Monday, October 30, 2006

OpenEnded Group

This is a New Media inspirational Monday piece. When I went up to Toronto last week I got to run around the big city maze while collecting morsels of data and brainfuzz. But, it wasn't until this weekend that I got to sit down and cut OpenEnded Group from the pages of the newest Print Magazine. In it, the embassador of animation, John Canemaker, exposes a new chapter in the evolution of the persistance of vision as the form becomes self-aware. The OpenEnded Group is a collaberative between artists Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie. Kaiser and Eshkar have been creating "hand-drawn" 3D spaces for installation projects for dance, theatre, screen and public spaces for the last decade. While Downie came into the fold in 2001 to add artificial intelligence and real-time interfacing to the groups creative arsenal of hi-tech tools. Their works of art bring animation not only into 3D but into the Fourth dimension of Time. Take for example their piece, Biped, it is a visual discourse between dancers and motion captured 3D images, beautifully rendered as gesture drawing come to life, that float and partake in the performance like an echo. In the similar life-giving vein, Ghostcatching (shown above), which removes the physicality of the dancers but captures their afterimage and now brings it fully into and onto the virtual stage.
Enlightenment ,though, not only marks the groups advancement into 'sentient' animation but it is the title of their commisioned piece for the Lincoln's Center, Mostly Mozart Festival. This public installation uses A.I. and real-time graphics to celebrate the genius of Mozart, specifically in his Jupiter coda. Basically, the program analyzes the musical score while trying to recontruct the composition using the rules of counterpoint. Starting off one note at a time the program compares and adds or subtracts notes as it attempts to piece the composition together. As it completes each theme of the composition a visual image is generated on-screen building in complexity with the music. Here is a nice artical and interview about the piece and for the nuts and bolts go here. This 'sentient' animation logically gives birth to a whole new way of interactivity to the image. In their latest work, Playground, virtual children interact according to the viewers actions. Not only can the 'thinking' image, as John Canemaker puts it, interact with the physical presence but with it's own surrounding environment: texture, light, patterns (both physical and abstract) and most importantly time! This sets into motion a new dynamic responsive world for you and I to observe, participate, react to and affect. What we are witnessing is the virtual "Lucy" in an Open-Ended progress of becoming an active viewer instead of a passive observer.

Hold onto yer seats kiddies because the Emperor is standing in front of a green screen and has no clothes. There is substance to this illusion.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sonic Sunday: Creaking Tree String Quartet

If the 'Creativity' Blues has ya stuck down in a county dirt road rut! Like moi (if ya can't tell from the repetitive writing)...then clear some headspace and down that shot glass for a hit of some spirited sounds from the Creaking Tree String Quartet. The Toronto foursome brought their bluegrass, jazz, folk, classical and roots fusion music to a very small crowd at MacKenzie Hall last night. The ever changing tempos and time signatures slowly and quickly changed the mood from a quiet soberness to knockdown inebriation. Their influences are a mixed concoction of sounds but the style and taste is distinct and all their own. They are not 'Down' with the Mountain but excavating it and giving us a new precipice to look off of. From the opening song of Spacehead to the closing number, these guys didn't let the small turn out (lack of promotion) spoil the pot. Instead, the sound fermented as we got punch-drunk on tunes from their soon to be released third album. This is live music at it's best for me. Too bad there weren't more people there to share the experience with. I know these guys will eventually be back, so be sure to be looking through the smog as this was one gasp of fresh air that left me reeling and an improvisational cure-all for my 'creativity' blues.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Electroshock therapy: Satrapi, WFAC and AH!

Quick hits worth jolting up and saying "Ack, sputter and putang!",

Sneak peek of Marjane Satrapi's award-winning graphic novel, Persepolis, ala feature animation now. The film is to be released in N.A. in the Fall of 2007 and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. There is a production blog by Satrapi here.
(thanx Cartoonbrew!)

The next jolt comes by way of this years Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. Go and see the list of films offered up for your viewing comsumption. There is some great stuff this year as always. The full listings will be posted, as well as the time schedule (I presume) on Nov. 1! Mark it on your calendar and be sure to book a place to stay in advance (if you're planning to go) as I was unable to get a room close by last year at the spur of the moment.
Fimfárum 2--gotta go see it!
Michel Ocelot--modern master!

And lastly, a nice short film I saw on Motionographer last week but haven't had the time to post about it. So, here is AH!, another cool CG short from our virtual pals at Supinfocom. In this instance, nos amis sont
Simon Moreau, Joris Bacquet and Bastien Dubois. Voir le film et bon appetite! Just don't choke on the letters as they come out.
Official website.

John Keane

I can't go mentioning Pascal Campion without giving a loud furball choking soundout to my good mate John Keane who introduced me to his work. Now hailing out of Ottawa, John is working on his first professional comic gig, yeah! Though as I am writing this he may already have suffered a mass hemorrhaging from the mentalness of deadlines, booo! I am positive that you will eventually see John's name on the inside page of a Batman comic so it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to showcase him off before he becomes famous and I'll have to go to weird comic cons to see him. John puts the firecracker under me arse to start drawing so go and set fire to flame and uncork the bottle of Tittelly-poomp!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pascal Campion

I just got back from pulling all my hair, if I had any! Man, the city that I live in SUCKS when it comes to supporting the Arts!! Anyway, I am tired of thinking and talking about it so lets look at something FUN! One slap happy site to bring out that inner Mutley laugh is Pascal Campion. Just the 'Boss Animations' alone unravels the twisted knot of municipal rhetoric that I had to endure at tonights meeting. So unhinge that funny bone and admire the prodigious talent of Campion's site and be sure to juggle your way over to his blog. Nice Flash animation and cartoony characters all wrapped up in a nice colour sense.
Fishbait Kate will eat this up hook, line and sinker when I mention the initial TMBG. Now, your reading this! I shall watch 'Dream on' a few more times as should all of you and then take that dream to the streets or the office!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dupuy and Berberian in Toronto

If I can get up to Toronto this weekend this is where I will be...International Festival of Authors! This year has the French duo of Dupuy and Berberian in attendance who will be interviewed by our national comix treasure, SETH! Monday marked my first week of real life as I am indefinately laid off from my factory job. So, it is very apropos that I am reading Dupuy and Berberian's graphic novel, Get a Life. This book is an excellent primer into the indelible world of Monsieur Jean and the slice of life rumination of his 'big picture'. Which could easily be anyone's 'big picture', if you happen to live in Paris, have a publisher and kids n' stuff. C'est la Vie. Anyway, here is a bio on both of them--Philip Dupuy and Charles Berberian. Also, a truncated interview from the Comics Journal, ici. And finally, hoozah for Drawn and Quarterly for publishing these collaberators of almost 20 years to only just now land on our backwater shores. Santé.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Suzie Templeton

Finally, something to sink our teeth into!! And that is, Suzie Templeton's newest film, Peter and the Wolf! Also, my eyes got even bigger as to better see that the Polish studio Se-Ma-For was huffin' and puffin' with production on this project...(Remember Ichthys)!! Can you imagine seeing this film with a live full orchestra playing with the dense forest imagery of Prokofiev's story unfolding before your eyes!! Just from the trailer alone there is a sense of past, present and impending future that is imbued into the characters. What a great accomplishment by Breakthru films to fund this unique project and pull this out of the woods and onto the stage of the Royal Albert Hall. I don't know if this is the first for an animation to be commisioned for a musical venue as a stand alone entity and not part of a theatrical production?? But, it is a commercial hurdle I wish that could be jumped over more often.

Here is an nice article about this ambitious production with an interview with Suzie. The DVD is due out in November but you can see Suzie and the film at the Bradford Animation Festival (Nov.15-18th)!!

Once again, the mutated third eye of the British animation scene stares between the commercialism of the industry and focuses on the art of animation.
I would eat my way through a crowd of children to see this one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fumbled abstract experiment

When the words "experimental/abstract" are uttered at an animation festival most people would rather hear metal nails scar a chalkboard while receiving a glass shard enema. At this years Ottawa International Animation Festival it was no different, but, for me it is an annual blood-letting that I sadistically look forward to every year. I am like some sort of medieval monk going for his daily leeching to purge himself of his short attention span deficit. This year wasn't short of donations from the audience, however, for me it was sort of a let down. Pes's, Game Over, was in the category and don't get me wrong I really like his work but wasn't there something more than this. Another short film was Gints Apsits's Ministry Mesiah (shown above). Again, this is a cool cloned-Aphex Twin audio driven Inquisition of the Latvian kind but isn't it just a music video? I know that music videos are the 'new experiemental', and for the most part that is true, and they too need to be represented. Granted Gints's film is not a commercial video and I do like some of the collage effects, i.e. the transition to the side profile of the head and the head slicing apart. So what's my problem? Maybe it is because I have seen this before on the 47th floor. But, wasn't _grau by Robert Seidel, that I really enjoyed last year, be considered just a music video too? I guess what it comes down to this year is subjectively there wasn't much that expunged the inner demon that is collecting all my spelling mistakes to make the anti-bunny blog. The stains of last years festival are still bloody fresh in my mind. It seems that this years contenders are just the B-side picks from last year, except for the Lightning Doodle Project (Pikapika) and Jeu by Georges Schwizgiblets...sorry Thanksgiving flashback...Schwizgebel. Who knows? I just can't put my finger on why it felt so hollow this year.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A sure sign of the impending Apocalypse...

Al Columbia actually has his website up and creeping. Now, no one has a reason to not get their arse in gear. Strap the feedbags onto the four horses and wake up the locust as the batsignal has been activated. Biological flakes for your Saturday morning.

Killoffer Burns

This is reason #676 for me to move to Montreal!! Patrice Killoffer and Charles Burns are showing their delectable black stained artwork at Madame Edgar's from Oct. 5th-19th. Aller!
I will move to Montreal...dammit! Even if I have to clone myself to lead a life of debauchery and make nasty with mutant teenagers. Ahhh to dream!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Aurélie Blard-Quintard

Now, something on a lighter note. Hopefully, you have noticed the plethora of new links to the side. I have started to add alot of links that I thought I lost but surprisingly found on an unmarked disk. There are still more to come but here is one that made my day yesterday...
Aurelie Blard-Quintard's
Emily & le hamsterosaurus-Rex!! I have a soft spot (particularly on the top of my head that still bears the thumb print of the Maker, who obviously is a stop motion animator) for clay animation. This is Aurelie's end of year film at what looks like for the University for the West of England. I love this simple story that is brought to life by her great character designs and well executed animation. With a professional polish, this lil' film is a gem. Now go check out Aurelie's blog. Also, I found this short by perusing another gem of a site...The Blackwing Diaries. So, thanx to Jenny for letting this gerbil run frantically on this squeeky blog wheel. String these pearls together and I'll be the purdiest bunny in the room.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mesa di Voce

Well, now that I have hacked up both of my lungs, I can clear my throat and look at the hollow interior that is left. The cavern that remains isn't so much a hole but a gap that separates art and animation. It is a blackness that artificially breathes and bristles with electrodes and sensors that will it into existence. The clicks of switches and the coloured diodes echo and light up the space in between. It is a unique creation that is an interactive hybrid that gives life to performer and machine in an intertwined cacophony with real-time expression. Mesa di Voce is one such installation performance piece that fills the lungs and reaches up through the vocal chords to vibrate the sound and give it visual representation. It is a canvas that uses technology (motion sensors) to capture the vocal noises and positions of the singers who in turn control the image with his/her own voice. In essence the sound becomes the brush, albeit, a brush that has been artfully crafted by the coders. It is this symbiotic relationship between these two disciplines that a sight specific, impermanent, organic and mechanized form of expression is created. It is this dynamic, ever-changing entity that is called 'new media' that breathes excitement back into the my bones. I have talked occasionally about this subject...Gregory Barsamian, Knowbotic Research, Amit Pitaru and Visual Music. Now, I have updated my links on the side and added a 'new media' category. Please explore. I want to thank George Griffin, Rose Bond, Jeff Scher, Munro Ferguson and Lorelei Pepi for their inspiration panel discussion about this topic. Thanx to Lorelei in particular for exposing the fresh air of Jaap Blonk and Joan La Barbara. Now if only site specific work could be seen at the OIAF. There is the OAG and SAW gallery in the same bloody building. It's like screaming at a mind. Don't forget to view the video clips of this performance.