We went to the Museum of the Moving Image this weekend after hearing about their grand re-opening. The front facade was bold and exciting and the inside was white, floors, walls, ceilings, stairs, railings, front desk, chairs, benches; everything. The $10 admission wasn’t so bad since they have free coat check, but they require all “large” bags (i.e. backpacks) be checked, which of course we had with us. The 1st floor layout left something to be desired from this particular patron. We didn’t know where to start and there weren’t any signs saying “exhibits this way” so we followed a crowd of people only to find out they were headed to the other coat check area! The staff didn’t seem approachable or offer any assistance so we got in an elevator and decided to start at the top. From the opening of the elevator doors it was an experience worth having…
My take on the exhibits below:
This exhibition had some interactive installations that included some second life videos and experiences involving a surf board and a large curved screen allowing you to surf through the virtual world. There were also some very interesting 3D shorts on display. My favorite was a toss up between (1) RealTime Unreal, Workspace Unlimited, 2011 & (2) Augmented Sculpture, Pablo Valbuena, 2007. RealTime Unreal offered one user to put on 3D glasses and walk through an outlined perimeter that contained a huge double sided screen with the image of a series of rooms. As the user moved through the space the images on the screen reflected your movements as though you were in the room exploring your image was even projected onto the mirror in the screen. It made me laugh and of course I nearly walk into the screen.
Augmented Sculpture was unique in that it didn’t require any accessories, (no headphones, 3D glasses, surf board, Wii controller or even movement) we simply sat on a bench in front of a sculpture as a video image was projected onto it. This sounds simple but the projection was so precise that I cannot really explain the beauty. At times every edge and corner were outlined in light and then either long stretching shadows were simulated or a bright light covered all or part of it. I cannot do it justice… just go see it.
“Behind the Screen”
After all the high tech stuff we wandered over to the early days of projectors, televisions and an overall education and adventure in making moving images. There were projectors taller than me and a huge display of televisions showing it’s evolution including the large wooden boxy ones to this strange one that seemed to involve viewing the image through a mirror. I was in awe of the dramatic changes technology has taken in this field in such a short span. I was also shocked at how much of the technology remained relatively stagnant or has only recently changed. There were also these amazing and seemingly random excerpts from the early days of film that showed things like: two cats boxing in a ring (wearing tiny boxing gloves), a strange body builder flexing, Annie Oakley shooting at targets, two men boxing (one of whom wore trunks that were thong style) and so on. All very bizarrely reminiscent of modern day reality tv. After that we were immersed in displays of film sets, hair and make up, costumes, and other educational displays of tv/movie making. Even though at the end of every movie there is a long list of people who contributed to the final product I don’t often consider their work but this part of the museum gave them a voice – even the intricate work to design and build a set needs to be factored in when telling a story on film.
The interactive displays included some preset options to replace audio from some famous movie scenes to see how that completely changes the mood, a short clip from The Simpsons TV show demonstrating just how many different sound effects were required to produce a single scene (ticking clock, writing pencil, speech, movement, etc…) and one of the more popular options was to enter a sound booth and re-dub audio for a scene. I however chose to skip that line and go straight to creating my own stop-motion animation which by the way I had entirely too much fun doing! Overall this exhibition was pretty enjoyable for all ages but if you want to be able to play with the interactive stuff – come early & head straight there (maybe bring your own bits and pieces for stop motion animation as theirs appeared to be running in short supply and already pretty tattered. The museum also offers regular demonstrations and screenings which I’d like to take advantage of in the future as well as other special events. My suggestion is go to the museum. I didn’t feel like I had lost my $10 when it was all said and done and in fact I plan on returning (in spite of the not-so-customer-service-oriented staff). Maybe even as a “member.”