Art on Screen Databasetm Full Record

© 1985-1997 Program for Art on Film, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Data: 14 min. col. video
Year: 1989
Country of Prod'n: United States
Language: English
Producing Agency: Program for Art on Film, a joint venture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Trust
Sources: Museum of Modern Art Circ. Film Library; Films Incorporated Video
Int'l Sources:
Director: Mark Whitney
Producer: Mark Whitney
Executive Producer: Benjamin B. Johnson
Writer: Mark Whitney; Carlo Pedretti; Morgan Thomas
Editor: Mark Whitney
Narrator: Anjelica Huston
Music Composer: Ian Underwood
Art Consultant: Carlo Pedretti
Addl Credits: Assoc. Prod.: Morgan Thomas; Prod. Cons.: Michael Whitney; Post Prod. Cons.: Peter Conn; Off-line Editor: Lance Richter; Image flow choreography of motifs in Leonardo's drawings: Optomystic, John Whitney, Jr.; Software & Animation: Karl Sims; Parallel Computation: Connection Machine 2; Image enhancement and sequential animation of drawings: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Digital Image Animation Laboratory; Animation: Jeffrey R. Hall, Betsy Asher Hall; Image Digitalization: Joe Fulton; Experiments in the physics of fluid dynamics: National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, Urbana; Research scientist: Michael Norman; Animation: Donna Cox; Add'l Funding: Gerard, Jr. Foundation; Add'l Funding: Palm Springs Desert Museum
Synopsis: Uses computer animation techniques and scenes of natural landscapes around the Arno River to underscore the symbolic significance of eleven small drawings of a deluge, by Italian artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), now in the collection of The Royal Library of Windsor Castle. Selections from Leonardo's notebooks comprise the narration, spoken by Anjelica Huston. Conceived as an experiment in state-of-the-art computer animation techniques, the digital animation was realized by means of a software program created especially for the project by computer animator Karl Sims, working with a supercomputer called the Connection Machine. Leonardo's Deluge drawings were electronically scanned and digitized using techniques originally developed for studying pictures taken in outer space. The animation of the digitized drawings was informed by scientific studies in fluid dynamics. A film by director Mark Whitney and art historian Carlo Pedretti.
Genre Film: Computer-Generated Images; Visual Essay
Aud./Grade Level: High School; College/University; Adult
Suggested Uses: General Information
Subject Headings: Drawing -- Renaissance -- Europe -- Italy -- 15C
Computer art

Assoc Concepts: Art and science
Artist's Name: Leonardo da Vinci, (1452-1519), Italian painter; sculptor; architect; engineer; musician; scientist
Artist on Camera: No
Reviews: Videography, Vol 14, Number 8
Evaluation: The computer animation itself is fascinating and technically breathtaking; Leonardo would doubtless have had a good time with it. Creates an aura of mystery and magic that provokes discussion about the use of technology and artifice in works of art. Some evaluators thought it was too lyrical and pretty, but despite aesthetic reservations, found this video a thrilling experience, stunning. Others found the computerized "improvement" of Leonardo's drawings deeply offensive: the animation does nothing to enhance the intrinsic dynamics of the drawings, rather seems deliberately to mask them by superimposing something else. Relationship of the computer effects to the original drawings is sometimes confusing. Is the point here that Leonardo's science is accurate? The real question is: Should works of art be manipulated? (Opinions differed on this issue.) Relies solely on Leonardo's wonderful diaries for the text; the tension between the fifteenth-century commentary and the high-tech twentieth-century graphics is superb. Technical quality, content, and programming potential all judged very good.

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