Monday, April 30, 2012

Line, Space and the Subjective Reality

The line is an entity with no inherent indexical link to, or counterpart in, the ‘real’, natural,
world, but it can be used to represent the ‘real’, natural, world. The linear implies a glimpse of
human agency, of a subjectivity that can only be shown through drawing or with drawn animation,
not through the lens of a camera. (Birgitta Hosea, Drawing Animation, 2010)

The hand of the animator is the most reflexive expression of their imagination and/or perception. Animation can display what would be otherwise subversive in the minds eye of the filmmaker. A step beyond the participatory documentary, Michael Moore used animation in his documentary 'Bowling for Columbine' to express history briefly and ironically, we have an insight in to the documentary makers mind, rather than what we see reflected in their actions.

Space can be manipulated to give the impression of events moving rapidly, slowly, or to express a characters feelings or struggles, or the space can be central to the meanings of the production itself. Never has wallpaper being so fun to stare at when it is alive.

Central to giving space experiential meaning is animation’sability to transfer such character encounters to viewers, allowing them to also find themselves caught between their expectations and the images that resolve on the screen. (Aylish Wood, Re-Animating Space, 2006)

In our memories space changes can be manipulated and even the feelings we had about that experience can affect the way we recollect environments. In fact, it is proven that doctoring photographs can stimulate false memories in children and even sometimes adult recollections.
(Maryanne Garry and Mathew P. Gerrie, When Photographs Create False
Memories, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Caroline Leaf's work to me conveys that uneasy line between imagined and remembered as memories haze into events and imaginative recollections, truly documenting the subjective perception of the animator.

Reverberating space, then, can be approached through the ideas of
fluid and unused space. For example Caroline Leaf, whose work I discuss more fully later, animates in a variety of ways: sand on glass, oil paint on glass, scratching on film stock. While each of these is a
very different technique, they all share the property of fluid spatial
construction. (Aylish Wood, Re-Animating Space, 2006)

In The Street, Caroline Leaf uses ink on glass, he technique creates temporal metamorphic spaces, trans-versing time and space to descripe perceptions of recollections.

The Street, perhaps Leaf’s most celebrated animation,
features images created using under-lit ink on glass, with individual
frames generated by small changes to the previous one. This
technique, combined with the narrative, produces two senses of
space. The first is one of enclosure, while the second is one of transformation.
The contrast between these creates the particular spatial
dynamics of the animation, where being held in abeyance while
waiting for a death in the family has to give way in the end to that
inevitable change. (Aylish Wood, Re-Animating Space, 2006)

The idea of space transformed by different habitations is useful in
thinking about the content of Leaf’s animation, but it does not fully
address another spatial construction within her work: a tendency for
the insubstantial quality of the resolves to disassemble the relationship
between time, space and action. This allows transformation to enter
more forcefully into the organization of the images as the dissolution
of an image results not so much in a hesitation but in a complete jump
in time and space, where characters resolve from one to another, or
objects turn into other objects.
(Aylish Wood, Re-Animating Space, 2006)

Her images are two dimensional, but the space she uses undergoes metamorphosis, creating the illusion of moving through the spaces, in and out and around, as well as her characters engaging with the spaces in this way.

Cel-animations generally, or the ink-on-glass technique
demonstrated in The Street, are two-dimensional images projected on a
two-dimensional surface, but depth is introduced through perspective
drawing. And because of this, a viewer of animation is able to attribute
a sense of depth to two-dimensional animation
(Aylish Wood, Re-Animating Space, 2006)

The very process of animation is therapeutic in the sense that the animator feels they have some sense of control over events that they would of liked more control over. Animation can reconstruct events more suitably in the realm of thoughts and feelings of a memory, dreams and experiences clouded by emotion.

The very artifice of animation requires that the characters, situations, narratives and designs ‘announce themselves’ as different kinds of ‘phenomena’. This challenges the viewer to … invest in engaging with animated phenomena as constructs which may relate directly to the terms and conditions of human experience, but equally may offer more complex meditations on socio-cultural and aesthetic epistemologies. (Steve Fore, Animation Reenacting Ryan: The Fantasmatic and the Animated Documentary, 2011)

As Craig Hight (2008: 14) has noted, while the visual images in interview-based works tend to preserve anima­tion’s usual reflexivity, the soundtrack maintains (in a term borrowed from Michael Renov) ‘acoustic indexicality in the form of interview sound-bites and especially expositional voice-over narration’, and as Paul Ward (2006: 122) writes, these animations ‘construct a “world” that will metaphorically emphasise (or dramatically undermine) what the viewer is hearing on the soundtrack.’ (Steve Fore, Animation Reenacting Ryan: The Fantasmatic and the Animated Documentary, 2011)

Animation can both challenge and support the visual and verbal narrative, it is truly reflexive and clearly doesn't deny that.

It is in this way that the conventional reflexivity of animation harmonizes especially well with the use of reenactments in documentary film and video. Unlike animation, in documentary the trope of reflexivity is not a pre-requisite component of the form, but emerges either as a self-con­sciously deployed tactic on the part of the producer, or more prosaically as a section in the film that the viewer understands has been assembled with images of a different ontological status from those used in other sections of the work. (Steve Fore, Animation Reenacting Ryan: The Fantasmatic and the Animated Documentary, 2011)

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