Inspiration: Paper

Pocket-sized theaters constructed with paper and bellows … paper peepshows!

Paper peepshows or teleoramas were first published in the 1820s by a German book and art seller called Heinrich Friedrich Műller. His concept owes much to 18th– century optical curios, such as the cosmoramas which were built into gallery walls or the cumbersome boîtes d’optique, which were large, wooden boxes with multiple scenes. In contrast to their predecessors, Műller’s teleoramas were small and primarily constructed from paper and cloth … They consisted of staggered paper panels which were connected at the sides by flexible material bellows. The front and back boards of the peepshow pulled apart, to reveal a concertina structure and the diminishing paper panels created an effect of receding perspective, which lead the viewer’s gaze towards the back scene.

Katy Canales, 2016

I’ve seen a lot of excellent examples that use this construction – contemporary ones too, such as this tunnel book by Andrea Dezsö:

This article by Marie-Alix De Cools (at the Book Conservation department at the V&A Museum) details a really interesting example from c. 1860, which uses a different approach to the bellows and also uses layers and pinholes to create varying effects for the viewer.

‘Paris La Nuit’, paper peepshow, about 1860, Paris.

The prints, when viewed outside the device in reflected light, show views by daylight of various popular destinations such as the ‘Rue de Rivoli’ or ‘Jardin des Tuileries’. When viewed through the peephole, against a strong source of light, the transmitted light changes them to night scenes in which small holes pierced in the prints become the stars, the moon, or lit windows and street in Le tunnel de Rolleboise a train bursts into view where before there was only an empty tunnel with some men at work.

The ‘day’ picture is printed on the recto (front), while the ‘night’ picture is obtained by painting the verso (back) side in black and other dark colours. The contours of the train and the lighter areas were then drawn and defined using a kind of sgraffito technique. The dark paint was thus scratched away in places where the light was meant to shine through.

Inspiration: Installation

I’ve been working with paper more lately, with the intention of incorporating the objects into 2D animations / compilations.

This work by JeeYoung Lee, a South Korean artist and designer, is on a much larger scale, but I’m posting here for inspiration.

Alice’s Garden, 2019

“The scenes that I create are similar to an entry in a private diary in the sense that it documents my growth as a person. I believe that as I get older, learn more, and with more experience, my work grows too.”

Breeze, 2016

I’m drawn to the way she inhabits each landscape (dreamscape) … playing with scale and perspectives.

Panic Room

Whack World

Though I didn’t get to experience Whack World when it first came out, I’ve been following Tierra Whack since I saw her Unemployed video in 2019.

Check her music and videos out if you haven’t seen them yet!! So good. I love that her music and videos are consistently smart and funny. I love that she can rock a different look in each video and just be herself. It’s more than refreshing when people can laugh at themselves.

I had the plague (Covid) in January and my head still feels like it’s not quite my own…hard to find words and what I mean to say, so for now I’m going to link to a few of the directors she worked with for some of my favorite videos of hers. Still going through tracks and discovering, but noting here to come back to later.

Whack World is presented as “A Visual And Auditory Project by Tierra Whack”. The videos were directed by Thibaut Duverneix…great details and interesting transitions take the viewer from one track to the next.

Unemployed, directed by Cat Solen, has a great aesthetic – just the right kind of weird, I can’t get it out of my head. “Got a job I gotta do, I get down and dirty too.”

Mumbo Jumbo, by Marco Prestini, is a different look. Smart and horrifying (like Get Out … too close to real).

Stand Up – directed by Daniel Brennan / Powered by Wind. Funky distortions in the visuals to match the audio vibe.

But this one is what I’m feeling most right now. Heaven directed by Alex Lill. Simple visually, but rich and deep. Thinking always about two dear people I lost in the last years. My father. My best friend since college days. And other people in my heart – I wish I could see your faces.

Grateful to Tierra Whack for her music and vision. This article puts it so well: “Transforming those early clashes with colorism into something beautiful, and borderline afro-surreal in scope, demanded a special kind of mojo. Cultivating one’s self worth requires effort.”

1926 : Remix

If you’re also a fan of silent-era animated cartoons, this news may also make you swoon: “Animated films from 1926 are now available for anyone to post, sample, or remix as they see fit.”

So many different styles and experiments – mixing stop motion, live action, diverse drawing styles…below from Max Fleischer (I believe from “It’s the Cats” but not certain).

“Alice Helps the Romance”, Disney – I love the style of the Alice series

I don’t know Charley Bowers, but I always show my animation students Charlie Chaplin + Buster Keaton, so am definitely going to research and add some to the mix. This screenshot from “Egged On”:

Lots of good inspiration … here’s to a year of more experimenting and animation fun.

Game changer

I’ve been laying low the last months. Staying busy but finding it hard to put down thoughts. My father died suddenly in April – I am grieving, still processing, broken hearted. More on that later. But this one is in honor of my father, a research scientist, a game changer, among many other things.

An ultra-reflective white paint has been developed by engineers at Purdue University.

This white paint is the result of research building on attempts going back to the 1970s to develop radiative cooling paint as a feasible alternative to traditional air conditioners.

By incorporating barium sulphate particles, the paint is 98.1% reflective…Their idea was to create paint to reflect sunlight away from a building.

Such paints are considered to be a potential game-changer for keeping the planet – particularly cities – cooler and reducing electricity use; buildings with a coating of this would need to rely far less on energy-hungry air conditioning.

Here’s to the game changers – thank you for thinking differently, for pushing things forward.

International Women’s Day

The wonderful Anna Mantzaris worked with Saatchi + Saatchi / Global Women’s New Zealand to animate this hilarious take on a woman in the workplace and career-limiting moves.

Watch the short here.

The punch line? (spoiler alert) … nothing is as career-limiting as becoming a mother.

Sexism, like racism, still exists and thrives – especially regarding salaries and opportunities. In a Creative Review article, Manztaris discusses some of the issues she has seen in the animation and commercial space:

As directors, women often get lower budget projects and with the higher budget projects it’s like the more invisible women are …

It’s as if people don’t really trust women with big budget projects in the same way.

I’ve worked in large architecture firms and advertising agencies, as well as an office of the city of New York and smaller specialty firms here and there. I worked with some wonderful people, and have been given some great opportunities, but I also faced plenty of sexism, sometimes clear, but often quiet. Once I had my son, I returned to agency work for almost a year, but realized my work as an animator could be done more effectively on freelance terms, so here I’ve been happily since then. It’s taken me a long time to be in a place where I’m regularly getting good, creative opportunities…but I’m here! And the only way to go is up.

Fresh looks

Somehow a year has passed…so many thoughts I neglected to write down. But, still here. And perhaps that, in itself, is success.

One day soon I will go back through things I marked and shared over the last months and note them here for future reference. But since I am always two steps behind, for now I will just jump back in to this post.

I haven’t seen the show, Between the World and Me (HBO Original), but I did read the book some years back, and I just saw the title sequence on Art of The Title’s Top 10 Titles for 2020.

It’s the work of Elastic, directed by Hazel Baird. I love the combination of collaged video, photos, torn paper, stop motion, and illustrations. It’s a fresh energy and I want to see more!! I am drawn to this style lately, so keeping it in mind for a future project.

Go, humanity, go!

In these strangest of times, where our global civilization is under siege from a virus, stories like these make me most proud to be a human.

These 3D-printed valves are pieces that need to be replaced for each patient using a ventilator. They were printed by Cristian Fracassi (@cristianfracass), a civil engineer with a Ph.D. in polymer science, and Alessandro Romaioli, a mechanical engineer, to help nearby hospitals keep up the fight against coronavirus amidst the shortage of supplies.

They have already started a second adaptation using scuba masks: For those who have a 3D printer, there are links to print the adaptive pieces at home.

Together, with innovation, and patience, and determination, we can survive.