The Image Mill – Tribute to Norman McLaren, Animation Pioneer
In collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), the last edition of The Image Mill projection show, beginning in summer 2013, will take the form of a tribute to filmmaker Norman McLaren.
Born in Stirling, Scotland, in 1914, McLaren is regarded as a world pioneer in animated film. The innovative work he created at the NFB from 1941 to 1983 constitutes a major contribution to animation cinema, one that brought him international recognition. McLaren was closely associated with the National Film Board of Canada, and part of his work was developed in Montreal from 1956 to 1983 during a period of cultural and political turmoil in Quebec.
A tireless innovator
At that time, it seemed somewhat eccentric to believe that animation could be a personal art form, and that this type of expression could find a place within the framework of an institution. McLaren’s work consequently had an enormous influence on animation across the globe. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the NFB, as a unique creative and cultural laboratory, has played a substantial role in the worldwide development of animation in no small part due to McLaren’s vision.
Always brimming with creativity, McLaren explored a wide range of techniques: scratching on film, painting on film, pixillation, live-action takes, stop-motion, and cartoon drawing, among others. He never ceased to innovate and used each of his films to investigate the creative possibilities offered by different art forms, such as dance, painting and music.
Over his long career, Norman McLaren received an impressive number of awards, including an Oscar for Neighbours and a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Blinkity Blank. He holds an unparalleled place in the history of world cinema. McLaren died in 1987.
“Because of his tireless exploration of many different art forms, such as stage performance, video and dance, Norman McLaren paved the way for many artists. Ex Machina is among those who benefit from his work. The Image Mill makes for an exceptional encounter with this visionary pioneer, thanks to his work echoing through time all the way to us.” – Robert Lepage
The Image Mill has a story to tell
Every summer since 2008, Quebec City’s Bunge grain silos have been brought to life by The Image Mill, a projection show that has transformed these oversized screens with its tribute to the city. In collaboration with the NFB, for its last edition in summer 2013 The Image Mill will instead pay tribute to McLaren, the man who expanded the creative limits and possibilities of the animation form.
This architectural projection, produced and presented by Ex Machina and Robert Lepage, is the largest of its kind ever conceived. Sophisticated technology is used to project a huge quantity of images and films onto the grain silos in the industrial port of Quebec, a massive “screen” that spans 600 meters wide by 30 meters high! In the hands of Lepage and his creative team, this gigantic expanse of concrete seems to be in a constant state of transformation, giving viewers the surreal impression that it is alive and talking to them.
The Image Mill was created in 2008 as part of the festivities surrounding the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. Following the success of this first edition, the work was extended for another five years. In its final year, 2013, only 20 percent of the The Image Mill’s content was slated for renewal, but thanks to the NFB’s invaluable collaboration, the farewell projection show will feature all new content.
The Image Mill dates and times in 2013
June 23 to September 1, Tuesday to Saturday. No projections on Sundays and Mondays, except on June 23 and September 1.
Show begins at 10:15 p.m. in June and July, and 9:45 p.m. in August and September.
Where to see and listen to The Image Mill
To experience and appreciate the work at its best and in all its dimensions, viewers are encouraged to go to the Quebec City harbour, in the area between the Old Port Market, Dalhousie Street, and Quay Saint-André Street.
The Mill Frequency: 97,5 FM
Those who want to experience the mega-projection from afar can tune in to 97.5 FM on their personal FM radio.
You can also download the The Mill Frequency radio show in MP3 format, which contains thorough interviews with The Image Mill creators (in French) and more information about McLaren’s work and the early days of animated film (available in June).
Ex Machina would like to thank the National Film Board of Canada for its invaluable and continued collaboration on this project, and for the gracious use of the archives that made this entirely new 2013 edition possible.
The film The Image Mill Revealed paints a portrait of the last three months preceding the première of The Image Mill™.
The Image Mill™
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