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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2006

Media Contact:
Amy Mannarino     
410-547-9000, ext. 277     
amannarino@thewalters.org 

CUTTING-EDGE DIGITAL ANIMATION MOVES EDITORIAL CARTOONING INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

New developments are a collaboration between of the University of Maryland,
Baltimore County’s Imaging Research Center, political cartoonist Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher and the Walters Art Museum

Baltimore—A dramatic new development in the art of editorial cartooning was unveiled today at The Walters Art Museum in conjunction with Mightier Than the Sword: The Satirical Pen of KAL on view June 18–Sept. 3. The debut showcased a three-dimensional virtual caricature bust of George W. Bush. The digital bust was the brain child of Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher—the international award winning editorial cartoonist for The Economist of London and former editorial cartoonist for The Baltimore Sun.
 
“KAL wants to ensure that editorial cartooning remains an influential form of political commentary at a time when newspaper circulation is falling, and the public is increasingly glued to television and computer screens,” said William Noel, Walters’ co-curator of Mightier Than the Sword.

Beginning in January 2006, KAL’s idea was to create fully formed three-dimensional caricatures in the spirit and to the standards of Thomas Nast and Honoré Daumier that would not only be able to walk and talk, but also to converse with the public in real time. Specifically, KAL conceived of a virtual puppet that could be instantly manipulated for satiric effect. He chose George W. Bush as a suitable public figure for the prototype.

To turn his dream into a reality, KAL approached a team led by Dan Bailey, director of the Imaging Research Center (IRC) of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The IRC is dedicated to investigating new technologies and their use for interpreting and presenting content.

Since IRC’s inception in 1987, artists and researchers across disciplines have collaborated in the center’s creative environment to develop new strategies and techniques in digital media. State-of-the-art facilities enable research in three-dimensional visualization, immersive technologies, interactivity, installation, animation, high definition video and sound. KAL was appointed artist-in-residence at the IRC in January 2006. His residency has been sponsored in part by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

Using traditional materials, KAL first sculpted a life-size three-dimensional bust of George W. Bush.  The model was then taken to Direct Dimensions in Owings Mills where President and Chief Engineer Michael Raphael made a three-dimensional laser scan and provided the IRC with a high resolution digital version of the bust. Since then, KAL has been working with IRC staff on creating his three-dimensional real time virtual caricature. This extraordinary creation is the result of a collaboration between the artist himself and the many talented digital artists at the IRC including Eric Smallwood, the lead modeler and animator, Shane Lynch, the real-time programmer, and Chad Eby, the hardware interface designer.
 
The digital bust of George W. Bush is now complete. It can be animated daily in reaction to current news, and it can conduct “live” interviews with the press. A film about the creating of this animation is a major feature of the Walters Art Museum’s exhibition Mightier Than the Sword: The Satirical Pen of KAL, which is a comprehensive overview of KAL’s work.  On Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m. in the Walters’ Graham auditorium, KAL will discuss his career and demonstrate the workings of the George W. Bush digital bust for the public. This program is $5 for Walters’ members, seniors (65+), and students and $10 for non-members.

The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets.  Its permanent collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art and Old Master and 19th-century paintings.  Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum.  For hotel reservations, call 1-800-292-5500.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION:

Artistic Issues: Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher, kaltoons@comcast.net
Technology Issues: Dan Bailey, director of IRC at UMBC, bailey@umbc.edu (www.irc.umbc.edu)
UMBC: Mike Lurie, UMBC director of public relations, mlurie@umbc.edu or (410) 455-6380
Direct Dimensions: Michael Raphael, mraphael@dirdim.com, (www.directdimensions.com)
KAL Exhibition: Amy Mannarino, The Walters Art Museum, amannarino@thewalters.org (www.thewalters.org)