The Computer Animation Show | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Computer Animation Show

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The 37 items on view in this package, which range from 30 seconds to eight minutes, include TV commercials and logos, music videos, abstract work, old-fashioned cartoons, and documentary bits that explain how several segments (the Amazing Stories logo, a sequence from The Great Mouse Detective, an ad for the National Canned Food Information Council) were made. Two disturbing aspects of 90 minutes of this stuff in one go are: an overreliance on the same formal devices and stylistic models (including the same tacky colors), and an obsessive thematic interest in either objects resembling people/animals or people/animals resembling objects. Anthropomorphism has always been a basic part of animation, and Tanya Weinberger's Kiss Me You Fool is a nice classic example: a funny version of the frog prince story. But most of the other animation seems hung up on robotics of one kind or another; after awhile all that heavy metal starts to clank. The dehumanized climate even extends to the narrator's voice in the documentary sections; and in Philippe Bergeron's French-Canadian Tony de Peltrie--featuring a digitized pianist who resembles the Elephant Man--the posthuman tendency assumes truly nightmarish proportions. Three of the better works--Luxo, Jr., Red's Dream, and Oilspot and Lipstick--were already shown in the last International Tournee of Animation, and many others may be familiar from TV. My favorite is John Whitney's rock video Hard Woman, perhaps because Mick Jagger appears live, and the animation is truly imaginative. But for much of the rest, the use of the James Bond theme over the final credits seems grimly appropriate: ugly sound, ugly images, and "good" technology add up to interior decoration, not art. (Music Box, Friday, December 25, through Sunday, January 3)

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