Recording the Trace of Movement: Norman McLaren

Scottish / Canadian animator, Norman McLaren, was an innovator who experimented with the technological processes of his time. McLaren’s film Pas de Deux from 1968 is clearly influenced by Etienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotography mentioned earlier. Using high contrast photography and optical printing, the flesh of McLaren’s dancers dissolve into outlines of light. The characters multiply across the image in the shape of the the movements that they dance.

As McLaren was born in the town of Stirling, there is an extensive archive about McLaren’s life and work at Stirling University.

Pas de deux from National Film Board of Canada on Vimeo.

Pervasive Animation

Pervasive Animation was the name of a three-day conference at the Tate Modern, London in 2007, which featured speakers including Suzanne Buchan, Norman Klein, Tom Gunning, Esther Leslie, Vivien Sobchack. The conference sought to bring into question accepted ideas about what animation is and to present the interdisciplinary currents that feed contemporary digital moving image practice. The whole conference was recorded and can still be seen on the Tate website.

Deadsy

Deadsy, directed by David Anderson, written and narrated by Russell Hoban, 1989, is one of the films that typify the creativity coming out of the UK in the 1980s, back when Channel 4 showed challenging and innovative films. Integrating animation with rotoscoped footage and manipulated video, it typifies what Alan Cholodenko describes as the way that animation complicates our view of what is real as opposed to what is imaginary:

‘… in a certain sense animation may be thought to be that which indetermines and sus­pends the distinction between representation and simulation, what makes it impossible to say which is which, as it indetermines and suspends all things.’[1]


[1] Alan Cholodenko, The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation (Sydney: Power Publications, 1991) , 21–2.