“Watch Me Move” and the membership bargain of the year at the DIA

Arts / Article

The exhibit features a wide range of examples, from some of the best known, to many more obscure animations.

With all the controversy surrounding the DIA in light of Detroit’s bankruptcy status, it is easy to start to think of it as an already lost cause. This assessment is far from true, with the DIA working harder than ever to engage Metro Detroiters in dynamic programming. Its latest special exhibit about animation, “Watch Me Move,” is an absolute triumph, and not to be missed by anyone with an interest in moving images.

Special areas highlight the history of the moving image, and experimental forms of the medium, including paint applications directly onto film.

Special areas highlight the history of the moving image, and experimental forms of the medium, including paint applications directly onto film.

The exhibit has a feel of sanctified space, very dark, to accommodate the dozens of film clips running simultaneously throughout the exhibit, which chronicle the history of animation, several different genres within the ever-evolving medium, and some of the form’s best-loved characters. You would think the result would be a cacophony of warring audio, but the exhibit is a wonder of audio-dynamics, with each viewing either set into a small pod-like viewing area projecting the audio into the seating well, or else equipped with personal earphones to pipe the audio directly to the viewer (and are, I noticed, conscientiously sanitized between each usage by DIA staff).

The private little viewing pods are like cozy home theaters, very private and comfortable.

The private little viewing pods are like cozy home theaters, very secluded and comfortable.

Like all special exhibits at the DIA, “Watch Me Move” has a price for admission – $12 until the end of the year, and then up to $15 through the end of the exhibit’s run in January. The ticket price will also earn you one free admission to one of 10 specially related screenings over at the Detroit Film Theater, where you can enjoy feature-length animation events. But the really great deal are the DIA membership packages, which currently are being offered at astonishing prices through the end of December. For Metro Detroit residents, there is a family membership package that scores you four tickets to “Watch Me Move” (including movie passes), four tickets to the upcoming Samurai exhibit, and four tickets to the final special exhibit at the end of 2014, all for $55 – only $7 more than the cost for four tickets to “Watch Me Move” alone. There is also a half-sized membership package, with two tickets to each event for merely $29. These packages include other member benefits, like discounts at the museum store and cafeteria. Never has support for a foundational stone of culture in the city been more affordable, or more critical.

Another special viewing area features animations of a more mature, experimental, and disturbing nature.

Another special viewing area features animations of a more mature, experimental and disturbing nature.

Styles include stop-motion, claymation and digital animation.

Styles  showcased  include stop-motion, claymation and digital animation.

Meanwhile, member or no, pick a cold, windy day, pack up the kids, and prepare to spend your Saturday morning cartoon time at the DIA instead. You won’t regret it!

The Detroit Institute of Arts: 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; www.dia.org Detroit Film Theatre: 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7887; www.dia.org/detroitfilmtheatre/14/DFT.aspx