SIMPLICITY - the art of complexity - ARS ELECTRONICA 2006 - Festival für Kunst, Technologie und Gesellschaft - Linz, Do 31. August – Di 5. September






Animation Festival   |  posted by  Didi Offenhuber   |  at 09:15:00


When you compare submissions to the 2006 Prix with their counterparts 10 years ago, you can observe a new approach now being taken by younger animation artists. Technological fascination with digital 3D animation and highly complex animation software packages has largely subsided. Experimentation is once again being done using the artist’s own means: analog and digital animation techniques, homebrew programs, and an uncomplicated blend of highly diverse methods and visual vocabularies. Animation is understood as an individualistic form of expression. The prerequisites don’t have so much to do with technical means; rather, this is more a matter of time personally committed. In terms of numbers, degree projects by undergrads, works by individual animators, and studio efforts are represented in approximately equal proportions among the best works. Often, the inquisitiveness of those creating this art is not primarily focused on the result to be achieved but rather on the process of achievement itself. The final products thus constitute animation very much in line with Norman McLaren’s definition of it as “the art of manipulating the invisible interstices that lie between the frames.”


Animation Festival   |  posted by  Didi Offenhuber   |  at 09:15:00

small world machines

This term could be used to describe a narrative motif that was encountered especially often among 2006 entries and, accordingly, is being featured in its own thematic showcase at this year's Animation Festival. These works present us with a character situated in his own miniature world, a domain that leads a life of its own as an illusionistic machine whose mechanism the protagonist must deal with.

First off, there’s Yu Seock Hyun’s film “The Chamber” that shows us a space inside of which is located another small space in the form of a stop-action animation console. The protagonist is obviously an animator who doesn’t recognize at first that the space in which he’s situated is interrelated in a very curious way with the modeled space.

Another very beautiful work of animation is “Dynamo” (F. Le Nezet, M. Goutte, B. Mousquet), which presents to us a world whose constant rotation is not something that can be taken for granted. In fact, the two inhabitants have their hands full maintaining this state of motion.

And then there’s the protagonist of Robert Depuis’ “Exit” who is unable to carry out his appointed task precisely because he’s unaware of the fact that he’s just a character in an animated film.

What all these entries have in common is their confrontation with the artificiality of cinematic illusion, an approach that not infrequently refers directly to the animation process itself. You’re reminded of a famous figure from the infancy of animation: Max Fleischer’s Koko the Clown. This rotoscope-produced character was dissatisfied with his role as a two-dimensional drawing and, much to the displeasure of his creator, fled into the real world.


Animation Festival   |  posted by  Didi Offenhuber   |  at 09:15:00

black and white

At first, it seems rather unusual to categorize animated films according to the number of colors they employ, but an initial perusal of this years submissions made this virtually unavoidable.

A considerable number of films utilized a monochrome, intensely illuminated graphical style that usually has to use only B&W in order to achieve the desired effect. The most prominent example of this is “Sin City,” a film that also inspired many other works of animation.

“Renaissance,” a full-length German-French co-production, impressed connoisseurs of animation with urban visions in the style of Hugh Ferris or Kettelhut’s “Metropolis.” Technically extravagant, the film gets by with a color depth of one bit.

This style is used to great advantage in “The Regulator.” Like its predecessor “Le Processus,” every single frame in this film exhibits outstanding graphical quality that can easily stand up to comparison with illustration work in the best comics. What’s more, Philippe Grammaticopoulos has also succeeded in imparting a magnificent, reduced vocabulary of motion to this work.

Its visual counterpart is the grandiose “Who I am and what I want” (C. Shepherd, D. Shrigley), a seemingly spontaneously conceived autobiography whose tempestuous style comes across as if it had been set down on paper (Flash?) with a black ball-point pen in one uninterrupted session of creativity.



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