Rethinking the Silver Screen: Science, Film and, Art after “Avatar”

By Jorge Miguel Benitez and Matt Wallin.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Ever since the invention of photography, science has been playing an increasing role in the development of artistic movements and art forms. New digital technologies grant artists the means to explore expressive possibilities that were unimaginable twenty years ago. Film, in particular, has been in the forefront of the fusion of applied science, aesthetics, and high and popular art. The technical breakthroughs and popular success of James Cameron’s “Avatar” suggest that future films will further breakdown the barriers between artistic genres. The traditional flat screen no longer separates the action from the audience. Emerging digital equipment and techniques grant filmmakers new visual and narrative options. Film and sculpture could merge into all-enveloping kinetic installations. This paper will address these developments from a practical perspective as science and art meet in art schools to inform a new generation of artists working in film and animation.

Keywords: Science, Technology, Film, Animation, Art, Entertainment, Digital, Culture, Computers

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.45-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 745.532KB).

Jorge Miguel Benitez

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

Jorge Benitez was born in Cuba in 1956 and spent his childhood in Europe and the United States. He holds a master of fine arts degree in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University where he currently teaches drawing, art theory and the history of visual communications. His theoretical interests derive from an earlier career in advertising as well as his multinational upbringing and his fluency in French and Spanish. The Cuban Revolution, the Cold War and the upheavals of the 1960s also had a profound effect on both his intellectual inquiries and his approach to drawing and painting. He became very interested in the conflict between words and images in the 1990s when Americans began to describe their national divisions as a “culture war.” He currently participates in regional and international exhibitions, and his work is represented in corporate collections and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Matt Wallin

assistant professor, The Department of Communications Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

Matthew Wallin is the founder and Visual Effects Supervisor of Mantron Corporation, the visual effects company he started in 2001. George Lucas’ special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, hired Wallin in 1993. In 1995, Wallin began working as Visual Effects Supervisor on Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle”, leaving ILM in 1999 and moving to New York City to work fulltime on the Cycle’s final chapter, “Cremaster 3”. Besides ILM and Mantron, Wallin has also worked for ESC Entertainment, Tippett Studio & Weta Digital, where he has worked on numerous feature films such as “Star Wars: Episode I”, “The Mummy”, “Twister”, “Matrix: Revolutions”, “Hellboy”, and “King Kong”. Wallin served as Visual Effects Supervisor on Matthew Barney’s most recent feature film, “Drawing Restraint 9” in Japan, New York City & San Francisco. He also worked for Peter Jackson on his film version of “King Kong”.