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Making the Future Happen

Hannah Schallert

“Making the Future Happen: Animation, Effects, and Technology 1960-1980 is a creative-speculative video essay exploring animations made by artists working at the intersections of experimental film, special effects, and computer graphics in America between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s. The video brings together found footage from a wide array of sources: feature films, TV advertising and title sequences, CGI demo reels, and behind-the-scenes making of featurettes- in addition to animators’ independent artistic output. These media are combined in the style of a montage/collage/mash-up that foregrounds the aesthetic and thematic similarities shared between areas of production often thought to be defined by a series of oppositions- commercial versus avant-garde, illusion versus abstraction, or industry versus experimentation. Through these juxtapositions, the piece takes a historical approach to examining the interstices at which artists worked to ‘make the future happen’ (the tagline from a 1979 TV spot created by Digital Effects Inc.) by developing animation techniques that were just as at home in Sci-Fi blockbusters like Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) as they were in the mesmerizing Modernist mandalas created by John Whitney at IBM in the 1960s. Making the Future Happen was originally produced as a creative extension of my current Master’s research into the choreographed movement patterns of Science Fiction space battle sequences. The video essay was intended to explore the historical background for the aesthetics and technology of contemporary computer-animated space battles by tracing their style of movement design to this particular period of interdisciplinary exchange.”

Hannah Schallert is a media and dance artist, administrator, and researcher. She holds an Honours BFA in Dance from York University, and is currently pursuing her SSHRC CGS-M funded MA research into the movement design and aesthetics of Science Fiction space battles in York’s Cinema and Media Studies program. Hannah’s past artistic work has spanned areas of performance, installation, and dance for camera. Her current practice centres around found footage, collage, and animation, in addition to continuing to create installation and projection-based work in collaboration with dance and theatre artists. Hannah’s choreography, films, and video art have been presented at festivals and galleries in Toronto, including dance: made in Canada/fait au Canada, Dancemakers/RT Collective, and Beaver Hall Gallery. She is a member of Immer and Roses multidisciplinary collectives.

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