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Special Commissions

Barr Gilmore’s Essential Titles

Essential Titles is a 6-minute looped motion graphic projection from former General Idea studio assistant and Bruce Mau Design senior designer Barr Gilmore. As part of his ongoing fascination with typographical representation, he isolates and recreates only the title and director’s credit from the opening sequences of all of the films on the Essential 100 list, mimicking their transitions and time on screen and layering all of them in real time to create an environmental graphic at the entrance of the Essential Cinema wünderkammer. The work has an immersive quality that reinforces how ingrained these title sequences are to our overall cinematic experience, and how slight alterations—a director’s name preceding the title possessively, or the cheeky substitution of movie for the more dignified A film by . . .—can subtly but powerfully affect our comprehension and reception of the film.

-Noah Cowan

As a graphic designer, I have always been drawn to the opening title sequences of films and have on occasion had the opportunity to design/create them for clients and for my own Super 8 shorts. When I received the Essential 100 list last year and was asked to think about the environmental graphics for the first exhibition, Essential Cinema, my thoughts immediately went to researching the history of motion graphics through the opening title sequence. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it—and get some hands-on experience in the process—than to recreate the opening title sequences from all the films on the Essential 100 list. To this end, I decided to isolate only the title and the director’s credit from each film, recreating them as vector-based graphics, importing them into motion graphic software, mimicking their time on screen, and adding effects and filters in order to create a motion graphic mash-up of film history’s essential titles. From Saul Bass’ Bauhaus- and Russian Constructivist-inspired title sequences (Vertigo and Psycho; #38 and #68 respectively on the Essential 100) to the more recent title design innovations of Kyle Cooper (Se7en, Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible), a new art form is emerging.

-Barr Gilmore

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