Firstly, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year!
I have a brand new paper puppet to share with you all:
This is Wilfred the Wizard, a magical marmalade cat. While other wizards may apply their art of alchemy towards transmuting base metals into gold, Wilfred prefers to focus his arcane knowledge towards conjuring catnip and other treats.
Final size of puppet once assembled: 9″ H x 6″ W
Available as a digital download, a DIY puppet kit, and as a pre-assembled puppet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello darklings. As we approach the quiet dark of the Winter Solstice, I have two pieces of news to share with you. Firstly, I was thrilled to have my short animated film Wunderkammer featured on the Cult of Weird web site. Fans of this compendium of all-things odd and weird are the perfect audience for this project.
Second, Wunderkammer will have its world festival premiere at the Medusa Underground Film Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 11-13, 2019. Here’s the description of the festival from their web site:
The Medusa Underground Film Festival is a three day event in Las Vegas, NV showcasing underground/strange and unusual films created by women. Dreamt up by filmmakers for filmmakers, the goal behind the fest is to provide a space where everyone can watch each other’s movies together, get inspired and network.
Not sure what is considered “underground”? We accept all genres and if it’s strange, experimental, cult, genre mashup…or is just all around hard to define, you’re probably in the right place.
Yep, that definitely sounds like what I do. Can’t wait. I’m slotted into the Erotic Block. I anticipate questions, many questions.
A couple of months ago, I was interviewed in my studio by my friend and colleague, Lionel Bebbington. We shot a couple of hours of footage, during which I discussed my inspirations, craft and process. Here’s the completed, 12-minute video. Enjoy!