Magazine article Art Monthly

The Animators

Magazine article Art Monthly

The Animators

Article excerpt

The Animators Angel Row Gallery Nottingham December 3 to February 3

The great thing about animation is that it is purged of the constrictions of reality; it is naturally gravity-free and can overcome separations of time and space. In contrast to live action film, the lead boots of physical forces, mortality and rationality have to be added deliberately in the animated realm. Moviemakers spend a lot of time, money and CGI development on what an animator can achieve with a pencil, single-frame shutter release or rudimentary Flash software.

It seems odd, considering the possibilities that this represents, that there is so much film and video art around, but so little animation art. 'The Animators' aims to spotlight the practice of artists whose media include digital animation alongside their perhaps better-known static work. Paul Morrison, for instance, shows with his now predictable black-and-white graphic landscapes a video piece that, although also black and white, has a totally different painterly quality. Unlike his schematic scalar shifts between dandelion heads and distant trees lining rolling hills, the film glides between visual languages. Claustrophobic film footage of landscape and foliage has been digitally manipulated: we follow the camera underwater as it breaks the surface with ripples and witness a minor magical light display.

Morrison's short loop, of a little over a minute, suggests the time consuming frame-by-frame process of animation. Simon Faithfull's Dog Breathing, 2005, is a neat acknowledgement of this temporal concentration. A drawing of a sleeping dog, in Faithfull's signature pixelated Palm-Pilot style, gently respires through a short cycle, like breathing itself. The life-sized dog, projected low against the wall as if it were ranging on the gallery floor, may not literally traverse the divide between reality and representation, but it hints at the possibility.

Katy Dove scans abstract drawings and watercolours and sets them in motion to music. Dove's musical taste is eclectic, yet her formal preferences remain fairly constant, favouring swirls, curlicues and parabolas that are organic, like bird flight, yet tinged with the synthetic psychosis of psychedelia. At times the imagery seems a literal translation of the soundtrack--electronica crescendos are matched by a strobing visual equivalent--and occasionally the Flash technology leaves its inevitable fractal fingerprints, but on the whole Dove holds sight and sound in tension and in thrall so that we forget the technology in favour of sensualism. The curator, Angela Kingston, has augmented Dove's videos with screenprints and paintings, as if to divulge the animator's hand and make the raw stuff of the process apparent, but instead the alchemy of animation is compromised and the images reduced to storyboard status.

The distribution of numbers of works by each artist is curiously uneven--there seem to be dozens of pieces by Ann Course, from animated films to ceramics to screenprints to sculpture. Course's animations are made up of crude line drawings depicting even cruder events. Shagging stick men, explosions, knobs, knives, coffins, bouquets tied to a lamppost, people pissing and so on--the attitude is irritatingly cranked up to eleven. On the whole the animation is lamentable, although presumably this is the punky point, but Course does occasionally contrive well-observed moments: a woman in knickers lying on her back taps her foot, her thigh lovingly dimpled; a poised diver breathes heavily; a bum walks about on points, like a pair of compasses. …

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