Museum of The Moving Image plans multi-million dollar updates with HD, 3D

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Museum of The Moving Image plans multi-million dollar updates with HD, 3D
In 1988, The Museum of the Moving Image opened in Astoria, Queens, to share the history and technology behind -- ding, you guessed it -- "moving images," of all forms. Now it's set to undergo a $67 million dollar renovation. Designed by architect Thomas Leesers, its main 264-seat theater was conceived as "as a capsule for the imaginary voyage of moviegoing," and will have the capability to display everything from 16mm to 70mm film along with 2D and 3D digital HD content -- yeah we're geeking out. Additionally, the facility will gain a digital learning suite, functioning production studio, and 68-seat screening room, as well as a 10,400 sq. ft. courtyard for outdoor events. Despite the scale of these changes, the new theater is scheduled to open on January 15th, 2011 for the film series, "Recovered Treasures: Great Films from World Archives " which will feature 20 newly-restored movies from archives around the globe and run until February 20th. No matter how loudly we plead, though, we doubt Last Action Hero will headline. Full PR after the break.

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Doubled in Size, and With Dynamic New Architecture by Thomas Leeser, America's Only Museum of Screen Culture Will Present Wide-Ranging Film Programs, a Pathbreaking Exhibition of Digital Media, New Video Art Screenings and a Refreshed and Refurbished Core Exhibition

ASTORIA, NY, July 8, 2010 - Featuring extraordinary new facilities for seeing, studying, enjoying and interacting with screen culture in all its forms, and given striking new physical expression by architect Thomas Leeser, Museum of the Moving Image will welcome the public to its expanded and redesigned home beginning Saturday, January 15, 2011.

Rochelle Slovin, Director of Museum of the Moving Image, today announced the opening date of the transformed Museum and presented an update on the progress of construction of Leeser Architecture's innovative design, which thoroughly reimagines the ground floor of the existing building and provides a remarkable three-story addition. She also announced the opening film series and the list of artists and media-makers whose works will appear in the inaugural presentations, bringing to life the redesigned and expanded building, now doubled in size (from 50,000 to 97,700 square feet) through the $67 million project.

At this major new destination in the vibrant and diverse Astoria neighborhood of New York, visitors will be immersed in experiences including:

* an exciting inaugural film program, Celebrating the Moving Image (January 15 - February 20), featuring six weeks of newly restored classic and contemporary films from around the world, personal appearances by prominent actors and directors, live musical performances and special events, designed to showcase the Museum's new 264-seat theater and new 68-seat Celeste and Armand Bartos Screening Room

* Real Virtuality, an inaugural exhibition of five experiments in art and technology (three Moving Image commissions and two New York museum premieres of newly completed works) that cross the border between interactive digital environments and the visitor's own space, organized by the Museum in collaboration with Thomas Leeser and presented in the new gallery for changing exhibitions

* a specially commissioned animated video work, Dolls vs. Dictators, by New York-based filmmaker/artist Martha Colburn, based on her photographs of the Museum's unparalleled collection of dolls, toys, and other licensed merchandise from film and television, projected in the Video Screening Amphitheater built into the Museum's new grand staircase

* and a large-scale video work, City Glow (2005) by Chiho Aoshima in collaboration with animator Bruce Ferguson, shown in seamless panoramic format for the first time on a 50-foot-long projection wall in the redesigned lobby.

In addition, the Museum's 15,000-square-foot core exhibition Behind the Screen, offering a comprehensive, interactive exploration of how films and television programs are produced, promoted and exhibited, is being thoroughly upgraded for the re-opening, with every monitor, video projector, computer and player being replaced with the latest technology. New exhibits include visitor-generated Foley sound effects and an authentic motion capture experience, in which the visitor becomes an animated character. The live-editing display will feature a New York Mets baseball game specially recorded for the Museum by the Mets, including feeds from the 12 on-field cameras, the control room, the announcers' booth, the game graphics and the game broadcast itself. A new art installation, Suburban Horror by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, and recently acquired artifacts will also be added.

Other amenities of the expansion-renovation include a new café and Museum Store; an on-site space for collection storage, vastly improving researchers' access to the Museum's preeminent collection; and a new outdoor space, the 10,000-square-foot Courtyard Garden.

The number of school groups served by the Museum will double, with the annual number of visiting students rising from 30,000 to 60,000, thanks to the new Ann and Andrew Tisch Education Center on the redesigned ground floor. In addition to providing a dedicated student entry, the William Fox Amphitheater for student orientation and an Internet reading room, the Education Center will offer high-tech, hands-on instruction through a digital learning suite, comprised of two media labs and a seminar room, and the Nam June Paik Experimental Production Studio. The new 68-seat screening room will be used for the Museum's groundbreaking education program Screening America, as well as for other educational programs and public screenings.

"The inauguration of this building, almost thirty years to the day after this institution was founded, brings to a close our early history while opening a major new chapter in the Museum's life," Rochelle Slovin stated. "With this extraordinary new facility, Museum of the Moving Image enhances its status as one of the major cultural institutions of New York, and shows that we are evolving and growing as quickly as our subject matter. Thanks to the imaginative and innovative design Thomas Leeser has given us, and thanks to the generosity of our donors-chief among them the City of New York-we are able as never before to illuminate screen culture in all its variety, as both art and industry, for New Yorkers of every age and for our visitors from around the globe."

Herbert S. Schlosser, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, stated, "From the days of Edison to the Internet, no force has done more than the moving image to transform the world, socially, culturally and economically. The one place where people can get an entertaining, yet informed, experience of this phenomenon as a whole is at our Museum. Now we have facilities that are as multifaceted and exciting as the stories that we tell."

Highlights of the New Architectural Design

According to Thomas Leeser, Principal of Leeser Architecture, "Museum of the Moving Image must be a dynamic place. The distinction between what is contained and what does the containing can dissolve here, as the visitor encounters the moving image everywhere in a natural, casual way, integrated seamlessly into the spaces. One of our main goals was to allow visitors to experience their movement through the building as a kind of participation in the imaginary movement of images on the screen. At the same time, we have taken full advantage of the unusual luxury of designing spaces for determined purposes, such as the two new theaters."

The Museum, which opened in 1988, was created in one of the City-owned buildings of the former Astoria Studio complex, built in 1920 as the East Coast production facility for Paramount Pictures and now on the National Register of Historic Places. The facade on 35 Avenue therefore retains its original appearance as a three-story industrial structure of masonry and glass, with the exception of one significant intervention. A new entrance now presents visitors with a portal of mirrored and transparent glass, with the words "Museum of the Moving Image" in letters three and a half feet tall. With its teasing play of light-merging direct vision and reflection within a single frame-the entrance is the first of many screens that visitors encounter at the Museum.

By passing through this screen, visitors leave behind the grid of the city streets and enter an experience where spaces flow freely into one another, gently canted forms lend a sense of dynamism to the walls and ceiling, and surfaces de-materialize into the weightless, illusory depth of the moving image. Along one side of the new lobby, an entire wall (slanted at an 83-degree angle) serves as the surface for a seamless panorama of projected video, 50 feet long and as much as 8 feet high. At the far end of the lobby, a gathering space is carved out beneath a sloping ceiling, whose angle follows the underside of the main theater above. Opposite the gathering space is the new café and the main staircase leading up to two floors of exhibitions.

A pair of ramps enclosed in softly glowing blue tunnels leads up from the lobby to the new 264-seat main theater. Conceived as a capsule for the imaginary voyage of moviegoing, the theater has a wraparound ceiling and walls made of 1,136 fabric panels in a sensuous, vibrant Yves Klein blue, altering the viewer's depth perception and encouraging a sensation of being suspended in the space. The triangular fabric panels are fitted together with open joints, with the lighting integrated into the panel system. With a screen of classic proportions and projection equipment for every format from 16mm to 70mm and high-definition digital 3-D, the theater will provide an unsurpassed filmgoing experience. A stage accommodates the Museum's ongoing series of discussions and other live events, while a mini-orchestra pit provides space for musical accompaniment of silent films.

Other notable screening areas in the Museum are a 1,700-square-foot Video Screening Amphitheater and small gallery inserted into the first landing of the grand staircase, where the risers are transformed into an abstract landscape of built-in benches and the screen is the wall above the stair; and a new 68-seat film and digital screening room on the ground floor, used for both education programs and more intimate and experimental public screenings. Equal in excellence to the 264-seat main theater but presenting a striking design contrast, this secondary screening room has a hot pink entrance and features exposed loudspeakers and a grey, perforated acoustical wall and ceiling surface, making it more of an exposed machine for the moving image.

The new gallery for changing exhibitions on the third floor provides the Museum with its first completely flexible space for presenting cutting-edge new projects, with 4,100 square feet of unencumbered space. Also on the third floor, the new on-site space for collection storage offers an international community of researchers and scholars unprecedented access to much of the Museum's collection of more than 130,000 objects.

The new Education Center occupies the entire west side of the ground floor in both the addition and the existing building, as well as new spaces on the third floor and the lower level. Among the facility's chief design features on the ground floor is the digital learning suite: a large, flexible space that can be divided into two discrete media labs or function as an open auditorium for up to 100 students, with specially designed mobile computer workstations. At their own terminals, teachers can monitor the work of all the students, or select a particular work-in-progress for high-definition video projection onto a large screen. On the third floor, in the experimental production studio, students will be able to record their own creations with high-definition cameras and a wide array of "digital sets," complete the videos in a postproduction bay and then disseminate them via the Internet to a world-wide audience. Additionally, a much-needed new student lunch room will be located in the basement.

The Education Center has its dedicated entrance in the Museum's multi-purpose, 10,000-square-foot Courtyard Garden. Standing in this outdoor space, visitors will see a dramatic contrast between the front of the building and the iconic new rear facade. Comprised of a surface pattern of triangles-like those in the main theater, but made in this case out of 1,067 thin aluminum panels, mounted on the support structure with open joints-the light-blue facade looks razor-sharp but creates the impression of a super-light floating skin dematerialized against the sky: another visual reference in the architecture to the infinite thinness of the moving image. In their pattern, the panels also bring to mind the lines of wireframe computer drawings. Because the triangular panels must fit together precisely to form the skin, the 200-foot-long structure - like the theater - is built to a tolerance of 3/16 of an inch.

Highlights of the Inaugural Screening Programs

To celebrate its transformation and re-opening, the Museum will present an inaugural six-week program titled Celebrating the Moving Image (Jan. 15 - Feb. 20, 2011) featuring screenings, personal appearances, performances and special events to showcase the Museum's new programming spaces and its philosophy.

Among the components of Celebrating the Moving Image, organized by Chief Curator David Schwartz, will be:

Recovered Treasures: Great Films from World Archives (January 15 - February 20), a presentation of 20 newly restored feature films from the world's most important film archives, including Paul Fejos's silent masterpiece Lonesome (shot in Coney Island and other New York locations), the long-lost 1922 German film Nathan the Wise (a plea for peace set in 12th-century Jerusalem, later banned by the Nazis), King Hu's 1975 martial arts film The Valiant Ones and Indian master Satyajit Ray's Agantuk (The Stranger) (1991).

Signal to Noise (January 15), a late-night art party, organized by Assistant Curator of Digital Media Jason Eppink, in which artists, hackers, musicians, and filmmakers activate every area of the Museum with live electronic music, moving image performances, and interactive art. Performers will include Nick Yulman and his robotic orchestra and electronic music by chiptunes artist Bit Shifter.

Avant-Garde Masters (January 15 - February 3), recently restored films and videos including work by Rudy Burckhardt, Abigail Child, Bruce Conner, George and Mike Kuchar, Jonas Mekas, Sidney Peterson, Larry Rivers, Carolee Schneemann, Andy Warhol and more, shown in the new 68-seat screening room.

Magic, Music, and Early Movies (January 16), rising star of New York's new music scene Sxip Shirey playing his astonishing accompaniment to the magical silent films of Georges Méliès, performing as a one-man band on an array of handmade instruments.

King: A Filmed Record, Montgomery to Memphis (January 17), the landmark 1970 documentary directed by Sidney Lumet and Joseph Mankiewicz, combining vivid archival footage of Dr. King and the events of the civil rights movement with interviews and testimonials filmed after his death, shown in a 35mm archival print from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The Mont Alto Orchestra Accompanies L'Argent (January 22 - 23), a screening of Marcel L'Herbier's epic L'Argent accompanied by the New York premiere of the score by Colorado's renowned Mont Alto Orchestra, repeating its triumph at the Telluride Film Festival.

Changing the Picture: NBC and the Emergence of African-Americans on Television (February 6), a panel discussion moderated by Museum Chairman Herbert S. Schlosser, who was West Coast head of programming for the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in the 1960s and was president of the NBC network and CEO of NBC in the 1970s. The panel, featuring major on-screen and behind-the-scenes guests, will look at breakthrough shows including I Spy, The Bill Cosby Show, Julia, Laugh-in, and The Flip Wilson Show.

Throughout the year, the Museum will screen more than 400 films in thematic series, many with personal appearances by leading actors and directors. The first of these will be Alain Resnais (February 25 - March 27). Other new programs will be Family Film Matinees held each weekend; a monthly Hitchcock Revisited screening and discussion; Indian Cinema Showcase, a monthly outlet for Indian independent cinema; and Fist and Sword, an action-packed monthly screening of martial arts films from Asia and the U.S.

Highlights of the Inaugural Exhibition

The inaugural special exhibition of Museum of the Moving Image, Real Virtuality, presents five experiments in art and technology that either draw visitors into immersive computer-generated environments or project digital environments into the physical space of the gallery. Using technologies from the field of digital entertainment-including game engines, multi-user environments, motion capture and stereoscopic projection-the installations in Real Virtuality include three works commissioned by Museum of the Moving Image, and two New York museum premieres of newly completed works.

Real Virtuality has been organized for the Museum by Carl Goodman, Senior Deputy Director, in collaboration with Thomas Leeser, architect of the Museum of the Moving Image expansion and renovation, who also will design the exhibition. On view from January 15 through June 12,, 2011, Real Virtuality will include:

RealTime UnReal (Museum of the Moving Image commission)
Workspace Unlimited: Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke (Belgium), 2011
Digital/physical environment
Computer-generated "bots" seem to occupy the real space of the Museum's gallery, while images of Museum visitors are captured and projected into the work's imaginary world. The uncanny fusion of actual and virtual space utilizes dual stereoscopic projections, mirrors, a double-sided projection and game engine software customized by the artists.

Into the forest (Museum of the Moving Image commission)
OpenEnded Group: Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie (United States), 2011
Interactive stereoscopic projection
A visitor plays a game of hide-and-seek with the children in a digital forest. Through the use of custom animation software and motion capture libraries created by the artists, the work's computer-generated world looks like a moving hand-drawn illustration.

Extension (Museum of the Moving Image commission)
Pablo Valbuena (Spain), 2011
Digital/physical environment
A new work in the artist's site-specific Extension series, this installation uses digitally animated projections to augment, extend and transform the architectural details of the Museum's gallery.

The Night Journey (New York premiere installation)
Bill Viola (United States), 2011
Experimental video game
The Night Journey extends the pioneering work of video artist Bill Viola into the realm of video games. Created in collaboration with the USC Game Innovation Lab and game designer Tracy Fullerton, The Night Journey takes the player on an archetypal journey toward enlightenment through the mechanics of the game experience.

RMB City (New York museum premiere installation)
Cao Fei (China), 2009-10
Multiplayer online virtual environment
RMB City is a virtual city in which the Beijings of yesterday, today and perhaps tomorrow collide. Open to the public since January 2009 as a two-year project, it was created within the multi-user virtual world Second Life but possesses a charmingly post-apocalyptic visual sensibility all its own.

Real Virtuality has been made possible through a 2007 Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund award, with additional support provided by Barco and Flanders House. Martha Colburn's video piece has been made possible thanks to a gift from the Greenwall Foundation.
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