This Friday, 2nd of November, I visited The Strand X to see the Strange Days: Memories of the Future, a new exhibition that includes 21 videos produced by different film-makers.
The works in “Strange Days” emphasize a fractured sense of time: history collides with the present, and future speculations are vexed by a distant past. It aims to show the expand definitions of identity, vulnerability and power.
Despite many great films in the exhibition, I looked into the one called Grosse Fatigue particularly, as the animation effects applied to this film really interested me. This video is produced by Camille Henrot in 2013. It seems the artist attempts to not only understand the chaos of history, but also visualize this disarray.
In this film, a lot of layers of browser research windows are open on the screen along with a long rap, those windows are placed in various ways, they are overlapped, reshaped, centralized, zoomed in, zoomed out, etc. Henrot is also using the collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC for which she received the Silver Lion at 55th Venice Biennale. And all of these special formats of film-making has made the video very fluid and enjoyable. Also, the sound effect is just fitted for the frames. Every time a window shows up or slides away, it gives you a sudden feel of appearing and disappearing.
Henrot’s faceless protagonist guides us through the museum without a terminal goal, browsing with the same freedom, if not the same aimlessness, as time spent online. However, Grosse Fatigue evades hopelessness in the face of the weight of human knowledge, whether in the museum or in more virtual archives. Highlighting the limitations of various disciplines, meta-narratives, and creation myths, Henrot also demonstrates the ways in which we necessarily navigate, appropriate, and amalgamate these systems in order to understand our world.
Besides, Henrot follows anthropologists, conservators, and office workers as they reveal the organizational structure of the institution, with its drawers of taxidermy animal specimens, computer archives, and office corridors. These mundane physical and architectural frameworks that constructed to contain an incomprehensible body of knowledge, are ultimately only able to describe isolated areas of human experience and achievement. Science, history, ancient and modern myth, religion, art, anthropology – there are so many of them squeezed in this 13-mintue video, almost giving us information explosion in our heads, and every single frame is thought-provoking.
In conclusion, the video has really lead me into the interesting part of history chaos by telling the story of the universe’s creation from a computer desktop and using collections of animal bodies. Grosse Fatigue is a curious hymn to foundation and creation, but above all to death and extinction. In addition, we can see a lot of researching and building up work behind this video and how the artist has using her divergent thinking to link all of the information together. As a whole, Strange Days is a very inspiring and exhilarating exhibition that I would strong recommend people to visit.
Who is the audience?:
Animal lovers, the elderly, people who follow animal videos online, abuse victims, spiritual people.
What is their story?:
They are people looking for animal comfort in an unforgiving human world.
Where are they? Where do they come from? Where are they going?:
We travel to them from our festival base, visiting retirement homes and therapy centers.
What have they been through? What do they know? What don’t they know?:
They’ve been through trauma, some are lonely and want time with either the animals or need a reason to spend time with family like this event.
They know that the animals have not been harmed during any film shoots.
They don’t know what the films are about other than the categories.
The people can feed the animals if they bring their own food.
The categories will vary from each event but will generally involve bringing awareness to animal abuse and showing the beauty of animals, possibly exploring the world either through the animals eyes or the hidden parts of their lives we never see.
In this seminar, we started with a discussion about a few definations of animation and learnt about “persistence of vision”. Then we went through the brief history of old forms of animation. It’s interesting to know how early that animation has actually been created in the world, and we can still see a few of the early animation tools such as Zoetrope in some museums.
After that, we watched several early animations, including Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895), L’ Arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat (1897) and A Trip to the Moon (1902). We looked intoA Trip to the Moon specifically and tried to think about its meaning in depth.
The story is simple, a group of people who might be astronauts traveled to the moon with a cannon, and fighted with some strange creatures (or Aliens?) live in the moon.
Since the visual effects haven’t been mature during the production of A Trip to the Moon, it has used an older technique – special effects. Although the special effects in the film seems to be very simple and crude for us to see nowadays, I could image how surprise that people live in 1900s would be by watching that film. Since techniques at that time haven’t been popularly used in film production, they might find the effects in the movie really dramatic.
This film also reminds me of the film Star Wars (1977), which is famous for its amazing visual effects. As new series have been produced with more developed techniques, people start to realize how basic the earlier ones are.
In A Trip to the Moon, we can see there are many artwork included, used for background or part of the special effects. The combination of real people and man-made objects created a foggy illusion for the audience. It seems that film has brought the audience to an unknown world – the space. And the enemies are also fantastical, as there’s no prove of aliens. I think that may be why the film is so successful.
In this week’s seminar, our topic is about Why animation is used and to what purposes it has been mobilised. In the class, we watched a few film clips and discussed about how animation is examined relate to social, cultural and economic contexts.
We read ‘The Cosmic Cinama of Jordan Belson” and highlighted particular word describing the colour applied to animation. The article has shown us a very different view of animation. Word such as amorphous, gaseous and cloudlike imagery have been used to define the forms that ebb and flow across the frame, and it suggests the essence of cinema is precisely “dynamic movement of from and colour”, which I have never thought about before.
In additon, we looked into the history of GIF and shared our favourite one with class. The seminar is very meaningful and Inspiring to me, I may start to see animation in a more diversified way.