Children's film programme

Science, like art, has allowed us to see and understand the world in a new way. Science doesn't just reveal the world from the objective and verifiable point of view, it also requires imagination to move forward, and at each new step, it lights the imagination of the learned and layman alike. More than a few writers, visionaries and abstract, conceptual and surrealist artists owe their inspiration to scientific curiosity, whether in-depth or circumstantial, sometimes aroused by a headline and others thorough a thorough reading or an evocative image in which a micron fuses with a cosmos.

This program from the Little Histories of Cinema program explores the vision of science through the eyes of audiovisual artists while also showing some elements of scientific work or popular science that, independent of their original intention, are attractive in the creative context.

Curated by Carolina López Caballero

Scientific adviser Patricia Saragüeta, doctor in Chemistry, researcher of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and artist.

Acknowledgements: CRG (Centre de Regulació Genòmica) and 8 de agosto

In collaboration with:
La Vilette, París
Cordell Baker "Strange Invaders", 2001 (filmstill)


Saturdays February 6 and 20; March 6 and 20, and April 10 and 24, at 5:30 pm

Saturdays February 6 and 20
MICRO-MACRO. From the Starry Sky to the Subatomic Landscape
Total duration: 48'
Recommended for children aged 12 or older

The firmament was the first great challenge to human intelligence, the first mystery that led us to wonder about our place in the world. Mankind has invested as much time and effort in getting to know, understand and decipher the enigma of the sky as in discovering the inner workings of our own bodies, the secrets of physical matter, the tiny particles that make everything possible.

Is this journey imaginable without its poetic, expressive... or even Mystical dimension?

Strange Invaders, Cordell Barker, Canada, 2001, 8'30"
Roger and Doris contemplate the stars. A humorous animated film about the feelings that arise in the face of parenthood and the grandeur of the universe.

Baby Squid Born Like Stars, Encyclopedia Pictura and Wholphin, USA, ANY?, 4'
A scientific discovery by Brad Seibel, Steven Haddock and Bruce Robison. This footage confirmed their controversial theory that Gonatus onyx squid brood. The images of the female laying some of her two thousand eggs at a great depth inspired the Encyclopedia Pictura collective to make this film, with a title and music that emphasize the beauty of the moment.

Redshift, Emily Richardson, 2001, 4'
In astronomical terminology «Redshift » is a term used in calculating the distance of stars from the earth, hence determining their age. The geometry of the night sky, with music by Benedict Drew.

Fantastic Cell, Mirai Mizue, Japan, 2003, 7'
Cell-shaped forms move graphically to the music of Tchaikovsky. A personal fantasy in the tradition of visual music by artists like Oskar Fischinger and Norman McClaren. Most of the work by this young Japanese artist work is based on forms inspired by cells.

Relief de l'invisible: Papillon (Shapes of the Invisible: Butterfly), P.O. Lévy, G. Turkieh and J.M. Sanchez, 1999, 3'
Produced with the collaboration of Cité des sciences et de l'industrie in France, this film zooms into matter at a scale invisible to the human eye to reveal its unseen structure and beauty.

Micro-Macro, Encyclopedia Pictura, 2007, 1'25"
A stop-motion animation that goes from subatomic structures to the universe, without microscopes or telescopes and with a whole lot imagination.

Look at the Sun, Emily Doe and Brent Hoff, USA, 2008, 5'
A film made with images from the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences that show the sun's activity. Like Baby Squid Born Like Stars and other artistic films based on scientific footage, it was produced by Wholpin, the audiovisual section of the prestigious publishing house McSweeny's.

Impresiones en la alta atmósfera (Impressions from the Upper Atmosphere), José Antonio Sistiaga, Spain, 1988-89, 7' (original in IMAX 70 mm format)
A film hand-painted directly onto the celluloid (the original is in IMAX 70 mm format), which evokes a constantly changing mass. A hypnotic visual experience by one of Spain's leading experimental film directors.

Powers of Ten Charles and Ray Eames, 1977, 9'
«Eventually everything connects» (Charles Eames)
A classic popular science film made from an artist's point of view. Powers of Ten still has a huge capacity to expand the way in which we view our world. Starting with a sleeping man at a picnic, the film takes the viewer on a journey out to the edge of space and then back into the atomic structure of his hand, all in a single shot. Architect and designer duo Charles and Ray Eames directed more than twenty films, many of them educational. On October 10 each year, the Eames Office celebrates «Powers of Ten Day» to promote and share a method of viewing ideas from an infinitesimal to a cosmic perspective.

Saturdays March 6 and 20
CALCULATED MOVEMENTS. From the Wheel to Computers
Total duration: 60'
Recommended for children aged 10 or older

To invent is not just a creative exercise, it is also a laboratory, and the inventor's artefacts can often act as direct inspiration for the artist and his studio.
This session deals with inventions and experiments that are funny, hypnotic, brilliant or simply beautiful. Gymnastics for the mind, candy for the eyes. The session includes computer-animated experiments such as Calculated Movements, and incredible cause-and-effect sequences such as The Way Things Go.

Science's 10 Most Beautiful Experiments No. 2: Galileo, images of NASA, USA, 1971, 2'
Images of the moon. An astronaut drops a hammer and a feather to see if they both hit the ground at the same time.

PythagoraSwitch (various episodes), Masahiko Sato and Masumi Uchino, Japan, 2002–6, 3'
PythagoraSwitch (Pitagora Suichi) is the title of an educational series by NHK, Japan's public television. The most curious thing about this series is the segments, which we show you here: ingenious cause-and-effect games with objects and everyday materials. Marbles that roll down wooden ramps, fall into glasses or spoons and set off a chain reaction where trapdoors are activated, and little cars or mills start rolling. At the end of each segment, we hear the title of the programme being sung (Pi-ta-go-ra su-i-chi).

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, Chuck Jones, 1965, 10'
Short film based on the book by the same title, written and illustrated by Norton Juster and published by Random House in 1963.
In 1965, the animator Chuck Jones and the studio MGM Animation/Visual Arts adapted The Dot and the Line into a short film by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, narrated by Robert Morley. It won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 1965. Five years later, Jones adapted another book by Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, into an animation film. An exceptional piece in the long list of films by this animator, famous for cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Road Runner.

Calculated Movements, Larry Cuba, 1985, 16mm, black & white, sound, 6'19"
One of the pioneer artists in the use of computers for animated graphics. Cuba followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, visionaries such as John Whitney, Stan Vanderbeek or Lillian Schwartz. These are images generated by algorithms, whose rendering had to be shot on film since computers did not have sufficient memory to store it. According to a description by the author, ‘the simplest element is a linear ribbon-like figure that appears, follows a path across the screen and then disappears. A choreographed sequence of graphic events constructed from simple elements repeated and combined in a hierarchical structure.'

Algorithm March (PythagoraSwitch), Masahiko Sato and Masumi Uchino, Japan, 2002, 2'
A song choreographed as an algorithm, step by step, where each step can be described without ambiguity. This children's song and its precise steps have been the object of multiple interpretations and have produced numerous videos on the internet where it is danced by Ninjas and even prisoners.

Strandbeesten of Theo Jansen, various authors, Holland, 4'
Sequences filmed as documentation of the ongoing project by the Dutch artist and engineer Theo Jansen, whose work brings together art, science and technology.
Theo Jansen's Strandbeesten (Beach Beasts) are enormous mechanical creatures that evoke live and self-sufficient forms with their movements. From a distance, they appear as huge insects or prehistoric animal skeletons, but they are in fact made of materials from the industrial era: flexible plastic tubes, adhesive tape and recycled bottles. They are made by a computer program that uses algorithms, but they do not require motors, sensors or any kind of advanced technology to come to life. They are moved by the wind on the sands of the Dutch coast.

Peripetics or the Installation of an Irreversible Axis on a Dynamic Timeline, Zeitguised, Germany, 2008. 3'20"
Ever since the first experiments by Whitney or Cuba, numerous artists have used computers to find a language far removed from the hyperrealist world (Avatar) or animated characters (Pocoyo).
This piece in six acts reproduces interior architectural spaces where things are enacted by virtual architectures and pseudo-organic elements. The project has been influenced by artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Gordon Matta-Clark or Inka Essenhigh. The precision of the animation and the sound, and its careful art direction, has turned this piece into a reference for today's motion graphics.

Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), Peter Fischli and David Weiss, 1987, 30'
In a warehouse, the Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss constructed an enormous 100 metres-long structure made of junk and everyday objects: teapots, rubber tyres, old shoes, balloons, wooden ramps and such like. Calculating the movement of the objects, they used fire, water, gravity and chemistry to create a spectacular chain reaction. A performance of physical interactions that creates a precise and elaborate chaos.

Saturdays April 10 and 24
The World in my Hands! The Scientific Image in Film
Total duration: 57'
For a public of all ages, recommended for children over 7
Free entry

In cinematic fiction, the figure of the scientist has been used to illustrate the fears aroused by all that is new. More than for their beneficial conquests, scientists are often seen as selfish children who play at being capricious gods, changing the scale of living creatures, bringing back the dead or inventing miraculous potions that never do what they promise. This session offers a revision of this derisive and not always constructive view of the scientific genius.

Coordinated by Andrés Hispano and Cristina Giribets, the session is constructed as an audiovisual montage in three episodes, full of humour and fascination, that looks at the way science and scientists are portrayed in the cinema. The three compiling pieces are dedicated to the laboratory, the figure of the eccentric scientist and the most outrageous inventions.

Each of these sequences of sequences is accompanied by a visual and proto-scientific experiment realised by a different artist: Erwin Wurm, William Wegman and the CKY Collective.

Together with the pieces of this montage, the following films will be shown in their entirety:

Raymond, BIF Collective, France-England, 2006. 5'
A lazy swimming instructor dreams of discovering the oceans. A team of scientists offers to help him. A short film made in conjunction with The Mill, a world-renowned special effects company. An innovative piece, both visually and narratively, that has collected many awards in festivals such as Siggraph, a computer animation festival.

The Mad Doctor, David Hand, USA, 1933. 7'
A delicious early Mickey Mouse and Pluto cartoon, shot in black and white. On a dark stormy night, Pluto is attracted to a mansion where a villainous doctor wants to experiment with transplants in his cavernous laboratory. Mickey goes in search of his dear dog, but he falls prey to the doctor and becomes the victim of one of his evil plans.

Frankenweenie, Tim Burton, USA, 1984, 29'
Shot in black and white and directed by the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Alice in Wonderland (2010), this film by a young Tim Burton parodies Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

Victor Frankenstein is a ten-year-old boy who makes short films starring his dog Sparky. When Sparky is run over by a car, Victor, emulating Dr Frankenstein, brings him back to life. But the neighbours are not happy with such a weird creature.

Tim Burton (who was the subject of a solo exhibition at MOMA, New York, this past winter) counts among his most immediate projects a full-length remake in stop-motion animation of Frankenweenie (to be released in 2011). It is a unique opportunity to enjoy this minor classic projected as a film, since most copies are lost and this one had to be found in London.

Live dubbing voices: Isabel Núñez and Pau Bou

BESTIARIO (Bestiary)
Saturdays, 8 and 22 May, at 5.30 pm
Total duration: 55'
For a public of all ages, recommended for children over 7.

One of the first things that kids observe ‘scientifically' is probably the animal kingdom. From insects to big mammals, this fascination for animals has also led to numerous audiovisual creations. The session includes pieces in which film directors and artists like Jean Painlevé and Jan Svankmajer get close up to animals from an angle of curiosity typical of people who are investigating and experimenting.

Zebrafish, Emanuela Rota, Leonardo Della Pietra and Klaus Kirchner, 5'
A laboratory assignment: the development of the zebrafish, Danio rerio, a model organism for scientific research on embryonic development. This piece condenses three days' work into a space of five minutes using a time-lapse filming technique. With this technique, filming is done frame by frame with a time lapse between each shot.

Historia Naturae, Jan Svankmajer, Czechoslovakia, 1967, 9'
An animated portrait of eight animal species, each of which is accompanied by a particular kind of music: Aquatilia (foxtrot), Hexapoda (bolero), Pisces (blues), Reptilia (tarantella), Aves (tango), Mammalia (minuet), Simiae (polka) and Homo (waltz). The Czech master of the Prague surrealist group does not conceal his liking for curiosity cabinets and, once again, he gives free rein to his unique style of stop-motion animation of real animals and their skeletons, blending them with illustrations.

Primavera, Riho Unt, Estonia, 1998, 9'
An animated puppet film in which we can observe various living beings through the eyes of a caterpillar, the food chain and reproduction. Deep down, it is a love story with references to the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling.

Chronophotography, Étienne Jules Marey, France, 1890-1900, 2' montage
Marey photographed humans and animals in movement, from horses to insects, to understand movement itself. Years later, the photos were filmed and put together in sequence. Because of their scientific interest, they have been reviewed time and time again. The montage we are presenting was created specifically for this programme.

Ballistic Jaw Propulsion of Trap-Jaw Ants, Encyclopedia Pictura, United States, 2006, 3'
Another experiment produced for the DVD magazine Wholphin, published by McSweeney's. The idea of this and other experiments already shown in the series is to gather together the raw material recorded exclusively for the science studio and to use it to create an audiovisual piece. Unlike the spectacular nature filmings (included in hundreds of documentaries that this series does not contemplate), these pieces refer us more directly to scientific thought because of their simplicity and even their technical flaws. Material filmed by the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley.

Pretty Short War, Luis Cerveró, Spain, 2001, 2'
Sweets, insects and honey in an aesthetic advertising piece that, far from selling anything, uses small creatures to level criticism against mass-consumer society.

The No Name Horses, Lorena Medina, Spain, 2010, 3'
An evocative, Super-8-format piece. The life of horses inside and outside the circus filmed by an equine vet in Los Angeles (United States) and edited two decades later by his daughter in Barcelona. Indelible images, family memories and a love for animals, with music by Andreas Dorau. A piece created for Little Histories of Cinema.

Histoires de Crevettes, Jean Painlevé and Geneviève Hamon, France, 1964, 13'
A friend of Alexander Calder and admired by Fernand Léger and Marc Chagall, Painlevé renewed Marey's tradition of scientific film. His films, which amount to over 200, combine a scientific vision with a great imagination: unlike in Marey's film, in Painlevé's science becomes fiction. With his filmings of molluscs, crustaceans and other marine fauna, intended to be seen by the general public, Painlevé manages to educate and entertain. In fact, his work has fascinated the public right up to today: the Californian group Yo La Tengo recently created new soundtracks for his films in a project entitled "The Sounds of Silence".

Ghost of Asia, Christelle Lheureux and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2005, 9'
Recorded on the rocky coasts of a Thai island, this game-like piece stars a boy in a swimming costume who collects animals and fruit in accordance with instructions given by some children. The film directors invited children to take part in the filming and to put forward their own ideas in this fun game. A dual-screen video installation shown here in the film version.

Saturday, June 5 and 26, at 5.30 pm
Total running time: 50 min
For all audiences, recommended for spectators from 7 years of age.

The films in this session take nature as the focus of their observation and the source of their creativity, from the natural beauty of magnetic fields to images of sea urchins, cells seen through a microscope and flowers in a field. The bill features both films by digital artists like the Semiconductor collective and Quayola and leading figures in contemporary experimental film, such as Rose Lowder and David Gatten, all interested in science, and works by scientists who came to art through biology. For example, Jean Painlevé, with his films of sea urchins, and Patricia Saragüeta, who makes films based on microscopic observation.

Vital Zippering, Patricia Saragüeta. Argentina-Spain, 2010. 3 min
"The beauty found in moving images of growing cells (recorded using time-lapse photography) led me to connect some of them at a rhythm that highlights their perceptual and abstract values", writes the artist. "My starting point was provided by images of cell cultures, showing the chaotic way in which they grow with no instruction from the context, limited only by the nutrients within reach and the open space of the Petri dish, after which I moved on to the organised dance in a world of fly embryos". Cell movement is made visible in this film thanks to the latest advances made at experimental biology laboratories in an edition of several scientific experiments produced for this film season by 8deagosto with support from Barcelona Centre for Genomic Regulation. Images by Patricia Saragüeta, Miguel Beato, Eulàlia Belloc, Jerome Solon, Aynur Kaya, Nadia Dube and Damian Brunner. With music by Wyzton Borrero.

Journal and Remarks, David Gatten. USA. 15 min. 16 mm (silent)
This second reel in the ongoing Continuous Quantities series features an interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook Instructions nos. 916-918. It contains 700 very short shots, shuttling between notes for what later became Charles Darwin's A Voyage of the Beagle and images gathered by Gatten on a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands nearly one hundred years later. Space and time, word and image, animal and landscape, divided and drawn together under the influence of two of the greatest scientists of all time.

Bitscapes (135.8.01), Quayola. UK. 2 min
Quayola is a "graphic designer and director" who thinks in terms of moving images. His work, shown at museums and galleries all around the world, breaks down the barriers between film, art and design. In Bitscapes, the sea beats against the rocks and, little by little, we see how nature is digitally transformed.

Magnetic Movie, Semiconductor. UK, 2007. 5 min
Since 1999, the artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt (Semiconductor) have worked with digital animation to transcend the constraints of time, scale and natural forces. In Magnetic Movie, they create moving images that show our physical world in flux: cities in motion, shifting landscapes and systems in chaos. In this way, magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic, ever-changing geometries. This is a film in which all action takes place around NASA's Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley. Made thanks to a grant from the Arts Council England's Animate! Programme, the film has won many awards in both the fields of art and science.

Grow, Encyclopedia Pictura. USA. 1 min
Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch's first work as Encyclopedia Pictura, a California-based group whose other members include Daren Ravinovich and which is currently working to develop an alternative biosystem project in the outskirts of Santa Cruz (California). Nature-lovers, the members of Encyclopedia Pictura return to nature, not only as farmers, but also as creators of flora and fauna for musical videos such as Björk's spectacular "Wanderlust". According to Esquire magazine, their original technique, mixing digital images with traditional film, makes them "directors of the future".

Natures 190 5th, Quayola. UK. 4 min
Nature, along with painting and architecture, is one of Quayola's favourite themes. This video, originally conceived for a double-screen installation forming part of the Natures series, brings together flowers and fractals.

Les Oursins, Jean Painlevé. France, 1954. 11 min
A friend of Alexander Calder, admired by Fernand Léger and Marc Chagall, Painlevé renewed the scientific documentary genre from the 1920s to the 1950s, making more than 200 films, mostly with his assistant and life companion Ginette Hamon. Painlevé's films of molluscs, crustaceans and other marine fauna, aimed at broad audiences, both educate and entertain. Indeed, even today's audiences continue to be fascinated by his work: the Californian rock band Yo La Tengo recently composed new soundtracks for Painlevé's films in a project entitled The Sounds of Science. In his first colour film, Les Oursins (Sea Urchins), Painlevé takes us into a forest of spines to show how these animals breathe, reproduce and feed. The technique he used was as follows: liquid gelatin was injected into the sea urchin, and once the gelatin had solidified, its anatomy and internal organs could be captured on the camera.

Bouquet 26-27, Rose Lowder. France, 2003. 2 min 30 sec (silent)
Trained as a painter and sculptor, Rose Lowder is a leading experimental artist who works with 16 mm film and continues to be active as a teacher and as a programmer at the Experimental Film Archives of Avignon. Her best-known works are two series entitled Bouquets, in which she edits shots of flowers at lightning speed, and in which each bouquet of flowers is also a unique bouquet of film frames.

Bitscapes (135.2.19), Quayola. UK. 2 min
Quayola creates worlds in which the real is constantly changing and mixing with the artificial, using real images that are first recorded and then processed by computer. In this piece, geology is set in motion as a red rock is transformed.

Trim Time, Gil Alkabetz. Germany, 2002. 3 min
A strange and fascinating journey into the childlike world of Gil Alkabetz, a master amongst contemporary independent animated film-makers, the creator of such extraordinary shorts as Yankale, Morir de Amor and Swamp. In Trim Time, he explores human relations and the passing of time as the four seasons are seen through the eyes of a tree and its "hairdresser".

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