Boundary Crossings: Performing Identity

PerformingIdentity_CARD

Boundary Crossings is a biennial institute for contemporary animated arts that was established in 2009 by artist, Rose Bond, at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, USA. The two-week studio programme includes a hands-on exploration of experimental animation as spatial experience, interdisciplinary moving image practice, kinetic sculpture and expanded cinema. This is complimented by readings of related critical theory, a programme of artists talks and screenings and culminates in an exhibition. Participants include working professionals as well as graduate and upper-level undergraduate students with an interest in time-based arts and a desire for an immersive studio experience on the cutting edge of animation and fine art.

Professor and Department Chair of Animated Arts at PNCA, Rose Bond‘s personal practice builds on her experience of frame-by-frame direct animation to create spectacular, site-specific, architectural animation projections in public spaces. Each Boundary Crossings is also co-curated and co-taught by a different international practitioner, who defines the theme and conceptual direction. This year’s theme, Performing Identity was chosen by visiting artist, Birgitta Hosea (myself), Head of Animation at the Royal College of Art in London. In addition, it was supported by guest artist, Carl Diehl, with Studio Manager, Maxwell Brown, and assisted by Sarah Hickey.

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The work produced during Boundary Crossings goes beyond the short film format in investigating in what ways the concepts behind the films can expand out of the screen and be presented to others in an exhibition context. All of these works were conceived of and produced in their entirety over a period of two weeks. Each artist has considered the context of the way in which their animation is displayed to create a unique experience in sound, image and space.

Exhibition:

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PNCA, Portland, Oregon, USA. Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

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Entrance Hall. Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

IMG_0420.JPGOverview. Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

2017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-30Overview. Photo: Ali Gradisher, 2017

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Overview. Photo: Ali Gradisher, 2017

IMG_0405Overview. Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

Individual Works

Ran Sheng: From My Family Album
Double projection on sculpture. Soundtrack: appropriated Chinese pop music.

“A mixed-media memoir generated by childhood memories through the lens of current circumstances. Using the family photo as a carrier, I explore how childhood experiences have affected the development of my personality – who made me what I am?”

IMG_0413Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017.

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Nicole Baker: The Width of a Circle
Black card, sequential prints on acetate, motor, stroboscope. Silent.

“A magic machine made of light and myth, this kinetic sculpture emits visions of a creation tale eminating from primordial history. Contemporary visual storytelling technologies contrast with early animation mechanics to highlight how the power of myth perforates the human mind.”

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Terese Cuff: Complains and Concerns
Extended animation split between two projectors on papier mȃché relief. Soundtrack: recreated voice recordings inspired by complaints made by children in the classroom.

“Exploring the disconnect between conflicted internal and external voices, from the petty to the disturbing.”

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Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017.

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Jacob Houseman: A Very, Very Exclusive Performance
Live performance with interactive database of animation. Silent.

“All the fair ladies and gentlemen of polite society have tonight in their planners for this very, very exclusive performance, which is a very, very anticipated one. If you mean to secure your place among the rich and famous, you absolutely must view the very, very exclusive performance.”

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Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

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Sol Fantasma: Shapeshifter
Rear projection of metamorphosing animals on tissue paper. Silent.

“You aren’t the same person twice. Who you’re with influences how you act. Who are you really?”

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Briar Parks: The Eyes of Izangi
Interactive animation with sculptural objects as controllers. Silent.

“This interactive installation is inspired by animal mimicry, exploring how imitation blurs the line between Self and Other.”

2017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-512017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-502017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-452017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-26Photos: Ali Gradisher, 2017

IMG_0414IMG_0421IMG_0391Photos: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

Amy Love: Shalom
Cut out animation on TV monitor with associated objects. Soundtrack: unaccompanied personal recording of traditional song

“The Artist shares her lived experience of trauma and recovery.”

IMG_0417Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

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Ari Gabriel: Summer of the Yellow-Dry End
Stop motion video, associated objects, cabinet. Soundtrack: Spoken word poetry.

“Memories were left as dreams and fled into folklore, leaving something like an afterimage on the other side of an eyelid. The dry trees calling fire, the smell of hot stone, the dust stirred by crows, dreams of a gleam of a knife or scissors on a distant hill. In the hush of the summer night, the changeling was born of the Grain Mother.”

IMG_0419Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

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2017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-572017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-552017.PNCA.BOUNDARY CROSSING-54Photos: Ali Gradisher, 2017

Mike Nixon: Ocean – Sea of Faith
Animations on three monitors. Soundtrack: various foley recordings of water and rowing,

“Water can give or take away, as it is in life or death. The cycles of nature, day and night, season to season. The swimmer moves through water, clearing space and releasing it as they progress. There is the possibility of transformation through the most traumatic of experiences by the rhythms of life. We are water and water is us.”

IMG_0407Photo: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

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T.J. Orlowski: KINET-X
Pre-recorded and user-generated animation. Silent.

“This work explores the kinetic signature of an individual person’s specific motion through active participation.”

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The Process

At this year’s Boundary Crossings we started with the idea of how to convey subjective experience. Can animation can be used to express private, inner worlds? Can our personal identities be expressed without using verbal language? And if so, what makes an audience interested in another’s personal experience? The very notion of how personal identity is constituted and expressed was examined through Judith Butler’s idea that our identities are so fragile that they need to be constantly reaffirmed through repetitive personal rituals that confirm who we are. For example, in order to be a man, you make sure that you walk like a man. Animation is the perfect art to look at the personal and the subjective, because it is not limited to what can be photographed and can express thoughts direct from the imagination. Through animation, gesture and ritual can be analysed and reflected upon. This was further developed by discussions around glitch feminism – that gender may in itself be a faulty machine.

The workshops included Isadora and physical computing by Carl Diehl, animated installation: expressing ideas through spatial context by Rose Bond and myself, projection techniques by Rose Bond and practice-based research and development of concepts by myself. I also gave a talk on my own practice that had been informed by extensive research into Victorian spirit mediums and screened a programme of experimental animations from the Royal College of Art. Participants were encouraged to be mutually supportive through peer review and connected reading sessions. To develop the theme of performing identity as well as to serve as a warm-up and possible starting point, I conducted a drawing workshop inspired by performance theory in which the choreographic principles of Rudolph Laban were used to build a vocabulary of emotional mark making and Method acting techniques were used to engage with affective and muscle memories.

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Photos: Birgitta Hosea, 2017

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Call for Papers: The Crafty Animator

The Crafty Animator: A Conference on Handmade and Craft-based Animation

Proposals are invited for an interdisciplinary one-day conference at Rich Mix Cinema, Shoreditch, London, on Thursday 7th September 2017

Animation is famously diverse, incorporating as it does a range of production methods, techniques and practices. This one-day conference focuses on any technique that could be considered to be handmade or craft-based, from cut outs to models and puppets, from sand-on-glass to ink-on-glass, and beyond. The role of the animator is key to such techniques where we can often see her/his imprints or finger marks etc. or even hands in the animation; the ‘presence of the artist’ is often highly visible in such craft-based practices and is a presence this conference seeks to explore from numerous perspectives. The conference aims to consider: the kinds of animation techniques that might fall into the category of the handmade; the ways that handmade and craft-based animation might be framed as gendered practices, or not; the kinds of cultural value that handmade and craft-based might animation carry. A range of disciplinary approaches is encouraged and the conference aims to include papers from practitioners, practitioner/scholars and scholars.

I am delighted to confirm Dr Birgitta Hosea, Head of Animation at the RCA, as our Keynote Speaker.

Possible approaches include but are not limited to:

  • Historical examples of handmade animation`
  • Contemporary practices
  • Gender politics and production practices
  • Audience engagement
  • Spectacle and visual effects
  • Space and place
  • Production cultures
  • Narrative and storytelling
  • Children’s television animation
  • Digitising the handmade
  • The cultural value of craft-based/handmade animation
  • Craft-based practices and the community
  • The ‘presence of the artist’
  • Craft-based/handmade animation and advertising

The conference will be held at the Rich Mix Cinema in Shoreditch, London on Thursday 7 September 2017. Please send abstracts of 300 words plus 100-word bio by Friday 23 June 2017 to:

Dr Caroline Ruddell (caroline.ruddell@brunel.ac.uk)

Dr Caroline Ruddell
Lecturer in Film and TV Studies
Department of Social Sciences, Media and Communications
College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences
Brunel University London

Associate Editor Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
animation: an Interdisciplinary journal is the first cohesive international refereed publishing platform for animation that unites contributions from a wide range of research agendas and creative practice.
http://anm.sagepub.com

KETCHUP by Chunning (Maggie) Guo

MA Character Animation presents:
Ketchup, an installation by Animation Artist-in-Residence Chunning (Maggie) Guo.

MACA is delighted to welcome Chunning (Maggie) Guo as our first Chinese Visiting Researcher and Animation Artist-in-Residence, a project made possible by the British Council and CICAF. Maggie is an independent animator who collaborates with Baishen Yan on films that explore memory and is in residence at Central Saint Martins for 3 months. Her work has been shown at international festivals and she was previously in residence as a Visiting Scholar at Vancouver Film School. She currently lectures at Renmin University, where she is also a PhD candidate, and is the author of several books on animation and digital arts. Link: http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/people/teaching-staff/drama-and-performance-programme/chunning-guo/

Ketchup, in the Windows Gallery at Central Saint Martin, presents the context behind the short film, Ketchup, made with Baishen Yan, in which tomatoes act as a memory trigger for brutal events in China in 1984.

Opening times: 09.00-21.00, 11-25th November 2014

Venue: Windows Gallery, The Crossing Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AA

Screening: There will also be a screening, presentation and Q & A on Monday 17th November at 18.30 in room C303. If you would like to attend the screening, please RSVP to: http://ketchup.eventbrite.co.uk as seats are limited.

Join Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1530522017186368

Exhibition curated by Birgitta Hosea

exhibition

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

Recording the Trace of Movement: Past and Present

In her current exhibition, Motion Capture Drawings, at London Gallery West (3rd February – 4th March 2012), artist Susan Morris has captured her own movements over a period of time in a motion capture studio and painstakingly converted the data via algorithms into lines, which are printed onto photographic paper. The images resemble a fragile, dense fog of movement.

Her work references Étienne-Jules Marey, born in France in 1830 and a pioneer of motion analysis through his work with chronophotography, which, unlike the sequential images of Eadweard Muybridge, used multiple exposures recorded and combined together in one photograph to analyse the trajectory of a movement. Here is a selection:

Marey’s work was a clear influence on the Futurists and other artists concerned with representing speed and motion in painting. Compare the image above, Etienne Jules Marey, Étude de l’homme, chronophotographie, 1887 with Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Nude Descending a Stair, 1912.

Beautiful as Morris’s images are, they bring to mind a tangled web of technological references to the history of motion analysis that she does not acknowledge. Capturing the trace of movement is the aim of contemporary motion capture technology, beautifully illustrated in Ghostcatching, 1999. In this digital dance piece shown below, movement data from choreographer and dancer, Bill T Jones, has been used by Bill Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar of the OpenEnded Group to create graphic lines. The data was not used ‘straight out of the tin’, but required extensive clean-up and artistic input from Kaiser and Eshkar.

Another example of graphic black and white linear imagery inspired by Marey’s motion analysis can be seen in Norman McLaren’s Pas de Deux.