Off the Rails: Animating Train Journeys

Animated Landscapes: History, Form and Function, a new anthology edited by Chris Pallant is now available from Bloomsbury Academic.

Chris Pallant will Chair a panel at Fantasy / Animation: A Conference on Media, Medium and Genre at Kings College London on Friday 4th September 2015 featuring papers by chapter authors Malcolm Cook, Birgitta Hosea and James Newton.

Book-covePS

Chapter 9: Off the Rails: Animating Train Journeys by Birgitta Hosea

Landscape is often thought of as eternal and unchanging, but in reality it is changing all the time due to variations in habitation, agriculture, industry and climate change. The mobility paradigm in urban geography and sociology proposes that cities and society can be studied in terms of travel rather than stasis – through the movement of peoples, resources, data, finance – in order to understand the formation of identity, ideology, power and society. Indeed, in 2012 the average resident of the UK spent 361 hours travelling a total of 6,691 miles. 11 % of this travel was done by public transport. During their travels, the experience that these average residents had of landscape was of passing through places before arriving at their final destination.

In accord with these ideas about mobility, rather than considering landscape as a static entity, this chapter focuses on animations that move between locations and are concerned with trajectory and locomotion. After noting the connections between early cinema and the train, I examine a body of works that are all thematically linked through their association with animated train journeys, although they represent a range of practices that might be considered pre-cinematic animation, cinematic animation and post-cinematic animation. Imagined landscape in animation – from the pre-filmic phantom rides and moving panoramas, to Ivor the Engine, Thomas the Tank Engine, Madame Tutli~Putli, transport information films, post-filmic subway zoetropes and railway simulation games – is considered in terms of the implications of the mobility paradigm for animation, not just in terms of visual content or subject matter, but in terms of animation as a concept and the politics of animation. To conclude, it will be argued that the animated railway journey can be read as a metaphor for the transience and flux at the root of contemporary society that Zygmunt Bauman has termed liquid modernity.

Off the Rails: Animating Train Journeys

Documentation of SEeAFAR

Foá + Hosea, Carali McCall, Anne Robinson, Sarah Sparkes, Thurle Wright

Folkstone Triennial Fringe 29-31st August 2014
Deptford X 27th September – 5th October 2014

folkestoneopen-logo IMG_1068

 

 

 

Curated by Birgitta Hosea

He will not have been (a) present but he will have made a gift by not disappearing without leaving a trace.
(Jacques Derrida in Re-Reading Levinas,1991)

Seeafar features new work by six artists whose practice traces the presence of absence through drawing, painting, installation, performance and moving image. Recalling the perspective of generations of women living in a state of unknowing as they wait for news or the return of loved ones from overseas, the works explore the tensions between anticipation and memory, separation and speculation. The visionary act of making becomes an empowering process that enables each one of us to think things into the world, to reveal the hidden and make manifest the unsaid.

The Old Truckers Lounge, Folkestone Harbour

P1030962

P1030965

P1030959

Foá + Hosea 
Traion III (Folkestone), Mixed Media (Graphite/pen on paper, projected animation), Dimensions variable (2014)

In the Traion series, Foá + Hosea respond to the myth of the first drawing, in which Butades’s daughter traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on the wall to hold on to his memory before he left on a journey. Foá + Hosea engage with this dilemma – the impossibility of attempting to hold time – through fixing their digital shadows in place with animation. In the title of the series, the words ‘trace’ and ‘motion’ are merged to reference their process of drawing over film, in which evidence of presence and motion is traced.

Artists’ bio: Maryclare Foá draws to examine the relationship and affects between place and practitioner. Her PhD revealed how sound can be drawing that interacts with the environment. She teaches for Central Saint Martins and writes for Studio International. Birgitta Hosea is a media artist working with expanded animation, installation and performance. Her work and PhD explore performativity, presence, affect and digital materiality. She is Course Director of MA Character Animation at CSM. Both artists have exhibited internationally and awards include Foá – RCA Drawing prize and twice shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Hosea – MAMA Holographic Arts Award and an Adobe Impact Award. Foá and Hosea work individually and also collaborate. Recent collaborative works have been exhibited in Paris – Dans ma cellule, une silhouette, Centre d’Art Contemporain, La Ferme du Buisson; London – Draw to Perform, ]Performance Space[; DRAFT, Parasol Unit; Bletchley Park – Ghost Station and Orkney – Papay Gyro Nights.

www.maryclarefoa.com
www.birgittahosea.co.uk

P1040093
P1040430

P1040170

P1040178

Carali McCall
Work no. 4 (Restraint / Running) Folkestone, Performance to camera (2014)

In an area of performance drawing, which considers drawing to be connected to movement through the act of doing and physical activity, this performance addresses what it means to use the extreme form of physical activity – running. Using (myself) the runner to articulate an understanding of how the body moves through space, I use the ‘breath’ and the discipline of marathon training to explore how the physical act of running can be a viable form of drawing.

Artist’s bio: Carali McCall is an artist working and living in London from Canada. She completed her MFA at Slade School of Art, UCL in 2006 and has recently submitted her practice-based PhD thesis at Central Saint Martins, UAL. Although training for marathons and ultramarathons have always occurred alongside her art practice, it was not until she adopted Euclid’s definition of the line ‘a line is a breadthless length’ and began to explore the role of the body in drawing that McCall has become aware of potential connections between running and drawing. Since studying the influences and the trajectory of performance art practices, her recent work has been used to explore linear properties beyond conventional mark making processes. Recent exhibitions and presentations of work include, Performing Site, Falmouth University 2014, Draw to Perform, Performance Space, London, 2013 and Again and Again and Again: Serial Formats and Repetitive Actions, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, 2012.

www.caralimccall.org

CM_running

IMG_1787

P1040175

IMG_1809

Anne Robinson
Skinny White Sailor, 4-6 x paintings, 30.5cm x 40.5cm, oil on canvas (2014)
Thrashing In the Static, Single screen video, 10 minute loop (2014)

How far is too far? How can we look over the edge, feel our way beyond the horizon, traverse time zones and cross the bounds of one human life? The two new works presented here, paintings in the series Skinny White Sailor and the song-film Thrashing In the Static, involve a haunting – keeping watch in the night for revenant sailors. In Robinson’s song-films the voice becomes spirit presence. In Thrashing In the Static, the wavelengths of a search for a brother lost at sea soar over the edge across time zones – a ‘traveling eye’ crossing from the Thames foreshore in 21st century London, way back to an island in the South China Sea in 1942, a dream terrain, long away and far ago. The work draws on surrealism, phenomenology and radical philosophies of time to work with uncanny presence, the sorcery of long exposures, high speed filming and painterly surface distorting out time sense.

Artist’s bio: Anne Robinson’s practice encompasses painting, moving image installations and performance and is concerned with the perception and politics of time passing in art.  She has shown work nationally and internationally, recently working with the Commonist Gallery and CGTV on film and singing interventions. She completed a residency in 2013 in Marseilles at De Centre der Space. She has published in: The Journal of Visual Arts Practice and The Journal of Media Practice as well as curating One More Time (2011), Over Time (2014) and being one of the art curators for the Supernormal festival. She has recently completed a PhD on temporality and painting and also works with the moving image in collaboration with other artists and as an educator, currently senior lecturer in Film at London Metropolitan University.

annerobinsonartwork.org

AnneR

IMG_1762

P1040107

P1040445

Sarah Sparkes 
The Haunted Sea and Jane Conquest Rings the Bell, Mixed media (2014)

Sarah Sparkes’ great grandfather was a Magic Lanternist. Using his decaying lantern slides and combining these with a magician’s optical effects, the artist has created a series of works illuminating the ambiguous relationship between the woman watching on the shore and the spectre of the shipwreck at sea. In Jane Conquest rings the Bell a standard maritime narrative is re-imagined, in which a visionary woman looks out from behind the helm of destiny.

Artist’s bio: Sarah Sparkes’ work, as both an artist and curator, is primarily concerned with concepts of immateriality and how this might be visualised. She runs the visual arts and cross-disciplinary research project GHost, which explores how ghosts are manifested in visual art and contemporary culture. Her chapter on Ghost has been published in The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures, 2014. Recent exhibitions include Theatrical Dynamics at Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles; The Infinity Show at NN Contemporary, Northampton and Haunted Landscapes, University of Falmouth, Cornwall. She is currently developing work for the Over Time project in Greenwich, London and is one of the selected artists for Art in Romney Marsh Churches, 2014.

www.sarahsparkes.com

P1040414

P1040127

P1040123

P1040399

Thurle Wright
Crossing, Collage (Found map of Dover Strait and two poems by Matthew Arnold; ‘Dover Beach’ and ‘Calais Sands’), 90x100cm, (2012)
Deep Reading (Extract from children’s adventure novel and old school atlas, glue, on paper), 60 x 20″, (2010)

An oily old sea map and pages from a poetry book: the poems in this work are addressed to a woman at the end of her honeymoon travels. The poet, Arnold, speaks to his new wife as he gazes out to sea at night contemplating the future in a mood of great uncertainty and melancholy. In deconstructing the lines of the poems and stitching them in small paper stages across the map, the physical progress of the sea crossing is referenced, flowing alongside the slow unravelling process of reflecting and writing itself. There is a patient stitching of thoughts, not knowing how it will end. The words themselves become waves and currents, caught in that space between leaving and arriving, at the mercy of the tides.

Artist’s Bio: Thurle’s delicate paper reconstructions stem from an interest in the systems and structures of language, the ordering of knowledge, the collecting, storing and accessing of words. Working in the gap between the concrete and abstract impression of text on paper, Thurle cuts, folds, weaves and stitches lines of words into a new visual format, in which traces of the original mingle with personal, often playful or poetic interpretations. Thurle has shown work widely both in the UK and internationally including the Bookarts Triennial in Lithuania, Deptford X, and Brussels Art on Paper. Her work is in various public and private collections including Brisbane Sate Library. Numerous residencies include work for the V&A Museum of Childhood, Perth Central School of Art and Design, Fremantle Arts Centre, Camberwell Arts Festival and various colleges.

www.thurle.com

Crossing

P1040117

P1040403

P1040464Bonus artwork by Sandra Louison at Folkestone

P1040152

P1040153

Num3er, Creekside, Deptford

IMG_1742

IMG_1802

IMG_1803

Acknowledgements: thanks to all of the artists for their help in putting together this exhibition as well as Anne Pietsch, Sandra Louison and the teams behind the Folkestone Fringe, Num3er and Deptford X

 

 

Documentation of SEeAFAR

SEeAFAR: 27th Sept – 5th Oct 2014

E_Deptford-X-e-invite

Fresh from the Folkestone Triennial Fringe, this touring exhibition curated by Birgitta Hosea brings together new work from Foa + Hosea, Carali McCall, Anne Robinson, Sarah Sparkes and Thurle Wright. Using a range of media – drawing, animation, performance to video, light installation, painting and collage, the works engage with living with the constant presence of an absence through the metaphor of waiting for someone to return from sea.

OPEN FROM 12-6pm on: 27th, 28th September and 1-5th October

PRIVATE VIEW: Friday 26th September 6-8pm – if you would like to attend – register for the Private View on Facebook or EventBrite

[Invite image Jane Conquest Rings the Bell (detail) Sarah Sparkes, mixed media, 2014]

SEeAFAR: 27th Sept – 5th Oct 2014

Traion I (Ferme)

Dans Ma Cellule, Une Silhouette, 1st February – 20th April 2014, Centre d’Art Contemporain, La Ferme du Buisson, Noisiel, Paris

Gallery

Maryclare Foá and myself were commissioned to create a new piece of work for this exhibition inspired by the legend of the first drawing told by Pliny the Elder. In this apocryphal tale a Corinthian maiden, whose name is not recorded, traces a line on the wall around the shadow of her lover as he is about to depart. Her father, Butades, a potter, fills the outline with clay and fires it in his kiln.

This action of Butades’s daughter, in which she attempts to freeze time and contain presence, is seen by many art historians as the foundational act of Western painting and drawing.

dans-ma-cellule-une-silhouette_la-ferme-du-buisson_560x320

This exhibition curated by Lore Gablier for La Ferme du Buisson features the work of different artists who use drawing to investigate the visualisation of absence, loss and desire. Artists included are: William Anastasi / Abdelkader Benchamma / Mathieu Bonardet / Geta Brătescu / Maryclare Foá & Birgitta Hosea (Performance Drawing Collective) / Jean Genet / Dennis Oppenheim / Santiago Reyes / Till Roeskens / Carla Zaccagnini.

Here is the English translation of the text by curator Lore Gablier about the exhibition:

I have the shape of a dead man on the wall of my cell. He’s been in his grave almost five years now, yet his shadow still lingers. He was no one and nothing. All that remains of him is a handful of old rape charges and a man-shaped pencil sketch. Perhaps it’s just superstition, but I can‘t help but feel that erasing it would be like erasing the fact that he ever existed. That may not be such a bad thing, all things considered, but I won’t be the one to do it.

 – Damien Echols, Life After Death

(Damien Echols was sentenced to death by the state of Arkansas in 1994 after being wrongly convicted of murder at the age of 19. He was released from prison in 2011)

Offering an exploration of drawing in its relation to gesture and the body, the exposition Dans ma cellule, une silhouette turns to the story of the daughter of the Corinthian potter Butades who, before her lover left on a long journey, “drew an outline of the shadow of his face as cast by the light of a lamp.”  If this seminal act, as told by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, has come to be considered as an allegory for the origin of drawing and painting, it is, at the same time, an invitation to renew our relation with the visible.

Through her act, the young woman refers us to that which remains invisible in the visible  in this instance her desire, which cannot reconcile itself in the image. What we see is, as such, always inhabited by the absence of what we cannot see, an absence that not only structures our vision, but also allows the advent of a potentiality or, as Jean-Luc Nancy explains,  “the indeterminate possibility of the possible as such, a potentiality of being [pouvoir Ítre] that is not the abstract form of a being that remains to be embodied, but is rather itself a modality and a consistence of being: a being of power [Ítre de pouvoir], the reality of momentum, of birth and beginning.”

Freed from the gaze and returned to a physical act, drawing opens up a multiplicity of forms and potentialities, as the works brought together for this exhibition testify. Drawing becomes alternately the inscription of a gesture, a repeated action or constraint, a narrative support, the means of a tactile exchange, the boundary of a theatrical space. Or else, drawing hallows itself out, empties itself, by erasure, comes to life. In each case what drawing reveals is the body itself: a body that lends itself less to being active, efficient or operative, than it does to a momentum through which it releases its sensuality.

Set_up

Birgitta Hosea setting up the work with the help of Anne Pietsch, Lore Gablier and the technical staff at La Ferme du Buisson.

SpaceView2Traion 1 (Ferme) 2014 (Maryclare Foá & Birgitta Hosea)
Material: Mixed Media (Graphite on paper, projected animation, chalk)
Dimensions variable

Artists Statement: 

Just as Butades’s daughter traced the outline of her lover before he left on a journey, so we (Foá & Hosea), following the same method, tracing round the shadows of our bodies cast by the electrical light onto the paper surface, attempt to hold time by fixing our shapes in place.

The multiple lines in this Traion (trace of presence in motion) also attempt to hold motion while leading into the gestured animated outlines of our digital shadows.

TraionI_1TraionI_2TraionI_3TraionI_4

Traion I (Ferme)

Ephemeral Animation: Nenagh Watson

Nenagh Watson is a puppeteer currently researching into what she calls ephemeral animation. She is fascinated by objects that move without human control at the mercy of the elements. Consider the following umbrellas as they are carried by the wind. Their movement is created by natural forces rather than the hands of a puppeteer. Watson uses this motion to inspire works of puppetry:

Observing umbrellas, as well as her earlier work with Polish theatre director Tadeusz Kantor (whom she describes as having said that the umbrella’s metal skeleton explodes like fireworks) inspired Conversations with an Umbrella, a collaboration between Nenagh Watson and sound artist Kaffe Matthews.

Umbrellas, plastic bags, pieces of rope… all discarded items of human debris that fly in the wind or float in the water. From Watson’s Duchampian notion of ‘found’ movement that has been created by chance, she examines moments of tension and freedom, stillness and motion and uses these to inform her work in puppetry. She says her eyes have become opened to the world of random movement around her. For Watson, this is all part of making herself and her presence obsolete in the work, in striving to be without ego.

In her Plastic Bag Labyrinth, shown below, she uses her observation of how air fills discarded carrier bags to create an installation in which the bags are caused to move through the actions of visitors to the installation.

For more information about her working practices, see a review of Nenagh Watson’s Ephemeral Animation workshop at the Central School of Speech and Drama and another account of an earlier workshop.

This post was written in response to her presentation at the Talking Objects Symposium at Loughborough University on 9th March 2012.

Ephemeral Animation: Nenagh Watson

Free-Time

To work with animation is to work with time: in the present we create images at author-time that will be viewed as from the past in the future run-time.

In our performance at the Parasol Unit on Friday 2nd December 2011, MK Palomar and Birgitta Hosea will explore issues of time. Combining spontaneous and pre-recorded sound, we will attempt to inhabit various temporal dimensions simultaneously.

Free-Time