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Electronic Theater

Clarissa Lingas
15 August 2001

There is something unnamable a person gains from surviving a force of nature. Return from a storm at sea or witness the Northern Lights, and you leave with deep feelings of faith in the human spirit while at the same time feeling profound humility for the puny space you actually take up in the universal scheme of things. Such is the experience of attending the Electronic Theater at the Shrine Theater Tuesday night. The sights seen on that silver screen were products of such artistry and imagination that you must marvel and give praise to the capabilities and determination of the human spirit. At the same time these works give us a glimpse of just how much we have left to experience, or may never have the power to experience. They remind us how much we as creatures love to explore, to learn, and to feel. In fact, we're suckers for anything that makes us feel something. A large number of selected works shown run a similar theme: that they touch us, make us laugh, or lend us inspiration.

You should have seen the audience react to Pixar's "The Internet Star: Alien Song". As soon as the first three intro notes to Gloria Gaynor's song "I Will Survive" played, the audience instantly acknowledged it and greeted the familiar tune with a collective chuckle and applause. The cartoony alien gets up from its spotlit seat and sings the song with such attitude that, disco fan or not, virtually everyone was clapping out the rhythm. The ultimate reaction is reserved for the last seconds of the film, when the shiny disco ball falls on the alien, who ironically does not survive. Such raucous applause there was then! Why is there an alien belting out a disco song in the first place? No one seemed to question that - that's how much the audience loved it. Similarly, Animusic's "Pipe Dream" had the audience deeply immersed. For three and a half minutes an arrangement of pipes and tubes spew balls at carefully positioned musical instruments, performing music that is quick, lively, and brimming with audio depth. Forget that it was rather synthesized and a bit dated in sound, and the look was altogether in that simple, classic "glossy everything" CG style. The rhythm was tremendously catchy, and the machinations fascinating to watch at work. Even with its complete absence of humans onscreen, "Pipe Dream" is very human with its use of music.

This was one of those times the crowd roared the loudest with delight. "Ice Age" from Blue Sky Studios truly gripped the crowd in anticipation for the tiny furry hero and all laughed at its quirky, jerky behavior. Plus, Blue Sky really had us where they wanted us, when the mammoth foot came down. We never saw it coming. "Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project" also had people delighted and entertained, as well as the goof-off aliens from the Budweiser "Come Home" piece and the be-yoo-tifully rendered bug-catching hero of SZM Studio's "Chameleon." Finally, "Monsters, Inc." was just one laugh after another rolling through the audience. The perfectly synched voices and animations, the endearing little girl, and the hilarious punchlines are definitely very promising signs of yet another highly anticipated film from Pixar.

 

Electronic Theatre, aka the Film Show or just ET.

The favorite activity of most people, most years.

List of pieces in the CAF and ET

There is a selection of animations on the Electronic Art and Animation Catalog CD.

 

This page is maintained by YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh jch@siggraph.org All photos you see in the 2001 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY