Visiting artist residency at USC School of Cinematic Arts, LA (Part 1) / by Anna Madeleine

I've just started a visiting artist residency at the Animation Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, thanks to a Project Funding Grant from Arts ACT

While semester doesn't officially start until next week the campus is fairly quite, but I was given a tour of DADA (Division of Animation and Digital Arts) by production supervisor Mar Elepaño and met chair Tom Sito, sound lecturer Bethany Sparks, and animation lecturer Lisa Mann. Above my desk are some original drawings from Beauty and the Beast.

I have been shown the animation stop-motion and down-shooter studios - I'm particularly excited about using the Oxberry animation stands - huge old-school contraptions used for making under-the-camera animation with film. They've now got digital cameras mounted where the film cameras used to be, but still with the original light boxes and spotlights on either side for back and front lighting. 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a huge collection of contemporary and traditional art - too much for one jet-lagged visit! The museum is huge, with several different buildings and multiple large-scale outdoor installations including Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass, a forest of yellow tubes by Jesús Rafael Soto, and the famous lamp posts by Chris Burden. The contemporary gallery was showing an extensive retrospective of Anges Martin's work (the first in USA) - interesting to see the development from early works (which I liked better) to the later grid works. Downstairs, an awesome-looking kinetic installation by Chris Burden that I will have to go back and see when it's running during weekends, along with Rain Room, which is booked up until I leave...

One of the highlights for me was Islamic Art Now, Part 2: Contemporary art of the Middle East, which had some really interesting screen-based works such as the 'Listen' series by Newsha Tavakolian, which was "a group of imaginary CD covers for fantasy albums by women singers, who have not been permitted to perform in public in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution." My favourites though were some incredible paper cuts by Sherin Guirguis, which reference the geometric design of architectural elements, in this case the windows of a railway station. I also found Shoja Azari's video projection really interesting in its unusual framing of moving image within a still composition. It is a projected vertical image like like a book illustration, which is disrupted by animated vignettes within the composition.

I loved the exhibition Senses of Time: Video and film-based works of Africa ( "Our hearts beat to the rhythms of biological time and continents drift in geological time, while we set our watches to the precision of Naval time. "). Theo Eshetu's work was a TV screen surrounded by an infinity room of mirrors that created a sphere of reflections where the viewer is always included, creating a kaleidoscopic merging of us with the art. 

Fellow ANCA studio tenant Annika Romeyn happens to be in Los Angeles as an artist assistant for Robin Eley. After a hike in the Hollywood Hills we spent a good chunk of the afternoon captivated by this amazing kinetic artwork by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics (in collaboration with students) , mesmerised by its sound, movement, shimmer, as it morphed and flowed like a school of fish or a murmuration.

At MOCA, I loved Pierre Hughe's work Shore, where the wall had been sanded off to create an abstraction on the wall itself, with the paint fallen on the floor underneath (along with a turtle fossil). And after just having made my Submarine Cable Map before leaving Australia, I could relate to and was impressed with the use of cable in Jac Leirner's work (although treated very differently!)

I found the mantra for my residency in John Baldessari's wall painting... #iwillnotmakeanymoreboringart