[-empyre-] Christopher Sullivan thoughts

Christina Spiesel christina.spiesel at yale.edu
Mon Feb 22 01:30:01 EST 2010

I have been lurking (and very behind) in this wonderful conversation 
about animation. This has been due to the midterm teaching demands and I 
am still in them. Nevertheless I am moved to respond to Sullivan's 
pedagogical question. My pedagogical practice involves getting a group 
of law students from ground zero to making a 5 minute video (that may 
contain all kinds of information, photographic, graphic, etc.) for 
argument in a hypothetical case. I believe that to do this they need not 
only instruction in production and editing, but in playing with how 
words and pictures condition each other, how visual narrative might be 
constructed, what a time-based experience (rather than single frame) is. 
These elements underly animation as well and they are fundamental to 
making the thing, whether analog or digital. Why not have students make 
Kentridge like animations of their own work process however they want to 
conceive of it, bringing together two streams of production as a bridge 
to jumping into animation as a medium?


christopher sullivan wrote:
> Hi everyone, as the week draws to the end, It has been an interesting mix of
> thoughts and ideas. One thing that I wanted to talk about before things draw to
> a close is my hopes for animation, and my thoughts on a pedagogical side. 
>              I feel that the independent animated feature is going to increase
> exponentially in years to come (just hope I get my film to screen before it is
> a infinite pool) I do hope that these new films will not be plagued with the
> remakes and adaptations that are now overtaking Hollywood. Besides Charley
> Kaufman, who is getting original scripts produced?  Even Wes Anderson’s 
> (another script writer) Incredible Mr. Fox, is an adaptation, again Charley
> Kaufman prophetic, in the writing of Adaptation. 
>              So the thing that we independent animators have to do is create
> works that really take advantage of the qualities of animation that set it
> apart from live action film, and particular for the west to catch up with some
> of the cinematic chances taken in the east “for instance, Paprika” or the
> highly disturbing Mindgame. Fringe feature anime is politically very
> conservative in particular with gender politics, and I am not even talking
> about being queer enough, I am referring to the heterosexually conservative,
> and completely fraternal in the sense of the internal mind; men imagining
> fantasies of women.   But these films are very sophisticated in regards to
> filmmaking. How they play with time, how they create and destroy characters, in
> constant sates of death and resurrection. So I hope that We as filmmakers can
> get the backing to create innovative films that challenge audiences not as
> people going to see animation, but going to see demanding cinema. See you in
> the trenches.
>          One other thought I wanted to bring up is whether you think that
> animation is really a good tool to teach artists how to think. I have debated
> this for years because of its very slow turn around, and the literal amount of
> idea stuff that a student can handle during their studies. Every successful
> student I have had, has had other outlets to plow through and discard ideas, be
> it photography, comics, performance, live action films, writing. I have never
> had an exclusive animator that I feel really used their time in school fully. 
> I learned more about making art in my early twenties in school doing
> performance than doing animation, though my artistic identity as an animation
> artist via grants awards, employment, solidified at this time as well.  I am
> pondering these questions; Is animation a medium that condenses other artistic
> experiences into a less temporal vision, but not the best generative medium? Is
> it a good intellectual teaching medium? Of course this is about matters of
> degrees, as I do believe my students grow in my classes, but they do grow
> slowly. 
> What are people’s thoughts? 
> 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
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