“Ouroboros”, a new short film by Jennifer Linton

SYNOPSIS

Ouroboros spins a loose narrative of joy, grief, death and rebirth, all told through looping images printed on physical animation devices known as phonotropes. Much like the titular ouroboros, a symbolic snake that devours its own tail, everything in life is a loop.

After three years — two of which were significantly hindered by my concussion and subsequent recovery, in addition to a global pandemic and various lockdowns — my phonotrope project has finally reached its conclusion with the release of a 6-minute experimental animated short film featuring four different phonotropes and original music created by my frequent collaborator, Zev Farber. The film is currently being submitted to various film festivals worldwide, and will be released online thereafter.

Ouroboros captures my ongoing fascination with physical animation devices known as phonotropes — a contemporary update on the 19th-century pre-cinema device, the zoetrope — which uses a record turntable and a video camera to capture the magic of the animated loops. Created during the various pandemic lockdowns and shot entirely on my smartphone, this short film visualizes perpetual cycles of beginnings, endings, and the inevitable reset of the loop.

Ouroboros: Tears, 7-inch playable vinyl phonotrope

A video showcasing my limited edition artist’s multiple 7-inch playable vinyl phonotrope.

The ouroboros is an ancient symbol of a snake devouring its own tail and represents cycles of birth, death, and renewal. Much like the animated loop, the ouroboros is designed to perpetually start, end, and then restart again. While the endless repetition of a looped sequence is commonplace in the realm of animation, a deeper and more profound reading can be teased out of these loops when placed within the context of the ouroboros, which represents cycles of nature to which humanity is inextricably bound. These cycles can include waves of pandemics that recur throughout history and serve as stark reminders that “history repeats” as we collectively look back at the past for models of how pandemics tend to play out. Cycles of loss and renewal can take many forms: the loss of life, the loss of relationships, and the loss of livelihood have effected the lives of many people during this current pandemic. Even given all these various losses, the seed of hope lies buried within the ouroboros cycle itself by virtue of its very design. With every end, a new beginning must start for the cycle to reset and continue, and it is this promise of renewal that offers hope. 

OUROBOROS:TEARS focuses on cycles of grief and mourning. The music on this disc was created by my collaborator Zev Farber. Interwoven within the repeating music loop of the soundtrack are audio fragments that recall electronic voice phenomena (EVP), sounds found on electronic recordings that are interpreted as spirit voices by parapsychologists (listen closely between 01:20 and 01:40).

This artist’s multiple is available for purchase in my Online Shop.

Experiments with phonotropes (part 2)

The first two phonotropes I’ve created for my current project.

After long last, I have finished the construction and assembly of my wedding cake” phonotrope, complete with all its various paper layers. In the rough, off-the-cuff smartphone video posted below, I give the phonotrope a quick whirl on my turntable.

Quick demonstration video of my vertical paper phonotrope. Music in this video created by Zev Farber.
Close-up of “wedding cake” phonotrope.

 The imagery on this phonotrope includes a twirling gold wedding ring, a hand holding this same ring, a snake that twists and turns into a variation on a figure-eight, and a weeping lover’s eye. Lover’s eye jewellery was popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when stylish aristocratic men and women often wore the miniature portraits depicting one eye (usually) of their spouse or lover. Typically painted on ivory, the tiny portraits were fashioned as brooches, rings, pendants, and lockets. The lover’s eye is surrounded by an ouroburos (a snake devouring its own tail, symbolic of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth), which ties back to the snake loop below (itself a looping infinity symbol) which appears on the first layer of this phonotrope.

I plan on building two more phonotropes, making the total number of phonotropes for my proposed installation four. Stay tuned.

Incidentally, below is a video of the first phonotrope in this series — this one prominently features a medusae jellyfish.

Phonotrope with medusae jellyfish, seahorses and waving seaweed.

Further investigations with phonotropes

Testing out the first layer of my vertical paper phonotrope.

In the video posted above, I’m testing out the first layer of my second phonotrope project (you can read about my technical process and first phonotrope here). I decided to play around with varying the number of frames in each animation, resulting in the animation moving horizontally. If you add frames, the animation moves right-to-left; if you subtract, it moves left-to-right. The snake in the centre has the “correct” number of frames (32) so it remains in the same location.

The flattened artwork. It’s shown 2-up, because I always like to print a spare.

Thinking about building an interior framework with balsa wood + dowling to minimize the wobble of the paper at the top. (The taller the paper structure gets, the more prone it is to wobble when rotated).

Now, on to the next layer/s for this phonotrope. Thinking of having one, and maybe two, additional layers on the inside of this phonotrope. Stay tuned.

Ottawa International Animation Festival 2019

OIAF Jen

Was delighted to have had the opportunity to visit the “biggest animation festival in North America”, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, late last month when they selected my short film Wunderkammer to screen in the Canadian Panorama program block. I was particularly delighted to see a still from my film act as the poster image for the entire program block (see photo above). I asked a random stranger to photograph me sitting under the monitor as we waited for the first screening.

The festival itself is fantastic, and well worth the visit for filmmakers and fans of animation alike. I credit this festival for selecting films that experiment and push the medium farther than most mainstream animation is willing to venture. There were a number of surprise “discoveries” for me at OIAF2019, and I plan to return for future incarnations of the festival.

Many thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for funding my travel to the festival.

OIAF canadian panorama

Wunderkammer Society’s Taxidermy Showcase in NYC, October 29, 2019.

I’m delighted to announce that my short animated film Wunderkammer will screen at the one-night only Beautiful & Bizarre Taxidermy Showcase happening in Brooklyn on October 29th. I can’t think of a more perfect pairing. Here’s the little blurb the event organizers wrote about my film:

 

What’s in the box? Madelaine’s cabinet of curiosities contained a collection of wonders to both delight and horrify. One day, a mysterious item in her cabinet captures her attention. A darkly-tinged fantasy that explores the erotic-grotesque. Intrigued? Find out more when we show Jennifer Linton’s short film, aptly titled, “Wunderkammer”! An official selection honoured at dozens of films festivals internationally, we are thrilled this independent animation, with richly textured paper cutouts and startling stop-motion, will welcome guests to our showcase! Tickets at https://bit.ly/2MwXwdm

Playing with paper puppets

 

In addition to teaching and making art and animated films, I like to make and sell articulated paper puppets for my Etsy shop. Think I just enjoy the straightforward, playful simplicity of puppets and paper dolls.

I recently made this short stop-motion video “commercial” to promote my shop — but, honestly, I just wanted to get some of these puppets under camera to see what I could do with them. Their range of motion is limited (most of the heads don’t move), but I was up for the challenge.

The music is just some royalty free loop I downloaded from Soundsnap.

May festival update 2019

Hi Darklings,

Quick update as to what’s happening in the world of all things papercut: Papercut Pictures and Papercut Puppets.

Firstly, my latest animated short Wunderkammer will screen May 11th at the Anifilm 2019 international animation festival in Třeboň, Czech Republic in the non-competitive programming block “Midnight Animation: Body”. This feels like a stylistic homecoming for this project, since it was inspired (in part) by Czech paper cutout animation, most notably the work of Jiří Trnka Studio in Prague (who created the feature-length cutout animation film Fantastic Planet).

In June, Wunderkammer screens on Thursday, June 6th at the granddaddy of North American underground film festivals, the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

Lastly, I continue to add to the paper puppets in my Etsy shop. Check in at regular intervals for the latest additions.

Festival updates (Spring 2019)

Hi there, gentle readers. March has proven a busy month for my short animated film Wunderkammer. It has screened (or will screen, at the time of writing) at three film festivals: the Boston Underground Film Festival, the Midwest Weirdfest (great name!), and the Las Palmas International Film Festival in the Canary Islands, Spain.

Sadly, my teaching commitments + costs of travel have prevented me from attending these festivals, but below are some screen captures from the festival web sites plus a nice little mention in a blog review from BUFF. Gotta love those naughty Victorians.