[-empyre-] chris sullivan p.S.

Suzanne Buchan sbuchan at ucreative.ac.uk
Thu Feb 18 21:06:11 EST 2010

In response to Eric's last post, as the spaces of animation are something I've been working 
on for a while, and I'd like to share a few thoughts on the implications.
In 2005 I curated an exhibition called SPACETRICKS : TRICKRAUM
(it was also exhibited at UCA: http://www.ucreative.ac.uk/index.cfm?articleid=10547) 
 at the Zurich Museum of Design (http://www.museum-gestaltung.ch/exhibitions/archive.html)  
of 26 independent artists' innovative methods and techniques that create humorous,
 poetical and philosophical narratives of the human condition in spaces we cannot 
physically 'be in' but that we can emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically understand. 

There were four categories (we worked long and hard on narrowing them down):
- narrative space (Virgil Widrich , Krumme);
- architectural space: (Zbig Rybczynski, Quay Brothers, Hanna Nordholt + Fritz Steingrobe); 
-interior – or personal, subjective – space (Clive Wallye, Piotr Dumala, Priit Paern), 
- land- and cityscapes:  (George Griffin, Paul Vester). 

Films were shown on monitors and the focus of the exhibition was process
 – 77 cases of artwork and production materials   - provided insights into how space
 was conceptualised and realised in multiple techniques (mostly pre-digital).

 In publications, I've been articulating strategies viewers develop to comprehend 
animation’s architectural and digital animated ‘worlds': 
How does animation affect our experience of architectural space in film? 
What effect have digital technologies had on the creative expression and 
perception of computer-generated spatialities? 
How and when does architecture become the driving narrative force in a film?
 And how is an architectural uncanny evoked in puppet animation? 

Animators have implicitly understood and exploited the technique's potential to
 subvert physical rules of space, scale and perspective – creating unique 'worlds' 
that bear little relation to our lived experience of the 'real' world.
Fundamental principles of architecture defined by Marcus Vitruvius over 2000
 years ago are:  'Utilitas', expressed though a building program created by the
 client, the owner of the property or his representative; 'Firmitas', the structural
 and material means of answering the requirements of that program, is the
 province of the builder; and 'venustas', the design or artistic arrangement of 
those systems and materials, is the responsibility of the architect.

Animation and CAD subvert and expand definitions of live-action set design in
 that they do not have to exhibit an architectural logic. Using animation, artists 
can create and present an experience of architectural construction that does
 not need to fulfil requirements of utilitas or firmitas.
The architectural imagination of animation is venustas, the artistic design.

Another unique feature of animation film is that it can present narrative spaces 
without any visible architecture or horizontal plane on which it would stand.  
The Lauenstein’s BALANCE is an example of this. In some animation films, the
 fantastic architecture itself is actively involved in developing the narrative.
Raimund Krumme's THE CROSSING the setting is minimal – black lines and
 figures on a white background. By shifting perspective and revealing new lines
 at obtuse or perpendicular angles, Krumme is able to involve the architecture
 in the plot – figures appear and their actions and relationships are determined
 by clever intervention of a single line that creates a new plane. A footpath 
becomes a wall; a crossroads develops into a labyrinthine cityscape. This film
 utilises a characteristic of 2D spatial design: the spaces do not have static
 foundations, they are active, not passive and have a dynamic dynamic character
 that reveals space and creates suspense and tension. 
The DIAF (Germnan Institute for Animation Film) in Dresden recently curated an
 exhibition of Krumme's works, that examined exactly these qualities:

I'm especially fascinated in what could tentatively be termed the paradox of
experiencing an architectural space without having the physical conditions
 to enter it with our bodies. Having said that, the Quays' and other puppet animation
 films raise a whole other set of queries, and I've written about that extensively
 in the book on their works.

I'd be interested to know how Chris and other artists here in empyre develop their
 spatial realms, how and if techniques affect, influence or limit these, 
and what they find is challenging or freeing in the process.


-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Eric Patrick
Sent: Wed 2/17/2010 03:02
To: christopher sullivan
Cc: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] chris sullivan p.S.
I love that idea about animation creating its own space...  as has already
been mentioned in regards to Svankmajer, but also more directly by the
Israeli animator Gil Alkabetz or the German Raimund Krumme.

I think Donald Crafton was recently presenting a paper following that thread
through historically at the Chicago film seminar.  The title as I recall was
"Animation as Autophagy."


On 2/15/10 11:11 PM, "christopher sullivan" <csulli at saic.edu> wrote:

> An interesting thing to think about in terms of form, extremes of crudeness
> and 
> rough edges that are a big part of people like Phil Mulloy, Paul Fierlinger,
> Don
> Hertzfeld, Lewis klahr, Martha Collburn, William Kentridge, Yuri Norstien (I
> don't think I spelled one of those correct, but time is too precious. All of
> these animators expose the material elements of there work, and in ways force
> a
> two dimensional reading of the film surface, Illusion of space it fleeting
> when
> there at all. Yuri Norstien at a talk here in Chicago spoke of how he feels
> that the closer you get to an illusion of reality, the farther you get from
> what makes animation it's own language. what do people think about illusory
> and
> non illusory cinematic space in animation? Is photo realism, not animation
> anymore but digital cinema?
> have you seen this stuff. very interesting.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_1zzPCnyOI&feature=related
> Quoting christopher sullivan <csulli at saic.edu>:
>> by the way, I show power and water in my "not quite animation" day in my
>> alternative animation history class. It is a wonderful film. you should all
>> try
>> to get Pat out to show The Decay OF Fiction, his amazing film, that
>> unfortunately he does not like, but I sure do. Chris.
>> Quoting christopher sullivan <csulli at saic.edu>:
>>> Hi Eric, I do think that certain technologies or circumstances dictate
>> trends
>>> in
>>> work. For instance the non verbal history of independent art films in the
>>> 70's
>>> and 80's, was directly related to issues of french versus English in
>> Canada,
>>> and the fact that the Netherlands, Italy, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia,
>> where
>>> important places that could not count on language to engage a wider world.
>>> And for that matter the frame by frame process does break down time and
>> lead
>>> to
>>> different ways of looking at the world. But I am questioning starting with
>>> formal notions of Code, or digital culture as subjects. I guess it gets
>> back
>>> to
>>> notions of modernist painting, which is about putting color on a flat
>>> surface. 
>>> All of the great works that I am attracted to in animation, have something
>>> inherently frame by frame about them, but there is an underlying content
>>> that
>>> is being negotiated.
>>> I think that animation because of it's labor, tends to give birth to the
>>> wondering pilgrim, the emptied city, the lone figure in a minimal world,
>>> because you just can't draw fifty people, CGI is changing this, but these
>>> limits are good too. They are like the limits of independent theater, no
>>> dance
>>> numbers, no effects, just words and a few bodies. I also think that the
>>> limits
>>> of animation, create a need to condense time, in ways that live action
>> does
>>> not.
>>> and this leads to it's odd sense of time, I hope you have all seen Cat
>> Soup,
>>> amazing time play in that film.
>>> Quoting Eric Patrick <ericp at northwestern.edu>:
>>>> Hello All,
>>>> Eric Patrick here.  Rather than repeat my bio, I'll just jump right
>>>> in...  I've been making animated films now for twenty years, and the one
>>>> thing I've become convinced of is that animation is a ritual act.  My
>>>> own work underscores this in it's experiments with narrative without the
>>>> confines of character development or plot...  rather, I often find
>>>> myself creating associative connections over causal ones.  I'm certainly
>>>> not the first that has noticed this, but perhaps all animators find it
>>>> on their own terms...  small repetitive acts, done over long periods of
>>>> time...  a withdrawal from day to day life.  The very act seems like a
>>>> description of an alchemist's chamber, saying a rosary, kabuki theatre.
>>>> In my particular case, I choose a technique that in some way comments on
>>>> the ideas embedded in my work.  This is one of those things that I find
>>>> to be unique about animation (though I would argue that new media has
>>>> this ability too): the ability to orchestrate the concept into the very
>>>> fabric of the image through the technique that is utilized.  It's that
>>>> relationship between form and content that makes animation quite so
>>>> unique.  That these techniques involve increasingly preoccupied states
>>>> of consciousness only adds to the ritual effect of animation.  It's no
>>>> wonder then that we can see such a wide interest in metaphysics
>>>> throughout animation history.
>>>> As an animator stepping into a group dedicated to new media, I'm
>>>> interested in finding where my experience may cross over with yours.
>>>> Perhaps we can also weave with Chris Sullivan's intro, because, as he
>>>> states that technology is a tool but not a subject, I am almost
>>>> inferring that the process can become a subject.  I have shown Pat
>>>> O'Neil's work "Water and Power" to students, and interestingly, they
>>>> told me that it completely changed their relationship to after effects.
>>>> O'Neil's work somehow seems like it could only be conceived and executed
>>>> on an optical printer, though it can obviously very easily be created
>>>> with something like after effects.  While I agree that technology is a
>>>> tool, do certain tools not engender certain kinds of work?
>>>> best,
>>>> Eric
>>> Christopher Sullivan
>>> Dept. of Film/Video/New Media
>>> School of the Art Institute of Chicago
>>> 112 so michigan
>>> Chicago Ill 60603
>>> csulli at saic.edu
>>> 312-345-3802
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> Christopher Sullivan
>> Dept. of Film/Video/New Media
>> School of the Art Institute of Chicago
>> 112 so michigan
>> Chicago Ill 60603
>> csulli at saic.edu
>> 312-345-3802
> Christopher Sullivan
> Dept. of Film/Video/New Media
> School of the Art Institute of Chicago
> 112 so michigan
> Chicago Ill 60603
> csulli at saic.edu
> 312-345-3802

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