should take the time to learn more about the industry before they apply for jobs in it. Weiss works closely with Robin Linn, Director of Animation Production for the Digital Character Group at Sony Pictures Imageworks, on recruiting students to work for Imageworks. They hire three main groups: the modelers, the character rigging and pipeline teams and the animators. And as Linn points out, these groups need to communicate constantly throughout the lifecycle of a project, so these are far from being isolated specializations. Imageworks is finishing SPIDER-MAN 3 and completing the last scenes of SURF'S UP at the moment, while other teams are hard at work on BEOWULF and other projects that remain under wraps. These obviously are huge, demanding undertakings led by the very best in the industry. Linn compares working at Imageworks to being a professional baseball player. "This is the big leagues, and the levels of differentiation between who the most successful people and the least successful are fairly fine," he says. "There are only approximately 1,200 professional baseball players in the Unites States, out of the thousands that are trying to get there. Once you get one of those 1,200 positions, there are 1,199 people like you - that are among the very best and that have the same ambitions. And even the number one guy among those still understands that it's a team." So how does a student get to be one of the chosen few? Completed projects are important, but they alone won't cinch the job. Weiss said that's because there's no way of knowing how many hours went into what an applicant is showing, or even if it's entirely his or her own work. "You have to keep in mind that this is what they're potentially capable of," he says. "But you have no idea how they are going to function in a setting with other people, how they're going to take direction, how good their communication abilities are, and how they're going to work with a budget and a schedule." The world of professional animators has changed a lot in the past decade. Linn recalls that demonstrating a walk cycle in 3D was sufficient proof of computer proficiency not too long ago. Weiss adds that today he can take it for granted that potential Imageworks employees have the basic skill sets and knowledge just by reviewing their educational background and experience. What a student needs to prove in the current state of the art is his or her ability to act - to understand, capture and convey a specific emotion. "It's not enough to show us a boy eating a bowl of peas," Linn says. "That's fine, it shows the mechanics. What you want to show us is a boy who hates peas, but is eating them anyway. And we're able to see that he hates that, just in his facial expression and in the way that he holds the spoon." That distinction has been central to Imageworks since the company was founded 15 years ago, Weiss says: "We sought to find animators who could create emotion, not just motion. Elsewhere in the visual effects culture there was more of a premium on getting the motion right. Not to take away from more creature-based films where there were areas where there was a premium for emotion, but most of the movies were about something that looked really cool, moved realistically, and went boom." This intangible factor continues to grow in importance as technology improves, because software can help do things - like timing, posing, silhouette, and keeping characters on model - that previously required extremely advanced draftsmanship skills. "There's so much the computer gives you out of the box that will mask average talent," Weiss says. "So now the subtleties of the acting need to be there, because you know that the subtleties are what the artists are putting in." Another reason for this keenly focused type of competition is that students today usually have spent many years honing their computer skills. Weiss points out that this democratization puts even more of a premium on talent and acting ability. "This is a generation that grew up with a mouse in its hand," Linn says. "In the past we had to bring animators from 2D and explain this is what a computer is, this is how email operates - but kids now know all that coming in. We don't discriminate whatsoever against 2D animators, though. A 2D animator has the skills, it's just a question of can they use he current tool of choice that we use." Weiss says it is quite common for students to have the equivalent of six to eight years of professional-level experience by the time they're ready to start their career. Anyone with enough interest and drive can acquire a computer, a pen tablet, a fairly robust animation program and everything else they need to learn and practice their art. "The eye opener for me was six or seven years ago, when I had a 6th-grader ask me for the Maya file for Stuart Little so he could get the model," Weiss recalls. "Granted this kid was off the charts, but I was just sitting there thinking, 'He knows what Maya is and he has it running on his computer at home? Oh my god!' But that's part of us looking at the IPAX program and how we build those relationships, and understanding that it's a much more open field now for where we're going to get our talent. Ten years ago basically the industry had no choice but to cannibalize itself." In addition to that guidance, Weiss and Linn have an insiders' secret to share with students interested in an animation career. "They should be aware that we look at their reel for 10 seconds. Four years' worth of work, they get 10 seconds of our time," Weiss says. "We'll see enough in the 10 seconds to either say, 'Bring this person in for an interview,' or 'Not ready for prime-time.'" Students often are surprised by that rapid assessment, especially if their work is outstanding, but switching off the reel isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means Weiss or Linn has determined whether the candidate is worth pursuing. An entirely different type of surprise is waiting for those talented few who actually get hired, however. They find themselves in a workplace where a 50-hour week is commonplace, detailed daily criticism is the norm, and hardly anything gets approved the first time. Weiss calls it the difference between being an artist and being a commercial artist. Management doesn't let anyone attend their first dailies session without someone with experience by their side as they go through this initial test of fire. "It's in a darkened theatre, they bring the shot up, and I can say from experience that when the director sits there with the laser pointer and starts dissecting, it's heart breaking," Linn explains. "But the good ones get it. They learn from it, go back and move on." This process can be particularly hard on animators because of the acting and emotions they bring to their work. "When we sit down with an animator with a reel and say it just didn't work this time, it's crushing," Weiss acknowledges. "They have gone to an emotional place and drawn deeply on something that is an important part of their life experience, and then they have to deal with someone seeing it on the screen and going, 'Nah. Didn't work.' And it can be just that callous." Weiss says those that will prove to be successful realize that the critiquing process is not a personal attack, but instead is key to attaining top quality results from the entire team. Making sure people understand this and are developing appropriately is part of the in-depth progress review everyone receives after their first six months at Imageworks. Both executives have a phrase that sometimes helps crew members remember that for all of their dedication, artistry and skill, what they're working on ultimately is a commercial product: "We strive to create the best characters and stories out there, but ultimately, a movie is two years in production, two weeks in the box office, and two-for-one at Wal-Mart." Students aspiring to work at Imageworks also need to realize that the facility undertakes an incredibly broad spectrum of work. "If you look at BEOWULF and SURF'S UP and SPIDER-MAN 3, the three big movies we're working on right now, those films are not even close in terms of theme, characters or style but we're doing them with the same crews," Weiss points out. He draws similarities to the studio system of the '30s and '40s, in which every movie drew their cast and crew from a shared pool. Choosing the best Imageworks people for any given project is a careful process that takes into consideration individual skills and preferences but which also tries to stretch people's talent and experience, all while balancing time and budget constraints. For a student whose entire life has been spent in creative endeavors, being confronted with the business and management elements of filmmaking can be an unpleasant surprise. "When students are allowed to create their own product, it's their own vision and they can take it through as they best see fit," Weiss explains. "When you're assigned to a film, all the artists in this building are trying to accomplish what the director sees. We're all trying to adhere to their idea of what the film should look like. That's an unknown to most students because they largely have never had to be paid to do what they're doing. Okay, well now we're going to pay you, so guess what? We want your voice, but it's got to be within these lines. You have to understand we are in business here. We do attempt to make money from time to time. And they're part of that process." Animators with strong personal aspirations or those who cannot work collaboratively will not be happy somewhere like Imageworks, Weiss and Linn caution. The majority of excellent animators soon find that there are opportunities for creativity within the established parameters. "The animator can add depth," Linn says. "It's like with wine - the winemaker adds all the subtleties to it, but it's still a Bordeaux." He recalls how Alan Hawkins, an animator Imageworks hired right out of the Ringling School of Art and Design, gave the ducks in OPEN SEASON a particular idiosyncratic facial tic that the directors loved. "The duck characters were kind of blah, but the duck characters became THE DUCK characters because of that little nervous tic that they had. So that happens, but it's serendipitous." Linn says that a far more common example is animators adding the shading and nuance that bring a character to life. "That's part of defining who this personality is," he says. It's what any good actor will bring to a role." The animation department requires many talented people in addition to the animators themselves, of course. Modelers are the first to apply their skills to a new character. Linn himself began as a character modeler after several years as a maquette sculptor for Turner Feature Animation and Hanna Barbera Productions, before advancing to his current position as Director of animation production. "To simplify, modelers are similar to making a marionette," Weiss explains. "Modelers build the puppet. When they're done there's absolutely nothing you can do with the puppet." Next up the pipeline are the character riggers, the people who create the technical structure to make the character move in a believable way. To extend Weiss' simile, the character riggers put the strings on the marionette. "Then the animators pick the whole darn thing up and make it act," Weiss concludes. Among the variety of other specialists are the pipeline technical directors, a group of software and computer wizards Linn refers to as the "pit crew" for the animation team. For other types of movies, Imageworks also uses cutting edge specialists like motion capture artists. They're part of an entirely different pipeline in which they apply markers to live actors, then capture the actual unique performance and prepare it for the pipe on its way to integration into the project. People with a variety of skills and experiences can find a rewarding career at Imageworks. "Someone with a creative sensibility and appreciation may start as a coordinator and get a feel for the industry," Weiss suggests. "If they have management skills, they can move up from there to departmental manager or some other senior role. Ultimately, someone has to manage the artists and guide them on their career paths." Weiss speaks from personal experience. He keeps himself up to date with all of the software and hardware within Imageworks, but is not a "hands on" artist. His background includes having planned and built Turner Feature Animation's facilities, after which he supervised that company's production facilities and oversaw budgeting and scheduling for more than 200 artists and other employees. Weiss also is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the Academy's Science and Technology Council. Another way Weiss keeps himself sharp is to read "The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation" by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson at least once every year. He also frequently rereads John Canemaker's "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation." Many people read those books to educate themselves about the industry's early days and how these pioneering creators determined the 12 basic principles of animation that remain true today. Weiss agrees that this essential reading helps him communicate with artists on their own terms. He has an additional reason, however. "I want to remind myself that the golden days of Disney had some tarnish," Weiss says with a laugh. "You know, those nine guys were competitive, there were some real jerks, there were some real egos, and they made brilliant movies. It's just about understanding that the tools have changed dramatically, but the day to day is the same."

April 10, 2007

Enki Bilal en vente aux enchères chez Artcurial

Beau succès pour ENKI BILAL chez ARTCURIAL

En soit, la vente aux enchères de 32 oeuvres exceptionnelles du dessinateur, scénariste, coloriste et cinéaste Enki Bilal constitue déjà un évènement inédit. Il y avait donc la foule des grands jours à l’Hôtel Dassault pour cette vente de prestige, clou de la vente bande dessinées du 24 mars 2007.

Les enchères ont atteint des niveaux dont peuvent se féliciter François Tajan et l’expert Eric Leroy qui ont effectué cette vente. On peut y voir une "consécration" du marché de l'art pour Enki Bilal qui dévoilait la veille, à l’occasion du salon du livre de Paris, le dernier opus de la tétralogie du monstre : Quatre ? .

Ainsi, la vente de l'oeuvre de Enki Bilal, Bleu Sang réalisée en 1994 en acryliques de couleurs, pastels gras et mine de plomb sur Vélin, 90 x 63 cm, constitue un record mondial pour une réalisation d’un auteur de Bande Dessinée : 177 000 euros (frais inclus).

Autre oeuvre en vente, Appoline, réalisée également en 1994, en acryliques de couleurs, pastels gras et encre de Chine pour un dessin du concept « TRANSIT », conçu par Enki Bilal et Christian Desbois en novembre 1990. L'oeuvre est dérivée des dessins « Mèche », « 11h53, Heure Locale » et « Faux Passeport ». Elle était estimée à 8 000 euros mais a finalement été adjugée à 108 500 euros.

ENKI BILAL - BIOGRAPHIE

Né en 1951 à Belgrade en Yougoslavie, Enki Bilal publie sa première histoire, le Bal maudit en 1972, pour le journal Pilote.

Son premier album, La Croisière des Oubliés, sur un scénario de Pierre Christin, paraît en 1975 aux Humanoïdes Associés. Avec le même scénariste, il signe Les Phalanges de l’ordre noir (1979) et Partie de Chasse (1983) chez Dargaud.

En 1980, il débute dans Pilote sa trilogie Nikopol, première bande dessinée en solo, qui lui apporte la reconnaissance du public et des critiques. La Femme piège, publiée en 1986, représente un tournant dans sa carrière et son style s’impose à tous comme inimitable par le dessin et le scénario mêlant politique, actualité et fiction.

Le cinéma l’attire très vite avec, en 1982, la création des décors du film d’Alain Resnais, La vie est un roman.

En 1987, il obtient le Grand Prix du 14ème festival International de la Bande Dessinée à Angoulême.

En 1988, son travail fait l’objet d’une exposition au Palais de Tokyo avec Joseph Koudelka et Guy Pellaert, une consécration pour la Bande Dessinée en général portée au rang d’oeuvre d’art et pour le travail d’Enki Bilal en particulier.

En 1989, il réalise son premier film, Bunker Palace Hôtel avec notamment Jean-Louis Trintignant et Carole Bouquet. Il participe également à la création des décors et des costumes de nombreux opéras et pièces de théâtre – OPA Mia de Denis Lavaillant (1990), Roméo et Juliette de Prokoviev chorégraphié par Angelin Preljocaj (1991).

En 1997 sort son second long métrage Tykho Moon avec Jean-Louis Trintignant, Richard Bohringer, Michel Piccoli… et Immortel ad vitam (libre adaptation de son album La Foire aux Immortels) en 2004 avec Linda Hardy, Charlotte Rampling...

En 1998, le premier volume de sa nouvelle trilogie Le Sommeil du Monstre paraît chez les Humanoïdes Associés, suivi en 2003 par 32 décembre puis Rendez-vous à Paris en 2005 aux éditions Casterman.

... En mars 2007, il publie Quatre ? , le dernier album de la tétralogie du Monstre à l’occasion du salon du livre de Paris... et participe à la première vente de l’année Bandes Dessinées chez Artcurial... avec le succès souligné plus haut.

 

ARTCURIAL
Hôtel Dassault
7, rond-point des Champs Elysées
75008 Paris

April 6, 2007

Franklin Sirmans: 2007 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize

 

The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, announced Franklin Sirmans, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, as the 2007 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize. Named after the renowned African American artist and art scholar, the Driskell Prize recognizes a scholar or artist in the beginning or middle of his or her career whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African American art or art history. Sirmans will be awarded the prize at a ceremony in Atlanta on April 23 and will give a public lecture at the High on July 22 in conjunction with the National Black Arts Festival.

“Franklin Sirmans has emerged over the past few years as a fresh and leading voice in the field of African American art,” said Michael E. Shapiro, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director. “His work as a curator, writer, and teacher both in the United States and abroad make him a most deserving recipient of the Driskell Prize.”

Prior to taking his position at the Menil Collection, Franklin Sirmans mounted exhibitions as an independent curator at museums in Europe, Asia and the U.S., including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Comune di Milano in Italy and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich. Some of his notable projects include “Basquiat” (Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; 2005); “Make it Now: New Sculpture in New York” (Sculpture Center, 2005); “One Planet Under a Groove: Contemporary Art and Hip Hop” (Bronx Museum of Art; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; 2001–2003); and “Ralph Bunche: Diplomat for Peace and Justice” (Queens Museum of Art, 2004). He has also been a curatorial advisor at PS 1 since February of 2006, and has organized exhibitions such as “Bearable Lightness” and solo presentations of artists including SunTek Chung, Philip Maysles, Curtis Mitchell and Senam Okudzeto. He has taught art history most recently at both Maryland Institute College of Art and Princeton University.

Franklin Sirmans has edited and contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, including Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, Gary Simmons (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), Black Belt, Black Romantic (Studio Museum in Harlem), Freestyle and Frequency (Studio Museum in Harlem), Jean-Michel Basquiat, Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art since 1970.

A former U.S. editor of “Flash Art” and editor-in-chief of “ArtAsiaPacific,” Franklin Sirmans has written widely on art and culture for such publications as “Art in America,” “The New York Times,” “Essence” and “Newsweek International.” Sirmans has also contributed monographic essays for catalogues on artists including Kevin ei-Ichi DeForest, Kehinde Wiley, Gajin Fujita, Wendell Gladstone and David Hammons.

Born in New York City in 1969, Franklin Sirmans was raised in Harlem, Albany and New Rochelle, New York. He earned English and Art History degrees from Wesleyan University, where he wrote his honors thesis on the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

 

The High Museum of Art, Atlanta

April 1, 2007

Jorge Molder: Algun tempo antes at CGAC

 

JORGE MOLDER

Algun tempo antes

Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea

 

Jorge Molder (Lisbon, 1947) is currently a standard in contemporary art, using photography as a means of expression and basing his works in self-representation. He uses images that, in addition to offering answers to those that contemplate them, launch interrogations and stimulate the reflection of the audience, who are faced with a kind of unfolding of the “I” that questions the credibility and objectivity of the photograph. Jorge Molder likes to use doubt as the premise of his work and tends towards moments of expectation as generators of intensity.

Jorge Molder does not remember what the exact reasons were that led him to pick up a photographic camera for the first time. He was an adolescent and was interested in exploring the construction of images by playing with light. Having finished his studies in Philosophy, he held his first exhibit in 1977 at the age of thirty, and since then there have  been multiple opportunities to see his works in individual and group exhibitions, within his native country as well as abroad. His career reached its peak in 1999 when he was selected to represent Portugal in the Venice Biennial exhibition with thirty of the thirty-six photographs from the series Nox.

The exhibition Algun tempo antes, which we can view at the Galician Center for Contemporary Art (CGAC), shows a selection of works from the last 25 years: from three artist sketches from the series Uma exposicao, dating to 1979, to the series Condicao Humana from 2005, integrated throughout the exhibition. The techniques utilized vary from impressions in silver gelatin to digital images, with Polaroids in between, which he uses with disquieting results, as well as videographic incursions in works like Linha do Tempo (1999-2000). The exhibit creates a complete vision of the artist’s artistic territory that includes, among others, works from such significant series as the afore mentioned Nox (1999), Waiters (1986) –with 25 photographs- Secret Agent (1991), The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man (1993-94), INOX (1995), and Anatomia e Boxe (1996) – a work fragmented in series which, at the same time, draw on criteria of pertinence and time, though without the pretension of creating immovable stories. The Portuguese artist lets the images be the ones to unchain new stories in the mind of the audience that stands before them.

The relationship between Jorge Molder and the self-represented Jorge Molder is strongly established; not because the artist tries to express his moods or draw a certain biography, but rather because of the relationship between what the artist wants to do and what he does. Photography drew away decades ago from a single representational concept, and Molder went from the self-portrait of the 1980s towards the fictional construction of a “halfway” identity, as he himself indicates. A novel, a painting, a dream; all these can become the inspiration for his artistic work. These series open the door to the other, all those others that live in our imagination and in our dreams. Those fictitious characters that can’t escape, however, from the creator that invented them.

Algun tempo antes amply revisits, as previously mentioned, the territory of an artist that seeks the attention and emotion of the audience. This geography of Jorge Molder, who confesses not having lived outside an urban atmosphere, and, more specifically, outside of Lisbon, expanded his horizons in Santiago de Compostela with a jump beyond the two dimensions of the photographic image, to create a work specifically for the CGAC’s Doble Espacio. In addition, the artist’s display is accompanied by a carefully created publication that includes texts from the director of the CGAC, Manuel Olveira, and critics Joao Miguel Fernandes Jorge and Aurora Garcia, as well as an interview with the artist by curator Maria do Céu Baptista.

 

During the month of April, with the aim of further investigating the topics associated with Jorge Molder’s work (identity, representation, pretense, etc.), the CGAC will organize a series of conferences and projects under the title Simulacros: miradas en torno a fotografia.

 

JORGE MOLDER
Algun tempo antes

April 7 - June 4, 2007

Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea
Galician Center for Contemporary Art

Valle Inclan s/n - 15704 Santiago de Compostela

 

Updated Post