[ISEA94] Curator Statement: LARRY CUBA Retrospective – Calculated Movements

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)

Calculated Movements 1985. 6:00, 16 mm, b/w, optical sound

A choreographed sequence of graphing events constructed from simple elements repeated and combined in a hierarchicalstructure. The simplest is a linear ribbon like figure, that appears, follows a path across the screen and then disappears. The like figure, that appears, follows a path next level up in the hierarchy is an animated geometric form composed of multiple copies of the ribbon figure shifted in time and space. At the third level, the copies are speared out into a two-dimensional symmetry pattern or shifted out of phase for a follow-the-leader type effect, or a combination of the two. The highest level is the sequential arrangement of these graphic events into a score that describes the composition from beginning to end.

  • 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]