[ISEA94] Curator Statement: LARRY CUBA Retrospective – Two Space

Curator Statement

This special program introduces the rarely seen, yet widely acclaimed computer animated films by the American artist Larry Cuba. In his artwork Cuba is known for his painstaking strain after perfection. Because of this he has produced relatively few films which have, however, a quite unique esthetic quality. According to Gene Youngblood, “if there is a Bach of abstract animation it is Larry Cuba. Words like elegant, graceful, exhilarating spectacular works characterized by cascading designs, starling shifts of perspective and the ineffable beauty of precise, mathematic structure.” (Video/Arts, Winter 1986)

Two Space 1979, 8:00, 16 mm., b/w, optical sound

Two-dimensional patterns, like the tile patterns of Islamic temples are generated by performing a set of symmetry operations (translations, rotations and reflections) upon a basic figure of tile. Two Space consists of twelve such patterns produced using each of nine different animating figures (12×9==108 total). Rendered in stark black and white, the patterns produce optical illusions of figure-ground reversal and afterimages of color. Gamelan music from the classical tradition of Java adds to the mesmerizing effect.

  • Larry Cuba (1950) is a computer-animation artist who became active in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Born in 1950 in Atlanta, Georgia, he received A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1972 and his Master’s Degree from California Institute of the Arts which includes parallel schools of Dance, Music, Film, Theater, Fine Arts, and Writing. In 1975, John Whitney, Sr. invited Cuba to be the programmer on one of his films. The result of this collaboration was Arabesque. Subsequently, Cuba produced three more computer-animated films: 3/78 (Objects and Transformations)Two Space, and Calculated Movements. Cuba also provided computer graphics for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977. His animation of the Death Star is shown to pilots in the Rebel Alliance. [source: Wikipedia]