Corona Park

Long before the virus, there was the park.

It was here, at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park that the 1964 World’s Fair took place. Most of the futuristic structures created for the fair survive only in vintage photos. Yet, there are still a few remnants so striking they have become iconic symbols of the borough of Queens.

Like the New York State Pavillion, designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, which stayed because it was too expense to demolish.

Or the Unisphere, dedicated to “Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”. Designed by Gilmore Clarke and made of stainless steel so it would never rust, its three rings represent the orbits of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (the first Russian), Astronaut John Glenn (the first American), and Telstar 1 (the first communications satellite that enabled the first transatlantic television transmission, linking the United States and France).

Finally, the Rocket Thrower, a 43-foot bronze figure designed by sculptor Donald De Lue; a giant launching a rocket with the one hand and reaching for the stars with the other.

Imagine what it would be like to step out of the subway and see these gigantic structures, all new and fully functioning, for the first time!

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens N.Y.

November 4th, 2018

The House of Jazz

“We’re right out here with the rest of the colored folk and the Puerto Ricans and Italians and the Hebrew cats. We don’t need to move out in the suburbs to some big mansion with lots of servants and yardmen and things.”

And so it was in 1943 that Louis Armstrong and his wife Lucille came to live in this modest house in the working-class neighbourhood of Corona, Queens. They lived here for the remainder of their lives.

Today, the Louis Armstrong House Museum & Archives is open to the public, offering guided tours while audio clips from Louis’s homemade recordings are played, and visitors hear Louis practicing his trumpet, enjoying a meal, or talking with his friends.

No one else has lived in the house since the Armstrongs passed away; the rooms, furnishings, ornaments, the all-mirrored bathroom and that lovely show-stealing turquoise kitchen reflect their personalities, taste and times they lived in. I tried to stay behind every time our guide moved on, to take a better look at each room. I was sure that if I touched the walls I would hear the echo of Louis’ trumpet playing – and not from the audio clip.

The Museum is expanding across the street from the House. The new Education Center will complement the existing experience with an exhibition gallery, a jazz club where musicians will rehearse and perform their music, and a store. The museum’s research collections, currently housed at Queens College’s library, will move into an Archival Center on the second floor.

The anticipated completion was pushed back to 2021 (pre-Covid-19).

With the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives currently closed because of Covid-19, the Museum has launched “That’s My Home,” their first online exhibition – absolutely worth a visit.

November 4th, 2018

It’s all about the movies

@Tut’s_Fever_Movie_Palace

Tut’s Fever is a working movie theater and art installation created by Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong, an homage to the ornate, exotic picture palaces of the 1920s. Inspired by the tomb paintings they saw during a trip to Egypt, Grooms and Luong covered the walls, floor and seats of the theater with hand-painted, Egyptian-style depictions of Hollywood royalty. Silent screen star Theda Bara works the box office, Mae West stands behind the concessions stand, and Mickey Rooney is the usher. Rudolf Valentino, Elizabeth Taylor and many others grace the walls, and each slipcovered chair in the theater features an image of Rita Hayworth. Visitors can open a sarcophagus to find a sculpture of James Dean lying in his tomb, cigarette still dangling from his mouth.

And a model-size piece of the City’s history @the Roxy

Hand for Mystic puppet, 1982
Designed and built by The Jim Henson Company
The Dark Crystal


Classic movie serials are screened in Tut’s Fever every weekday at 1:00 p.m., and weekends at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:30 p.m.

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Memories

From life in the Buffer Zone

A Bufferin aspirin commercial narrated by Jim Henson. Two of his children, Cheryl and John, have cameo appearances.

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Cyclia || Cataclysm || Imagination Unlimited

Just imagine the dizzying awesomeness of a nightclub like Cyclia…!

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Footage for Cyclia, c. 1968 . Jim Henson . Henson and his colleagues shot thousands of feet of 16mm film for an unproduced one-hour film called Cataclysm, which was to be shown from multiple projectors around the interior of Cyclia to create an immersive environment. . Cyclia was a concept for a nightclub that Henson developed, where the walls, floors and ceiling would be broken into faceted, crystal-like shapes onto which films would be projected, a sea of images choreographed to the volume and type of music played. The project was eventually abandoned but not before Henson had the change to shoot thousands of feet of film. . From The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited, which I caught in Queens back in 2018. The exhibition is traveling – current stop: Albuquerque Museum, until April 19, 2020. . . #fromthearchives #nyc #queens #astoria #museumofthemovingimage #experimentalfilm #jimhenson #cyclia #cataclysm #psychedelicart #experimentalart #futura #futuristic #visionaryart #visionary #mobilevideo #pixel2video #soundon🔊

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From the Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

The Muppets (& Other Puppets)

@the_Museum_of_the_Moving_Image

From The Jim Henson Exhibition which features all our favourite puppets from The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, and a whole range of character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, and costumes from Jim Henson’s universe. It is now travelling, currently stopped at the Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM, until April 19, 2020. Check here for future venues.

”The Jim Henson Exhibition features a broad range of objects from throughout his remarkable career. It reveals how Henson and his team of builders, performers, and writers brought to life the enduringly popular worlds of The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. It also includes material from Henson’s experimental film projects and his early work, presenting him as a restlessly creative performer, filmmaker, and technical innovator.”

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Tools of the Trade || Miniatures, Models & Costumes

No CGI – only superior craftsmanship. And utmost respect.

Moon and Discovery Spacecraft Miniatures, 2010 (1984)

The Discovery spacecraft model for 2010 had to be reconstructed by analyzing film clips from 2001: A Space Odyssey, since the original model used in that film had been destroyed. The shot of the Discovery spacecraft moving past the moon was achieved with an optical printer, which combined elements of previously photographed images on a single, new negative. Optical printers have since been made obsolete by the advent of computer generated images.


Miniature of the Tyrell Skyscraper, Blade Runner (1982)

Because of the high cost of building full-scale sets, filmmakers often create realistic environments by combining life-size models or miniatures with live-action photography.

This construction is only one part of a very large and complex miniature of the Tyrell Skyscraper. When combined with atmospheric lightning, aerial-view camera movements and fire and smoke effects, this model appears, on film, to be part of an authentic cityscape.


Regan McNeil Mechanical Puppet, The Exorcist (1973)

The single most shocking image in The Exorcist occurs when the head of Regan MacNeil, played by Linda Blair, rotates a full 350 degrees. To achieve this shot, special effects makeup artist Dick Smith built a life-size dummy of Blair, complete with a mechanically controlled rotating head, engineering by effects specialist Marcel Vercoutere. To create the figure, Smith made a mold of Blair’s body and filled the mold with foam latres. The head has radio-controlled eyes that could be made to move during shooting.

Smith and others made the puppet’s mouth appear to move by photographing Linda Blair and then superimposing the image of her moving mouth onto the image of the puppet. This superimposition was done using an optical printer. Today, this sort of shot is achieved more efficiently with computer graphics.


Razor Glove, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-1991)
Costume designer, Dana Lyman
Mechanical effects designer, Jim Doyle, Theatrical Engines
Worn by Robert Englund

”Chest of Souls” Prosthesis
A Nigthmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Four separate makeup effects teams were hired for the fourth sequel of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Steve Johnson, of XFX, Inc., was responsible for the spectacular final sequence, in which Freddy Krueger is killed. Johnson used mechanical puppets attached to actor Robert Englund, as well as tween-foot-high groin-to-neck puppet of the character with fully articulated arms.

The ”Chest of Souls” was worn by Englund in long shots. The sweater was used on the oversize mechanical puppet. Inside the torso of the puppet were four assistants and actors, who thrust their arms out and shredded the sweater to created the effect of souls trhying to escape Krueger’s body. The torso was made out of enormous strips of specially ordered dental dam (the stretchy rubber that dentists use), with skin-textured foam latex set on top. The hole in the middle of the sweater was covered with the dental dam to simulate Freddy’s skin.


Left to right:

1/ Dress worn by Hedy Lamarr as Delilah in Samson & Delilah (1949)
2/ Reconstruction of Costume worn by Diane Keaton as Annie Hall (1977)
3/Costume worn by Sarah Jessica Parker as Donna in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)


Hat worn by Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing in Dallas (1978-1991)


Figures made by Tony Walton for costume maker Barbara Matera to use as a guide in fabricating his elaborate designs for The Wiz (1978)


Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Moving Image || Tools of the Trade – part II

Advanced technologies may have rendered them museum pieces, but these marvels of engineering were made to last.

RCA Colour Broadcast Camera, Model TK-41C, 1954

Fearless Camera Company Panoram Dolly, c. 1940, with Houston-Fearless Cradle Head, date unknown

This camera was the first commercially produced for colour television; it was the industry standard for fifteen years. A beam-splitting prism directed the red, green and blue elements of the picture to their own three-inch-diametre image orthicon camera tubes. At 310 pounds, the weight of the camera head and viewfinder severely limited the camera’s mobility.


International Projector Corporation 35mm Simplex E-7, 1938, with RCA Photophone Soundhead, MI-9054A and Hall and Connolly Lamp, dates unknown


Western Electric Vitaphone System 35mm Universal Base Projector, 1927, with Vitaphone Soundtrack Disc for The Desert Song (1929)

The projector exhibited here was originally used at the Aldine Theatre in Philadelphia, and is one of the only surviving Vitaphone projectors that is still operational. It has both a phonograph player for soundtrack discs and an optical sound head built into the projector. The projector is set up as if it were going to screen a film using a soundtrack disc. The record player and projector as powered by the same motor, which makes it possible for the sound and image to play in synchronicity.


Nicholas Power Company 35mm Cameragraph No. 6B, with Universal Model a Soundhead, c. 1928

When talkies arrived, optical soundheads were added to existing silent film projectors, such as the Nicholas Power Company’s No. 6B. Shown here is the Model A Universal soundhead, which made licensed use of technology patented by the Jenkins and De Forest television companies.


Duplex Motion Picture Industries 35mm Step Printer, c. 1920

Manufactured in Long Island City, this step printer was an industry standard for many years. Print density could be controlled automatically.


Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018