Female-generated erotica, lost in translation.

Recently, I tripped across an online review for my animated short film La Petite Mort on a French-language arts & culture magazine called Wukali. At least, I think it’s a review. The reason for my uncertainty is, of course, the absolutely horrendous French-to-English translation offered by Google Chrome. The author, identified as Pierre-Alain Lèvy, seems to be discussing the difference between erotica — that classy, art-directed tease who promises, but never quite delivers — and her more hardcore sister, pornography. This discussion name-drops a short list of Western civilization’s erotic art heavy-hitters, including Apollonaire, André Breton and Octave Mirbeau — the latter best known for his written anthology of sadism entitled Torture Garden — and alludes to Charles Baudelaire through his mention of Flowers of Evil.

It is notable that most of the names mentioned in the article are 19th and early 20th-century French men (Lèvy also mentions male Japanese artists Dan Kanemitsu and Katsushika Hokusai). Conspicuously absent are the historical women artists working with erotic content. Even the most cursory glance back at the early 20th-century in France summons the names of celebrated women writers Anaïs Nin, Colette, and Pauline Réage (author of the BDSM-themed novel The Story of O), all of whom would serve as better antecedents to my female-generated erotica than either Mirbeau or Baudelaire.

That said, Lèvy does correctly detect the influence of Japanese erotic art on La Petite Mort. A tiny reproduction of The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by Katsushika Hokusai is prominently placed within the frame, providing a strong hint at what’s to come in the narrative. As with many of my animation projects, the concept for the film began with a single image — the Hokusai print, in this case — and developed outwards from there. I asked myself questions such as: “What happened before that image? And what happened after?” The resulting animation is my response to those questions.

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“Masturbation Box”, by Toshio Saeki.

A similar tactic was employed in the development of my most recent animation project Wunderkammer, which grew as a response to an image by Toshio Saeki from his print series Masturbation Box. An astute reader will have already noted that both the Japanese artists I’ve mentioned are men. Regrettably, there are very few Japanese women artists engaged with this type of ero-guro or “erotic-grotesque” imagery — at least, of which I am aware (Junko Mizuno is the one name that springs to mind, though I’d classify her work as more gothic kawaii than truly ero-guro). I consider my animations as female-lensed erotica engaged in a game of call-and-answer with the content produced by these male Japanese artists. Wunderkammer expands the universe surrounding Saeki’s image to a considerable degree, however, fleshing out the story with my other various fixations such as cabinets of curiosity, oddities, taxidermy, octopuses, and Edwardian-style costumes and furnishings. And, of course, that mysterious box.

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Work-in-progress video still from “Wunderkammer” (projected release date Fall 2018).

Below is a screen capture of the Wukali article and here is a link to the original French article, which I imagine makes considerably more sense than the translated version offered here (if you can read French, that is).

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Preview clip of “Wunderkammer”

Preview clip for “Wunderkammer”. from Jennifer Linton on Vimeo.

The entire film of Wunderkammer is under lock-and-key on Vimeo until it’s had a festival run, but you can get a taste of it in this clip. Very pleased with the original score composed by Zev Farber.

SYNOPSIS:
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, animated fantasy that explores the erotic-grotesque.

ABOUT THIS FILM
Wunderkammer is a 2D stop-motion animated film shot under camera using unarmatured, replacement paper cutouts. This traditional animation medium involves hundreds of individual drawings that are drawn on paper, scanned, printed, hand-coloured and cutout. These cutouts are swapped in frame-to-frame to create smooth, complex movements not possible with articulated paper puppets. The resulting film has all the hand-drawn charm and personality of traditional cel animation, plus the lovely textures and materiality of stop-motion.

Many thanks to the kind generosity of my Indiegogo contributors!

Copyright ©2018 Papercut Pictures. All rights reserved.

June 2018 Update

Hello gentle renders. It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper Lady Lazarus blog post, therefore I feel that an update is long overdue. My various teaching gigs and ongoing animation project have, predictably, commandeered my time and energy. However, I now can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

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Work-in-progress video still from “Wunderkammer” (projected release date Fall 2018).

First off, I just completed all of the footage for my short animated film Wunderkammer. This project has been three years in the making, with the occasional long pause in the work flow due to my teaching jobs. That’s a fairly lengthy birth process, but I’m happy to report that this baby is (mostly) birthed. I have edited together all the footage, and am now giving final consideration to the overall pacing before I deliver the film to be scored. I can hardly wait to both see and hear this strange little short film.

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Second bit of news, my crowdsourced fundraising campaign is drawing to a close and –I’m delighted to report — we’ve surpassed our funding goal. I’m very, very grateful to all the contributors who offered their hard-earned cash to support this project. These funds will help pay for the music, and also help with the submission fees to film festivals. I’m hoping for a 1-2 year festival run, during which time the film will not be viewable for free online. Fingers crossed that this weird animated film finds it’s festival audience.

Interview with Shunga Gallery

Hello, gentle readers. Back in January of this year, I had the pleasure of being interviewed via email by the Shunga Gallery blog. Below is our conversation:

Shunga Gallery:  I love the use of the intertitles in your subversive tales as they were added in the movies of the silent era. What appeals to you about this style?

Jennifer Linton: The intertitles serve a couple of purposes. As you mentioned, they call back to the era of silent film. The paper cutout-style of animation I’ve used is one of the earliest forms of stop-motion animation and would’ve been contemporary to films that employed intertitles. On a basic level, having inter titles meant that I didn’t need to incorporate a voiceover narration. Also, the poetic rhyming of the text nicely reinforced the Victorian-derived aesthetic of the film, and provided opportunity for humour.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 3.03.44 PM

SG: One of the paintings in the background of La Petite Mort is of Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. Also in both (and more of your) movies the octopus is an important character and a recurring theme. What’s your fascination with Hokusai’s print and the octopus in general?

JL: I’ve long held a fascination with a type of Japanese illustration that depicts ero-guro content. This type of content combines eroticism with absurd and grotesque elements. Hokusai’s famous shunga print predates the era of ero-guro-nansensu by over a century, but was highly influential on this later cultural material. The octopus is a fascinating creature; intelligent and beautifully alien to our eyes. The movement of an octopus’s tentacles looks great in an animation, which I one reason I use them so frequently.

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SG: Also striking are the articulated figures in your movies. Is this for aesthetic or practical reasons? Are you familair with the articulated puppets used in the toy prints (shikake-e) in shunga ?

JL: The articulation of the paper puppets serves the practical purpose of allowing them to be animated, but I’m also a fan of the aesthetic of paper puppets. While the movement of such puppets can be stiff and unnatural, this stiffness works great with material that is surreal, fantastic and dream-like. Surprisingly, I was not previously familiar with shikake-e puppets! Thank you for alerting me to this tradition.

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Video still from “Domestikia, Chapter 3: La Petite Mort”, 2013. Directed by Jennifer Linton.

SG: What movies and/or artworks had the greatest impact on you and your art and why?

JL: I’m a big cinephile, so there are many, many films and artworks that impact and influence me. My current animation project (entitled Wunderkammer) took an image from Toshio Saeki’s Masturbation Box as a creative jumping-off point, for instance.

Thank you Marijn at Shunga Gallery for the interview.

Update on “Wunderkammer”

Hello! Welcome to the cold, dark days surrounding the Winter Solstice. It’s been a while since I last blogged, so I thought I’d post an update on the progress of my paper cutout animation Wunderkammer. I’m about two-thirds of the way complete, so I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the animation tunnel. It’s a very, very long tunnel. Thus far, the footage amounts to only two-and-a-half minutes which, on the one hand, doesn’t seem like much. On the other hand, it truly is. Twenty-four frames a second, gentle readers.

Now that the Fall term in my teaching job is winding down for the Winter break, my production should pick up somewhat. Below is a scene that I completed two days ago. There’s no audio yet. Enjoy!

 

Wunderkammer work-in-progress video

Hello, my darklings. Thought I’d create a work-in-progress blog post for my ongoing Wunderkammer animation project. Above you can see a video of the final render for scene 8, in which the contents of the titular wunderkammer are revealed. All of the images in this scene were drawn by hand, scanned and output as large-format greyscale prints. These prints are then coloured with coloured pencils and, in some cases, cut out. Once the backgrounds and cutouts are complete, I shoot them under-camera using stop-motion techniques. Below are a couple of quick cellphone photos of this work process.

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Wunderkammer update

Work-in-progress shots of my latest paper cutout animation project, entitled Wunderkammer.* Coming in 2018.

SYNOPSIS: Madelaine’s cabinet of curiosities contains wonders strange, frightening, and erotic.

*A wunderkammer, also known as a “cabinet of curiosities”, is a place in which a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited.

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Storyboard image from “Wunderkammer”