Film series: Art in Motion
image from the film Our Time Machine
This series reveals the artfulness of motion in four different forms: graphic design, video art, dance & puppetry. Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher thought of himself as a mathematician more than an artist, and his precise style enabled him to depict perpetual motion in work that became wildly influential. His history and work are portrayed in M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity.
Pioneering video artists Steina and Woody Vasulka founded the legendary art and performance gallery The Kitchen in New York City in 1971, which is still thriving (at least until the pandemic hit), whereas the future of their artistic archive has been less certain. The Vasulka Effect is an intimate portrait of the aging couple that serves as an introduction of their groundbreaking work to a new generation, and highlights the inherent motion embedded in it. As Steina has explained, “Since my art schooling was in music, I do not think of images as stills, but always as motion.”
Perpetual motion seems to be the life blood of Bill ‘Crutch’ Shannon, who was diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease as a child, but didn’t let that stop him from becoming an internationally renowned artist, breakdancer and skate(board) punk. “After attending School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Shannon moved to New York and immersed himself in the underground dance scene. He went to clubs while originating a movement style that incorporated his crutches. It was a painful, painstaking process, the moments of flying interrupted by those of falling. Ultimately, breaking, hip-hop, and soft-shoe conspired into a slinky, slip-slidey swirl that would crescendo with him bounding upward, his body crimped around or on top of a crutch.” (dance-enthusiast.com) Crutch chronicles Shannon’s gravity defying life, offering an entertaining and enlightening portrait in which "Dance, art, performance, and disability politics converge.” (Culture Mix)
In Our Time Machine, Chinese conceptual artist Maleonn undertakes a monumental theatre piece, “Papa's Time Machine,” performed by life-sized mechanical puppets, as a way of connecting with his father, Ma Ke, the former artistic director of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Theater, after his father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. In reviewing the film for rogerebert.com, Matt Fagerholm writes, “What is it about certain masterful forms of puppetry that causes artificial beings to become lifelike? It has less to do with the performer’s voice than it does with how much can be conveyed nonverbally through the meticulously nuanced movement of the puppet itself. That is precisely the sort of palpable magic that theatre director Maleonn infuses into the full-bodied puppets he and his crew have created for their achingly personal show, ‘Papa’s Time Machine.’" The film is ultimately a moving meditation on art, the agonies of love and loss, and the circle of life.