Kaboom!

Explosive Animation from America & Japan

Background

KABOOM! Explosive Animation from American & Japan was a major exhibition curated by Philip Brophy and commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney in 1994. The exhibition covered 2 entire floors of the museum and ran for 3 months with an attendance of 79,000.

A catalogue was produced for the exhibition. It contains all the interviews featured in the exhibition conducted by Philip in America and Japan (including Hayao Miyazaki, Otomo Katsuhiro, Buichi Terasawa, Ralph Bakshi, John Kricfalusi, Mike Judge & John Zorn); profiles of all the artists; and 6 commissioned essays. The catalogue cover featuring Ren & Stimpyis printed on a clear 'cel' film and folds out in the rear to reveal a wide image of Tetsuro from Akira.

Mega Zone 1 © 1994

Credits

Curator/exhibition-designer/book-editor: Philip Brophy
Project Manager: Erica Drew
International Co-Ordinator: Rosemary Dean
Assistant International Co-Ordinator: Minoru Ideta
Camera Operator & Crew: Rosemary Dean (Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles), Minoru Ideta (Tokyo), Fusion (Melbourne)
Interpreters: Kiyoo Joo, Minoru Ideta
Studio Liaison: Junko Ito (A-Girl Productions)
Computer Graphics: Eric Gorton
Video Post-Production: Fusion
Video Subtitling: Chiaki Ajioka (SBS-TV)
Translations: Minoru Ideta, Keiko Yuasa & Tim Patterson
Special thanks: Leon Parroisien & Bernice Murphy - directors of the MCA and instigators of the exhibition

1994-1995

Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Overview

Design concept

In Kaboom, the emphasis is on exposure : to give the visitor a taste and feel of the extremes animation can reach, and to illuminate the hidden base of inspired madness which has been behind the creation of the more radical strands of animation. The organization of gallery space for Kaboom is important in emphasizing the `data transmission' aspect of the exhibition. Rather than allowing the viewer to wander in centralized voids, casually moving through and surveying wall-works, Kaboom opts for a `decentralized' space: an environment within which the viewer/listener is bombarded with information. More like a carnival, dance club, sales convention or social arena than an art gallery.

The predominance of TV screens and monitors radiating fast-moving images - all encased in cacophonic sensurround of sonic textures - is to create the sensory giddiness of the cartoon world, where patterns of logic, laws of physics and the ways in which we see and hear the world are scattered within the whirlwind ride endemic to the cartoon. Kaboom is intent on creating a dimensional experience, wherein information is the key ingredient, and audio-visual sensations are the prime mobilizers of that experience.

Floor plan draft © 1994

Throughout the exhibition space, different Info Zones can be encountered. The Mega Rooms on Level 1 (Mega Zones 1 + 2) are designed for fleeting, random and casual intake, so that the viewer/listener can be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, and get an idea of the intensity and craziness of the selected fields of animation `on-the-run'. Numerous excerpts (listed below in full) play on monitors encased in especially-designed multi-levelled plastic orange bubbles. The side rooms on Level 1 feature rare artefacts associated with the animations. Surface Point features original cells from Warner Bros. cartoons, original sketches and artworks by Bob Clampett, John Kricfalusi, Mike Judge and others, plus a suite of original background paintings created by Kazuo Oga for all of Hayao Miyazaki's animations; and a wall of original posters from all of Tezuka Productions key productions. Merchandise Point is a room full of rare and collectible figurines, objects and trinkets used for the marketing of all the key animations included in the exhibition. Each item is encassed in a special glass bubble affixed to a sea of orange pillars. All of Level 2 (Dimension Image; Dimension Sound; Game Zone; Memory Bank) are divided into smaller areas wherein visitors can take their time and sample the video interviews, displayed materials and numerous micro-documentaries and cut-ups. Think of the museum as a real-space hard-drive with over 3,575 cubic metres of data and over 10 & a half hours of material to be sampled.

So wander randomly, be distracted and consume more than you can handle. Pass through the dynamic decor, graphic corridors and sonic carpet which now line the museum walls. The still image has disappeared; photography is forgotten; sounds abound. This is the world of animation. This is Kaboom.

Mega Zone 1 © 1994

Technical

Mega Zones 1 + 2

Bob Clampett

Bubble #1: excerpts from -

1. THE BIG SNOOZE: Bob Clampett 1946
Elmer is knocked senseless and has a nightmare once Bugs Bunny enters his dreamscape.
2. BACALL TO ARMS: Bob Clampett 1946
A wolf goes to the movies and watches a cartoon parody of the Bogart/Bacall film "To Have And Have Not".
3. GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY: Bob Clampett 1946
Daffy Duck knocks himself senseless and imagines himself to be Duck Twacy. In his surrealistic dream, he solves a crime wave of piggy bank robberies.
4. BABY BOTTLENECK: Bob Clampett 1946
Daffy Duck & Porky Pig run a baby factory. During wartime, there is a baby shortage so they over-produce their babies. In the melée of over-production, the storks make many wrong deliveries.
5. BOOK REVUE: Bob Clampett 1946
A parody of magazines and books on a store shelf as they come to life.
6. DRAFTEE DAFFY: Bob Clampett 1945
Daffy Duck attempts to allude the draftsman delivering Daffy his induction notice.
7. A GRUESOME TWOSOME: Bob Clampett 1945
Tweety is fought over by two scraggly tomcats who are trying to deliver Tweety as a bouquet to the female feline they each are wooing.
8. THE OLD GREY HARE: Bob Clampett 1944
Elmer gets knocked on the head and has a nightmare set in the year 1980. As old folks they reminisce looking at a photo album. They flash back to their younger days and we see a baby Bugs chased by a baby Elmer.

Bob Clampett

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. WHAT'S COOKIN' DOC?: Bob Clampett 1944
Bugs Bunny and Elmer chase each other as Elmer tries to shoot Bugs for dinner.
2. FALLING HARE: Bob Clampett 1943
Bugs is terrorized by a Gremlin and gets caught in a plane while the Gremlin attempts to sabotage the flight.
3. A CORNY CONCERTO: Bob Clampett 1943
A parody of Disney's "Fantasia", divided into 3 sections with Elmer Fudd playing the role of host Deems Taylor.
4. TORTOISE WINDS BY A HARE: Bob Clampett 1943
Bugs can't believe the tortoise always beats the hare. Backed by gangsters, he builds an aerodynamic shell and attempts to win - but still loses.
5. THE HEP CAT: Bob Clampett 1942
A suave tom cat romances a sexy cute alley cat.
6. THE WACKY WABBIT: Bob Clampett 1942
Bugs pesters Elmer on his restful camp-away holiday.
7. WABBIT TWOUBLE: Bob Clampett 1941
Bugs and Elmer fight it out one more time.

Bob Clampett

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. BEANY & CECIL: Bob Clampett 1962
An animated TV series centred on Cecil the seasick sea serpent, Beany his young pal, and Captain Huff'N'Puff. They sail their boat and travel to wild and wacky terrains, encountering beatniks, ad agency executives, and a variety of social figures satirized in each episode. In many an episode they are hounded by Dishonest John - the regular bad-guy.

Mega Zone 1 © 1994

Ralph Bakshi

Bubble #1: excerpts from -

1. FRITZ THE CAT: Ralph Bakshi / from Robert Crumb's comic 1972
An animated features which loosely and sardonically looks at the counterculture of the early 70s. All social figures of the time are re-cast in the form of an animal: Fritz is a cat; his girlfriend is a bird; the police are pigs; and blacks are crows. The story follows Fritz's trials and tribulations trying to get on with the opposite sex. He gets caught up with a wide range of fringe characters in his pursuits.
2. HEAVY TRAFFIC: Ralph Bakshi 1973
An autobiographical animated feature based on Ralph Bakshi's early days as a young animator. He works at home - irritated by his whining Jewish parents - and above a sleazy bar. At the bar many low life congregate. He falls in love with the barmaid and a brief affair follows. Ralph leaves to continue his career as a cartoonist.

Ralph Bakshi

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. STREET FIGHT aka COONSKIN: Ralph Bakshi 1975
A dramatic study of race relations in Harlem in the mid-70s. Loosely based on the Brer Rabbit folk tale (and simultaneously pastiche-ing Disney's "Song Of The South") the story is centred on Brer Rabbit, Brother Fox and Brother Bear. All three are naive southerners who hit Harlem. Eventually Brer Rabbit controls the Harlem underworld and beats the white Italian mafia at their own game.

Ralph Bakshi

Bubble #3: excerpts from -

1. COOL WORLD: Ralph Bakshi 1991
Based on the surreal consequences of a cartoon woman (from "Toon Town") who 'crosses over' into the real world - Las Vegas. There she unleashes a mystical power which transforms the real world into a cartoon reality. Meanwhile back in "Toon Town" a real detective - sent there since his death in the real world during WWII - fights to chase the cartoon woman and bring her back to the cartoon world.

Contemporary American Animation

Bubble #1: excerpts from -

1. THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY MOUSE: produced by Ralph Bakshi / episodes directed by John Kricfalusi 1985
An animated TV series which reworks the old "Mighty Mouse" theatrical shorts of the 40s. In this new version, things are more zany and more bizarre. Mighty Mouse is often called to save his friends from crazy situations - like being kidnapped by giant talking gloves and caught on runaway freight-train cars with a bunch of psycho circus clowns.

Contemporary American Animation

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. THE REN & STIMPY SHOW: John Kricfalusi 1991
An animated TV series based on the extreme events which befall the neurotic Chihuahua, Ren, and his semi-retarded side-kick cat, Stimpy.

Contemporary American Animation

Bubble #3: excerpts from -

1. BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD: Mike Judge 1992
An animated TV series following the moronic escapades of Beavis & Butt-Head - two brain-dead adolescents from midwest America. They work at Burger World, play stupid pranks on each other and their friends, and do little but watch MTV. They converse in dumb spurts of near-incomprehensible banter, punctuated by endless and annoying snickering. In each episode, very little happens: a coin gets stuck in a vending machine; Beavis gets braces; Butt-Head eats too many corn chips; they decide to roll a sleeping cow; they collect golf balls from a golfing range and sell them; etc.

Osamu Tezuka

Bubble #1: excerpts from -

1. ASTRO BOY: Osamu Tezuka 1963/80
A Japanese TV series about the adventures of Astro Boy - a cute robot boy who shares a close relationship with his inventor professor, but all the while wondering who his parents might be. All of Astro Boy's adventures are fantastic and extreme - he battles meteor storms, giant robots, mystical giants and monstrous creatures from the ocean floor.
2. KIMBA THE WHITE LION: Osamu Tezuka 1965
A Japanese TV series about the adventures of Kimba - a white lion who struggles to retain the rights to his throne, left to him by his late father. Separated by his mother who has bee trapped and exported to a zoo by poachers, Kimba is befriended a wise mandrill. His constant enemies are the hyenas who are loyal to a dark rogue lion.
3. THE AMAZING THREE: Osamu Tezuka 1965/66
A Japanese TV series about the adventures of 3 espionage agents who have mistakenly be transformed into animals: a duck, a rabbit and a horse. They travel in an atomically-powered tyre (!) and aid a James Bond-like agent. Together they battle an array of evil and nefarious forces.

Osamu Tezuka

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. SPACE FIREBIRD 2772: Osamu Tezuka / directed by Taku Sugiyama 1980
Set in the distant future, this complex animated drama deals with reincarnation in a post-nuclear realm. A baby is reared by a robot nurse. He turns out to be a crack fighter, and is sent by his government to monitor a rebellion of miners on a hostile planet. Once there, he discovers injustices and aids in the miners' rebellion. An earthquake suddenly erupts and sends him to another planet, where he discovers the illusive phoenix. Trying to capture her, he is killed - only to later reincarnate as a baby, this time in the arms of a human mother who is herself a reincarnation of his old robot nurse.

Osamu Tezuka

Bubble #3: excerpts from -

1. UNICO: Osamu Tezuka / directed by Toshio Harata 1981
A children's animated feature, following the tragic exploits of young Unico - a magical unicorn who has been removed from his mother by the gods as a test to see if he can survive the harsh realities of the world. On his adventures he befriends a cheeky child demon and a cat who is actually a young girl. Together they battle an evil prince who controls a magical forrest, casting darkness over the surrounding countryside. Eventually Unico beats the prince and is allowed to go back to his mother.

Hayao Miyazaki

Bubble #1: excerpts from -

1. NAUSICAA: Hayao Miyazaki 1984
An animated feature set in the distant future and based on the adventures of Nausica - a young girl who is heir to a futuristic-rural society. With a kinship to all animals and a master of her special gliding machine, she battles a warring queen who is trying to overtake the village of Nausica and her family. By saving both feuding clans in the wake of some terrible prehistoric animals the queen angers, Nausica is able to make peace in her land.

Hayao Miyazaki

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO: Hayao Miyazaki 1988
A magical tale about a widower and his family who shift to rural Japan. There the children discover the spirits and strange beings of the woodlands, headed by King Totoro. Only the children can see these mystical beings, and after some initial fear, they befriend them and discover much about how nature works in rural Japan.

Hayao Miyazaki

Bubble #3: excerpts from -

1. KIKKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE: Hayao Miyazaki 1989
Set in a fantasy-version of Europe, this is an animated feature about the coming-of-age of Kirk: a teenage witch who starts up a bread delivery service. With her pet cat, she learns about life in the small country town, and learns how humans relate to one another. After a series of 'life-lessons' she finally matures and returns to her relations - a gaggle of witches who have been studying her to see how a witch might live in the human world.

Mega Zone 2 © 1994

Contemporary Japanese Animation

Bubble #1: excerpts from -

1. MERMAID FOREST: Rumiko Takahashi / directed by Takaya Mizutani 1991
Based on a Japanese folk tale, this is the story of two sisters - one who has drunk some mermaid blood and is cursed with youthful beauty and a withering monstrous claw. Two teenagers accidentally enter the sisters' house - and the evil sister tries to kill the younger girl to use her arm to replace her own withering arm. But these two teenagers have actually eaten mermaid flesh, and themselves are eternal. Eventually the evil sister realizes her mistake and ends her life. The two teenagers are then free to leave.
2. AKIRA: Katsuhiro Otomo 1987
Set in the post-apocalyptic future of Neo-Tokyo, this story follows the fast-paced action of Kanada and his rebel gang who by chance become embroiled in complex events which leave one of the members - Tetsuo - capable of super-human powers. He abuses this power and wreaks havoc in a decaying metropolis. Eventually he precipitates another nuclear holocaust, and once again Neo-Tokyo is set to be re-built.

Contemporary Japanese Animation

Bubble #2: excerpts from -

1. LEGEND OF THE DEMON WOMB: Toshio Maeda / directed by Hideki Takayama 1987/89
Based on ancient Japanese legends, this saga documents the coming of the Superfiend Chojin, who is said to merge the three dimensions of existence (the human, the beast and the demon) every 6,000 years. The main threat to Chojin doing this is the mystical sacred energy of a spiritual womb residing in the Osaka Temple. The story follows the adventures of a cheeky beast who resides in the human dimension, along with his sister and their human friend - who has been infected by a demonic curse, and who later turns out to the be the Superfiend Chojin. Eventually, the cheeky beast and the Superfiend do battle to the end.
2. DOMINION : TANK POLICE: Masamune Shirow / episodes directed by Kouichi Mashimo & Takahaki Ishiyama 1988
Set in a future where pollution has contaminated all human life, this story is centred on the activities of the futuristic Tank Police force. Breaking in a woman rookie cop, they follow the elusive Buaku - an android with two feline assistants who rob high security banks for kicks. Later, though, Buaku starts pondering his existence and ends up uncovering a complex plot which reveals he is in fact a genetically re-engineered human whose memory has been erased. With this information he fights a corrupt government and finds an ally in the young rookie cop.

Contemporary Japanese Animation

Bubble #3: excerpts from -

1. COBRA: Buichi Terasawa 1982
A tongue-in-cheek reworking of space-age espionage, angled on the outrageous stunts of Cobra - a cool, cigar-smoking bounty hunter. Starting what appears to be a routine job, Cobra becomes involved in a plot by Crystal Boy to control the world by obtaining three secret keys from three identical triplet-sisters. Cobra fights to save them, but they all die - only to re-animate and energize their dying planet. Cobra meanwhile battles Crystal Boy and rids the galaxy of his devious scheming.
2. BUBBLEGUM CRASH: Kenichi Sonada / episodes directed by Hiroshi Ishiodori & Hiroyuki Fukushima 1991
A futuristic tale of four mercenary women who are sick of their human world being run by 'boomers' (android labour). Known as the Knight Sabers, these four women regroup whenever 'boomers' get out of hand and humans need to gain the upper hand. They collectively fight various corporate giants in a series of all-out displays of immense power and explosive machinery.

Surface Zone © 1994

Dimension Image

The TV virus

A cut-up of scenes from films where cartoon shows appear on-screen.

This is a phenomenon that developed with particular force in the early 80s, mainly in the American teen movie. TV shows would often appear in teen movies, via a character watching the cartoon show on a TV. The purpose and intent of such a scene would be highly sardonic - either to foreground a state of latent violence in the domestic environment, ridicule the parental concern for the child's education, or to simply throw up a post-baby-boomer icon to strike a chord of social familiarity in the viewer. Due to its fantastic, unrealistic aura, the cartoon image could invade and infect the realist dramatic/comedic narrative, giving birth to a moment of social satire quite out of the bounds of strictly cinematic modes of irony.

1. SUGARLAND EXPRESS - Coyote/Roadrunner (WB short)
2. T'S ALIVE - Coyote/Roadrunner (WB short)
3. TWILIGHT ZONE (movie) - Feed The Kitty (WB short); It's Hummer Time (WB short); Riding The Rails (Betty Boop short); Heckle & Jeckle (short)
4. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 3rd KIND - Bugs/Martian (WB short)
5. GREMLINS - Butch/Kitty (WB short)
6. GET CRAZY - Sunshine Makers (WB short)
7. ROBIN HOOD - Rabbit Hood (WB short)
8. WHAT'S UP DOC? - What's Up Doc? (WB short)
9. CALIFORNIA SPLIT - Basket Ball Jones (animated video clip)
10. CAT'S EYE - Tom & Jerry (short)
11. THE HUNGER - Tom & Jerry (short)
12. 16 CANDLES - Top Cat (TV episode)
13. MISSING IN ACTION - Spiderman (TV episode)
14. THE HOWLING - Red Riding Hood short
15. DESTINATION MOON - Woody The Woodpecker (short)
16. FIRE STARTER - Woody The Woodpecker (short)
17. WEIRD SCIENCE - Woody The Woodpecker (short)

Screen warping

Excerpts from films which have actors interact with cartoon characters

The photographic technique of superimposing two separate planes of action was born during cinema's early formations, particularly with the trick cinematography of Melies. Once the film industry had established itself as a wonder-image factory by the 20s, trickery for the sake of trickery was of less value, as audiences started more and more to invest beliefs and bestow use-values on the cinema. Still, the pseudo-magical effect of something photographically existing beyond the constraints of a physical reality has always had a base appeal for the movie patron.

As if to acknowledge that a film is not trying to 'trick' the viewer, the history of this 'screenic interaction'' technique has been re-focused on technological advancements which have facilitated the blending of the photographic and animated dimensions. In other words, because cartoon characters don't 'exist' , we can feel safe that we're not being 'tricked' - while simultaneously being dazzled by a fairly standard cinematic technique. The effect of having a cel-animated figure shake hands with a photographic ghost of a human thus sums up much of the illusory conundrum at cinema's centre.

1. THE THREE CABALLEROS 1945
2. HOLIDAY IN MEXICO 1946
3. SONG OF THE SOUTH 1946
4. MY DREAM IS YOURS 1949
5. DANGEROUS WHEN WET 1953
6. INVITATION TO THE DANCE 1957
7. THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPETT 1964
8. MARY POPPINS 1964
9. CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE 1968
10. BEDKNOBS & BROOMSTICKS 1971
11. XANADAU 1980
12. PINK FLOYD: THE WALL 1982
13. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT 1988
14. FLETCH LIVES 1989
15. ROCK-A-DOODLE 1990

The nebulous salesman

A compilation of animated TV advertisements

While numerous cartoon characters have become inextricably linked with children's food products (especially breakfast cereals), many other product categories utilize the animated form. Strange as it seems, there has always been a preponderance of cute cartoon figures extolling the wonders of domestic appliances to housewives, performing like modern elves who do the work while the housewife rests. Even more revealing is the recent trend of technical `visualization' where cute cartoon figures have been replaced by pseudo-scientific demonstrations of computer-generated dirt globules being devoured by microscopic enzymes and the like. Humans might aid in a consumer's identification with a product, but animation - both anthropomorphic and abstract - appears most persuasive in demonstrating the product at work.

Dimension Sound

Theme city

A compilation of the title sequences from cartoon TV series

American cartoon themes start off in the early 50s mimicking the jingles which accompanied the advertisements of their sponsors (mainly cereal companies and toy manufacturers). Many TV show themes were cast in the style of wartime harmony groups like the Andrew Sisters and the like (Casper The Friendly Ghost, 1946; The Mighty Mouse Show, 1955; Yogi Bear, 1958; Felix The Cat, 1960). By the end of the 50s - when the kid/teen markets were well established as ripe for exploitation - a less nostalgic and more hip tone filtered through many forms of theme music and songs. Perhaps this was spurred by the rampant musicological mutation which resulted from jazz-trained composers scoring the many of the rock'n'roll B-movies of the time. The brassy zappiness of many early Hanna Barbera cartoons have that daggy jazzy squaresville sound (Huckleberry Hound, 1958; Quick Draw McGraw, 1959; The Flinstones, 1960; Top Cat, 1961; The Jestons, Wally Gator, Touché Turtle, all 1962).

Further into the 60s a plethora of mod sub-genres were appropriated along similar lines: the zappy Atom Ant (1965); the swinging Magilla Gorilla (1964); the groovy Frankenstein Jr. & The Impossibles (1966). Tail-coating the mode era, things went cool with theme like Spider Man (1967) and Pink Panther (1969). The hipness of the rock industry - as a machine by now well practiced in cashing in on any youth trend no matter how inappropriate - found little difficulty in going rock: The Archies (1968); Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (1969); Josie & The Pussycats (1970); The Funky Phantom and The Groovy Ghoulies (both 1971); and even the properly funky Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids (1972). Interestingly, once the obvious singe of rock and pop became less significant through the 70s, cartoon themes became more amorphous and less distinct, mixing thick sound effects, pompous orchestration, twangy guitars and the occasional disco beat, giving us strange conglomerations with less memorable tunes.

The bulk of the 70s was navigated largely by a sub-John Williams Star Wars approach to pompous glory and inflated spectacle - well suited to the cheesy facades of many sci-fi cartoon series. During this trend, the orchestra ruled, and the ad-man jingle lyric withered considerably. But the 80s - in their own weird way - returned to the memorable if grating tune-based themes. Love them or hate them, for some generation these songs will be great cartoon memories: He-Man, Master Of The Universe (1983); Transformers Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles (1988); and even My Little Pony (1990).

Musical legacies

An interview with John Zorn on the Warner Bros. cartoon scores

Though not well known, cartoon theme songs have had a quirky effect on a variety of rock-based musicians and bands. Even here in Australia we have had Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs cover Three Little Bops and The Meanies cover The Groovy Ghoulies. In a stroke of junk genius, Faith No More's We Care A lot included the memorable stolen-line: "We care a lot about Garbage Pail Kids - they'll never die; we care a lot about Transformers 'cos there's more than meets the eye." Choosing a covert way of signposting a love of cartoon themes, film composer Danny Elfman constructed his theme for The Simpsons as an amalgam of the themes from The Jetsons, The Flinstones and The Munsters. Focusing on the 'cartoony' dimension of cartoon music scores, John Zorn discusses the work of Carl Stalling - composer and orchestrator of most of the Warner Bros. shorts. Zorn is a notoriously radical jazz composer whose main preoccupation is working with as varied a range of musicians and musical styles as possible - usually within the one composition. His many projects - homages to Godard, Morricone, Spillane and others - and his innumerable bands - most notably Naked City and Torture Garden - carry through his distinctive slant on musical conglomeration and performer-driven characterization. Zorn has often given much praise to Stalling as an overlooked composer who is part of a peculiarly American tradition of mixing everything together to see what will happen - and that approach certainly typifies the bombastic ride of a nine minute opus by Stalling.

Rock & Pop contortions

A compilation of video clips featuring cel-animation.

The 80s MTV boom was indirectly responsible for making cartoons `hip' again, paving the way not only for Warner Bros. cult re-discovery (as featured in Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi's work for The Rolling Stones' Harlem Shuffle) but for rock-cartoon crossover phenomena like Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead and Akira. Hipness aside, video clips are predicated on the sales-pitch, so it is perhaps not so surprising that the high-iconic graphic appeal of the cartoon image serviced the hyper-marketing aim of many record companies during this rejuvenation of the rock and pop recording industries.

For rock and pop culture's own purpose, animation was viewed as a clear sign of the artistic hand - almost as if one could temper the hard MTV sell by being overtly arty and crafty by pushing the presence of the drawn image. It is no accident that most of the seminal MTV logos feature animation, both as a sign of artistic pretention and as a fast-paced buzz. To this day, some form of animation (mostly computer-generated rendering, sequencing and/or morphing these days) is held up as an expression of the 'art' of video clips.

These collusions withstanding, many video clips have exploited the wondrous dimensional possibilities that the animated medium afford, and for many people, watching a rush of zappy images is likely a more dynamic experience than being stuck with the glossy-photo-session approach taken to many of today's slick video clips.

1. TAKE ON ME - A-Ha
2. HARLEM SHUFFLE - Rolling Stones
3. ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN - Elvis Costello
4. GENIUS OF LOVE - Tom Tom Club
5. NEW FRONTIER - Donld Fagen
6. ATOMIC DOG - George Clinton
7. HOTEL DETECTIVE - They Might Be Giants
8. MORE - The Matterhorn Project
9. PACKED JAMMIN' - Stock Aitken & Waterman
10. FLY ON THE WALL - AC/DC
11. UNDERGROUND - David Bowie
12. SOME LIKE IT HOT - Power Station