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.

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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”

Reel 13 Shorts

Please take a moment to vote for my short animated film Toronto Alice.

Each week, Reel 13 presents three Short films for consideration. Viewers vote for their favorite, and the winner airs on Saturday night along with our Classic and Independent feature films. Be sure to check back each week to vote for your favorite – new films appear each Saturday night at midnight; voting continues through Wednesday at 5pm. — WNED PBS (Buffalo).

VOTE HERE: http://www.thirteen.org/reel13/vote/

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Wunderkammer title sequence

A wunderkammer, also known as a “cabinet of curiosities”, is a place in which a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited. The cabinet kept inside Madelaine’s stately Victorian home was a very curious one, indeed. A tale of secrets, sexual fantasy, and embroidery.

My latest paper cutout animation project, coming in 2017. No pun intended.

New Horizon International Film Festival, Wrocław, Poland.

New Horizon Polish

I’m delighted to announce that Toronto Alice will screen on July 31st in the Children’s Films program at New Horizon International Film Festival in Wrocław, Poland. Considering that my use of paper cutouts is largely inspired by the work of Polish animators Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowyck, the inclusion of my film in this Polish film festival feels like a sort of stylistic homecoming.

Wunderkammer: Cabinets of Curiosity.

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A wunderkammer, otherwise known as a cabinet of curiosity. This is an animated GIF testing out the opening motion of the doors to the cabinet in my film.

 

Hello, my darklings. Sorry for the prolonged absence from this blog, as I’ve begun working on my new animation project entitled Wunderkammer. This project sees the return of Madelaine, the mysterious Victorian lady from my previous short films La Petite Mort (2013) and An Unfortunate Incident Involving Her Hat (2012). As always, curious happenings befall Madelaine. In the latter film, Madelaine became the victim of a very bizarre wardrobe malfunction, and in the former, she engaged in a romantic — but ultimately tragic — tryst with an octopus. Similarly, in Wunderkammer her uncanny adventures continue.

For those not familiar with the term, a wunderkammer was a Renaissance-era predecessor of the modern museum collection. Below is a definition copied from the Tate Modern web site:

Wunderkammer or curiosity cabinets were collections of rare, valuable, historically important or unusual objects, which generally were compiled by a single person, normally a scholar or nobleman, for study and/or entertainment. […]Exotic natural objects, art, treasures and diverse items of clothing or tools from distant lands and cultures were all sought for the wunderkammer. Particularly highly prized were unusual and rare items which crossed or blurred the lines between animal, vegetable and mineral. Examples of these were corals and fossils and above all else objects such as narwhal tusks which were thought to be the horns of unicorns and were considered to be magical.

— excerpt from “History of the wunderkammern (cabinet of curiosities).”

I include here some pencil sketches of the various items and curios found inside the wunderkammer of my film (subject to change as the project evolves, of course).

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Three wet specimen jars containing (left to right) a jellyfish, octopus, and a snake. The octopus is a small nod to my previous film La Petite Mort. 

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Conjoined twins preserved within a glass specimen container (container not drawn yet).

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Pair of tsantsa, or shrunken human heads. Sure, this might be culturally insensitive, but tsantsa were wildly popular in the 19th century as items of “curiosity” in European cabinets.

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Taxidermy monkey with martini glass. Taxidermy of all kind was popular inside wunderkammer. Not entirely happy with this sketch, and I may revisit at a later date.

eye-cloud

What it looks like: a cloud with a single eye. This never existed inside any wunderkammer, but it does inside mine.

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The mysterious box. Believe it or not, the contents of this box will prove to be the most strange and curious item inside my wunderkammer. Stay tuned.