Mar 30, 2011
Upon further investigation of the use of sound as a means to further a dialogue with abstraction through animation I was lead to a posting on Cartoon Brew about the utilization of jazz within animation shorts--again not particularly of the non-objective variety, but more as the precursors to the use of jazz and music as an elaboration and companion to abstract forms and content. In explanation of some of the music used as a means of reinforcing the abstracted landscape being created in these animations, a timeline of information was offered to give a sense of how vital jazz and music in general was to the animations during much of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
The end of the posting mentions that animators like McLaren carried on this tradition. McLaren is noted for collaborations with jazz artist Albert Ammons, and film composer Eldon Rathburn--both pictured above.
|| Post by: Stephanie Clark ||
After doing some research and coming up with nothing too remarkably sound-related, I found I couldn't focus on anything after I saw L'Illusioniste last Thursday at Kendall Square Cinema. I first saw advertisements for the film, directed by Triplets-famed Sylvain Chomet, while studying abroad in Paris, and it was unfortunately so close to the end of my stay that I couldn't see it there in a Parisian cinématheque. However, it stayed on my mind since as the one film I was absolutely aching to see-- I had obviously seen and loved The Triplets of Belleville and was super thrilled to see a new film from the creators.
In Synchromy No.4 one can definitely see the influence of science and math with the different geometric shapes and grids. These images are combined with a very free flowing background that looks like liquid or clouds.
John Whitney is sometimes called the father of computer animation. Although he started by making films on 8mm, and in 1939, he and his brother, James, began to make more abstract films. One of their pieces, Five Film Exercise, was given the first place prize at the International Experimental Film Competition in 1949.
Whitney, having been an inventor and having experience with computers, used these skills to make commercials for television during the 1950's. He, along with Saul Bass, made a sequence for the movie Vertigo, by Alfred Hitchcock. This fulled his interest in using computers to make animations and film. In the 1960's, Whitney opened Motion Graphics Incorporated, where he continued to make motion graphics and sequences for television. IBM saw what Whitney was creating and offered him a job in 1966 as a resident artist. While working, Whitney became interested in the processing language and medium. He used this to create the work Arabesque, a film using lines and color set to music.
I personally found Arabesque to be beautiful and intriguing. I have been taking a course in processing and wanted to see if there was a way I could re-create parts of Arabesque on my own. The code for it took time and involves much more to make the entire sequence that Whitney made, but I found a way to make the linear set that transforms into dots. Here is a link to this piece.
I see Skies of Blue, Clouds of white, Bright blessed day, when I listen to tunes, and I think to myself… “what a colorful view!”
Synesthesia is a rare, yet incredible condition, which allows the individual with said condition to literally see sound! Being somebody with mild Synesthesia, I get a taste of it whenever I listen to music, so I know automatically what to picture when Synesthesia is brought up; but for those of you without the condition, mild, or full blast, what I found to be the most accurate depiction of what synesthetes see or imagine when they listen to music, would be the opening song of Fantasia, when they played Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. It’s actually a very interesting condition, studies show that most synesthetes do not even realize they have the condition until they discover that people around them are not envisioning the shapes, colors, and patterns that they are when they listen to music, or sound. Most cases have shown Synesthesia to be harmless, or non-influential to the subject’s patterns of behavior, however, there are still the occasional few who report experiencing “sensory overloads” when the sensation is triggered. As for what does trigger Synesthesia to synesthetes varies. The most common form of Synesthesia is called “Grapheme” or “color Synesthesia”, which causes letters and numbers to appear to give off colors. For example, S might look like S, or A might look like A. Other forms are Sound Synesthesia, which causes a variety of sounds to look like shapes, lights and colors. It was this form of Synesthesia, which inspired the creation of “Synesthetic Art”, or art that is either created by synesthetes to express what they experience, or artists who are trying to replicate the condition through physical visual means. Such examples would include a variety of inventions, such as the Lumigraph, or “Color Organ” which was developed by an animator named Oskar Fischinger, and would give off colors of light that would accompany the music that the organ would play. Other examples were works of art, such as “Vision” by Carol Steen, which supposedly portrayed what she would picture during acupuncture. For many hundreds of years, Synesthesia was not a widely investigated phenomenon by the scientific community, and it’s only been until recent times when the condition has actually been acknowledged at all. Many famous Synesthetes include ancient Greek Philosophers who described seeing the color timbre when they listened to music. Others include Isaac Newton, who proposed that the frequencies of color and music were interrelated. Even the father of modern electricity, Nikola Tesla was supposedly a synesthete. Overall, Synesthesia is neither a normal sensation, nor a handicap, and throughout history has made significant contributions to both the artistic, and scientific fields, both intellectually, and creatively.
(Image is "Vision" by Carol Steen, image was taken from Wikipedia)
Being an abstract animator, Oskar Fischinger wanted a machine to help him make spectacular light arrangements to be paired up with music. He invented the Lumigraph, a type of "color organ," a term describing a wide array of electromechanical machines that were capable of producing visuals in accordance with sound. These machines had a variety of ways of doing so. "Color Organ" was a name that arose in the 60s and 70s due to the colorful light shows that these machines produced to go along with music or sound.
Oskar's machine created thin beams of light by exerting pressure on a rubberized screen. The size of the performer dictated how big the screen could be (how high the performer could reach). In order for the device to function properly, operation involved two people. One to maneuver the screen to produce imagery, and another to altar the lights when necessary. Oskar did shows in LA and San Francisco, and the machine was involved in the creation of the movie The Time Travelers in 1964. In this instance, the Lumigraph was referred to as a "Lumichord" according to the producers, not Oskar. Oskar's son constructed two more of the devices varying in size. And the Lumigraph continued to perform at the hands of Oskar's wife after his death. A Lumigraph that she used remains in a museum in Germany, and still performs occasionally.
Post By Luke
Mar 29, 2011
Mar 16, 2011
In 1988 Shan Shui style was adapted into a water/ink animation by Tei Wei entitled Feelings from Mountain and Water. The highly regarded animation creates a beautiful ethereal atmosphere . The film eloquently moves the viewer through scenes of waterfalls, rivers, and hillsides. The only sounds that can be heard are natural elements along with traditional Chinese string instrument. Tei wei does an excellent job of making one feel as if they are able to enter a Shan Shui painting and move around in it. The animation is simple; seeming almost effortless, but that is what makes it so beautiful.
One aspect of Momotaro's Sea Eagles in particular that strikes an uncomfortable note is the childlike features and nature of the soldiers. Though anthropomorphic, the soldiers are distinctly featured to suggest their youth. They are energetic, playful and undisciplined, while maintaining a total dedication to their task. The juxtaposition of these aspects highlight an underlying desire of the Japanese army to have children identifying with the heroes of this animation, while instilling in them a "pornified" concept of warfare. It is sobering to realize that these are the same tactics employed today by leaders who militarize children.
Painting of a winged Tengu, and a Buddhist Monk. Image was found on Wikipedia.com
The Tengu are an ancient spirit creature from Japanese, and Buddhist myth. They have taken on many forms, from flaming comets, to red faced bearded men with unusually large noses. Originally, the Tengu were known as Tiangou, and were portrayed as fierce, canine-like creatures, which would fly across the sky like burning comets. They were said to produce a sound like thunder as they rode, and bring war wherever they landed. They would later evolve into birdmen, with canine-like faces, but instead of having muzzles they had beaks, and these beaks would later evolve into very large noses. These versions of the Tengu, would later inspire the first Japanese animated film, "The Old Man's Lump Removed" (瘤取り爺さん Kobu-tori Jiisan), which features both Tengu with wings and beaks, and Tengu with large noses. It is unclear however, as to how this evolution from flaming comets to birdmen came to be. One possibility is that the birdmen characteristic came from the Buddhists, who believed in a race of creatures called Garuda, which like the later Tengu, were humanoid creatures with wings, and beaks. But, unlike the Tengu of Japanese mythology, the Garuda was characterized as relatively placid creatures, which would only express aggressive behavior if provoked. But whatever the reason for this evolution in characteristics was, the legend of the Tengu has had a major impact on Asian culture, and continues to hold influence to this day.
Mar 15, 2011
Hayao Miyazaki's began created Nausicaa in manga form in 1982. He finished the last chapter of the manga in 1994, spending his time in between working on Studio Ghibli films. In 1984, after reading the first few chapters of the manga, Miyazaki was asked if he wanted to make Nausicaa into a film. Miyazaki originally refused the offer. He then agreed, but only if he could direct the film.
Nausicaa is the story of a post- apocalyptic world that had been destroyed by humans. Several "tribes" of humans still live in small settlements scattered about. One of these world is the Valley of the Wind, where Princess Nausicaa lives. She is a young woman who is skilled with fighting as well as talking to the creatures that live in the valley. Part of the world is an area called the Toxic Jungle. Nausicaa, believes there may be answers to finding a way for humans and nature to communicate there. One day an airship crashes near the valley and a fight breaks out between several human groups. Nausicaa learns of a secret, that the Pijet kingdom is making a weapon they call the Giant Warrior. Nausicaa feels that she must help protect the world from an em-pending war, like the prophesy of the world says.
Miyazaki's film had strong environmentalist undertones, as well as a reference to Japan, post WWII. The world Nausicaa lives in has been ravaged and there is little clean water. These images evoke the thought of post war environmental issues. This is also made clear by the use of showing the type of devistation nuclear weaponry can cause. In Nausicaa, this is show with the giant warriors energy blast.
Another theme Miyazaki has been know to use and is present in Nausicaa is his view toward powerful, heroic female characters. Nausicaa is a great example of this. Nausicaa is a skilled fighter, which can me seen when she take revenge for her father's death, but is also a kind and giving character. She is seen making one of the worlds large insects calm by simply keeping calm herself and charming the creature.
Osamu Tezuka's short animation, Jumping, is a wonderland of industrialized eye-candy. The palette of this animation is more sophisticated than many of the palettes that were existing in animation before this time in the sense that there was more variation in texture and detail with concern to mark, but also, the idea that color was being used not only to highlight space, but was a source that was used to create and define space. In Jumping we are taken through a city scape, and within this environment we are exposed to the compartmentalization of an industrialized environment. From the attention to detail, to the allusion to space, and the delicateness that is expressed in the juxtaposition between the business of the world below and the clarity of the the clouds and sky above, this urban landscape is at once interrupted by the bombastic and hellish visuals of bombings and war. In the banal and everyday landscape of the living this film reminds the viewer of the flux between the places we experience and how the experience is so easily altered and changed by traumatic events within the trajectory of history.
Tezuka (pictured above) was born in 1928, in Toyonoka, in Osaka, Japan. He is known as the "Godfather of Anime" and is known for Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and the Buddha series of manga--to name only a few achievements in his long and prolific career. Tezuka died in 1989.
Anime News Network
|| Post by: Stephanie Clark ||
Mar 12, 2011
"Momotaro no Umiwashi" is Japanese for Momotaro's Sea Eagles. This film was created in 1942 as a propaganda film. It is rather disturbing because of the appearance of the pilots of the Japanese planes. they seem like they could be stuffed animals and yet they are climbing into fighter planes to wreak havoc. This film was not quite long enough to be called a feature film. However, it's sequel, Momotarō Umi no Shinpei is thought to be the first Japanese full length animated film. It is not the first Asian full length animated film. That was Princess Iron Fan, a Chinese production. Momotaro no Umiwashi was a film involving a character from Japanese folklore, Peach Boy and several creatures representing different races with the same goal: to attack Pearl Harbor. The film references actual footage of the Pearl Harbor attack. The fact that "cute" little creatures were used in the place of human pilots shows that this film was created to tell children the story of the attack. It is interesting to note that the film was produced with the Japanese Naval Ministry without regard to the protection of military secrets. Despite this, the Imperial Navy endorsed the film.
Post by Luke
Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momotar%C5%8D_no_Umiwashi
Image from: http://news.nswap.info/?p=45257
Winsor McCay's The Sinking of the Lusitania was created because there was no footage of the disaster. It has it's desired effect, which was to portray the horror of the event to the public. As the author of the article I read pointed out, during the film there are many scenes which depict the whole ship instead of a section of it. This strategy informs the audience that this was no small fishing boat that the torpedoes devistated, but an enormous ocean liner. And the smooth slow sinking in the film really provides time for the situation to really hit home with the audience. The last thing that I would like to point out. That is the use of images of people who were on the ship. People who were famous that most people in the audience knew. People who many of us know today. This was a great way to evoke emotion from the audience.
Post by Luke
Info from: http://drnorth.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/winsor-mccays-the-sinking-of-the-lusitania/
Mar 10, 2011
Its widely accepted that the most notorious villains of human history were Adolf Hitler and his Nazi army. Through the lens of American wartime cartoons, the serious, deadly reality of Hitler's regime is reduced to one of discomfort and a differing ideology portrayed as "bad". The animations focus around the experiences of healthy, able-bodied, white, cis-gender, heteronormative individuals. While these people's experiences are certainly not to be denied, they were not the targets of the Nazi regime's witch hunt for the "unworthy". By omitting the experiences of every person not of the privileged class, American animators portraying life under the Nazi regime condone the violence against these groups. If you'll notice, Nazi cartoons are more likely to portray themselves as fighting against an "othered" enemy (Capitalists, Blacks, Jews) while American cartoons portraying them show only the experiences of white, able-bodied, heternormative, cis-gendered individuals.
The message here is striking: the persecution of Jews, blacks, LGBTQIA and the differently abled is acceptable by American thought, but an attack on the supposed "majority" is unacceptable.
Fritz und Fratz "Em Tode Entronnen" - Embedding Disabled, Click through for video
Mar 9, 2011
Fifinella was the character developed by Roald Dahl for Walt Disney Productions featured in The Gremlins, a children's book. Published in 1943, The Gremlins tells the story of gremlins who are protecting their forest lands. The main role of Fifinella is to serve as a gremlin who prevents malfunctions in air combat that supposedly are caused by male gremlins who sabotage planes in order to protect the aforementioned forest lands. In addition, this character became associated with the Women's Army Corps (WAC) and more specifically with the Women's Auxilary Ferrying Squadron.
What I found most interesting was how seriously this character and the male counterparts were used as a way of both building a sense of nationalism and morale, but were also used as a display of camaraderie among the armed forces. In addition, not only were the G.I.'s branded with this character via patches and decorations, but also were the planes that they flew.
|| Post by: Stephanie Clark ||
Anyway, I will say no more. Have a look and judge for yourself:
Along with the WWII propaganda that Disney created in their cartoons, They also created a film called "Song of the South" (1946). Produced by the man himself , Walt Disney. The film is based on characters named Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit and his friends. In this film the famous song was Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah , which is still played in Walt Disney World/Land and also local convenience stores like Walgreens. "Song of The South" inspired the ride splash mountain that has remained at Disney Parks for decades. The film was never released in The United States because the Disney executives believed it was racist towards black people, although you can now view some portions in special edition Disney films.
During World War II the pressure for the allied forces to fight off the axis powers was at its height. But just as vital as it was to fend off the enemy, the military was also under extreme pressure to gain support from the people to continue the war. We all know of the bogus “Duck and Cover” campaign the military used during the 50’s to make people feel protected under the circumstances of any eventuality (despite that if a nuclear weapon is dropped, anything within a quarter of a mile of ground zero of the explosion would be completely vaporized, making “ducking and covering” a useless gesture). But the military wasn’t spreading propaganda alone, many cartoonists, writers, and animators were hired by the military to create anti-Nazi propaganda to influence the people to continue this fight against the enemy.
Walt Disney’s contribution began after the release of Fantasia, and the studio began to face bankruptcy. The military offered a contract to Disney for 32 short propaganda films for $4,500 each, considering Disney’s financial status, he took the job, and began producing films one after another. One example would be “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, which was released on January 1st 1943, featuring Donald Duck. The film took place in a stylized version of Nazi Germany, where everything looked like a swastika, and where everything you would do and think would be determined entirely by the fuehrer, and the needs of the military. Throughout the cartoon Donald Duck is forced to salute Hitler, march with an oom-pah band composed of Mussolini, Hirohito, Goring, and Goebbels while saluting Hitler, and work in a factory, screwing noses onto warheads – all the while saluting Hitler. In the end, Donald loses his sanity and wakes up, relieved to find himself home in America, and that his whole ordeal was only a nightmare.
After it’s release, the cartoon won the 1943 Academy Award for Animated Short Film, and was to become the first Donald Duck Cartoon to win an Oscar. Of course this film was not entirely directed by Walt Disney, American animator Jack Kinney took part in the directing as well. But the next film to be released 14 days later was entirely directed by Disney. This next film was called “Education for Death, Making of the Nazi”, and was based on a book written by Gregor Zeimer with the same name. The cartoon showed the life of a little German boy named Hans, and his slow development into a Nazi soldier. References to things described in the book are used throughout the film, for example when Hans is at school, being taught how only the strong survive and how there is no room in this world for the weak. This scene is based on a chapter in the book. The German youth are taken on a camping trip chaperoned by a Nazi storm trooper, who educates the children that it is there duty to preserve the “purity of the human race” and that all those who oppose them will be destroyed. Though this, and other films are rarely shown today, they can still be found on certain Walt Disney DVDs, for example “Walt Disney Treasures: on the front lines”.
image is a clip from "Der Fuehrer's Face", and was downloaded from Wikipedia