Graduate Fine Arts

  • The American Conservatory at Fontainebleau used the Jeu de Paume court in 1930 as a venue for concerts and master classes.

  • Recording sessions for Mosley’s animation ‘Conservatory’, 2018

  • Students from the summer sessions at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau of 1928-1931

  • Joshua Mosley, ‘Jeu de Paume,’ stop motion animation, 2014 (film still)

  • Joshua Mosley, ‘Jeu de Paume,’ stop motion animation, 2014 (film still)

  • Miniature cello and viol necks fabricated for Mosley’s stop motion animation ‘Conservatory,’ 2018

  • Model in progress of the Cavaillé - Coll organ console for Mosley’s stop-motion animation ‘Conservatory,’ 2018

Work in Progress: ‘Conservatory’

In Conservatory, Professor of Fine Arts Joshua Mosley is building on his previous stop-motion puppet animation, Jeu de Paume, and focusing on another moment in the same setting at the tennis court of the Chateau de Fontainebleau in France.

For Jeu de Paume, completed in 2014, Mosley animated a tennis match set in 1907 in a miniature reproduction of the court. The three-minute stop-motion animation, shot with a hand-held improvisational camera in the style of a dance film, captured the irregular rhythms of this sport caused by the asymmetrical design of the court and the unpredictable trajectory of the ball. With Conservatory, Mosley intends to captures a different era in the history of this court: between the years of 1921 and 1979, this jeu de paume court was designated as a rehearsal and performance space for the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau (Consérvatoire Americain). The Conservatory was founded in 1921, following World War I, to introduce American students to French musical traditions. One of the Conservatory’s most influential and eccentric teachers, Nadia Boulanger, engaged students in complex dialogues as she guided her students to find their own voice, and to master progressions of species counterpoint. 

Conservatory envisions a rehearsal of a new composition by a student at the American Music Conservatory in 1930. The animation alludes to the nature of this cross-cultural experience in relation to artists finding their own American voice. Using archives, Mosley has assembled a class of nine former students of Nadia Boulanger. He spent several years fabricating puppets of these students, as well as artworks and instruments for the film, including a large pipe organ that was installed in the court. He then composed and recorded a piece of music that explores the relationship between his understanding of the principles that Boulanger taught and her role as a conservator of the art, culture, and philosophy of music.

Bringing all of these elements together, the film will capture the students’ performance of Mosley’s composition in the miniature replica of the Jeu de Paume. Mosley is choreographing the camera movements and the performances of the stop-motion puppet musicians, paying intense attention to an evolving sense of improvisation, gesture, and harmony through the film. The animation is filmed with what appears to be a hand-held camera, although technically the camera motion is driven by a motion-control robotic camera that can move in small increments as the stop-motion is produced. The path of the camera is based on previously-captured camera gestures performed by Mosley’s own hands; this method allows him to incorporate the real-time human gestures of the camera person character with the stop-motion performances of the puppets. The approach is inspired by Charles Atlas’s 1980 hand-held film of Merce Cunningham’s dancers, Roamin’ 1, and was first demonstrated in Mosley’s 2014 film, Jeu de Paume, where this project began.





Consérvatoire Americain (Fontainebleu, France)


Joshua Mosley, Professor of Fine Arts