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: 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.

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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. 

Interview at Oberhausen

Whilst attending the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in Germany this month (May 2016), I had the pleasure of being interviewed by three young German journalism students. We had a brief conversation about my film in the festival Toronto Alice. They recently sent me a link to the interview, and I used Camtasia to capture it in order to share it with you, my readers. There is no video, only audio.

At one point in the recording, you’ll hear my voice mutter the word “ambiguous” over top of the interview. This was in response to — and a correction of — my previous misuse of the word “ambivalent” during the interview.

The Astounding Thaumatrope

Photo of my thaumatropes in the Magic Gumball Machine of Fate located at Artscape Youngplace in Toronto.

Photo of my thaumatropes in the Magic Gumball Machine of Fate located at Artscape Youngplace in Toronto.

The thaumatrope was an 18th-century toy constructed from a simple disk or card featuring a different picture on each side and attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled rapidly the card rotates on its axis and the two images appear to combine.

The embedded video below demonstrates one of the four different thaumatropes I created as an artist’s multiple for Nuit Blanche 2015 in Toronto**. You can purchase your very own for the princely sum of $2 from the The Magic Gumball Machine of Fate, which will be located at 522 Queen Street West. Bring your twoonies!

**an annual, all-night visual arts event that takes place in the downtown core of Toronto.

Tentacled Darling of the Underground.

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Hello, gentle readers. This summer — though not quite over yet — has whizzed by at an alarming rate and those crisp mornings so characteristic of autumn are beginning to cool the air, causing us to reach for that added layer of clothing. As many of you may know, I was preoccupied this summer with producing, and then promoting, my latest short animated film Toronto Alice. With this task now complete, I thought I should mention the activities of that other child of mine, La Petite Mort, which has lately become the tentacled darling of the ‘underground’ film festival circuit.

Last night (August 26), La Petite Mort screened at the UnderGround Short Film Festival in Cork, Ireland. (Wish I could’ve been there, but the finances just didn’t allow for a trip to Ireland). Earlier in the summer, this film was also featured in the Montreal Underground Film Festival — which touts the delightful acronym of MUFF — where it was nominated for the 2015 Jury Prize/Nomination pour un prix du jury MUFF 2015. It was also featured in the Planet X program at the Winnipeg Underground Film Festival, a program that promised “some of the weirdest movies you will ever see” (a notion of which I most heartily approve) .
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Beyond the underground film fest circuit, La Petite Mort has enjoyed some loving from the, ahem, ‘alternative’ porn film festivals like the PopPorn5 Film Festival in São Paulo, Brazil, and the granddaddy of them all, the Berlin Porn Film Festival. Both festivals categorized La Petite Mort under “fetish”, which is a fact I find endlessly funny. These festivals are not dedicated to (what I would characterize as) the mainstream “bleached blonde, breast implants and long, acrylic nails” brand of American-produced pornography, but rather the “pierced, tattooed and hairy armpits” type of alternative, frequently feminist or LGBT, produced porn — which is something I philosophically support. Below is a write-up on La Petite Mort from Lucie Blush, a filmmaker who produces pornography directed at women.

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Toronto Alice

After much thought, I’ve decided to post the entire short film of Toronto Alice online for all to see. Even though I’ve submitted to a bunch of festivals, I decided that wider exposure online was worth the risk of disqualifying the film from a handful of festivals.

If you enjoy, then please share widely. Thanks.

Toronto Alice update, January 2015.

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Baby, it’s cold outside. Good time of the year to hide out in one’s basement studio, making things move a little bit at a time. After a very busy Fall term at my teaching jobs, I’ve settled down a bit with a lighter course load for the Winter. This is very good news for my Toronto Alice animation project, which is now back in progress. Only 01:27 done thus far, but we’re getting there.