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CalArts Experimental Animation Student premieres film in Animation Festival

September 23, 2013
Cartoon Brew

By Amid Amidi

“i” by Isabela Dos Santos

The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by sponsor JibJab and their strong support for emerging filmmakers.We’ve presented seven truly exceptional student films in Cartoon Brew’s annual Student Animation Festival so far, and today we present our eighth film premiere, i by Isabela Dos Santos, a student in the CalArts Experimental Animation program. It’s a bittersweet moment because Dos Santos’ film marks the final premiere of our 2013 Student Festival, but we can take pride in ending the festival with such a truly unique animated experience.

I uses hand-drawn animation and live-action dance to pose the eternal question, ‘Who am I?’ The film accomplishes the most difficult of the difficult by visualizing inner conflict. Encasing the live dancer is a delicate amorphous figure constructed of wispy lines. These representations of a fragmented psyche—one animated, the other human—converse with each other throughout the film as they try to reconcile themselves into a unified whole.

The choreography of these two figures forms the foundation of the film, and the details of their interaction represent the type of magic that can exist only on film. Dos Santos’ multidisciplinary approach to the film required a collaboration with dancer Yanina Orellana for the choreography and performance, and singer Kate Davis, each of whom contribute something special to the final piece. Read More. Read More

New York Book Fair features book about Michael Asher's Class

September 23, 2013
Gallerist NY

‘A List of Students Enrolled in Post Studio Art, With Michael Asher at CalArts, 1976-2008′

By Andrew Russeth

At the New York Art Book Fair this past weekend at MoMA PS1, I came across a little book called A List of Students Enrolled in Post Studio Art, with Michael Asher at CalArts, 1976-2008 at Golden Spike Press’s stand. The title pretty much sums it up: each page page features the roster for one semester that Asher taught that famous class, which was notorious for stretching from 10 a.m. in the morning until well into the evening. (You may recall that Sarah Thornton wrote about the experience of attending in her 2008 book Seven Days in the Art World.) Read More.

CalArts Faculty, Thom Andersen, celebrates 10th anniversary of documentary

SEPTEMBER 23, 2013

'Los Angeles Plays Itself' A Decade Later

Scott Foundas

At Friday’s 10th anniversary screening of his documentary “Los Angeles Plays Itself” at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, filmmaker Thom Andersen told the audience, “It’s not an update. I didn’t see the need.“The way movies foreclose the possibility of emancipatory politics has not changed,” he added, and the gulf between an impoverished working class and a wealthy one percent — another running theme of Andersen’s film — is “even more of a truism now” than it was in 2003.

And yet, much is new about “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” Andersen’s encyclopedic, sardonic valentine to his adopted hometown and how it has been represented — for better and worse — by its most famous local industry. For starters, Andersen has remastered “Los Angeles” (which was made at the tail end of the analog video era) in high definition, replacing most of the thousands of film clips excerpted therein with HD source material. In addition, Andersen said, he’s done “a bit of re-editing” to fix “those things that were annoying me,” including moving up the intermission of the 170-minute feature from the 104-minute mark to 92 minutes in. A few clips have been extended, a few others removed.

In most other respects, “Los Angeles Plays Itself” remains very much what audiences first saw — or more likely, didn’t — a decade ago. Despite premiering to great acclaim at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival and playing extensively on the festival circuit for the next year, the film has maintained a largely clandestine existence ever since, circulated among cinephiles and architecture buffs on bootleg DVDs and YouTube links, and periodically revived by the American Cinematheque (where it had its first local screenings back in 2004). Due to copyright concerns over the unlicensed film clips, commercial distributors were understandably wary of Andersen’s magnum opus — a situation, the filmmaker noted happily at Friday’s screening, that may finally be changing. Read more

Walt Disney Hall's REDCAT features eclectic programming

September 20, 2013
LA Times

By Charles McNulty

Walt Disney Concert Hall's REDCAT electrifies, yet more can be done

Critic's Notebook: Though Disney Hall's REDCAT continues to be innovative and eclectic, its theater programming could be more robust.The real estate mania that brought the financial system to the brink of collapse has also had a deleterious effect on the arts. Too many refurbished show palaces and money pit museums have found themselves at the mercy of their mortgages.

When overhead costs soar in unpredictable economic times, adventurous programming is the first thing to suffer. A rising commercialism is the price we pay as a cultural community for fancier digs.

But for every rule propounded by a furrowed-brow critic there is a thrilling exception. Walt Disney Concert Hall has had a transformative effect on an art form, a neighborhood and a city's self-esteem. Here the innovative brilliance of Frank Gehry's design has been matched by the creative ingenuity of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Read More

Prometheus Bound in Live Design

September 19, 2013
Live Design

Prometheus Bound Features Massive Wheel

By Ellen Lampert-Greaux

Running through September 28, 2013 at The Getty Villa is the world premiere of Joel Agee's new translation of Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus. Directed by Travis Preston, the production is produced by CalArts Theatre for New Performance in association with Trans Arts. 

Prometheus, punished by Zues to remain chained to a mountaintop for stealing fire from Mount Olympus, is in this case chained to a massive five-ton wheel that measures 23.5' in diameter, and sits on a base with a footprint of 20'x14'.  "The wheel was built at LA Propoint's scenic shop in sections, brought into our modular theatre on the CalArts campus which can handle a 35' height and assembled there, as the Propoint shop doesn't have the height," explains production manager, Gary Kechely. The wheel was then moved to The Getty Villa in sections in July and assembled on site. Read More

Authority Questioned in Prometheus Bound

September 19, 2013
LA Weekly

Questioning Authority in Ah, Wilderness! and Prometheus Bound

By Steven Leigh Morris

In his program note to his elegant and fervent staging of the 5th-century Greek tragedy, Prometheus Bound director Travis Preston writes, "The dramaturgy of Prometheus Bound asks us to question common assumptions of theater practice — assumptions related to individual psychology, personality, and the nature of human motivation and identity. This exceptional play urges investigation of other pathways," which Preston goes on to describe as "communal identity, gestural power and the iconic."

That's all well and good, but his production — al fresco at the Getty Villa through September and presented by CalArts Center for New Performance — also demonstrates quite the opposite. Classical, individual psychology lies at the heart of this impressive production, alongside personality and the nature of human motivation and identity.

This approach starts with the play itself. (Its common attribution to Aeschylus has come under growing scholarly scrutiny of late, which would explain why CalArts has left the original author's name off its program.) The play is certainly primal, but that doesn't make it any less psychological than Oedipus the King, Antigone or The Trojan Women. Its crux is the lament of one demigod, the eponymous Titan, sentenced by Zeus to be pinned to a rock for eternity — or until he's rescued — for the crime of helping mortals by giving them fire and knowledge. Read More.

CalArts Trustee Tim Disney joins SCI-Arc Board of Trustees

September 18, 2013

SCI-Arc Welcomes Richard Baptie, Tim Disney and Enrique Penalosa as New Trustees

Richard Baptie of the general contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie, Writer, Director and Producer Tim Disney, and Urban Strategist Enrique Peñalosa, a Former Mayor of Bogotá,Colombia, Join SCI-Arc’s Board of Trustees

SCI-Arc elected three new trustees to its ranks today: Richard Baptie, a Senior Vice President of Hathaway Dinwiddie and head of their Southern California office; Director and producer Tim Disney, a principal of Blu Homes; and urban strategist Enrique Peñalosa, formerly the mayor of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá.

“SCI-Arc has extended the political reach and intellectual capacity of its board of trustees by adding Tim Disney, Richard Baptie, and Enrique Peñalosa to its board,” said SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss. “Disney brings a supportive interest in art and design along with expertise in housing pre-fabrication; Baptie is an alumnus and long-time advocate for architecture education, and a builder with a unique reputation for constructing large and complex urban projects; and Peñalosa brings an international political pedigree and an expertise in Latin American urbanism to the SCI-Arc community. Welcome all." Read More

Loud City Song: alumna Julia Holter's breakthrough third release

Julia Holter has no interest in drawing distinctions

by Alexander Varty

September 11, 2013

Julia Holter dosen't make things easy, for the listener or the interviewer. On Loud City Song, her breakthrough third release, the 28-year-old singer and keyboardist spins a web of complex tunes linked by a covert creative agenda, then buries her poetic lyrics and evocative singing beneath a torrent of lush and often electronically modified instrumental textures. And in conversation she’s elusive, often breaking off mid-thought or refusing to follow the usual lines of examination.

But we’re not complaining. Rather than making Loud City Song hard to follow, Holter’s complexity is more an invitation to spend serious time with what is one of the most fascinating—and loveliest—releases of the year. And her discursive manner on the phone might just be the result of her restless mind, coupled with her lack of interest in orthodox modes of thought.

Read more.

Prometheus Bound in Los Angeles Confidential

LA Confidential

Prometheus Bound Gets an Update

By M ichael Herren

At the origin of our world, one lone immortal—the first radical, the first revolutionary, the first savior—dares to defy the king of the gods, risking eternal torture and unending incarceration to rescue humankind from annihilation utter and complete.

That’s a logline that could belong to the next megabudget studio extravaganza or cable fantasy series. Rather, it’s the calling card for Prometheus, the chiseled ab’d Titan in Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and gifted it to humanity, thereby becoming the Bringer of Light and enlightened civilizer to a benighted species (us!).
Prometheus also serves as the protagonist in Prometheus Bound, the fifth century BCE Greek tragedy, commonly credited to Aeschylus, firing afresh as the eighth annual outdoor theater production at The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. A collaboration between The J. Paul Getty Museum and CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), Prometheus has further managed, somewhat paradoxically in a town that worships the new, to become the most of-the-moment staged event in Los Angeles.

What has made the production so combustible? The play’s decorated director, Travis Preston (a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters as well as the artistic director of the CalArts Center for New Performance, the “professional producing arm” of California Institute of the Arts, and dean of the CalArts School of Theater) attributes its power to the piece itself, which is “rich and dense and one of the great pillars of theater and dramatic history,” and which like all the classics, Aeschylus to Shakespeare, underscores the universality of the human experience. Read More

Prometheus Bound on KCRW Talk Radio

September 10, 2013

It's All about Scale

Host: Anthony Byrnes

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA theater for KCRW.

Producing a play at the Getty Villa almost resembles one of the trials of Heracles -- or maybe the journey of Ulysses.

You'd think in such an idyllic setting, a semi-circular outdoor amphitheater nestled in a Malibu canyon on the doorstep of the building that houses some of the treasured urns of antiquity, you'd think that that setting would sprout plays as if from the head of Zeus.

You'd be wrong.

The biggest obstacle for theater at the Getty Villa is oddly the Villa itself. As impressive as the massive facade of the museum is, its effect is to dwarf an actor standing in front of it. Read More

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