Haeckel’s Tears

Phonotrope with gold wedding ring, snakes, hands and weeping eye.

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

 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. I added this lover’s eye image to my current phonotrope as it purports to tell the story of the 19th-century marine biologist Ernst Haeckel and his young wife Anna, who died suddenly shortly after the couple were married.* 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 one more phonotrope, making the total number of phonotropes for my proposed Haeckel’s Tears installation three. I will video these again with decluttered backgrounds once I’ve completed all three. Have also decided to build a silhouette-style animation — telling the story of Ernst & Anna Haeckel — to fit around the videos of the phonotropes. Stay tuned.

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

Phonotrope with medusae jellyfish, seahorses and waving seaweed.

*The German biologist Ernst Haeckel was fascinated by medusae, the umbrella-shaped animals commonly called jellyfish. For Haeckel, whose imagination was shaped in the Romantic era, medusae expressed the exuberant yet fragile beauty of Nature. And in their ethereal forms he glimpsed a reflection of his great love Anna Sethe, who died tragically at the age of twenty-nine.

Haeckel had been engaged to Anna for four years when, in 1862, he became associate professor of zoology at the University of Jena. The job gave the adoring pair the economic security they needed to finally marry. In the same year, Haeckel published a book on radiolaria (microscopic plankton) which he furnished with stunning illustrations. In Jena, the newlyweds lived together in bliss for eighteen months. Then, on the day he was supposed to celebrate his thirtieth birthday and receive an award for his radiolaria book, Anna died suddenly, probably of a burst appendix. Haeckel became mad with grief. A partial delirium kept him in bed for eight days. A month later he wrote to a friend, “I am dead on the inside already and dead for everything. Life, nature, science have no appeal for me. How slowly the hours pass.”

Haeckel travelled to the Mediterranean town of Nice to attempt a recovery from his suicidal malaise. One day he took a walk and saw a medusa in a rock pool: “I enjoyed several happy hours watching the play of her tentacles which hang like blond hair-ornaments from the rim of the delicate umbrella-cap and which with the softest movement would roll up into thick short spirals.” He made a sketch and named the species Mitrocoma Annae [Anna’s headband].

The grace and beauty of the medusa soothed Haeckel’s grief and contributed to what would be a lifelong fascination with medusae.

— source.

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

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.

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.

 

 

Wunderkammer work-in-progress

Hello, my darklings. Thought I’d create a work-in-progress blog post for my ongoing Wunderkammer animation project. All of the images in this film are 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.

IMG_6367

IMG_6331

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.

wunder7

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/

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-8-45-07-pm-copy

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.