Spotlighting New Talent at the AEAF

By Smith, Claire | Metro Magazine, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Spotlighting New Talent at the AEAF


Smith, Claire, Metro Magazine


The need to share a passion is strong. At an Australian Effects and Animation Festival (AEAF) the pleasure of sharing a passion can be exhilarating, despite being one of the small number of women present. A major attraction for me is the pleasure of being among like-minded spirits who share my passion for 3D.

Regular attendance has led me to expect the festivals to be dominated by a small group of leading software developers and production houses. As one of those attending said at the most recent festival (December 2002), "I feel like I've paid heaps to attend a corporate sales promotion'. Of far more interest to me is getting a chance to see who the local 'up and comings' are, and what winning an award means to local talent.

Women are conspicuously under-represented at the festivals, in terms of attendance, judges, guests and panel experts, so I was interested in taking a closer look at how they fared among the emerging talent represented in the AEAF awards.

A feature of the festival is the Awards Night, where awards (now fondly referred to by some as 'Chucks', in memory of the legendary animator, Chuck Jones) are presented for outstanding works in thirteen categories.

At the December AEAF, of the eleven works short-listed for the AEAF award in the Student Category, four were by women: Anna Tow, Anna Fraser, Harriet Birks and Jodee Kelly.

HARRIET BIRKS

Oh o Oh superman, written, directed and produced by Harriet Birks (Honours, BFA, UNSW).

SYNOPSIS

Oh o Oh superman is a digital animation that explores the schizophrenia of consumer electronic culture within the paradigms of ancient Greek myth. Homicide photos rupture the neat artifice of computer animation. The abject sprawls over the symbolic. James Joyce gets writer's block. Animation is a perfect medium for the abstract play of the sign. In a darkened space, projected on the wall, with hypnotic sound and seductive, grotesque imagery, it becomes a directly communicative language, inundating every sense to the point of Hitchcockian vertigo.

INTERVIEW

Claire Smith: Was submitting your project for this or other awards a driving force for you in the development of the project?

Harriet Birks: Not really. My animation was not a showcase for my 'vast array of programmes' or my 'technical prowess'. Many of the images within the piece are not commercially viable ... beginning with a mermaid lesbian kiss, flash frames of old homicide photographs, women hanging themselves, mermaids being hooked, blood, gore ... the disintegration of narrative. This was the second festival in which I've entered this work.

Why did you choose to make this particular project?

It was an Honours project for the College of Fine Arts, linked in with my research paper. It was the outcome of the work I did as the artist-in-residence at UNSW.

Who has influenced you most in your work?

Well, hmm for this work ... the young Sydney art scene, the internet, Alison Milfull's thesis Songs of the Siren, John Gillies, Josh Holliday (a Sydney 3D graphics artist), dance party visuals, Manga, David Cronenberg, sci-fi, video installation and electronic sculpture that I've been exposed to, particularly in Tokyo and New York.

Did you attend the AEAF?

Yes, it was near by and I wanted to meet other people in the industry and see what they were up to.

What was the highpoint of the AEAF for you?

Seeing excerpts of commercial films that I would otherwise never go to see (and seeing only the bits that I would want to see). Oh, and having someone exclaim behind me 'how beautiful' my animation segment was.

What was the low point of the AEAF for you?

Seeing how closed ... and elderly ... and male, the industry was. (Not that I didn't expect that!)

Were you surprised to see so few women attending the Festival?

No, I expect this. …

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