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.

slide01

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.

slide04

Here are some general shots of the exhibition.

slide07

slide08

slide09

slide10

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.

slide11

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.

slide12

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.

slide13

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.

slide14

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.

slide15

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

slide17

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

Birds Dream | trailer from Chai Mi on Vimeo.

slide20

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.

slide22

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.

slide25

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?

slide26

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.

Beyond Noumenon

Beyond Noumenon

International Experimental Animation Exhibition and Forum, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute Chongqing, China, 18th Oct – 1st Nov 2106

This series of events sought 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.

poster

Day 1. Forum Opening. Presentations:

20161021021349746

Welcome speeches by Jie Zhang , Vice-president of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chuan Li , Director of the New Media Department and Tingting Lu, director of the Forum.

Tianran Duan “The Principle Concept of Animation” drew parallels between the post-modern collapse of meaning in philosophy and our current understanding of animation.

Gerben Schermer “Holland Animation Film Festival on the Cutting Edge”talked about the curatorial policy of the festival and showed the film Recycled by Lei Lei and Thomas Sauvin

Jian Liu reflected on experimental practice in animation and warned against over theorising practice.

Birgitta Hosea “Involuntary Animation” explored involuntary mark-making and chance procedures in animation with reference to Iimura Takahiko’s Circle and Square (1982), John Cage’s Music of Changes (1951), Vicky Smith’s 33 Frames Per Feet (2013) and Noisy, Licking, Dribbling and Spitting (2014) and finally her own work Time Channel (2014).

Xi Chen “Time and Poetry in Animation”

Yuxiao Yi “Rational Technique and Image Ethic” discussed post-disciplinary, post-hums work and the extension of sensation

Yves Nougzarede talked about “Annecy and Experimental Animation” with examples of films by Paul Bush and Susan Young and thoughts about the curatorial policy behind the experimental category

Lei Lei “Tidy Up Old Things and Image of Animation” presented some his latest works in which he uses re-animation techniques to interrogate archival collections of photographs

Sheila Sofia “Animated Documentary”discussed creative challenges in using animation for documentary purposes and considers whether animation might be more truthful or perhaps more manipulative than live action.

tingtinglu

Tingting Lu’s closing speech 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.

Day 2

Sheila Sofia presents her latest film, Truth Has Fallen, and the context behind it

BH_day2_05.JPG

Birgitta Hosea presents an overview of her work in animation and performance

TD_day2_02.jpeg

Organiser Tingting Lu, her assistant Juncheng Li, Birgitta Hosea and Sheila Sofian

BH_day2_16.JPG

Exhibition Opening in the New Media Art Centre

BH_exhibition_day1_08.JPG

Featuring work by artists including: Birgitta Hosea.

bh_exhibition_day3_13

bh_exhibition_day3_21For Beyond Noumenon, she has created a series of works that explore erasure and the invisibility of labour. It takes so much physical labour to create the world around us – constructing buildings, manufacturing goods, cooking, cleaning… Yet, all too often this work goes unrecognised and is invisible. We see the end product – the finished building, the meal, the clean house – but not the labour of the workers that went into its creation.
This project aims to remember some of the labour of domestic work performed over and over by many generations of women for their families, but then forgotten. Through sequential action drawings, paper cuts and performance, the process of erasure is used to record the duration and actions of domestic labour. The artist herself worked as a cleaner in hospitals and private houses in her younger years and has created this project in memory of her grandmothers.
The individual works include Rosary Drawing XII (2015), a performance that explores the time-based nature of prayer beads, Scoured I-XVI (2016), a series of 16 images created through cleaning processes through the use of bleach and a scouring pad, and Cleaning I and 2 (2016), paper cuts made as the trace of a performance of cleaning.
meperformance_99ysIMG_9556_lighter.jpgme_perf_weixinBH_exhibition_day3_22.JPG

Sheila Sofian

BH_exhibition_day1_06.JPG

Tianran Duan

BH_exhibition_day1_TD.jpg

Lei Lei

BH_exhibition_day3_LL_02.JPGBH_exhibition_day3_LL_03.JPGMi Chai

BH_exhibition_day3_CM_09.JPGTingting Lu

tingting_works_weixin

Lots of lovely food was eaten, particularly the local hot pot!

bh_day2_36

Meeting up with former students Dandan Wang and Lai Wei, Sheila Sofia and translator Bao Li

td_day2_05

Birgitta Hosea also ran a workshop on Emotional and Physical Mark-making, which used techniques from contemporary dance and method acting to challenge students’ habitual drawing methods

bh_day3_workshop_016BH_day3_workshop_05.JPGtl_workshop04bh_day3_workshop_07BH_day3_workshop_18.JPGbh_day3_workshop_13BH_day3_workshop_30.JPGBH_day3_workshop_33.JPGBH_day3_workshop_35.JPGbh_day3_workshop_41TL_workshop09.jpeg

Press reviews and more photos on 99ys.com, sina.cn and weixin

 

 

Beyond Noumenon

Ecstatic Truth – Call for Papers

Ecstatic Truth: Defining the essence of an animated documentary 

Kentridge
[William Kentridge]

 

APGR* research symposium at the Royal College of Art
Date: Saturday 14th May, 2016
Location: Stevens building, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore

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 has the freedom to represent, stylize, or reimagine the world, it lends itself well to this aspirational form of a documentary.

To celebrate the launch of our new Animated Documentary pathwayRoyal College of Art Animation warmly invites PhD research students to submit proposals for Ecstatic Truth: the 6th Animation PGR research symposium. We invite speakers to respond to the idea of “Ecstatic Truth” and reflect, speculate and imagine how animated form might elicitate the different facets of this poetic truth, through its unique language.

Proposals should be for either:

–       a 20 minute conference paper;

–       or an alternative discussion/presentation format as appropriate for practice-based research (this can include practice based work in a form of short films, images etc.)

Some of the proposed themes:

Showing the Invisible
Inner states, subjective states, forbidden places, ethical issues etc.

Transcending Time
Memory, future, sci-fi, history etc.

Truth, Falsification and Poetry
Virtual reality, fictional elements, special effects, imagination, poetic truth etc.

Art and Science dialogue
Science visualization, role of poetry in science imagery etc.

Human condition
social issues, society, social commentary, health and illness, conflict etc. 

(We equally welcome fierce and creative opposition to Herzog’s statement…!)

Please note that the symposium is designed for MPhil / PhD students to present their work-in-progress to a friendly and well-informed audience of peers and supervisors.

The deadline for submissions is 14th April 2016.

To submit your proposal or any related questions please contact Dr Tereza Stehlikova: tereza.stehlikova@network.rca.ac.uk 

*The Animation Postgraduate Research Group was set up in 2011 by Dr Paul Ward of the Arts University College at Bournemouth as a safe and supportive network in which MPhil/PhD students in animation can network, exchange ideas and disseminate their research.

 

Animated Documentaries from the Royal College of Art

 

For inspiration, here are a number of different approaches to animated documentary created by students on MA Animation at the RCA:

Nightclub from Jonathan Hodgson on Vimeo.

Yellow Fever from Ng’endo Mukii on Vimeo

Devil In The Room from Mackinnonworks on Vimeo.

Procrastination from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

Die Andere Seite from Ellie Land on Vimeo.

Ecstatic Truth – Call for Papers

CONFIA 2016: Call for Papers

The call for papers for CONFIA 2016: International Conference for Illustration and Animation has been extended to March 31st.

CONFIA is organised by the School of Design at the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave and endeavors to be:

“a pivotal contribution to the contemporary discussion of the areas referred above, which combine long traditions with pioneering roles in technological innovation. We intend to broadly explore the multidisciplinary space that includes illustration and the animated image, from the construction of the narrative to character development, from art theory to critical reflection on the objects that populate the market and the industry. The conference seeks quality original submissions from artists, the industry, the academic community and the market.”

This year CONFIA will be held in Barcelos on June 10, 11 and 12. The keynote speakers are Esther Leslie and Sophie Van Der Linden.

All accepted full papers will be published in the conference proceedings (with ISBN). Only original contributions will be accepted. Submitted papers will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis.

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Illustration/ Drawing
Graphic illustration
Information graphics
Editorial illustration
Illustration for children
Character design
Comics and graphic novels

2. Animation
2D animation
3D animation
Animation for video games
Character animation
Animation for virtual or augmented reality
Animation in interactive media
Motion graphics
Sound and animation

3. Art theory applied to illustration and animation
Linear storytelling
Creative writing
Visual culture
Interactive storytelling
Narrative and non-narrative animation
Illustration and animation pedagogy
Authorship in animation or illustration

For more detailed information, please visit http://www.confia.ipca.pt/

CONFIA 2016: Call for Papers

Ghosts: Keith Piper and Roshini Kempado

rtaImage

Lethaby Gallery, Central Saint Martins 27/11/2015-11/12/2015

Last day today of this exhibition curated by Paul Goodwin as part of a curatorial project in which he examines the intersections between technology, subjectivity and contemporary art. In the exhibition introductory text, Goodwin writes:

Ghosts specifically explores how artists in the UK are interrogating these complex relationships in the context of the current historical conjuncture of proliferating international migrations, global political-economic crises and scattered migrant communities in cities…

Another problematic that the Ghosts project seeks to address is in relation to the way that certain questions of history and memory, identity and power have been downplayed and left to hover and fester in the dark recesses and corners of contemporary art’s technological imaginary. … there has been massive proliferation of art historical and contemporary art discussion and research about the relationship between art and technology in the current techno-cultural conjuncture. However there has been less research and discussion about how these important questions of technology have been addressed within the context of problematics around migration, ‘race’, ‘post-colonialism’ and the proliferation of diasporic identities – including sexual and gendered identities, especially in the European context which presents itself in such urgent terms today. In many ways questions of diaspora, ‘race’ and post-colonial identities are like ‘ghostly’ presences or excesses haunting the technological utopias and techno-determinism that often pervades discussions around art and technology.”

In the exhibition, Roshini Kempadoo’s ‘About Face‘ explores the digital chatter we experience as we try to negotiate our diverse experiences of transition and migration through the city through multiple handheld devices.

IMG_3522

I was particularly interested in the work of Keith Piper, an artist whose work in digital technologies I have been following since the 1990s. His work in this show combines animation and video to deconstruct the racialised metaphors that haunt science fiction and space age technology. His thought provoking installation contrasts robots, androids and cyborgs with different types of identities to reveal social fears about race and difference. Piper says, “This project is part of a body of research expanding the scrutiny of popular science fiction into the fields of post-colonial studies and developing discources around ‘Afro-futurism’, encoding and ‘CyberEbonics’.

IMG_3521

This is made especially apparent in a video that comments on the robotic pathfinder that tirelessly explored Mars for three months in 1997 until communication was lost. It was named Sojourner, after the former slave and anti-abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner, Sojourner Truth. Here’s a clip of the actual Mars rover:

You can see an artist commentary by Keith Piper on his work here:

Robot Bodies from Keith Piper on Vimeo.

Ghosts: Keith Piper and Roshini Kempado

New Blog Site / Reflecting on CSM

The Expanded Animation blog has migrated to this new site on http://expandedanimation.net.

The reason for this is that I no longer have access to myblog.arts since I have left Central Saint Martins to take up a new position as Head of Animation at the RCA. Press release here

I was given the opportunity to reflect on some of the projects I have set up on MA Character Animation at CSM over the years at the recent Adobe Education Summit in London:

I am very sad to leave CSM after 15 years as Course Director of MA Character Animation and will miss my colleagues and students. However, I am looking forward to the challenge of a new role and am excited about starting at the RCA!

New Blog Site / Reflecting on CSM