My Animals, People, and Those In Between class came to a an end yesterday, but the projects presented have so much potential for future expansion and exploration. I was glad to be able to soak in the presentations without having to think about presenting myself, since Pat and I had gone last week. Phew!
Emily started off the class with an awesome presentation on Tracking Parrots with a proposal she had created. I didn’t get a chance to photograph her booklet, but her slides did the best job of illustrating the plight of parrots and the history of tracking them.
Allison then took us outside the class to a video installation that she had made. It consisted of an expertly crafted foam rabbit that was covered in hair, with small rectangles cut into it. When she pulled out one of the rectangles we peered in with delight to see little videos that related to the many facets of rabbits, from their virility to their cuteness. The visceral feel of pulling out one of the rectangles with a fork stuck into it was eerie in a fantastic way, because she had put so much time into painting muscles, blood, and subcutaneous fat. Tsukino Usagi!
Antonius then led us back to the class and read us a poem about the ant. Then he had us call into a Processing sketch that he had written that allowed you to control an ant that creeped over a resting human and elephant. He explained that there is a different version of rock, paper, scissors that consists of an elephant, ant, and human. He then said that the ant should be able to take down both the human and elephant by crawling in their ears. A game of domination and crazy logic indeed!
Jenine then presented a series of animations and voice recordings of New Yorkers and their dogs. This one was one of my favorites, even though my photos of her animations came out in psychedelic colors because of the projector. The stories that New Yorkers told through the inner voices of their dogs ranged from hilarious to heartwarming, and I really think she should expand on both the story collection and animation. Something about them reminded me of Waking Life, and I liked that and the effort some owners took to get into the minds of their pets.
Molly then had us dive into the mysterious world of eels. her first animation was interesting because of its narrow frame that made you feel as though you were in transit, flowing with the eels on their journey to monstrous maturity. Contrary to what seemed to be common opinion, I felt that the animation did in fact take you through the life cycle of the eel in an unusual way that used many styles of media and animation. It definitely needs to be seen on a clearer screen, as I hate hate hate projectors and their low lumens and contrast.
Her second, surprise project was pretty much awesome, as it showed a small farm of elvers swimming about with guar gum jelly on top of the screen. When encouraged to touch the substance, most people really liked the feel, even if it was messy. That added a unique tactile dimension to an animation that was already interesting. Molly is a master animator.
Melissa then took us to the quiet room for a demonstration of her triptych of suspended screens that flipped through images from a slide projector—yes, a SLIDE PROJECTOR. Call me simple, but the clicking noises, whirr of the machine, and lo-fi visuals really did it for me. I had only a small knowledge of dressage and horses, but I absorbed the fact that it is all about conditioning certain behaviors in a horse, akin to brainwashing—but more like bodywashing. Can I coin that term? Does Axe or Old Spice own it?
Michelle ended the show with an innovative space that she created for watching whales on the beach. This was easily my favorite project, because it reminded me of home in the Pacific Northwest. It also reminded me of some Quaker Meeting Houses with huge windows to bring in light and Shinto structures meant to focus the attention on a specific view and state of mind. The fact that it recorded the sounds of those within was interesting to me, but I was more fascinated with it playing whale songs, than I was hearing previous watchers’ conversations in modulated tones. I think the idea of a special place that paralleled Inuit traditions that concern whale killing and observation was at the center of the project and that was what spoke to me strongest.
I thoroughly enjoyed the explorations throughout this class and seeing my classmates envision animals in ways that were powerful and enchanting.