History of Transfigured / Touched Alive 

"I am astonished by how Stephen Arthur has, by a kind of psychochemistry, penetrated the very image making process which I have developed in my painting, to produce exactly its dynamic complexity. This animation is not only about my work visually, but it's as though I were producing it in actuality. It is this sensitive empathy to its true character which will make this an example of lasting referencial relevance in the training of those documentary filmmakers whose intention is to deal interpretively with the work of artists."- Jack Shadbolt, 1996


"...a mind-dazzling sight-and-sound rollercoaster ride
that leaves viewers gasping with amazement."
- Paula Gustafson, Artichoke, 1996

"The most powerful animation I've seen in a while.
If it doesn't get submitted to the Academy, it'll be a crime."

- Dan Ireland, judge's comments, NWFVF, 1996

NFB Expands Shadbolt Animation: Touched Alive was the original name of the earlier short film made by animating 27 paintings of Canadian West-Coast modernist Jack Shadbolt. The one-and-a-half minute film was produced independently by Stephen Arthur in 1996. It was then expanded to a five-minute film, using over 80 paintings, produced and owned by the National Film Board of Canada. The new film, completed in 1998, is called Transfigured. (Touched Alive is available at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch.)

  Paintings used (titles and pictures).

Touched Alive: reviews

In a review of the '96 Shadbolt exhibition at the Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver Sun art critic Michael Scott wrote: "The restlessness of Shadbolt's paintings is nowhere better reflected than in a tiny-perfect video that accompanies the exhibition. Arthur worked with 27 of the artist's paintings, imagining how their manifold elements might flutter and move. ...the paintings hum and pulse and mutate into one another. The message that art is never finished comes through loud and clear in Arthur's remarkable etude."

Wrote festival judge Dan Ireland: "Shadbolt's paintings are exquisitely and brilliantly animated by Arthur into a mesmerizing and haunting film that not only does justice to the artist, but also lingers a hundred times longer than its two minute running time."

Doris Shadbolt, former senior curator and associate director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, says: "I have seen the film at least six times and the brilliance of the first impact renews itself with each viewing… Of course my husband's particular approach lends itself well to Arthur's conception, but there is no question that it is Arthur who is the artist here. The way in which Arthur has projected himself into the life of the painted forms imaginatively and given them a dramatic narrative in the film medium is truly remarkable and original."

Touched Alive: screening history

The 35-mm film premiered in September 1996 at the Toronto International Film Festival, followed by the Vancouver International Film Festival '96, the Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax) '96, the Festival of Films on Art (Montreal) '97, and the Berlin International Film Festival '97. The film received awards at the NY Short Film Expo, 23rd Northwest Film & Video Festival (Portland), and 16th Black Maria Film Festival (New Jersey).

Touched Alive also played as a pre-feature short at seven Vancouver cinemas for three weeks in 1996, thanks to Leonard Schein of Festival Cinemas. It also ran continuously through December 1996 on the giant video screen at the Vancouver Airport.

Touched Alive toured with the 1997 Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation, the Best of the Northwest tour, Black Maria tour (21 states plus Montreal), Moving Pictures tour (west. Can.), and ASIFA-Canada's The Independents, 1998.

Touched Alive had its television premier on Nov. 29, 1996 on CBC's Canadian Reflections, and in 1997 the Knowledge Network aired a short piece for their Studio BC program profiling Arthur and interviewing Shadbolt.

Touched Alive was created on a personal computer as high-resolution, 2-D bitmap animation, using Autodesk Animator Pro. It was recorded to film by shooting it frame-by-frame directly off the computer's monitor, placed under the NFB's animation camera in Vancouver. For more information, see the Interview by Leslie Bishko in ASIFA Canada magazine