Carla's Island, 1981
2019. IMAX Screening Documentation. 4:36 min 4k video. Scanned 70mm IMAX archival test footage of Carla's Island with new sound composition. Dicomed D48 derived custom font. Sound sampled from a Cray-1 supercomputer and a Lawrence Livermore employee honking their car's horn at anti-nuclear activists.
In 1981 Dr. Nelson Max made what is widely considered the first computer-generated animation of water, Carla’s Island, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—one of two nuclear weapons research institutions in the US. The film’s hardware intensive ray-tracing algorithms were calculated on a Cray-1 supercomputer and displayed on a CRT monitor before being exposed, frame by frame, to 70mm IMAX film. Test footage of the film was collected by an engineer at IMAX and stored for 40 years before being passed along to the artist.
The work was commissioned for The Drowned World, a sound and screening program at the Cinesphere curated by Charles Stankievech as part of the Toronto Biennial.
The program can be downloaded here.
Special thanks to Nelson Max, Carla Winter, and Gordon Harris for their support.
Cinesphere, 1971. Surrounded by a pair of islands, the triodetic dome was purpose-built to house the first permanent installation of IMAX. (Photo by Graham Bezant, Toronto Star Archives)