Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition

Design Museum
Saturday 14 September 2019

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, tells the story of one of the greatest film-makers of the 20th century, exploring his unique command of the creative design process of film making, from storyteller to editor to director.

Image: Stanley Kubrick during location shooting | Image credit: Warner Bros Inc.

The Exhibition

On the 20th anniversary of his death, this exhibition at the Design Museum explores Kubrick’s extraordinary career and his unique creative process. This exhibition reveals a unique insight into the work and methods of Kubrick’s vast archive, focusing on the design stories behind his iconic films; from his work with set-designers such as Ken Adams to his collaborations with composers and cinematographers.

This multisensory tour explored Kubrick’s films and focused on Spartacus, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The access tour concluded with discussions on some of Kubrick’s soundtracks and the influence music had on his films narratives.

Stanley Kubrick

Born in New York City in 1928, Kubrick had a good middle-class upbringing in the Bronx as his father was a doctor. He did not like the process of traditional learning and skated through high school with low grades. His poor grades were not for lack of intelligence but actually because of boredom, and his disdain for the classroom setting.

With a camera as a gift from his father at the age of 13, Kubrick began seeing the world through the lens and quickly became obsessed with the camera medium, picking up skills and becoming self-taught to the point that he started selling photographs, prints, eventually getting a full time job at Look Magazine at the age of 17. The magazine paid Kubrick $25, the equivalent of £350 today for a photograph announcing the death of President Roosevelt (FDR) in 1945.

Stanley was a filmmaker who broke the mould, followed his own rules and was always waiting for a new path to take as he planned his next film. If you thought his films were complicated, deep and full of meaning, just imagine what the whole production was like.

A movie directed by Stanley Kubrick is often described by mentioning him; it’s a Kubrick film; or, it’s Kubrickian! Stanley Kubrick was one of the most innovative, visually appealing and illustrious directors.

Accessibility

The number of visually impaired visitors to the Design Museum has increased in the last few years and museums, in general, have a duty to make provisions for people with a wide range of needs. Museums have traditionally been a place where disabled people have felt excluded because most objects and artefacts are usually held behind glass cases and displays but there is now an increased evolution of museum public programmes creating access for their disabled audiences, a very welcome and valuable development.

Image: Andrew and visually impaired visitors at the meeting point to introduce the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Design Museum | Image credit: Ryan Prince

At MaMoMi, we create accessible events that enhance the experiences and expand the possibilities available to blind, visually impaired and those at risk of exclusion. We do this by facilitating the interpretation of art and design using a variety of tools and methods. We use visual culture as the platform for engagement and our motto is to engage, explore and educate. Design allows us to explore the function and ergonomics of materials and objects. Experience and research continue to show the value of visual culture and we believe it is important that these values and opportunities are open and inclusive to all.

“Our multimodal approach augments the experience of our participants, exploring the senses as we interact with visual culture and the world around us. We facilitate the interpretation of design and visual art by using various tools and processes, including the touch of original works, use of handling objects, exploring tactile images, audio description, and a mix of multi-dimensional interfaces.” – Andrew Mashigo, Founder, MaMoMi.

Read more about MaMoMi’s programme and approach on the website at www.mamomiinitiative.com

The Design Museum access programme includes the multisensory tours run by Andrew Mashigo of MaMoMi, and the BSL tours facilitated by a variety of trained and experienced BSL users. Starting with audio-description of the display and adding innovative approaches such as handling objects, tactile exhibits and 3D printed objects, the museums’ multisensory tour programme is increasingly becoming inclusive and accessible. We also run sensory trails and building tours that invite an immersive experience of the immediate environment and natural spaces.

The access tours are run bi-monthly and a full programme of events at the Design Museum can be seen on their website at www.designmuseum.org

Image: The film Spartacus is been discussed here, with the support of Lynn Cox, a visually impaired facilitator | Image credit: Ryan Prince

On the tour of the Stanley Kubrick exhibition, our road map took us through a discussion of the rug at the entrance of the exhibition, which is a replica of the rug used in the hotel corridor scene from The Shining, the one-point perspective, with installed screens showing a 49 second montage and compilation of clips from Kubrick’s movies, with the 5 screens installed at an angle to depict the One point perspective. We also talked about Kubrick’s large archive and the Napoleon library, the location scouting process, the cameras and tracking dolly, and the editing table, before exploring the pre-selected films.

The workshop session was devised to review a range of movie soundtracks from the films Spartacus, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. To enhance the experience of the music from the soundtracks, we partnered with SubPac, a revolutionary wearable technology audio unit, with which participants were able to feel the music.

Production and Process

Image: The One point perspective corridor at the entrance to the exhibition | Image credit: Ed Reeve

The One point perspective is a drawing method that shows how things appear to get smaller as they get further away, converging towards a single ‘vanishing point’ on the horizon. 14th-century Italian architect and designer Filippo Brunelleschi was credited for the development of the mathematical technique of linear perspective in the art which governed pictorial depictions of space. He is most famous for designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, the cathedral with the world’s largest brick dome.

The Steadicam is a brand of camera stabilizer mounts for motion picture cameras invented by Garrett Brown and introduced in 1975 by Cinema Products Corporation. It mechanically isolates the operator’s movement, allowing for a smooth shot, even when the camera moves over an irregular surface. This was key in filming The Shining. The options were to hold the camera or be mounted on a dolly.

Spartacus

Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical film inspired by the life story of Spartacus, a gifted Thracian slave who leads a revolt against the decadent Roman Republic. Kirk Douglas played the lead role of Spartacus who brought a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.

Image: Leather armour with tunic worn by Lawrence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassus. The original costume

Kirk Douglas brought in Kubrick to direct the film after the first week of shooting. It was the only film directed by Kubrick where he did not have complete artistic control.

The film won four Academy awards and in 2017 was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.

Some highlights

Kubrick found working outdoors or in real locations to be distracting; he believed the actors would benefit more from working on a sound stage, where they could fully concentrate.

To create the illusion of the large crowds that play such an essential role in the film, Kubrick’s crew used three-channel sound equipment to record 76,000 spectators at a Michigan State – Notre Dame college football game shouting “Hail, Crassus!” and “I’m Spartacus!”

The battle scenes were filmed on a vast plain outside Madrid. Eight thousand trained soldiers from the Spanish infantry were used to double as the Roman army.

The original score for Spartacus was composed and conducted by six-time Academy Award nominee Alex North. It was nominated by the American Film Institute for their list of greatest film scores.

Image: Exiting the Stanley Kubrick exhibition, on the way to the workshop session | Image credit: Ryan Prince

The Workshop

This workshop session allowed us to further reflect on key elements observed on the tour, with a special focus on how the soundtracks impact the nature and narrative of his films.

“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” – Stanley Kubrick

“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. – Stevie Wonder

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universes, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato (Greek Philosopher, 427 BC to 347 BC).

Using the SubPac was a key tool to enhancing the experience of the truly iconic music Kubrick used in his movies. We listened to and discussed soundtracks from Spartacus (Main theme and Formation songs by Alex North), A Clockwork Orange (Singing in the rain, by Gene Kelly) and The Shining (The Shining Main Title score, and The Awakening of Jacob).

Image: A VI participant listens to Kubrick’s soundtracks via the SUBPAC S2, the seated SubPac installed to her seat | Image credit: Ryan Prince

The SubPac created such interest among our visually impaired audience and interestingly, we had a lady who was hearing impaired on the tour. For two of the participants who had never experienced sound at the range made possible by the SubPac, we initially got a mixed reaction. But after a few minutes, the intensity of the vibrations was something they were able to relate to and enjoy, with one person saying it felt like an orthopaedic chair with a massage inserted to it.

The overwhelming response was that the SubPac allowed participants to hear the sounds in ways they never felt possible, with one person suggesting this would be a great investment for both its artistic and therapeutic qualities.

The SubPac provides a deeper, more intense connection with your music.
Your body resonates with the music, as if you were in the prime location:
live at a festival, a concert, club or theatre. Using the SubPac, you feel the vibrations pulse through your bones to the inner ear and sensed as hearing.

Feeling is believing – SUBPAC

The SUBPAC comes in two types; the SUBPAC M2 wearable model, which is the model Andrew wore while delivering the multisensory tour within the Stanley Kubrick exhibition tour, and the SUBPAC S2, the seated model, used by the visually impaired participants at the workshop session. The S2 is the most powerful and accurate seated tactile bass solution on the planet.

Feedback

“My experience with the SubPac was very positive because I am hearing impaired and sometimes it is very difficult to perceive sound, but with the image and vibrations together, I felt all the sound and the rhythm, and I felt been part of the music played, and it was amazing! I now look forward to hearing the birds, the sea waves and the rainfall.” – Mariana Ramos (Hearing impaired participant at the Stanley Kubrick exhibition multisensory tour)

Image: Mariana, a hearing impaired visitor, is sitting and using the SubPac S2, which is out of view | Image credit: Ryan Prince

For any enquiries about the SubPac or to have an opportunity to trial one of the units at one of MaMoMi’s events, please write info@mamomiinitiative.com to state your interest. We may be able to arrange a demonstration or give you information about events where the SubPac is currently being used.

The next multisensory tour

The next multisensory tour, the Sound in Mind tour of Yuri Suzuki’s exhibition at the Design Museum, will hold on Saturday the 9th of November 2019, from 10:30 to 12:30.

What to expect

Join this Multisensory Tour to gain a unique insight into the work and methods of sound-artist and designer Yuri Suzuki. Drawing on the different technologies shown in our atrium display, Sound in Mind: Yuri Suzuki, we explore the interplay between design and sound.

Booking

To book a place on this free tour, please email access@designmuseum.org with the title of the tour, your name and number of places required.

You also have the option to call the Design Museum’s access team on +44 20 3862 5937 between 10 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Visit the Design Museum website for online booking via www.designmuseum.org

See our website event page for more details at www.mamomiinitiative.com

Credits

Tour facilitator: Andrew Mashigo

Tour co-facilitator: Lynn Cox

Photography: Ryan Prince

Wearable Technology: SubPac

SubPac Partnerships: Steve Snooks

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