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.

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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.

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Day 1. Forum Opening. Presentations:

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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.

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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

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

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

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Exhibition Opening in the New Media Art Centre

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Featuring work by artists including: Birgitta Hosea.

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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.
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Sheila Sofian

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Tianran Duan

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Lei Lei

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

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

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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

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

 

 

Beyond Noumenon

Women Hold Up Half The Sky

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Strangelove Moving Image Festival, Mon 16th March 2015: Women Hold Up Half The Sky

This 1-hour programme takes as its title a Mao-era propaganda slogan as a provocation to think about the status of women in China today relative to the past. These short, independent films by (all but one) female animators, many studying outside their native China, raise issues from contemporary China including personal identity, hormones and chemicals in factory production, the pressure of academic success, memory, the ties of family, abortion and the influence of pervasive computing.

Curated by Chunning Guo (Renmin University), Birgitta Hosea (CSM), Shelley Page (Dreamworks)

MA Character Animation, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London:
@CSMAnimation

Women Hold Up Half The Sky

Documentation from KETCHUP

The Ketchup exhibition by Chunning (Maggie) Guo in Central Saint Martin’s Window Gallery was extended by two weeks due to popular demand.

Setting up (thanks to Judy Wang):

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The exhibition: Window I

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The exhibition: Window II

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Private View

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Presentation

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During her presentation, Maggie described how, based on incidents from her husband, Baishen Yan’s childhood in a secret military base, the installation served as a materialisation of some of the ideas behind the film. A telephone call from her mother-in-law and the sensual memory trigger of tomatoes being made into ketchup, inspired her script for the film.

Watch the film on Vimeo:

ketchup from Baishen Yan & Chunning Guo on Vimeo.

Curated by Birgitta Hosea. Photos by Birgitta Hosea and Chunning Guo.

Documentation from KETCHUP

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

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KETCHUP by Chunning (Maggie) Guo

Calls for Papers: C.A.K.E. / BFX

Deadlines are approaching for two forthcoming conferences that invite proposals for papers on interdisciplinary themes related to animation.

CALL FOR PAPERS ~ C.A.K.E.
Edge Hill University 14th – 18th July 2014

In July 2014, Edge Hill University will be hosting a unique five-day festival and conference on Sino/UK creative animation practice research. C.A.K.E aims to provide a forum where Keynote speaks Paul Ward and Paul Wells and industry specialists Mackinnon & Saunders and Cubic Motion, as well as key speakers from CICAF will provide exciting opportunities for practice and theory, and cross-cultural debates to take place.

The conference represents a core strand within the Creative Animation Knowledge Exchange (C.A.K.E.) event that celebrates a growing relationship between the UK and Chinese animation industry and education sector. The objective of C.A.K.E. is to nurture a long-term cultural partnership with the ambition to form new collaborations, commissions and enterprise relating to creative animation practice, industry, academic research and knowledge exchange.

Final deadline for submission: 25th April 2014 (Abstracts for Papers)

Please send a 200-word abstract and short bio to Alex Jukes 

alex.jukes@edgehill.ac.uk
Further information will be available via: www.edgehill.ac.uk/cake

CALL FOR PAPERS: BFX 2014 Conference

Bournemouth University, September 22 – 24, 2014

The BFX Conference was setup in 2014 to run alongside the BFX Festival hosted by the NCCA (The National Centre for Computer Animation) at Bournemouth University.

Digital Convergences 2014

This conference intends to present and analyse the convergences that are occurring across and within the genres of moving image, in part resulting from the impact of digital technologies.

Through an interdisciplinary approach, the BFX conference invites authors to examine various theoretical positionings with a view to realign the discussion in the light of current technologies. The conference seeks to revisit the arguments that position film, animation and art as aesthetically, structurally and intellectually different.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: 15/05/2014

For more information and to submit online: click here

 

 

Calls for Papers: C.A.K.E. / BFX

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:

Liquid Boundaries at the Shenzhen Architecture and Urbanism Biennale