Charles Emile Reynaud -Pauvre Pierrot. Barbican 16th June 2011

Exhibition: Watch Me Move: The Animation Show at The Barbican

We arrived at this exhibition, sat down in front of one of the big screens, and nearly an hour later realised we were still at exhibit number one. OK, so we were sitting in front of ‘The Superhuman’ reel, showing clips from movies like Pop Eye, Ang Lee’s The Incredible Hulk, Princess Mononoke, and The Incredibles, but be warned: the whole exhibition is similarly transfixing. It traces the history of animation over the last 150 years, from the work of ‘chronophotographers’ such as Eadweard Muybridge at the end of the 19th century and Walt Disney’s first Silly Symphonies, to the CGI technology of Jurassic Park and Pixar’s computer animation. There are countless gems to watch: Fernand Leger’s Modernist Ballet Mecanique, John Lasseter’s very first production, Luxo, Jr, great clips from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Japanese anime, to name just a few. It’s all here – work by artists, animators, photographers and filmmakers – showing on screens of various sizes, many of them in semi-private booths, and it’s pretty much all brilliant. We came to this exhibition as semi-fans of animation, but left totally seduced. A couple of unexpected must-sees: Zhou Xiaohu’s The Gooey Gentleman, 2002, and the weird, wacky and compulsively watchable film by Ryan Trecartin, (Tommy-Chat Just E-Mailed Me), 2006. Do bring any kids too. They will find the movies they love and sit watching them happily for hours. Some of the films do contain adult content, but these are clearly marked and not next door to the screens showing scenes from Toy Story, The Simpsons or Pinocchio so you’re pretty safe. To accompany the exhibition, there is a series of events and talks which is worth checking out. See the whole programme here.