Andrew Darley to Give Keynote Address at Persistence of Animation Conference

Andrew DarleyI am delighted to announce that Andrew Darley, the widely acclaimed author of Visual Digital Culture: Surface Play and Spectacle in New Media Genres (Routledge, 2000), a book which has helped shape contemporary cultural theory, will deliver the keynote address at the Society for Animation Study’s Persistence of Animation Conference; the conference , which I am helping to coordinate, is being held at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, July 10-12, 2009.

As to the theme of his address, Darley writes to say that the “topic I have in mind is that of the conference title itself, i.e., ‘The persistence of animation.’ I find the title thought provoking and I’d like to offer more considered reflections and thoughts on its possible significance and implications.”

The core of Darley’s research interests are in the fields of new media technologies and visual culture and film and animation studies. He has published on the history of digital imaging, animation and digital aesthetics, and animation and education. His book, Visual Digital Culture, examines digital imaging techniques across a range of contemporary media, investigating the relationship between evolving digital technologies and existing media and considering the effect of these new image forms on the experience of visual culture. His recent research explores questions surrounding the popular representation of new technology and science. He is currently researching and writing a book on cybernetics and the cinema. Darley’s current academic role is that of Reader in Animation and New Media and Research Degrees Leader at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) based in Farnham, Surrey, UK.

Life Magazine Photos Online!

Walt Disney photographed for Life in 1938 by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Life magazine’s photo archives are in the process of being posted online, thanks to Google.  The magazine was the picture journal of its day and was published weekly from 1936-1972, and continued to be issued in various stand alone forms until 2000. And its roster of photographers reads like a Who’s Who of Photo Journalism during the middle part of the 20th century.

Needless to say, Life‘s coverage of the arts, especially film and television, was extensive. The images being posted include photos never published before, along with production stills and posters not easily found elsewhere online. The high resolution (300 dpi) images are apparently free for nonprofit use.

My first instinct was to search for animation-related material and, naturally, Disney-related material, such as the 1938 photo of Disney by Alfred Eisenstaedt above , were most easily found. Much of the material I initially looked at lacked full identification; e.g., a picture of Gore Vidal and Melvyn Douglas only named Vidal, and some photos of live TV shows from the 1950s I looked at were not identified in any way, other than that they were TV shows. Anyway, here are some images of interest I came across, starting with  several by Hart Preston of Disney’s 1941 South American tour, which he embarked upon after the Bank of America told him to settle the strike by the Screen Cartoonists Guild:

Mary Blair in Brazil on 1941 Disney trip.
This is identified as “Disney artist Mary Blair (R) working in Brazil w. company founder Walt Disney (L),” with Sugarloaf in the background; however, that’s doesn’t look like Disney to me.+
Frank Thomas and Walt Disney on Brazilian Beach
“Artist Franklin Thomas (L) standing with Walt Disney (C) on Brazilian beach.”
Fantasia's Brazilian Premiere
“Audiences gathered outside theater for the Brazilian premiere of Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia’.” Brazil’s President Vargas was in attendance.
sid caesar by gordon parks
“NBC TV actor Sid Caesar (2nd R) rehearsing the Saturday night show with actress Janet Blair (2nd L), Carl Reiner (C) and others.” The Saturday night show was, of course, Caesar’s Hour, which along with Your Show of Shows, was an incubator for a whole generation of comedy writers and comedians, including Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, and Larry Gelbart. I’m not sure who the woman on the left is, but the man in the center is Carl Reiner and Howie Morris is on the right. Photo: Gordon Parks.
No Time for Sergeants on Broadway
“Scene from the play ‘No Time For Sergeants’.” The 1955 Broadway play was inspired by the popular live TV adaptation of the Mac Hyman novel, and also starred Andy Griffith, who later went on to also star in the movie version. On the right is Don Knotts, who had been a mainstay on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, made his Broadway debut in the show. Photo: Yale Joel.

Where Have All the Film Critics Gone?

Last week, in his “All about flicks” blog, The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Sean P. Means noted the dismissal of Los Angeles Times film critic Carina Chocano. In so doing, he  says that this “makes 40 movie critics who have lost their jobs—through layoffs, buyouts, reassignments, forced retirements, etc.—at print publications since January 2006. She’s also the 19th this year.” This is followed by Means’ listing of the departed, who include two other L.A. Times critics: Kevin Thomas and Kevin Crust, as well as Michael Wilmington (Chicago Tribune), Jack Mathews (New York Daily News), David Ansen, (Newsweek). (Incidentally, Chocano’s dismissal leaves The Los Angeles Times with only one full-time film critic!)

It is no secret that newspapers and other publications have been in something of a death spiral due to the impact of the Internet, as evidenced by the recent announcement that:

In 2009, the [Christian Science] Monitor will become the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its website; the 100 year-old news organization will also offer subscribers weekly print and daily e-mail editions.

Thus, the loss of film critics is being mirrored by their fellow journalists across the board, including book, theater and art critics. And the current economic downturn can only serve to accelerate this trend. A few national papers, such as The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, will probably survive better than most, but it’s obviously not going to be a pretty situation over the next few years.

While the web has provided a vibrant alternative source of news and opinion to more traditional print media, the experience is not the same. For instance, when I read the print version of The New York Times, I find myself reading a lot more than when I visit the paper’s website (which I do quite often), and enjoying it more. I am not exactly sure why this is so, but whatever the reason it does not help those journalists who have to scramble for jobs in a lousy economy.