Thursday, 16 December 2010
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
'After opening with naked people being herded into a truck to be gassed, director Roy Andersson then enters the dull world of a Swedish real estate broker, telling the man's story in short, static blackouts. An attempt "to show the spirit of the times," this early 1990s short takes on everything from the high cost of housing to corporate logos on athletes.' (James A. Stewart).
Although this isn't an animation, i took out a DVD of European short films from the library. I absolutely love the cinematography and acting in this film, making you feel really awkward and creating an surreal mood. Often the actors look directly act you through the lens and the protagonist's lack of emotion and feelings really works in this piece. The soundtrack accompanied the visuals and editing perfectly, whilst the beginning shot was a brilliantly deep and emotional reconstruction of scenes from the war. Overall, is a brilliant piece of cinema that does everything right. Unfortunately this embedded video is only 9 minutes, when the actual film is 14 minutes, but it gives you a good idea of how well this film works.
Monday, 13 December 2010
'Jan Svankmajer's animation, which begins with a reading of the Lewis Carroll poem, is "almost a textbook illustration of Freud," according to commentator Peter Haynes. Meant to "interact with a viewer's subconscious," it shows a surreal playroom where the toys come alive.' (James A. Stewart).
Jabberwocky, is a beautiful example of how visuals and audio can accompany each other so well. With its uncanny use of dolls and childrens' toys, Jabberwocky, is a weird and wonderful animation. I particularly loved the character Svankmajer gives to the toys, and how creepy they were. The cat made me jump everytime even though i knew it was coming, and the doll heads in a stove as well as small dolls penetrating through a bigger doll, made Jabberwocky a strange and surreal watch.
Saturday, 11 December 2010
'Updating a popular children's fable, leading Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer's latest is a compelling and highly contemporary social satire. Inventively combining live action with characteristically macabre stop-motion animation' (Jason Wood, BBC Films).
I finally got to watch Little Otik yesterday, thanks to the recommendation of Alan and Ruben, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Using the set that can be recognised in his 'Down in the Cellar' short, as well as some of the same actrs/characters, Little Otik is based on the filktale 'Otesanek' by K J Erben. This 2 hour long film begins with a poor couple who are both infertile unable to have a baby. One day the man pulls a tree root from the ground and sees a baby like figure in there, deciding to further enhance that idea by cutting the extra roots to make it more baby-like. From here-on-in, we switch between the story a little girl reads about Otesanek, almost playing the narrator, and the real life story of the couple which resembles the book.
It takes a little while for Little Otik to get into its stride, with the live action story in the beginning slightly dull and uninteresting. However, this could have been because of my expectations of Svankmajer's work and the fact that i just wanted to see his stop-motion animation in action. So when it finally came around, i wasn't disappointed. This film was really weird, surreal and scary throughout, but the best examples of this were in the stopmotion animation. Svankmajer does really well to bring the 'tree stump' to life as Little Otik causes mass destruction, eating everything and anything. In particular, the mouth of Little Otik was so scary and the paedophile gave me the creeps, again. The little was so strange and uncanny, reading about sexual dysfunctions, which i'm pretty sure isn't a normal thing for a young girl. Overall, Little Otik has an enticing story, uncanny characters, a baby-like tree stump and more masterclass examples of Svankmajer's stopmotion animation. So if that's not enough to make you want to watch it, i don't know what is.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
- Danse Macabre (Dance of the Dead) by Saint-Saens.
- The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
I've already started to look into the first two ideas and already i can see why Alan has suggested these. I should be able to apply my previous dark ideas from my previous research into these adaptations nicely. In particular, i love this idea of 'Dance of the Dead' which is probably my favourite idea at the moment. Getting my head down with a lot of research and pre-production work now, will definitely benefit me coming into the 10 weeks of the project.
Monday, 6 December 2010
The tectures and monotones in pieces like this would be extremely interesting to bring into Maya and CG models.
This image really reminds me of Metropolis. This image was the one that sparked up ideas of a vast city, which could imply the heads in the buildings are gods, rulers of the city.
The structure of this building reminds me of cathedrals, which i think could be really intricately designed using this idea of bones. Imagine a cathedral based on Giger's work and designs, who wouldn't want to visit that place.
This reminds me of a scene with elders, of high importance, having a meeting.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Saturday, 4 December 2010
In the introduction i've tried to explain, using appropriate quotes, that Postmodernism is a difficult topic and one that isn't necessarily understood or accepted. I've then written about what i aim to tackle in the essay, elaborating on the question.
What is Hyperreality?
In this section i've tried to use appropriate quotes and examples to help the reader understand what hyperreality is. In this case i've used Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco's example of Disneyland to put hyperreality into a real life context to help the reader understand what the essay is tackling.
Plato’s cave relation to The Matrix:
This section shows how we can draw the ideas of hyppereality back to the work of Plato/Socrates. Comparing the example that Plato uses in his book, The Republic, to the film in question, The Matrix. I have also used quotes from the film that i feel match what Plato is describing in his book, elaborating on the connection.
Jean Baudrillard References in The Matrix:
In this section i move onto breaking The Matrix down into the three orders of Simulacra by Baudrillard, suggesting an example from each order that i believe can be found in the film. I then moved onto Baudrillard's story of the people living in the map version of their own world, whilst the real world deteriorates as a comparison the the story of the Matrix, suggesting that it isn't too disimilar from Baudrillard's example, especially considering they even quote him in the film.
Disney’s Celebration Town in comparison to The Matrix:
This final section uses a real world example, Celebration Town, to pose help argue the point that we are in fact caught up in the simulacrum, living in a real life Matrix. In this particular example you can compare the corporates behind Disney to the agents in the film, keeping the inhabitants in order and control through a system which has been constructed by themselves.
In my conclusion i summarise my research and conclude my side of the argument, again, posing the question, Are we victims of simulacrum, consumed by a real life Matrix? and asking the reader to really consider the question at hand based on the points shown.
I could only embed the German version of the video for some reason, but here's another brilliant example of turning the dead into something fun and musical. It still keeps an eerie and creepy feeling because of the skeletons and dead characters, but the musical element, in particular the skeletons using each other as instruments, works really well in creating an overall fun and entertaining sequence. Again, this is something that i'm aiming to achieve amidst the depths of hell.
Friday, 3 December 2010
So here it is:
Are we victims of simulacrum, consumed by a real life 'Matrix'?
The particular part of this animation that i'm interested in, even though it's all amazing, is the middle section in hell. This idea of an 'entertaining' hell is definitely what i wanted to do, something very musical and fun, but at the same time still poses the haunting nature of hell. I think it's very interesting that hell is dominated by reds, which is also a royal and regal colour used in theatre a lot.
Here are some of the doodles i've been doing. Most of them are quite dark and devil/hell related as this is something i'd like to do for the Transcription project. They're not really based on anything in particular, but i'm sure there are some underlying influences in there somewhere. I just posted them because i often do interesting doodles, and then they get thrown away or forgotten, when it's quite easy to just archve them on here... so that's what i did...
This one's been on the back burner for a while and i've only just decided to watch it for the first time. Just the thought of mentioning the Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer in the same piece of work, for me anyway, is a heavenly one, although i'm not sure their pieces of work would be allowed passed the heavenly gates. The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer wasn't the easiest animation to understand, however, for the beatifully detailed and stylised environments and unique characters, it's definitely worth a watch. You may recognise some of the pieces from previous Svankmajer animations as well as the doll, which has a similar resemblance to one of the Brothers Quay's previous pieces of work. Straight away, you are able to spot an animation from the Brothers Quay, and this animation is no exception, integrating everything we have come to expect from them. Despite my lack of understanding of what was happening, The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer is worth watching for the wonderful characters and environments alone.
Here it is:
His soul arrives in Heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.
'Welcome to Heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems
there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts,
you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'
'No problem, just let me in,' says McCain. 'I've got the experience."
'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is
have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose
where to spend eternity.'
'Really, I've made up my mind. I'm supposed to be in Heaven,' he says.
'I'm sorry, Senator McCain, but we have our rules.'
And with that, St. Peter escorts the senator to the elevator, and he
goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and McCain finds himself
in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse,
and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians
who had worked with him.
Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him,
shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while
getting rich at the expense of the people.
They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar,
Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy
who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a
good time that before John McCain realizes it, it is time to go.
Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens. St. Peter is
waiting for him and says. 'Now it's time to visit Heaven.'
So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls
moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp, singing, and feeding
each other. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24
hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.
'Well, then, you've spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now
choose your eternity.'
The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would
never have said it before, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I
think I would be better off in Hell.'
So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and McCain goes down, down,
down to Hell.
Now the doors of the elevator open. John McCain finds himself in the
middle of a barren, hot land covered with the stench of garbage,
pollutants, and radioactive waste.
He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and
putting it in black bags as more trash and pollution fall from above.
The Devil comes over and puts his arm around John's shoulder.
'I don't understand,' McCain stammers. 'Yesterday I was here and there
was a golf course and clubhouse. We ate lobster and caviar, drank
champagne, and danced, and we had a great time. Now there's just a
wasteland of death, and my friends look miserable. What happened?'
The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were
Today you voted.
Thursday, 2 December 2010
- INTRODUCTION (200 words)
- MAIN BODY (1600 words):
- WHAT IS MODERNISM?
- HOW DID MODERNISM INFLUENCE POSTMODERNISM?
- WHAT IS POSTMODERNISM?
- WHAT IS HYPERREALITY?
- PLATO'S CAVE AND THE MATRIX.
- JEAN BAUDRILLARD IN THE MATRIX.
- CELEBRATION TOWN AND THE MATRIX.
- CONCLUSION (200 words)
I still feel like one or two things might be changed or removed before my hand-in because of my word count being quite high. But i'll have to see how things go...
'one of the most expressive short films ever made, a barely animated anxiety attack about a small girl, an infinite cellar, and a potato bin.' (Michael Atkinson, Village Voice).
This was one of Ruben's suggestions, as well as The Little Otik, and i'm glad i took the time to watch this one because it was well worth it. Despite not being an animation all the way through, Down to the Cellar, takes Svankmajer's usual surreal and eerie work and puts it into a combined live action and stop motion. It had everything you wouldn't want to find down in a cellar and plays with the innocence of the little girl to make things even more creepy. We have a paedophile, a crazy lady making cakes from dirt, shoes behaving like animals and a black cat that chases after you, who i right frame of mind would dare to go down there, just for a sack of potatos. Definitely one of the most surreal and creepiest pieces of work i've seen yet, even by Svankmajer's standards.
'Updating a popular children's fable, leading Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer's latest is a compelling and highly contemporary social satire. Inventively combining live action with characteristically macabre stop-motion animation, Svankmajer's fourth feature, after "Alice", "Faust", and "Conspirators of Pleasure", may also be his best.' (Jason Wood, BBC Movies).
One Night in City by Jan Balej:
'Intricate stop-motion animation is brought to bear on a trio of bleak, surreal parables in the dyspeptic horror toon "One Night in One City." Fastidiously, imaginatively detailed model work springs from the mind of 48-year-old animator Jan Balej. At the far deep end of the most adult pool, item is suitable for specialty fests, midnight sidebars, liberal-minded cablers and avant-garde DVD labels.' (Eddie Cockrell, Variety.com).
'A self-contained, if rather obscure film which is nonetheless outstandingly skilled and imaginative. Loosely inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh, the film transforms the story into a macabre tale told with grotesque models and a theatrical mise en scène in which savage, vindictive machines whirr, slice, decapitate and imprison the unwary. It has the cold articulation of malignancy and evil commonly associated with the horrific fantasies of children's stories and games.' (BFI Shorts Catalogue).
The Epic of Gilgamesh is another perfect example of the Quay Brother's brilliant ability to create unique and detailed environments and scenes. Despite being unable to fully understand everything that goes on in this animation, it is the beauty of the environment and puppets that makes this short animation so magical. I love the small details even in the mechanics of the wall, and the clown-like Gilgamesh and bird puppets are strikingly unique and memorable. The Epic of Gilgamesh is another masterclass example of surreal and eerie stop motion animation, by The Brothers quay, that is so wonderfully constructed and animated, that despite a lack of understanding for the narrative, the visual aesthetic and art direction drive the animation perfectly.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Here's a few of the short animations from Cowboys:
Write about the specific question.
- Essay Body (1600 words):
- What is Modernism? (Understanding Modernism)
- How did Modernism influence Postmodernism? (Understanding Modernism)
- What is Postmodernism? (Understanding Postmodernism)
- What are Hyperreality and Metaphysics? (Understanding Hyperreality and Metaphysics)
- Plato's Cave comparison to The Matrix (Ancient Philosophical reference)
- Jean Baudrillard in The Matrix (Theorist Reference)
- Disney's 'Celebration' Town comparison to The Matrix (Modern day reference)
- International Flavours and Fragrances comparison to The Matrix (Modern day reference)
- Conclusion (200 words):
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Tom Walker is a greedy and selfish miser of a man who cherishes money more than he does his equally miserly wife. They lived in a forlorn looking house, that had stood long and had an air of starvation. This is until he takes a walk in the swamp at an old Indian fortress and starts up a conversation with the Devil incarnate (referred to as "Old Scratch" in the story). "Scratch" is shown as a lumberjack chopping down trees, each with a prominent and wealthy colonialist name branded on the tree trunk. One rotted and soon to fallen tree has the name of a deacon who grew wealthy "trading" with the Indians. Another fallen trunk has that of a wealthy seaman rumored to be a pirate. Old Scratch strikes up a deal with Tom Walker: he offers the riches hidden in the swamp by Captain Kidd in exchange for Tom's soul. Tom agrees to think about it, and returns home.
Burdened with this secret, he mentions it to his wife. When he is not there, Tom's wife takes all the valuables in the house and goes to make a deal with Old Scratch. When Tom goes in search of his wife and property, all he can find of her is her heart and liver in her apron tied to a tree.
Tom Walker then agrees to the deal with Old Scratch, as his wife had been abusive towards him and he considered her death at the hand of Old Scratch a good thing. Tom agrees to become a loan shark, although Tom has "scruples" in not becoming a slave trader.
Tom never tires of swindling people out of money, until he suddenly becomes fearful about the afterlife. He then starts to become fiercely dedicated to God, always keeping two Bibles at hand.
When, one day, a person who had borrowed money from him and is asking for clemency blames Tom for taking his money. Tom says, "The Devil take me if I have made but a farthing!" At this time, there are three loud knocks at the door. Tom is drawn towards the black-cloaked figure and realizes, in horror, that he has left his Bibles at his desk.
Tom Walker is then taken away by the Devil on the back of a black horse and is never seen again. All his assets vanished and his house burned to the ground. The Ghost of Walker then haunts the site of the old fort.
Baudrillard suggests that the world we live in has been replaced by a copy world, where we seek simulated stimuli and nothing more.
“…his postmodern universe is one of hyperreality in which entertainment, information, and communication technologies provide experiences more intense and involving than the scenes of banal everyday life, as well as the codes and models that structure everyday life. The realm of the hyperreal (e.g., media simulations of reality, Disneyland and amusement parks, malls and consumer fantasylands, TV sports, and other excursions into ideal worlds) is more real than real, whereby the models, images, and codes of the hyperreal come to control thought and behavior…
…In other words, an individual in a postmodern world becomes merely an entity influenced by media, technological experience, and the hyperreal…”
Hyperreality is ‘More real than real…’
The character of Neo is woken up to the fact that the reality that he’s lliving in, is actually a construct. He’s living in a simulation. And then we find out that the real world is actually this dystopian nightmare.
The world that we take for granted is a copy; a simulation. Baudrillard is suggesting the world we live in is nothing more than an unreal world, that is interrogative which allows us to believe it is real.
THE TRUMAN SHOW:
It was about someone trying to get back to the truth; someone trying to break through the simulation; someone trying to actually get their head into the real world.
Postmodern minds try to get away from the constructed world to see it as it is.
‘Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulacra. It is first of all a play of illusions and phantasms: the Pirates, the Frontier, the Future World… Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the “real” country… Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality… but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real…’
We know that Disneyland is artificial, it’s a big fantasy place full of European castles. But he argues that all of America is in fact an illusion; it’s all as constructed. It’s just that because Disneyland is clearly hyperreal, we look at Las Angeles and popular culture etc as being concrete and true. He’s arguing that everything is constructed, that everything has moved into a simulation.
Umberto Eco (1932-Present).
“… once the "total fake" is admitted, in order to be enjoyed it must seem totally real. So the Polynesian restaurant will have, in addition to a fairly authentic menu, Tahitian waitresses in costume, appropriate vegetation, rock walls with little cascades, and once you are inside nothing must lead you to suspect that outside there is anything but Polynesia… And if in the wax museums wax is not flesh, in Disneyland, when rocks are involved, they are rock, and water is water… When there is a fake hippopotamus, dinosaur, sea serpent it is not so much because it wouldn't be possible to have the real equivalent but because the public is meant to admire the perfection of the fake and its obedience to the program… A real crocodile can be found in the zoo, and as a rule it is dozing or hiding, but Disneyland tells us that faked nature corresponds much more to our daydream demands. When, in the space of twenty-four hours, you go… from the fake New Orleans of Disneyland to the real one, and from the wild river of Adventureland to a trip on the Mississippi, where the captain of the paddle-wheel steamer says it is possible to see alligators on the banks of the river, and then you don't see any, you risk feeling homesick for Disneyland, where the wild animals don't have to be coaxed. Disneyland tells us that technology can give us more reality than nature can…”
He is discussing how Disneyland makes the world even more vivid than the world is. The problem is that when we’ve been to Disneyland, and we’ve seen nature perfected; when we’ve seen environments at their most perfect, the world that we live in starts to feel less by comparison; the real world that surrounds us starts to feel disappointing, bland and banal.
‘The pleasure of imitation, as the ancients knew, is one of the most innate in the human spirit; but here we not only enjoy a perfect imitation, we also enjoy the conviction that imitation has reached its apex and afterwards reality will always be inferior to it…’
So this made up reality starts to feel superior and preferable to the world in which we actually live.
DISNEY’S ‘CELEBRATION’ TOWN, FLORIDA:
‘Just outside Disney World, in Florida, you will find the spankingly ever-sowired, futuristic new town of Celebration - the one satirized in the film Shrek. Celebration was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself. He wanted to create a town with a sense of community and cleanliness…
…one clue that there is something a little peculiar about Celebration is that it looks scarily like the suburb that imprisoned Jim Carrey in The Truman Show… Another is the constant hype that Celebration is ‘real’…
… But what really casts doubt on the reality of the place is the way it pretends to some kind of permanence. Most of the homes are designed in turn-of-the century
style, like almost every Disney film you’ve ever seen. The shops have signs with bogus foundation dates like ‘since 1905’ when actually everything is less than five years old. It is designed to give a timeless sense of what smalltown America used to be like - or should have been like… Muzak is piped from speakers built into the roots of the palm trees in the streets…
Disney’s brochures call it a ‘hopscotch-and-tag neighborhood to be viewed from a front porch swing’ and a ‘special place for families … in a time of innocence.’
‘…When some of the families involved decided to pack up and leave, Disney offered to waive the rule that they couldn’t profit from the sale if they left in less than a year - but only on condition they signed a contract promising never to reveal their reasons for wanting to go…
… There are whole phone directories full of rules for residents… These can’t be changed, even by the elected Homeowners’ Association, without the written approval of the company. All power remains behind the scenes with Disney for as long as they want it…’
So this is a real town for real people but actually the truth is that there are rules. To maintain that perfection, certain things have to be managed and taken care of.
‘When people today talk about the real thing… they often mean something old-fashioned. They mean ‘real’ linen sheets or ‘real’ country villages with thatched roofs, of ‘real’ meals of roast beef… The trouble with that kind of real is that it harks back to days where authenticity was bought, either at great expense, or by misusing
women or black people or poor people, to provide these so-called ‘real’ things…
There’s a worrying extreme conservatism that lurks behind this. There are those who believe that an ‘authentic’ English town means that only people of Anglo-Saxon descent live there…’
Where do we get the idea of what is real?
For some people real was actually about suppressing the rights of others. So that real was just a construct, it was just a set of ideas by someone else to present the world in a particular way.
Truth is the one thing that we cannot rely on anymore.
“We live, not inside reality, but inside our representations of it.”
“According to Baudrillard what has happened in postmodern culture is that our society has become so reliant on models and maps [images] that we have lost all contact with the real world that preceded the map.
In his essay, he uses as a metaphor, the story of people who build a full sized map of their world and then they decide not to live in the world, but to live in the map version of the world. And while they’re living in the map version of the world, the real world crumbles and deteriorates. So they move from the reality into the simulation. He uses this to suggest that, that is what we are doing all the time, we are moving away from what is real into existing in a simulation. His problem is that we no longer know the difference between the two things.
“Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world… It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real.
Baudrillard is not merely suggesting that postmodern culture is artificial, because the concept of artificiality still requires some sense of reality against which to recognize the artifice. His point… is that we have lost all ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice.”
He [Baudrillard] argues that there are three "orders of simulacra":
1) in the first order of simulacra… the image is a clear counterfeit of the real;
the image is recognized as just an illusion, a place marker for the real.
2) in the second order of simulacra… the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down because of mass production and the proliferation of copies. Such production misrepresents and masks an underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it. However, there is still a belief that, through critique or effective political action, one can still access the hidden fact of the real.
3) in the third order of simulacra, which is associated with the postmodern age, we are confronted with a precession of simulacra; that is, the representation precedes and determines the real. There is no longer any distinction between reality and its representation; there is only the simulacrum.
We now think this simulation is the world, and real.
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOURS AND FRAGRANCES INC:
It’s there job to ensure the food we eat tastes like we expect it to. They give us the flavours and smells that we associate with real things.
Based on their based about savoury:
“Succulent beef, delicate chicken, and tangy cheese lead the way for IFF’s family of savoury flavour profiles… Whatever your product segment, IFF’s outstanding savoury meat, tomato, dairy, seafood, and vegetable flavours deliver the true taste, aroma, and mouthfeel for every consumer preference.”
Notice the use of the word true in ‘true taste’. This isn’t a company dealing with the reality of food, this isn’t someone giving us a steak, it’s someone giving us a hyper experience of steak; what we would imagine steak to taste like. Recall the scene in The Matrix where they can’t choose between porridge or a fake steak. The idea is, is it a steak if it tastes like a steak.
Since i've been watching a fair few animations recently, i've become particularly interested in Czech and Eastern European Stop motion and short animations. I'm really fascinated by the dark and surreal tones and moods in their work and i find them very stylistic and visual pleasing. This is definitely something i'd like to consider doing, possibly using a folktale or adult fairytale to create a very dark, stylistic and visually pleasing short animation. Two possible characters that come to mind are the devil, which is always fascinating to try and visualise as a dark character and Death, who poses another fascination in terms of character design. I particular like this idea of selling your soul, and with the devil in particular, i like the idea of attempting to visualise hell in a surrealist's way. This is definitely something i'm going to look into, and i'm sure there's many art works that i can drawon for inspiration.
We are commissioned to create a transcribed piece or work of our own choice, transforming an abstract source into a visual form – For example this could be Music to Music Video, Music to Animated Short, Text (Novel or Short Story) to Character Design, Text (Novel or Short Story) to Animated Short etc. This piece should be of an appropriate length (2-3 minutes) and we are asked to produce a pipeline of work from pre-production to production to post-production. We are also asked to provide a 'Making of...' document, a technical paper and a demo reel as well as maintaining our progress on the blog and continuing to develop our personal identities and brands.
Alice is a 1988 Czech surrealist fantasy film by Jan Švankmajer. It retells Lewis Carroll's first 'Alice' book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in Švankmajer's unique style. The film combines live action with stop motion animation. The movie is considered a cult movie. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.8 out of 10 based on 13 reviews.
Monday, 29 November 2010
Although the story in this animation is very strange and surreal, it doesn't take away from the wonderful cg and character design. I love the textures in the animation and the designs of the characters are very bold and memorable.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Inside the cave
Socrates begins by describing a scenario in which what people take to be real would in fact be an illusion. He asks Glaucon to imagine a cave inhabited by prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since childhood: not only are their arms and legs held in place, but their heads are also fixed, compelled to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which people walk carrying things on their heads "including figures of men and animals made of wood, stone and other materials". The prisoners watch the shadows cast by the men, not knowing they are shadows. There are also echoes off the wall from the noise produced from the walkway.
Socrates suggests the prisoners would take the shadows to be real things and the echoes to be real sounds, not just reflections of reality, since they are all they had ever seen or heard. They would praise as clever whoever could best guess which shadow would come next, as someone who understood the nature of the world, and the whole of their society would depend on the shadows on the wall.
Release from the cave
Socrates next introduces something new to this scenario. Suppose that a prisoner is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows, he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be more real than what he sees.
"Suppose further," Socrates says, "that the man was compelled to look at the fire: wouldn't he be struck blind and try to turn his gaze back toward the shadows, as toward what he can see clearly and hold to be real? What if someone forcibly dragged such a man upward, out of the cave: wouldn't the man be angry at the one doing this to him? And if dragged all the way out into the sunlight, wouldn't he be distressed and unable to see "even one of the things now said to be true," viz. the shadows on the wall?
After some time on the surface, however, Socrates suggests that the freed prisoner would acclimate. He would see more and more things around him, until he could look upon the Sun. He would understand that the Sun is the "source of the seasons and the years, and is the steward of all things in the visible place, and is in a certain way the cause of all those things he and his companions had been seeing".
Return to the cave
Socrates next asks Glaucon to consider the condition of this man. "Wouldn't he remember his first home, what passed for wisdom there, and his fellow prisoners, and consider himself happy and them pitiable? And wouldn't he disdain whatever honors, praises, and prizes were awarded there to the ones who guessed best which shadows followed which? Moreover, were he to return there, wouldn't he be rather bad at their game, no longer being accustomed to the darkness? "Wouldn't it be said of him that he went up and came back with his eyes corrupted, and that it's not even worth trying to go up? And if they were somehow able to get their hands on and kill the man who attempts to release and lead up, wouldn't they kill him?"
Remarks on the allegory
Socrates remarks that this allegory can be taken with what was said before, viz. the metaphor of the Sun, and the divided line. In particular, he likens
"the region revealed through sight" – the ordinary objects we see around us – "to the prison home, and the light of the fire in it to the power of the Sun. And in applying the going up and the seeing of what's above to the soul's journey to the intelligible place, you not mistake my expectation, since you desire to hear it. A god doubtless knows if it happens to be true. At all events, this is the way the phenomena look to me: in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful – in the visible realm it gives birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence – and that the man who is going to act prudently in private or in public must see it".
After "returning from divine contemplations to human evils", a man "is graceless and looks quite ridiculous when – with his sight still dim and before he has gotten sufficiently accustomed to the surrounding darkness – he is compelled in courtrooms or elsewhere to contend about the shadows of justice or the representations of which they are the shadows, and to dispute about the way these things are understood by men who have never seen justice itself?"
Fimfárum Jana Wericha was directed by Aurel Klimt and Vlasta Pospísilová in 2002 which presents five independent stories deriving from Czech folktale. The first of these, "When Leaves Fall from the Oak," tells of how a drunken peasant makes a deal with the devil, whom that man subsequently outwits. The second, "Fearless Frankie," relates how the father of a young man who is afraid of nothing arranges for his son to spend a night in a tavern where the spirits of the dead gather to gamble and cavort. The third, "Mean Barbara," revolves around the efforts of various persons to dispose of the body of a miserly old woman. The fourth, "A Dream Fulfilled," is about an elderly farmer who squanders his money playing the lottery, and the last tale, "Fimfárum," centers on a blacksmith with a scheming, unfaithful wife who is forced to perform a variety of impossible tasks.
Fimfarum is beautifully visual example of traditional puppetry and stop-motion anitaion which has been combined with some strange but interesting Czech folktale. In particular, the environments are very surreal and artistic, which combined with the strange and uncanny puppets create very interesting worlds. However, i would have liked to have seen a darker art direction on these stories as they are very light hearted. One story In particular, "When Leaves Fall from the Oak", which deals with the devil and we see the character go through hell, doesn't have enough vigour and conviction in its exuction of art direction. I really felt the animators could have gone to town with the style and visual aesthetic of these scenes. However, i did like their interpretation of hell, which did have some artistic style. Overall, i loved the short Czech animations mainly because theyre completely different to the kinds of folktale we are used to and the puppetry was wonderful to watch, with beautifully simplistic environments, models and characters.