Experimental and Expanded Animation

Announcing a new book – Experimental and Expanded Animation: New Practices and Perspectives edited by Nicky Hamlyn and Vicky Smith for Palgrave Macmillan, for which I have written Chapter 13. Siting Animation: The Affect of Place.

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My chapter is concerned with the experience of watching animation that has been created as a spatial experience for viewing in a particular location. Conventionally, animation is viewed from a fixed seat in a stationary position that the viewer stays in for the duration of the viewing experience without significant change in her angle of view of the images on the screen before her and, indeed, animation scholarship frequently refers to the single-screen animated film. This chapter considers non-narrative animation that has been created to be part of an expanded or site-specific experience in which the viewer must visit a particular location and walk around to experience the work. How does the viewing experience of animation differ if the work is installed in three-dimensional space as part of an art exhibition, museum display or visitor attraction rather than from a fixed seating position? Through reference to examples of works by artists Rose Bond, Birgitta Hosea, Pedro Serrazina and Xue Yuwen in which contemporary animations are displayed as an intervention in historic spaces, the affect of site and the impact of the communal viewing context on the embodied perception of an animation are investigated.

For more information about the book: https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319738727

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‘Medium'(2012) in Karachi Biennale

Thrilled that a video of my 2012 performance Medium was selected for the Karachi Biennale in Pakistan this year. Curated by Amin Gulgee, this is the first ever Biennale to take place in Karachi and had the theme of ‘Witness’. My work was installed in a building that formerly housed a branch of the Theosophical Society.

The Biennale launch:

Thanks to Sandra Louison for all her assistance in installing and promoting this work for me. Here are some of her photos of my work and where it was situated:

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Here is a snippet from the first dress rehearsal of Medium in the cells of a former workshouse underneath Shoreditch Town. Curated by Jane Webb for Illumini.

Links to previous posts about this project: Medium and ‘Medium’ mark II.

More about the Karachi Biennale:

Karachi Biennale 2017 from Karachi Biennale on Vimeo.

Patrick Tresset’s ‘Machine Studies’

I recently had a fascinating evening with Maryclare Foa getting our portraits drawn by Patrick Tresset‘s robots at Platform Southwark, part of the Merge Festival.

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A camera looks at you then down at the drawing.

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The programming is based on Patrick Tresset’s own left-handed drawing style. Interesting to see the variations. The angle of the pen makes a difference, so do light levels. The lines are gestural because of being drawn by robot arms. The signatures are taken from a random, unintended mark that one of his robots once made.

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Me and Maryclare Foa drawn by the same robot. We both look very suspicious!

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Maryclare Foa confronts the robot and draws it back!

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In the installation upstairs, Human Study #4, there is a classroom of performing robots. A camera at the front desk seems to communicate to the robot arms at the desks in morse code.

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The robot arms mark time along with the instructions on the video blackboard.

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Finally, all but two start scribbling over their previous marks. The sound of the servo motors and the bleeps of morse code sound incredible. The whole set up brought back uncanny memories of my primary school.

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Beyond Noumenon

Here is the text of the presentation I gave at the Edges Animation seminar, Whitechapel gallery, organised by Edge of Frame on 9/12/2016.

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In this presentation, Gary asked us all to come up with a provocation and to talk about the work of 3 artists. My provocation is: Not all experimental animation comes from Europe or English speaking countries!

In particular, today I am going to talk about experimental animators from China. We only have 12 minutes each, so I don’t have time to talk about the China Independent Animated Film Forum (although I am planning to show a screening of films from them at RCA next year) and I don’t have time to talk about the Chinese experimental animator who is perhaps best known outside China, LeiLei (although I hope to also bring him over to speak at RCA next year).

I thought I would focus on three artists from the recent experimental animation exhibition and forum, Beyond Noumenon, at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing, China in October of this year.

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Here are some general shots of the exhibition.

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Beyond Noumenon aimed to question the ontology of animation with a series of speakers and artists showing work that troubled at the edges of animation as a practice and an idea, exploring the possibility of a new language beyond the single screen, exploring how animation might be experienced by an audience.

In her closing speech, Beyond Noumenon’s Director and Head Curator, Tingting Lu, argued for a dematerialisation of the concepts behind animation, for animation as an adjective or adverb instead of a verb or a noun, for anti-animation, for post-animation.

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Tingting Lu was originally trained in animation at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. Painting is very central to her practice and her films are painstakingly animated by hand, straight-ahead using traditional media like oil pastel and oil paint.

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The Person in the Gap, her piece for Beyond Noumenon, features a series of monitors located on the ceiling. In doing this, she wants to express the idea that people are in the gaps of time, that its people who make time happen.

This calls to mind Norman McLaren’s famous definition of animation that says:

“Animation is not the art of drawings that move, but rather the art of movements that are drawn. What happens between each frame is more important than what happens on each frame.”

Through walking underneath the images to experience them all, the viewer is made to do the work of animating the sequence of stills through their physical act of walking and this brings into question traditional ways of experiencing animation. As we gaze upwards with an almost religious awe, dwarfed by the images above, this action also references the God-like power of the animator to create their very own time and spaces that transgress the rules of nature.

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Based in Beijing, Mi Chai’s fine art practice involves a range of media, including painting, installation, video and performance. She graduated from the MA in Animation at Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University.

She now experiments with different kinds of media, such as painting, drawing, paper cut, animation and visual performances. She is currently working in collaboration with various sound artists and dancers to extend her time-based visual language into live performance.

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For Beyond Noumenon, she showed part of a series of work called Bird’s Dream, which includes paintings, sculpture and an animated film using paper cutouts.

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The film is inspired by a live animation performance that she did called The Sparrow and The Raven.

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For Chai, this series of painting, sculpture and film is all one work.

Birds Dream | trailer from Chai Mi on Vimeo.

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Tianran Duan, who was one of the curators,  is a new media artist working on experimental animation, video art and installation. He received his MFA degree in Animation from the University of Southern California and now works in the art department of Renmin University. For his animation work, he has been a finalist in the Student Academy Awards on two occasions. By experimenting with various materials, techniques and aesthetics, he pushes the boundaries of what defines animation. He is interested in drawing parallels between the post-modern collapse of meaning in philosophy and our current understanding of animation.

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Lonely Player
Kinetic Installation
Stainless Steel,Steel Balls,Motor, Infrared sensor
2016

This is an interactive installation in which participants could put the steel balls into the Lonely Player, but it takes the movements of other people to trigger the Infrared and release a few steel balls. For Tianran, the intention is that like the Tower of Babel, the tower of the Lonely Player stores up messages which are released to others who do not understand them.

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Another installation piece he made for the show – the Maze of Noumenon

The starting point for this work is Kant’s definition of noumena – potential things in the work – as opposed to phenomena – which are those things in the world as we experience them. The difference between these two concepts is what we ourselves contribute to the meaning of something that we experience. How much does our own act of interpretation bring to the act of perception? Where is the boundary between the physical world and our imaginary space?

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Rather than creating a single screen short film, Tianran is interested in working in gallery spaces to create a “field” that crosses the boundary of the virtual world and reality. This three channel video installation is trying to explore the limitation of our perceiving system in terms of symbols, motion, consciousness and space.

The cuboids and sphere represent abstract thought and the horses bring the physical world into the scenario.The spinning globe represents the limitation of our rationality. When the globe spins with an abnormally fast speed, it makes us to realize we are thinking about that.

MAZE OF NOUMENON in Jinji Lake art museum from Tianran Duan on Vimeo.

To conclude, what interests me is that each of these artists – Tingting Lu, Mi Cai and Tianran Duan – have in common is that they were trained in animation, but now work in a post-medium context embracing a number of different artforms. The form that their work takes cannot be contained by a single screen and explores different ways in which an audience can encounter animation. At the core of each piece is a conceptual investigation of movement through space and time, but this is expressed through a number of media such as painting, sculpture, installation, performance and kinetics as well as animation.

Re-animating the Archive

Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference, Manchester, 12-14 October 2015

Watch the conference paper on You Tube:

More information about the presentation:

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At this year’s National Archives and Research Libraries UK conference, Alison Green and Birgitta Hosea will be presenting a collaborative project between four organisations: MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and MA Character Animation at Central Saint Martins, the Guildhall School of Music and the Old Operating Theatre Museum.

With a conference theme of exploring new digital destinations for the heritage sector, Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, will examine methods for meaningful and innovative digital engagement with museums and archives. Reflecting on the CUT! exhibition created for the Old Operating Theatre Museum, Green and Hosea will demonstrate a case study of the use of animation in museums and archives.

Abstract:

How can digital media augment old spaces and things? Using the exhibition, CUT! (Old Operating Theatre Museum, London, 2014) as a case-study, we will present a project that juxtaposed original, auratic objects with reinterpretations in the form of short digital animations. CUT! was a collaboration between the Museum and students from two courses at Central Saint Martins, MA Character Animation and MA Culture, Criticism and Curation.

The aim of the exhibition was to bring back a sense of the people who had once worked or been treated in a space now filled with glass cases and curious objects. Animations inspired by the museum’s quirky range of artefacts from medical history were created by students from MA Character Animation. The forty films were curated by students from MA Culture, Criticism and Curation, placed as interventions into the museum’s permanent collection, like a haunting or re-animation of the historic objects.

The exhibition, conceived as an experiment and which proved popular with visitors, raised issues about how audiences relate differently to ‘history’ versus ‘the present’ and how different people engage with different types of objects and technology. The paper will theorise these results through discussions of animation and haunting (Cholodenko, 2007 & 2011) and memory as speech versus memory as object (Derrida, 1996). Both presenters have led several collaborative projects with students working with museums. We are interested in exploring what such projects mean for our respective fields—digital animation and curating—and, further, reflecting upon these partnerships as forms of pedagogy.

Link to presentation slides:

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Pinning Butterflies: Royal Albert Hall Monday 9/03/2015

Pinning Butterflies: this audience engagement project was created by BA Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins with the Royal Albert Hall.

Animation (by First Year students on MA Character Animation at CSM), installation and performances on the themes of Pucini’s opera Madam Butterfly were installed to be walked through in the backstage area of the Royal Albert Hall. Four groups of visitors at a time were lead through loading bays, changing rooms, props areas, theatre corridors and catering spaces to experience a range of works including animated emotions, a life size chrysalis, provocative poetry in the lift and suicide by origami.

This one day event was designed to get the local community interested in the events at the Royal Albert Hall.

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Madam Butterfly production at the Royal Albert Hall (from the NY Times DEC. 22, 2014)

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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