Tuesday, 14 December 2010

World of Glory (1991) by Roy Andersson....

'After opening with naked people being herded into a truck to be gassed, director Roy Andersson then enters the dull world of a Swedish real estate broker, telling the man's story in short, static blackouts. An attempt "to show the spirit of the times," this early 1990s short takes on everything from the high cost of housing to corporate logos on athletes.' (James A. Stewart).

Although this isn't an animation, i took out a DVD of European short films from the library. I absolutely love the cinematography and acting in this film, making you feel really awkward and creating an surreal mood. Often the actors look directly act you through the lens and the protagonist's lack of emotion and feelings really works in this piece. The soundtrack accompanied the visuals and editing perfectly, whilst the beginning shot was a brilliantly deep and emotional reconstruction of scenes from the war. Overall, is a brilliant piece of cinema that does everything right. Unfortunately this embedded video is only 9 minutes, when the actual film is 14 minutes, but it gives you a good idea of how well this film works.

Red Riding Hood Doodle...

Here's some more doodles ive done today, which has clearly been influenced by my idea of adapting red riding hood for the transcription unit.

Transcription... Red Riding Hood Idea...

Based on the original Red Riding Hood stories, i had the idea of creating a dark animated version of the story. In particular, i imagine a colour palette that only uses strong red along with black and white or greyscale tones. This idea worked really well in Sin City. Here are some images i have found based on the darker versions of Red Riding Hood. I feel it could be an interesting story to adapt, especially with the version involving cannibalism, and undertoning sexual references.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Jabberwocky (1971) by Jan Svankmajer...

'Jan Svankmajer's animation, which begins with a reading of the Lewis Carroll poem, is "almost a textbook illustration of Freud," according to commentator Peter Haynes. Meant to "interact with a viewer's subconscious," it shows a surreal playroom where the toys come alive.' (James A. Stewart).

Jabberwocky, is a beautiful example of how visuals and audio can accompany each other so well. With its uncanny use of dolls and childrens' toys, Jabberwocky, is a weird and wonderful animation. I particularly loved the character Svankmajer gives to the toys, and how creepy they were. The cat made me jump everytime even though i knew it was coming, and the doll heads in a stove as well as small dolls penetrating through a bigger doll, made Jabberwocky a strange and surreal watch.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Little Otik by Jan Svankmajer (2000)...

'Updating a popular children's fable, leading Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer's latest is a compelling and highly contemporary social satire. Inventively combining live action with characteristically macabre stop-motion animation' (Jason Wood, BBC Films).

I finally got to watch Little Otik yesterday, thanks to the recommendation of Alan and Ruben, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Using the set that can be recognised in his 'Down in the Cellar' short, as well as some of the same actrs/characters, Little Otik is based on the filktale 'Otesanek' by K J Erben. This 2 hour long film begins with a poor couple who are both infertile unable to have a baby. One day the man pulls a tree root from the ground and sees a baby like figure in there, deciding to further enhance that idea by cutting the extra roots to make it more baby-like. From here-on-in, we switch between the story a little girl reads about Otesanek, almost playing the narrator, and the real life story of the couple which resembles the book.

It takes a little while for Little Otik to get into its stride, with the live action story in the beginning slightly dull and uninteresting. However, this could have been because of my expectations of Svankmajer's work and the fact that i just wanted to see his stop-motion animation in action. So when it finally came around, i wasn't disappointed. This film was really weird, surreal and scary throughout, but the best examples of this were in the stopmotion animation. Svankmajer does really well to bring the 'tree stump' to life as Little Otik causes mass destruction, eating everything and anything. In particular, the mouth of Little Otik was so scary and the paedophile gave me the creeps, again. The little was so strange and uncanny, reading about sexual dysfunctions, which i'm pretty sure isn't a normal thing for a young girl. Overall, Little Otik has an enticing story, uncanny characters, a baby-like tree stump and more masterclass examples of Svankmajer's stopmotion animation. So if that's not enough to make you want to watch it, i don't know what is.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Transcription... New Ideas...

So after the film on Tuesday Alan called me over for a chat. At first i was kind of bricking it, i didn't have a clue what he was gonna say to me, feeling like that nightmare where you turn up to school in just your underwear. But actually it was nothing of the sort, luckily. Instead, Alan gave me some really helpful ideas and material to investigate for the Transcription unit, in a bid to get me on the right path so i can begin to push forward. So here's the sources that i'm currently looking into thanks to Alan:

- Danse Macabre (Dance of the Dead) by Saint-Saens.
- The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

I've already started to look into the first two ideas and already i can see why Alan has suggested these. I should be able to apply my previous dark ideas from my previous research into these adaptations nicely. In particular, i love this idea of 'Dance of the Dead' which is probably my favourite idea at the moment. Getting my head down with a lot of research and pre-production work now, will definitely benefit me coming into the 10 weeks of the project.

FAO: Phil... Postmodernism Essay...

I keep refining my essay at the moment, and i've manged to get my essay down to 2288 words, but was wondering if this is ok or if i need to cut that down any further. I have taken out quite a lot of wording and content already though.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Transcription... Giger Inspired Environment/Sets idea...

I quite like this idea of adapting Giger's work, so i took a further look at the brief to see what examples of transcriptions i could put it into. In particular, if i was to go with this idea, i think Giger inspired environment/sets/cities for film would be the best category to put this into. I've looked at some more reference images from his work and environments and architecture are definitely some of his best work. I think building a few sets based on possibly an alien/machine race, could be extremely fascinating and interesting, allowing me to delve into some really creative designs based on Giger's work. Here are some particular interesting and possibly influencial pieces worth considering:

The tectures and monotones in pieces like this would be extremely interesting to bring into Maya and CG models.

This image really reminds me of Metropolis. This image was the one that sparked up ideas of a vast city, which could imply the heads in the buildings are gods, rulers of the city.

The structure of this building reminds me of cathedrals, which i think could be really intricately designed using this idea of bones. Imagine a cathedral based on Giger's work and designs, who wouldn't want to visit that place.

This reminds me of a scene with elders, of high importance, having a meeting.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Transcription Ideas... HR Giger Adaptation...

Just another idea I had today where I could adapt an animation based on some of Giger's work and images. I'm not too sure how this one would work, but it could be an interesting idea. I think it could be a series of surreal and expressionistic animations, or even some environments based on his work, maybe based around a particular giger-like character/monster/alien. Giger's work brought into 3D realms is surely an animator's dream.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Doodles... Bat Coathangers...

What's that you say? Bat Coathangers? why not...

Here's another quick doodle i did today. I randomly turned a coathanger, with hats on, into a bat-like creature...

FAO: Phil... Postmodernism Essay Structure...

Here's my structure for the postmodernism essay with a bit about what i've included and written for each section. Are you able to clarify what i should add/change in my structure as suggested in your comment about my question?


In the introduction i've tried to explain, using appropriate quotes, that Postmodernism is a difficult topic and one that isn't necessarily understood or accepted. I've then written about what i aim to tackle in the essay, elaborating on the question.

What is Hyperreality?

In this section i've tried to use appropriate quotes and examples to help the reader understand what hyperreality is. In this case i've used Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco's example of Disneyland to put hyperreality into a real life context to help the reader understand what the essay is tackling.

Plato’s cave relation to The Matrix:

This section shows how we can draw the ideas of hyppereality back to the work of Plato/Socrates. Comparing the example that Plato uses in his book, The Republic, to the film in question, The Matrix. I have also used quotes from the film that i feel match what Plato is describing in his book, elaborating on the connection.

Jean Baudrillard References in The Matrix:

In this section i move onto breaking The Matrix down into the three orders of Simulacra by Baudrillard, suggesting an example from each order that i believe can be found in the film. I then moved onto Baudrillard's story of the people living in the map version of their own world, whilst the real world deteriorates as a comparison the the story of the Matrix, suggesting that it isn't too disimilar from Baudrillard's example, especially considering they even quote him in the film.

Disney’s Celebration Town in comparison to The Matrix:

This final section uses a real world example, Celebration Town, to pose help argue the point that we are in fact caught up in the simulacrum, living in a real life Matrix. In this particular example you can compare the corporates behind Disney to the agents in the film, keeping the inhabitants in order and control through a system which has been constructed by themselves.


In my conclusion i summarise my research and conclude my side of the argument, again, posing the question, Are we victims of simulacrum, consumed by a real life Matrix? and asking the reader to really consider the question at hand based on the points shown.

The Night Before Christmas...

Just another video i've looked at to get my brain churning with ideas for this Transcription project.

Corpse Bride - Remains of the Day...

I could only embed the German version of the video for some reason, but here's another brilliant example of turning the dead into something fun and musical. It still keeps an eerie and creepy feeling because of the skeletons and dead characters, but the musical element, in particular the skeletons using each other as instruments, works really well in creating an overall fun and entertaining sequence. Again, this is something that i'm aiming to achieve amidst the depths of hell.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Postmodernism Essay Question...

It's been through a couple of changes, but here is my question for the postmodernism essay so far. Don't worry, i'm well into the essay, it's just had slight changes as i've delved further into my topic.

So here it is:

Are we victims of simulacrum, consumed by a real life 'Matrix'?

This Way Up (2008) by Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith...

The particular part of this animation that i'm interested in, even though it's all amazing, is the middle section in hell. This idea of an 'entertaining' hell is definitely what i wanted to do, something very musical and fun, but at the same time still poses the haunting nature of hell. I think it's very interesting that hell is dominated by reds, which is also a royal and regal colour used in theatre a lot.

Just Some Doodles...

Here are some of the doodles i've been doing. Most of them are quite dark and devil/hell related as this is something i'd like to do for the Transcription project. They're not really based on anything in particular, but i'm sure there are some underlying influences in there somewhere. I just posted them because i often do interesting doodles, and then they get thrown away or forgotten, when it's quite easy to just archve them on here... so that's what i did...

The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (1984) by The Brothers Quay...

'Impressions of the work and creative philosophy of the Czech animator Jan Svankmajer... The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, Prague's Alchemist of Film began life as an hour-long documentary for Channel 4's esoteric late-night film strand Visions about the work of the great Czech animator, filmmaker and card-carrying Surrealist artist. The programme was made up of extracts from Svankmajer's work interspersed with analysis from critics, art historians and Surrealists, linked by nine animated sequences by the Brothers Quay. These links were subsequently joined together and released to cinemas as a separate 14-minute short.' (Michael Brooke, BFI Screenonline).

This one's been on the back burner for a while and i've only just decided to watch it for the first time. Just the thought of mentioning the Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer in the same piece of work, for me anyway, is a heavenly one, although i'm not sure their pieces of work would be allowed passed the heavenly gates. The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer wasn't the easiest animation to understand, however, for the beatifully detailed and stylised environments and unique characters, it's definitely worth a watch. You may recognise some of the pieces from previous Svankmajer animations as well as the doll, which has a similar resemblance to one of the Brothers Quay's previous pieces of work. Straight away, you are able to spot an animation from the Brothers Quay, and this animation is no exception, integrating everything we have come to expect from them. Despite my lack of understanding of what was happening, The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer is worth watching for the wonderful characters and environments alone.

Here it is:

Transcription Ideas... Heaven or Hell?...


While walking down the street one day, John McCain is hit by a truck
and dies.

His soul arrives in Heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to Heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems
there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts,
you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says McCain. 'I've got the experience."

'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is
have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose
where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I'm supposed to be in Heaven,' he says.

'I'm sorry, Senator McCain, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts the senator to the elevator, and he
goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and McCain finds himself
in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse,
and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians
who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him,
shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while
getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar,
and champagne.

Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy
who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a
good time that before John McCain realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens. St. Peter is
waiting for him and says. 'Now it's time to visit Heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls
moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp, singing, and feeding
each other. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24
hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now
choose your eternity.'

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would
never have said it before, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I
think I would be better off in Hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and McCain goes down, down,
down to Hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open. John McCain finds himself in the
middle of a barren, hot land covered with the stench of garbage,
pollutants, and radioactive waste.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and
putting it in black bags as more trash and pollution fall from above.

The Devil comes over and puts his arm around John's shoulder.

'I don't understand,' McCain stammers. 'Yesterday I was here and there
was a golf course and clubhouse. We ate lobster and caviar, drank
champagne, and danced, and we had a great time. Now there's just a
wasteland of death, and my friends look miserable. What happened?'

The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were

Today you voted.
My idea for this story would be to take the senator and turn him into a theatre-loving politician, instead of the golf idea. I feel this allows for a more interesting scene in hell with the devil, maybe a musical, which is funny and upbeat, similar to the scenes you get in films like The Labyrinth or some of Tim Burton's work. In my head, i have a really fun and vivid idea of the devil as a showman, which is all a disguise of course, to get the character to choose hell over heaven. Once the character has left hell, we see it revert back to its devilish ways, knowing before the character that he should choose heaven, but also knowing that he will actually choose hell.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New Postmodernism Essay Structure...

after realising that had too much to write about and finding that my word count is already higher than it should be, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, i've decided to remove a couple of things from my essay structure. I decided to remove the section about hyperreal food/tastes and also anything about Metaphysics as i don't feel that these are needed or add anything relevant to my essay. So here is the new and update version of my essay structure:

- INTRODUCTION (200 words)

- MAIN BODY (1600 words):


- CONCLUSION (200 words)

I still feel like one or two things might be changed or removed before my hand-in because of my word count being quite high. But i'll have to see how things go...

Down to the Cellar (1983) by Jan Svankmajer...

'one of the most expressive short films ever made, a barely animated anxiety attack about a small girl, an infinite cellar, and a potato bin.' (Michael Atkinson, Village Voice).

This was one of Ruben's suggestions, as well as The Little Otik, and i'm glad i took the time to watch this one because it was well worth it. Despite not being an animation all the way through, Down to the Cellar, takes Svankmajer's usual surreal and eerie work and puts it into a combined live action and stop motion. It had everything you wouldn't want to find down in a cellar and plays with the innocence of the little girl to make things even more creepy. We have a paedophile, a crazy lady making cakes from dirt, shoes behaving like animals and a black cat that chases after you, who i right frame of mind would dare to go down there, just for a sack of potatos. Definitely one of the most surreal and creepiest pieces of work i've seen yet, even by Svankmajer's standards.

Animations Still to Watch List...

The Little Otik by Jan Svankmajer:

'Updating a popular children's fable, leading Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer's latest is a compelling and highly contemporary social satire. Inventively combining live action with characteristically macabre stop-motion animation, Svankmajer's fourth feature, after "Alice", "Faust", and "Conspirators of Pleasure", may also be his best.' (Jason Wood, BBC Movies).

One Night in City by Jan Balej:

'Intricate stop-motion animation is brought to bear on a trio of bleak, surreal parables in the dyspeptic horror toon "One Night in One City." Fastidiously, imaginatively detailed model work springs from the mind of 48-year-old animator Jan Balej. At the far deep end of the most adult pool, item is suitable for specialty fests, midnight sidebars, liberal-minded cablers and avant-garde DVD labels.' (Eddie Cockrell, Variety.com).

The Epic of Gilgamesh (1985) by The Brothers Quay...

'A self-contained, if rather obscure film which is nonetheless outstandingly skilled and imaginative. Loosely inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh, the film transforms the story into a macabre tale told with grotesque models and a theatrical mise en scène in which savage, vindictive machines whirr, slice, decapitate and imprison the unwary. It has the cold articulation of malignancy and evil commonly associated with the horrific fantasies of children's stories and games.' (BFI Shorts Catalogue).

The Epic of Gilgamesh is another perfect example of the Quay Brother's brilliant ability to create unique and detailed environments and scenes. Despite being unable to fully understand everything that goes on in this animation, it is the beauty of the environment and puppets that makes this short animation so magical. I love the small details even in the mechanics of the wall, and the clown-like Gilgamesh and bird puppets are strikingly unique and memorable. The Epic of Gilgamesh is another masterclass example of surreal and eerie stop motion animation, by The Brothers quay, that is so wonderfully constructed and animated, that despite a lack of understanding for the narrative, the visual aesthetic and art direction drive the animation perfectly.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Food (1992) by Jan Svankmajer...

A New York Times review called the film "caustically witty but slight." It goes on to say that "Švankmajer conceived the film in the 1970's, when it seemed too risky a political allegory to be made. . . . it now seems too simple a statement about how people are devoured by mechanistic states and each other." Despite it's political background, Food stands out for me as a real masterclass, not only of Jan Svankmajer's claymation skills, but of animation in general. Not only am i a huge fan of his unique style, which you can tell from the amount animations i watch by him, but his amazing talent for narrative and clever little details. My favourite in this slightly dark and surreal set of claymations has to be Breakfast, which portrays the story of 'a man, who after eating breakfast, is transformed into an elaborate dumb-waiter-style breakfast dispenser - and the same fate befalls the man who obtains breakfast from him.' What i love about this animation is how fun it is, whilst still keeping with the strange and surreal mood that Svankmajer does so well. The other two claymations invole LUNCH, about two would-be diners end up eating everything within reach and DINNER, Portraits of various meals made up of human organs. Overall, Food is a fascinating piece of masterclass claymation that seems to roll all of Svankmajer's great pieces into one.

Cowboys (1991) by Phil Mulloy...

'The films of multi-award-winning animator Phil Mulloy are the antidote to all that is kitsch and sentimental in animation. Witty and acerbic fables, drawn in brush and ink, comment on human nature and contemporary values. Definitely not fr the squeamish or prudish, these films contain sex, violence, and scenes calculated to outrage hores!' What more is there to say that describes Phil Mulloy's work that isn't already on the back of the dvd. Cowboys is only one of several films in his 'EXTREME ANIMATION' dvd and the quote above just about somes up the 6 short animations in Cowboys. Each running at 3 minutes long, Phil Mulloy pays careful attention to the moral values and points that he is trying to make in each animation, stripping back the fancy visual artwork and showing the world for what he thinks of it. Even though i can't say i fully understood the underlying messages of each animation, i was able to get the basics of what he was suggesting as the animations despite all the sexualness and violence were very bold and powerful. Cowboys is definitely a unique set of short animations and i'm looking forward to watching his other ones on the dvd.

Here's a few of the short animations from Cowboys:

The Matrix Essay Structure...

- Introduction (200 words stating what, why and how).

Write about the specific question.

- Essay Body (1600 words):

- What is Modernism? (Understanding Modernism)
- How did Modernism influence Postmodernism? (Understanding Modernism)
- What is Postmodernism? (Understanding Postmodernism)
- What are Hyperreality and Metaphysics? (Understanding Hyperreality and Metaphysics)
- Plato's Cave comparison to The Matrix (Ancient Philosophical reference)
- Jean Baudrillard in The Matrix (Theorist Reference)
- Disney's 'Celebration' Town comparison to The Matrix (Modern day reference)
- International Flavours and Fragrances comparison to The Matrix (Modern day reference)

- Conclusion (200 words):

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Devil and Tom Walker...

"The Devil and Tom Walker" is a short story by Washington Irving that first appeared in his 1824 collection of stories titled Tales of a Traveller. It was part of the "Money-Diggers" portion. The story is very similar to that of the ancient German legend of Faust. Stephen Vincent Benet drew much of his inspiration for "The Devil and Daniel Webster" from this tale.

Plot summary:

Tom Walker is a greedy and selfish miser of a man who cherishes money more than he does his equally miserly wife. They lived in a forlorn looking house, that had stood long and had an air of starvation. This is until he takes a walk in the swamp at an old Indian fortress and starts up a conversation with the Devil incarnate (referred to as "Old Scratch" in the story). "Scratch" is shown as a lumberjack chopping down trees, each with a prominent and wealthy colonialist name branded on the tree trunk. One rotted and soon to fallen tree has the name of a deacon who grew wealthy "trading" with the Indians. Another fallen trunk has that of a wealthy seaman rumored to be a pirate. Old Scratch strikes up a deal with Tom Walker: he offers the riches hidden in the swamp by Captain Kidd in exchange for Tom's soul. Tom agrees to think about it, and returns home.

Burdened with this secret, he mentions it to his wife. When he is not there, Tom's wife takes all the valuables in the house and goes to make a deal with Old Scratch. When Tom goes in search of his wife and property, all he can find of her is her heart and liver in her apron tied to a tree.

Tom Walker then agrees to the deal with Old Scratch, as his wife had been abusive towards him and he considered her death at the hand of Old Scratch a good thing. Tom agrees to become a loan shark, although Tom has "scruples" in not becoming a slave trader.

Tom never tires of swindling people out of money, until he suddenly becomes fearful about the afterlife. He then starts to become fiercely dedicated to God, always keeping two Bibles at hand.

When, one day, a person who had borrowed money from him and is asking for clemency blames Tom for taking his money. Tom says, "The Devil take me if I have made but a farthing!" At this time, there are three loud knocks at the door. Tom is drawn towards the black-cloaked figure and realizes, in horror, that he has left his Bibles at his desk.

Tom Walker is then taken away by the Devil on the back of a black horse and is never seen again. All his assets vanished and his house burned to the ground. The Ghost of Walker then haunts the site of the old fort.

Postmodernism Lecture 7 - Hyperreality...

Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself.

Baudrillard suggests that the world we live in has been replaced by a copy world, where we seek simulated stimuli and nothing more.

“…his postmodern universe is one of hyperreality in which entertainment, information, and communication technologies provide experiences more intense and involving than the scenes of banal everyday life, as well as the codes and models that structure everyday life. The realm of the hyperreal (e.g., media simulations of reality, Disneyland and amusement parks, malls and consumer fantasylands, TV sports, and other excursions into ideal worlds) is more real than real, whereby the models, images, and codes of the hyperreal come to control thought and behavior…

…In other words, an individual in a postmodern world becomes merely an entity influenced by media, technological experience, and the hyperreal…”

Hyperreality is ‘More real than real…’


The character of Neo is woken up to the fact that the reality that he’s lliving in, is actually a construct. He’s living in a simulation. And then we find out that the real world is actually this dystopian nightmare.

The world that we take for granted is a copy; a simulation. Baudrillard is suggesting the world we live in is nothing more than an unreal world, that is interrogative which allows us to believe it is real.


It was about someone trying to get back to the truth; someone trying to break through the simulation; someone trying to actually get their head into the real world.

Postmodern minds try to get away from the constructed world to see it as it is.


‘Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulacra. It is first of all a play of illusions and phantasms: the Pirates, the Frontier, the Future World… Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the “real” country… Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality… but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real…’

We know that Disneyland is artificial, it’s a big fantasy place full of European castles. But he argues that all of America is in fact an illusion; it’s all as constructed. It’s just that because Disneyland is clearly hyperreal, we look at Las Angeles and popular culture etc as being concrete and true. He’s arguing that everything is constructed, that everything has moved into a simulation.

Umberto Eco (1932-Present).

“… once the "total fake" is admitted, in order to be enjoyed it must seem totally real. So the Polynesian restaurant will have, in addition to a fairly authentic menu, Tahitian waitresses in costume, appropriate vegetation, rock walls with little cascades, and once you are inside nothing must lead you to suspect that outside there is anything but Polynesia… And if in the wax museums wax is not flesh, in Disneyland, when rocks are involved, they are rock, and water is water… When there is a fake hippopotamus, dinosaur, sea serpent it is not so much because it wouldn't be possible to have the real equivalent but because the public is meant to admire the perfection of the fake and its obedience to the program… A real crocodile can be found in the zoo, and as a rule it is dozing or hiding, but Disneyland tells us that faked nature corresponds much more to our daydream demands. When, in the space of twenty-four hours, you go… from the fake New Orleans of Disneyland to the real one, and from the wild river of Adventureland to a trip on the Mississippi, where the captain of the paddle-wheel steamer says it is possible to see alligators on the banks of the river, and then you don't see any, you risk feeling homesick for Disneyland, where the wild animals don't have to be coaxed. Disneyland tells us that technology can give us more reality than nature can…”

He is discussing how Disneyland makes the world even more vivid than the world is. The problem is that when we’ve been to Disneyland, and we’ve seen nature perfected; when we’ve seen environments at their most perfect, the world that we live in starts to feel less by comparison; the real world that surrounds us starts to feel disappointing, bland and banal.

‘The pleasure of imitation, as the ancients knew, is one of the most innate in the human spirit; but here we not only enjoy a perfect imitation, we also enjoy the conviction that imitation has reached its apex and afterwards reality will always be inferior to it…’

So this made up reality starts to feel superior and preferable to the world in which we actually live.


‘Just outside Disney World, in Florida, you will find the spankingly ever-sowired, futuristic new town of Celebration - the one satirized in the film Shrek. Celebration was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself. He wanted to create a town with a sense of community and cleanliness…

…one clue that there is something a little peculiar about Celebration is that it looks scarily like the suburb that imprisoned Jim Carrey in The Truman Show… Another is the constant hype that Celebration is ‘real’…
… But what really casts doubt on the reality of the place is the way it pretends to some kind of permanence. Most of the homes are designed in turn-of-the century
style, like almost every Disney film you’ve ever seen. The shops have signs with bogus foundation dates like ‘since 1905’ when actually everything is less than five years old. It is designed to give a timeless sense of what smalltown America used to be like - or should have been like… Muzak is piped from speakers built into the roots of the palm trees in the streets…

Disney’s brochures call it a ‘hopscotch-and-tag neighborhood to be viewed from a front porch swing’ and a ‘special place for families … in a time of innocence.’

‘…When some of the families involved decided to pack up and leave, Disney offered to waive the rule that they couldn’t profit from the sale if they left in less than a year - but only on condition they signed a contract promising never to reveal their reasons for wanting to go…

… There are whole phone directories full of rules for residents… These can’t be changed, even by the elected Homeowners’ Association, without the written approval of the company. All power remains behind the scenes with Disney for as long as they want it…’

So this is a real town for real people but actually the truth is that there are rules. To maintain that perfection, certain things have to be managed and taken care of.


‘When people today talk about the real thing… they often mean something old-fashioned. They mean ‘real’ linen sheets or ‘real’ country villages with thatched roofs, of ‘real’ meals of roast beef… The trouble with that kind of real is that it harks back to days where authenticity was bought, either at great expense, or by misusing
women or black people or poor people, to provide these so-called ‘real’ things…

There’s a worrying extreme conservatism that lurks behind this. There are those who believe that an ‘authentic’ English town means that only people of Anglo-Saxon descent live there…’

Where do we get the idea of what is real?

For some people real was actually about suppressing the rights of others. So that real was just a construct, it was just a set of ideas by someone else to present the world in a particular way.

Truth is the one thing that we cannot rely on anymore.

“We live, not inside reality, but inside our representations of it.”

“According to Baudrillard what has happened in postmodern culture is that our society has become so reliant on models and maps [images] that we have lost all contact with the real world that preceded the map.

In his essay, he uses as a metaphor, the story of people who build a full sized map of their world and then they decide not to live in the world, but to live in the map version of the world. And while they’re living in the map version of the world, the real world crumbles and deteriorates. So they move from the reality into the simulation. He uses this to suggest that, that is what we are doing all the time, we are moving away from what is real into existing in a simulation. His problem is that we no longer know the difference between the two things.

“Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world… It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real.

Baudrillard is not merely suggesting that postmodern culture is artificial, because the concept of artificiality still requires some sense of reality against which to recognize the artifice. His point… is that we have lost all ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice.”

He [Baudrillard] argues that there are three "orders of simulacra":

1) in the first order of simulacra… the image is a clear counterfeit of the real;
the image is recognized as just an illusion, a place marker for the real.

2) in the second order of simulacra… the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down because of mass production and the proliferation of copies. Such production misrepresents and masks an underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it. However, there is still a belief that, through critique or effective political action, one can still access the hidden fact of the real.

3) in the third order of simulacra, which is associated with the postmodern age, we are confronted with a precession of simulacra; that is, the representation precedes and determines the real. There is no longer any distinction between reality and its representation; there is only the simulacrum.

We now think this simulation is the world, and real.


It’s there job to ensure the food we eat tastes like we expect it to. They give us the flavours and smells that we associate with real things.

Based on their based about savoury:

“Succulent beef, delicate chicken, and tangy cheese lead the way for IFF’s family of savoury flavour profiles… Whatever your product segment, IFF’s outstanding savoury meat, tomato, dairy, seafood, and vegetable flavours deliver the true taste, aroma, and mouthfeel for every consumer preference.”

Notice the use of the word true in ‘true taste’. This isn’t a company dealing with the reality of food, this isn’t someone giving us a steak, it’s someone giving us a hyper experience of steak; what we would imagine steak to taste like. Recall the scene in The Matrix where they can’t choose between porridge or a fake steak. The idea is, is it a steak if it tastes like a steak.

Character Design Crit Evaluation...

On thursday we had our first crit of our second year after 10 weeks of working on the character design project. I was given Western Kung Fu fighters as my genre mashup for the unit which at first i wasn't too sure about, but after i while, i found that it could be quite interesting. In the end, i came up with a heroin who is agile and is able to fire ninja stars from her heels, a trusty companion called Yang who's a horse with the ability to kick and punch kung fu style, and a sheriff turned evil, based on the design of a dragon. Overall, i feel a fair bit of work and research went inot this, but i'm extremely disappointed with my end product as i don't think i did myself any justice and i'm still waiting to create a final piece of work that i'm actually proud to show yet. I feel that Alan's comments about being stuck in first gear were spot on and this is something that i need to address immediately. I'm still trying to find a work ethic and process that works well for me, as i found myself quite exhausted in this past ten weeks and it feels like it was all for nothing. However, i can take some positives from this unit, as i feel more confident in my dawing skills because there was a lot of good stuff i drew on my blog, mainly reference images, but i felt this helped boost my confidence in terms of drawing. Now i look forward to the rest of the units, taking the ideas i have and refining them into strong pieces of work i'm proud to show everyone. Bring it on...

Transcription Initial Thoughts and Ideas...

I've been thinking about this unit for the past few days, trying to gather up initial thoughts and ideas about what route i would like to go down and from the word go, i've just wanted to adapt a story into a short animation. I think it's about time that i produced a piece of work that i'm proud of and i vow that this will be the one.

Since i've been watching a fair few animations recently, i've become particularly interested in Czech and Eastern European Stop motion and short animations. I'm really fascinated by the dark and surreal tones and moods in their work and i find them very stylistic and visual pleasing. This is definitely something i'd like to consider doing, possibly using a folktale or adult fairytale to create a very dark, stylistic and visually pleasing short animation. Two possible characters that come to mind are the devil, which is always fascinating to try and visualise as a dark character and Death, who poses another fascination in terms of character design. I particular like this idea of selling your soul, and with the devil in particular, i like the idea of attempting to visualise hell in a surrealist's way. This is definitely something i'm going to look into, and i'm sure there's many art works that i can drawon for inspiration.

Transcription Briefing...

In an artistic context, Transcription describes a process of interpretation from one source to another. For example, a piece of music being visualised as a music video or a book being imagined as a film.

We are commissioned to create a transcribed piece or work of our own choice, transforming an abstract source into a visual form – For example this could be Music to Music Video, Music to Animated Short, Text (Novel or Short Story) to Character Design, Text (Novel or Short Story) to Animated Short etc. This piece should be of an appropriate length (2-3 minutes) and we are asked to produce a pipeline of work from pre-production to production to post-production. We are also asked to provide a 'Making of...' document, a technical paper and a demo reel as well as maintaining our progress on the blog and continuing to develop our personal identities and brands.

Alice (1988) by Jan Svankmajer...

Alice is a 1988 Czech surrealist fantasy film by Jan Švankmajer. It retells Lewis Carroll's first 'Alice' book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in Švankmajer's unique style. The film combines live action with stop motion animation. The movie is considered a cult movie. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.8 out of 10 based on 13 reviews.

What i love about Svankmajer's work is his particularly unique style, and Alice is definitely no exception to his other works. I became very fond of the characters from start to end which never failed to fascinate me. The white rabbit was a beautiful masterclass of his stop motion animation skills and the transition between the actress and doll was extremely uncanny. Particular scenes that i enjoyed in this film were the white rabbit coming to life, which was beautifully thought and animated. The doormouse cooking on Alice's head which was another clever scene, as the mouse made use of her hair and other utensils to start a fire. The scene with Alice falling down the bucket and into the elevator was so dark and magical, as we watched her slowly work her way down each level. Also, particular characters that i fell in love with were the white rabbit, which was made from a dead stuffed rabbit, the caterpillar, which was made from a sock and teeth, and the march hare, which was a stuffed wind-up toy that moved around on wheels. Overall, Alice is another masterclass of Svankmajer's beautiful stop motion skills and unique style, incorporating everything that i've loved from his animated shorts into a beautifully constructed feature-length film that does Lewis Carroll's novel a lot of justice. This is by far one of my favourite adaptations of Alice in Wonderland and definitely the most stunning visually.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Fallen Art (2005)...

Although the story in this animation is very strange and surreal, it doesn't take away from the wonderful cg and character design. I love the textures in the animation and the designs of the characters are very bold and memorable.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Plato's Cave...

Inside the cave

Socrates begins by describing a scenario in which what people take to be real would in fact be an illusion. He asks Glaucon to imagine a cave inhabited by prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since childhood: not only are their arms and legs held in place, but their heads are also fixed, compelled to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which people walk carrying things on their heads "including figures of men and animals made of wood, stone and other materials". The prisoners watch the shadows cast by the men, not knowing they are shadows. There are also echoes off the wall from the noise produced from the walkway.

Socrates suggests the prisoners would take the shadows to be real things and the echoes to be real sounds, not just reflections of reality, since they are all they had ever seen or heard. They would praise as clever whoever could best guess which shadow would come next, as someone who understood the nature of the world, and the whole of their society would depend on the shadows on the wall.

Release from the cave

Socrates next introduces something new to this scenario. Suppose that a prisoner is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows, he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be more real than what he sees.

"Suppose further," Socrates says, "that the man was compelled to look at the fire: wouldn't he be struck blind and try to turn his gaze back toward the shadows, as toward what he can see clearly and hold to be real? What if someone forcibly dragged such a man upward, out of the cave: wouldn't the man be angry at the one doing this to him? And if dragged all the way out into the sunlight, wouldn't he be distressed and unable to see "even one of the things now said to be true," viz. the shadows on the wall?

After some time on the surface, however, Socrates suggests that the freed prisoner would acclimate. He would see more and more things around him, until he could look upon the Sun. He would understand that the Sun is the "source of the seasons and the years, and is the steward of all things in the visible place, and is in a certain way the cause of all those things he and his companions had been seeing".

Return to the cave

Socrates next asks Glaucon to consider the condition of this man. "Wouldn't he remember his first home, what passed for wisdom there, and his fellow prisoners, and consider himself happy and them pitiable? And wouldn't he disdain whatever honors, praises, and prizes were awarded there to the ones who guessed best which shadows followed which? Moreover, were he to return there, wouldn't he be rather bad at their game, no longer being accustomed to the darkness? "Wouldn't it be said of him that he went up and came back with his eyes corrupted, and that it's not even worth trying to go up? And if they were somehow able to get their hands on and kill the man who attempts to release and lead up, wouldn't they kill him?"

Remarks on the allegory

Socrates remarks that this allegory can be taken with what was said before, viz. the metaphor of the Sun, and the divided line. In particular, he likens

"the region revealed through sight" – the ordinary objects we see around us – "to the prison home, and the light of the fire in it to the power of the Sun. And in applying the going up and the seeing of what's above to the soul's journey to the intelligible place, you not mistake my expectation, since you desire to hear it. A god doubtless knows if it happens to be true. At all events, this is the way the phenomena look to me: in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful – in the visible realm it gives birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence – and that the man who is going to act prudently in private or in public must see it".

After "returning from divine contemplations to human evils", a man "is graceless and looks quite ridiculous when – with his sight still dim and before he has gotten sufficiently accustomed to the surrounding darkness – he is compelled in courtrooms or elsewhere to contend about the shadows of justice or the representations of which they are the shadows, and to dispute about the way these things are understood by men who have never seen justice itself?"

Oktapodi (2007)...

Burning Safari...

An Animation per day... Fimfarum (2002)...

Starting with Fimfarum, a puppet stop motion animation, i've decided to watch an animation per day to help further my knowledge and understanding of the medium.

Fimfárum Jana Wericha was directed by Aurel Klimt and Vlasta Pospísilová in 2002 which presents five independent stories deriving from Czech folktale. The first of these, "When Leaves Fall from the Oak," tells of how a drunken peasant makes a deal with the devil, whom that man subsequently outwits. The second, "Fearless Frankie," relates how the father of a young man who is afraid of nothing arranges for his son to spend a night in a tavern where the spirits of the dead gather to gamble and cavort. The third, "Mean Barbara," revolves around the efforts of various persons to dispose of the body of a miserly old woman. The fourth, "A Dream Fulfilled," is about an elderly farmer who squanders his money playing the lottery, and the last tale, "Fimfárum," centers on a blacksmith with a scheming, unfaithful wife who is forced to perform a variety of impossible tasks.

Fimfarum is beautifully visual example of traditional puppetry and stop-motion anitaion which has been combined with some strange but interesting Czech folktale. In particular, the environments are very surreal and artistic, which combined with the strange and uncanny puppets create very interesting worlds. However, i would have liked to have seen a darker art direction on these stories as they are very light hearted. One story In particular, "When Leaves Fall from the Oak", which deals with the devil and we see the character go through hell, doesn't have enough vigour and conviction in its exuction of art direction. I really felt the animators could have gone to town with the style and visual aesthetic of these scenes. However, i did like their interpretation of hell, which did have some artistic style. Overall, i loved the short Czech animations mainly because theyre completely different to the kinds of folktale we are used to and the puppetry was wonderful to watch, with beautifully simplistic environments, models and characters.

Thursday, 25 November 2010