Due to the lockdown in Austria, I was unable to travel to install this work in person, so I am very grateful to Stefan Stratil and Holger Lang for putting it together for me and the exhibition has now opened. It’s seen through the windows of the gallery, so can be visited as part of a lockdown-compatible walk in the area.
The show was due to have an opening event as part of the Under_the_Radar festival, but this is now postponed. We hope that the festival can run at the end of January and plan a finishing event and presentation about the exhibition then. All is dependent on the pandemic and the regulations in place in Austria then. More news to follow.
The next Ecstatic Truth symposium on experimental and expanded approaches to animated documentary will be held in Prague on April 8th. It will take place at Vysoká škola kreativní komunikace (University of Creative Communication) in conjunction with the Tangible Territory journal. It will be a hybrid event – both in person and online.
In this second symposium for Expanded Animation at Ars Electronica, we continue our exploration of affect: how animation is felt through sensory information processed by the body. For the second year, this takes a focus on inter-relationships between hearing and seeing.
From the early pioneers, both the audio and the visual components of moving image have been intrinsic to the medium. According to experimental filmmaker Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941), the ‘music of light has always been and will remain the essence of cinema’. Another pioneering avant-garde filmmaker, Germaine Dulac (1882-1942), connected this with movement, ‘cinema and music have this in common: in both movement alone can create emotion by its rhythm and development’.
Our intention with this symposium is to go beyond superficial, formal connections between sound and animated images to think about how the senses are engaged and thus the central role of the body in engaging with perception and experience. Indeed, philosopher, Maurice Merleau Ponty argues that synaesthetic connections – the cross-wiring between all our senses – is at the root of perception, how we understand the world. In using digital technology we are working with a synaesthetic medium in which all sense perceptions can be codified as inputs and expressed in a common language of zeros and ones that can be fluidly interchanged.
In raising issues about the senses and the body, we are also responding to these peculiar times of pandemic when so much of our interactions have been mediated through a screen rather than through direct experience and physical encounter. We have chosen a range of different speakers who responded to our themes in different ways and I do hope you find all of the talks thought provoking and inspiring.
In this presentation, Birgitta Hosea talks about the collaboration between herself, Maryclare Foá, Jane Grisewood and Carali McCall that resulted in the book Performance Drawing: New Practices Since 1945 (Bloomsbury, 2000).
Using material from chapter 3, in itself a collaboration between herself and Foá, she considers the score as a form with which to invite participation and unexpected results when working with others. The presentation concludes with an overview of a participatory project in live animation.
In the age of pandemic, our previously normal experiences of human touch and intimate proximity have become mediated by the screen rather than felt directly. We can no longer hear live music and feel the sonic vibrations; see a painting’s texture in close proximity; become immersed in the events of live theatre or engage in debate: these events are now bounded by the flat rectangular screen and limited by the extent of the pixels in our screen’s resolution.
Under these conditions, how can animation, in combination with music or audio art, re-engage us with bodily sensations received through the senses?
Coming together as a series of online events, this year’s Expanded Animation (http:/ /www.expandedanimation.com)symposium at Ars Electronica continues a dialogue about relationships between the senses, in particular the auditory and the visual. What are the rules, principles, and processes that govern correlations between sound and animation? How might these embodied sensations be explored, unpacked and reassembled in our age of virtual communication intensified by COVID-19?
Keynote Speaker: Refik Anadol
Our Keynote Speaker is media artist, director and pioneer in the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence, Refik Anadol. His body of work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and machines. In taking the data that flows around us as the primary material and the neural network of a computerized mind as a collaborator, Anadol paints with a thinking brush, offering us radical visualizations of our digitized memories and expanding the possibilities of architecture, narrative, and the body in motion. Anadol’s site-specific AI datasculptures, liveaudio/visual performances, and immersive installations take many forms, while encouraging us to rethink our engagement with the physical world, its temporal and spatial dimensions, and the creative potential of machines.
In response to these themes, we call for academics and artists to propose 20-minute papers that bring the disciplines of music, audio art and animation together from a variety of perspectives: from historical, theoretical or critical perspectives to new and surprising practice. If the paper is practice-based, it should include reflection and contextualisation in addition to presenting the practice.
The proposal should include an abstract of no more than 500 words (including references) and a short biography of no more than 200 words.
In the field ‘Title and Abstract’ please enter the text for both your abstract and your bio. Do not submit a web link instead of a bio. This information can also be attached as a PDF document.
List of Topics
Suggested topics include:
Hearing Colour Seeing Sound Can music become visual? How did pioneers of visual music such as Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute translate melody, harmony and rhythm into the form of animation? And can moving drawings become music? How can historic and / or contemporary practice demonstrate synaesthetic syntax?
In front of your eyes and ears With a perceived disparity between the slow time taken to create animation and the instant time taken to perform music, how can animation be performed live? Can the audio and the visual be combined in improvised performance? How can live, hand scribing or music notation or coding or drawing be used to conjure spontaneous audio-visual performance? What is gained from real-time, instant creation in the present moment? What does it mean for ‘liveness’ to experience this at home through a screen rather than being fully present at the event?
Rhythmanalysis Repetition and difference is at the heart of rhythm, at the heart of the algorithm, at the heart of animation, at the heart of lived experience. Rhythm is everywhere. From the natural – visceral, internal rhythms of the body breathing and the heart pumping or the slow changing of the seasons; to the artificial – externally imposed rhythms ordering us through the ticktock of mechanical clock-time or the ebb and flow of economic cycles. How does rhythm connect audio and animation? What might animation learn from audio and music theory and vice versa?
A Return to the Material In an age of digital synthesis and screen-based connections is there a craving for a return to the material? Do we long for haptic feedback and analogue experience: the touch of guitar strings, the feel of charcoal smearing under the fingers, banging a drum, painting on film? Is this simply a form of nostalgia or might it be thought through in new ways? How can it be brought together in the audio-visual?
The symposium is jointly organised by Dr Juergen Hagler, Ars Electronica, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Hagenberg and Professor Dr Birgitta Hosea, Animation Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, UK.
Professor Rose Bond, PNCA, USA
Dr Max Hattler, School of Creative Media, CityU, Hong Kong
Laura Lee, Audio Research Cluster, UCA
Dr Vicky Smith, Animation Research Centre, UCA
Dr Harry Whalley, Audio Research Cluster, UCA
The conference will be held online as part of Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. The media festival will take place on 8th-12th of September 2021 under the motto “A New Digital Deal – How the Digital World Could Work” (https://ars.electronica.art/newdigitaldeal/en/).
Here is ‘Expanding Animation and Other Queer Goings On’, my inaugural professorial lecture at the University for the Creative Arts in which I relate how I developed a post-medium approach to animation and much more besides.
Preface written by: Anna Furse. Foreword written by: Bonnie Marranca
Part of the Drawing In series, edited by Russell Marshall, Marsha Meskimmon and Phil Sawdon.
The first book to be published on performance drawing, Performance Drawing: New Practices Since 1945establishes a vibrant art movement that has been progressively burgeoning since 1945 and contextualises today’s contemporary approaches while questioning what is drawing and what is performance. Each chapter focuses on a different perspective of performance drawing. Embracing the different voices and various lenses, the authors combine individual yet critical methodologies. While embedded in ephemerality and immediacy, the themes encompass body and energy; time and motion; light and space; imagined and observed, demonstrating how drawing can act as a performative tool. The dynamic interaction leads to a collective understanding of the term performance drawing and addresses the key developments and future directions of this applied drawing process.
The book includes a consideration of drawing with a number of technologies; of live animation; of the lightning sketch stage act and recontextualises a number of expanded cinema works as acts of drawing.
“Performance Drawing represents a highly developed record of practice-based research, tracing the developments in contemporary drawing, building on precedents that have led to emerging trends. It analyzes the radical departure from the acceptance of drawing as a canonical medium based on mark-making on two-dimensional surfaces, into real space towards performance, light projections, film and the use of new technologies. The texts brilliantly place all these developments into a clearly articulated context.” – Therese Bolliger, artist, Canada
“While narrative forms of drawing have found favor through numerous exhibitions and publications world-wide, drawing as an inherently process-driven performative event is still lacking accessible comprehensive theoretical research. Bridging two centuries of contemporary practice, Performance Drawing will fill a huge gap for artists, teachers, scholars and art publics.” – François Morelli, Concordia University, Canada
“A valuable historical primer that examines key examples of performance drawing from the last half-century and challenges established definitions and categorisations. The authors draw a picture of the changing boundaries between art forms, showing how the blurred lines between artistic disciplines are the product of an active performative process. In addition to practitioners, this should be read by anyone interested in emerging art practices.” – Malcom Cook, Associate Professor in Film, University of Southampton
[Image: George Grosz, ‘The Voice of the People is the Voice of God from The Face of the Ruling Class’ (1920)]
Well it has certainly been one crazy year! We planned this symposium to happen in April 2020, but it had to be postponed because of the pandemic. Despite many obstacles, we have decided to go ahead with a series of 3 webinars on Tues 15th – Weds 16th December 2020 in conjunction with our partners Under_the_Radar festival Vienna and the University of the Applied Arts Vienna.
Ecstatic Truth V: The Age of the Absurd
Ecstatic Truth is an annual symposium that explores issues arising from the interface between animation (in all its forms) and documentary (conceptualised very broadly as non-fiction), with a particular interest in the questions raised by experimental and practitioner perspectives. According to Werner Herzog, mere facts constitute an accountant’s reality, but it is the ecstatic truth (a poetic reality) that can capture more faithfully the nuances and depths of human experiences. Given that animation (or manipulated moving image in all of its expanded forms) has the freedom to represent, stylize or reimagine the world, it lends itself well to this aspirational form of documentary filmmaking.
For this, our 5th symposium, held in collaboration with the Under_the_Radar Festival, Vienna, our theme is the Absurd. George Monbiot has described our contemporary age of increasing social and economic inequality, mass extinction and impending climate breakdown as deliberate disaster capitalism in which the ultra-rich benefit as institutions, systems of taxation and democratic processes implode. Everywhere the killer clowns and kleptocrats are taking over, he argues, with ludicrous strongmen dominating nations that would once have laughed them off stage. Absurdity is what they seek in order to take advantage. Chaos becomes the profit multiplier for the disaster capitalism on which they thrive. Every rupture is used to seize more of the assets on which our lives depend.
So how can we imaginatively and creatively respond to these killer clowns and the absurdity of a world being run to continuously make profit regardless of its sustainability? What is there to stand for if the world is perceived as meaningless and how to fight this complacency ? Can we use animation for activism, to re-animate our conscience? How can we creatively challenge all this doom and gloom, and use our creative practice to navigate and challenge the absurd of our everyday lives? What is the role of humour, surrealism, the historic strategies of the Absurd and Central European Existentialism? Why does animation matter?
 George Monbiot, ‘From Trump to Johnson, nationalists are the rise – backed by billionaire oligarchs’, The. Guardian, 26/07/19
Webinar 1: The Many Forms of Censorship 19.00 – 20.30[Central European time]
Andrijana Ruzic: Recurring Elements of Absurd in Several Films of Zagreb School ofAnimation (1958-1969)
Gabriella Jutz: Animating Truth(s): Surveillance, Censorship and Journalistic Ethics
Susan Young: Who is, or Was, Ms A
Presentations followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by Birgitta Hosea
DAY2 Weds 16th December
Webinar 2: Subversion and Resistance: Defying Oppressive Structures 10.30 – 12.00[Central European time]
Chunning Guo: Rethinking Injustice in the Age of Absurd: Re-Constructing Prisons as Narrative Spaces through Animated Memories
Max Hattler: Abstract Animated Documentary? Moving-Image Abstractionand Meaning-Making in Hong Kong’s Age of the Absurd.
Zeynep Akcay: Dance, drawing and repetition: an absurd manifesto about female body
Presentations followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by Birgitta Hosea
Webinar 3: Hidden Force: Celebrating the Invisible Labours 19.00 – 20.30 [Central European time]
Orla McHardy: x‘C: Maintenance Animation is a drag: it takes all the fucking time’
Sally Pearce: Shades of Invisibility. A case study in animation activism.
Oliver Gingrich / Sara Choudhrey:AYAH – Sign: Collaborative Digital Art with the Grenfell Communities
Presentations followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by Tereza Stehlikova.
Ecstatic Truth is organised by: Birgitta Hosea, Animation Research Centre, UCA Farnham, UK; Pedro Serrazina, Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon, Portugal; Tereza Stehlikova, CREAM, University of Westminster, UK
With thanks to Under_the_Radar: Barnaby Dicker, Martina Tritthart, Holger Lang