Documentation from the CUT! Exhibition

CUT! was an exhibition at the Old Operating Theatre Museum, 9a St Thomas’ Street, SE1 9RY that ran from 3 November 2014 to 15th December 2014. This museum is sited in a former anatomical theatre and herb garret from the ancient St Thomas hospital. There has been a hospital on this site near London Bridge for over 1,000 years!

Animations inspired by the museum’s quirky range of artefacts from medical history were created by students from MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins with soundtracks composed by students from Guildhall School of Music. MACA’s Visiting Professor, Shelley Page, and the museum’s Creative Director, Kevin Flude, helped the students to brainstorm ideas for short 1-minute films.

The 40 films that the students made were curated by student curators from MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and placed as interventions into the museum’s permanent collection, like a haunting or re-animation of the solid objects. The films were projected onto the wall of the famous anatomical theatre, below cabinets and tucked away in drawers and surgical cabinets. This contrast between contemporary, digital animation and historic artefacts and site proved popular with visitors and raised issues about how audiences relate to original objects in glass cases.

The curation team ran a series of events during the exhibition and also created a CUT! exhibition app which is available on the Apple App Store.

Pictures from the exhibition:

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Liquid Boundaries at the Shenzhen Architecture and Urbanism Biennale

Central Saint Martin’s Head of College, Jeremy Till, recently curated the UK Pavilion at the 2013 Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism taking an animated approach to his exhibition design concept with films made by students of MA Character Animation and MA Communication Design. Taking place in Southern China, this is one of the world’s most important architecture exhibitions, with over 500,000 people estimated to visit over the course of three months.

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Responding to the Biennale’s overall theme of urban boundary, architect and architectural theorist, Jeremy Till, responded with a concept of liquid boundaries. He explained to students:

We live, Zygmunt Bauman tells us, in an age of liquid modernity. Labour, capital, time and commodities have achieved an unheard-of sense of fluidity as global flows of people, money, the virtual and goods dissolve previously stable conditions.

And yet against this socio-temporal liquidity, space has apparently hardened, throwing up ever more rigid boundaries as the production of space is increasingly codified and commodified. The proposal for the UK pavilion at the Shenzhen Biennale investigates how a new generation of British architects, spatial agents and activists are challenging the fixity of boundaries and the regulation of space. From co-housing to the Occupy movement, temporary interventions to playing with codes, the exhibit will show a range of methods through which boundaries have become liquid – suggesting that these more fluid spaces are best suited to emerging social conditions of negotiation and flexibility.

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The UK Pavilion was a joint production by several of the MA courses at Central Saint Martins. The curatorial team working for Jeremy Till consisted of myself, Alison Green, Tricia Austin and Rebecca Wright. The exhibition displayed films by students from MA Character Animation and MA Communication Design and was designed by students from MA Communication Design and MA Narrative Environments. A catalogue was produced by students from MA Culture, Criticism and Curation that was designed by students from MA Communication Design. Having the only seating area in the whole exhibition was a real draw!

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IMG_0827The animations in the pavilion were a response to the work of architects and planners.  Open City, directed by Yukai Du (production team: (Kee) Jiaqi Liu, Andrea Gulli, Mohan Ganesha) responded to ideas about creative commons for the city proposed by 00 Architects. See more of Yukai Du’s work on her website.

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The Planning Game, directed by Ria Dastider (production team: (Frank) Yu Wang, Natalia Biegaj, Laura Keer) took the form of a retro game to illustrate the ideas of David Knight, DK-CM Architects, who aims to make planning popular. See more of Ria Dastider’s work on her website.

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Here is David Knight talking about his research into making planning regulations more accessible:

Moving Posters for London Transport Museum

Here are the final films created by students from MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins for the London Transport Museum. Made in small teams of 3-4 people to a short deadline of two weeks, they employ a variety of digital and drawn techniques in combination  – from stop motion to Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Maya. Each short film is inspired by a historical poster that had been designed by an alumni from the college. The posters are shown at the end of the films. We will be having a small exhibition of the films and original posters in the Central Saint Martins Window Gallery during the month of May.

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Variety for a Change of Scene

Underground – for the Amusements of the People

Strong Blossoms

Royal Tournament, Olympia

People in a Theatre Box

Kenwood – London’s New Park

For London Spectacle

Cheap Fares for School and Pleasure Parties

 

Approaching story through animating Shakespeare

Classical literature is a rich source of inspiration for plot lines, dilemmas and characters and no other classical writer has inspired Western literature quite like William Shakespeare. Not only were his plays hugely popular with audiences at the time of writing, but they introduced new techniques in theatre and even many new words into the English language. Consider the following popular saying – ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them‘ – still used today this is actually a line from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. Indeed many phrases in common use in the English language derive from Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s plays were designed to be alive – living documents to be interpreted by a theatre company – and were often re-written, updated and corrected during rehearsals with his theatre company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Sometimes parts of his plays were even written with the collaboration of other playwrights. Each succeeding generation re-invents what Shakespeare means to them (consider for example the HipHop Shakespeare Company). In Shakespeare’s plays, there are very few stage instructions or descriptions about what the settings should look like. In the Elizabethan theatre of his time, as we can see in the contemporary recreation of the Globe Theatre on London’s Bankside, the stage was relatively bare with very little scenery. Indeed, our ideas about the environment that the plays are set in and the characters that we see comes from the lines that the actors speak. In other words, all of the visuals in the play are painted in the minds eye of the audience through the poetic language of the dialogue. This makes Shakespeare’s work ideal material for visual artists and animators, because you are free to visually interpret how the plays might be aproached in so many different ways.

So far on the MA Character Animation course, we have used biographical incidents from students own lives or pictures (National Gallery paintings or London Transport Museum posters) to inspire the subject matter for students’ animated stories. In our next project, we are using classical literature – Shakespeare – as a source of inspiration to get animation students to start thinking about narrative and constructing plots. Working with Professor Shelley Page (of Dreamworks) and the Royal Shakespeare Company, students will create a series of ‘Micro Short’ animations for the World Shakespeare Festival that is part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. When completed, these short films will be displayed on plasma screens in the RSC theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon as part of the festival and will also be projected onto the wall of the foyer. Using Professor Page’s theme of ‘Devices and Disguises’, the films will take as a starting point scenes between two characters from either The Tempest or Twelfth Night in which something hidden is revealed – this could be lies, secret love, false promises, concealed gender, murderous intentions…

During the initial briefing for the project, Professor Page showed us Barry Purves’s film Next, in which Shakespeare mimes all of his plays in a silent audition.

For more information about this film, see Barry Purves website. Another film showed was Aria by Pjotr Sapegin.

She also showed a series of student films from France that explored themes of devices and disguises, including Tim Tom.

Here is some more sources of information that could be useful for the project.

Online resources for students: Shakespeare

Online resources for students: writing short films

RSA Animate: The Divided Brain

The RSA Animate films have become one of the most popular channels on You Tube. A powerful example of how animated drawings can be used to convey complex ideas, the films use animation to illustrate RSA lectures. Not only does this make the lectures more understandable, but it has brought a whole new audience to these ideas. The latest in the series is ‘The Divided Brain’.

Check out the RSA Short Film Competition. Deadline December 19th.