Tag Archives: animation

back to school // back to reality

Summer is over, and it is time to go back to school. I graduated from Carleton last spring (an event, oddly enough, about which I continue to have recurring anxiety dreams), but while I am now something like a real adult with a Bachelor’s degree, I am back-to-school as well, in that I am working as the Educational Associate (also known, colloquially, as “5th Year”) for the Carleton’s Cinema and Media Studies department. This is a one-year position, and basically entails managing the filmmaking, audio, and media equipment, assisting the faculty in a variety of ways, and (hopefully) expanding a series of evening technology and cinema studies workshops, labs, and seminars that I am calling “CinemaTechs.” So at least for my first year of frightened post-collegiate existentialism, I am somehow lucky enough to have gainful employment in my field (and in the exact department where I became relatively qualified in my field!). That’s a lot to be excited about — and on top of that, there are some pretty awesome film-art-related opportunities coming into my life as a result of my role in the CAMS department (which I will write about in due course, as they arise).

Brief back-pedal to summer. In a (completely non-exhaustive) list, Summer 2012 for me as a perceiver and a creator consisted of: reading and listening to John Cage, discovering the joys of collaboration with a non-filmmaker artist (my sculptor friend Eliza), interpreting Debussy on film, revisiting phenomenology (David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous), shooting an indie feature called Lucidity, studying sound design//ProTools, finally watching Lar’s von Trier’s Melancholia and feeling no particular sadness in response to it, and developing a debilitating addiction to the song “Payphone” by Maroon 5. All that, and the privilege of slowing the pace of my often overcommitted and crazy lifestyle to explore Minneapolis with my wonderful girlfriend Gwen.

Reading David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous on the set of our indie film, Lucidity.

But to return to this idea that my job at Carleton is presenting me with some pretty sweet opportunities — one such is to continue to audit courses at the college, and I have jumped at the chance to take CAMS 286: Animation.

Thus far, Animation is taking me completely out of my depth, in a way that isn’t scary, but is rather enthralling and full of potential — we’ve begun the course with a return to the physicality of media, a thing that sometimes gets lost in the digital age of cinema. Our first exercise was to create a 5 second hand-made film on 16mm. I did mine on black leader, using pushpins to scratch Japanese kanji characters into the malleable, dust-producing, physical film itself, beginning what I hope will be a love and fruitful love affair with the medium. (Digitization forthcoming, I hope!) Our second exercise was a hand-drawn cel animation that linked together 48 transforming frames by each member of the class to create a minute’s worth of metamorphosing images, which (in my capacity as 5th Year) I compiled into a little video which you can check out on Vimeo!

As a filmmaker who fancies herself an ‘artist’, this return to the physical stuff of the world in my creation is suddenly and palpably addictive; and something about listening to Murakami Haruki’s A Wild Sheep Chase at 3am, drawing cel after cel of a squirrel transforming into Sir John Cage puts me in a delicious post-modern meditative state. There is a strange balance struck between a clearing of the mind and a productive fixation of the mind on certain ideas and feelings that such a repetitive, detailed activity allows.

Perhaps animation, or any more physical, slow-paced form of filmmaking (like handmade 16mm scratch films) is a perfect mode of production for an artist who also wants to be a theorist — a way to create physical real art and to think abstract complex//simple thoughts at the same time, through finding some synchronicity between these thinking and making processes.

まだキラキラ!

Or, as the title says, I’m still glow-basking.  Last night, I attended a film talk with three of the main members of CALF Animation, a recently formed independent animation collective in Japan.  Beyond being a great discussion and a chance to hear from Mizue Mirai, Doi Nobuaki, and Nagata Takeshi in person, it meant that I was suddenly sitting in a room with two people I have ‘known’ through the internet for ages but have never met in real life.

This light-painting animation by Tochka reveals another facet of the festival - a major focus on raising awareness and relief funds for the victims of the recent crises in Japan.

Although I didn’t realize it before sitting down and pulling out my laptop to take notes, the film talk was being moderated by Cathy Munroe Hotes, whose blog Nishikata Film Review I have been following since I attended the Kyoto Media Arts Festival last fall.  And then, when they opened it up to questions from the floor, JASPER SHARP raised his hand.  I actually wrote in my notes:

I AM IN THE SAME ROOM AS JASPER SHARP!!!!!!!!”

He is a major contributor to KineJapan, but more importantly, the mastermind of Midnight Eye, which is basically THE online Japanese Cinema journal/website.  I’ve been reading it for ages, I’ve cited him in papers…so realizing I was within 15 feet of its illustrious author was a bit like seeing Justin Bieber last month, only way more academic and legit.  The excitement one can have over finally encountering the index of someone’s digital self, of seeing someone in real life who you had only ever conceived of through the means of the internet and virtual interactions, reflects in a very interesting way on the post-modern sort-of-dichotomy between digital and ‘real’ selves — or rather, the inescapable intertwining of the two.

So, having seen Jasper Sharp and Cathy Munroe Hotes, now to find Tom Mes, who also runs Midnight Eye and is as iconic in my mind as Jasper Sharp, is one of the jury members for the competing films here.  I haven’t seen him yet, but I’ve got a day and a half left…for SO MUCH GEEKING OUT.