My installation The Disobedient Dollhouse will be featured in the curated group show Blueprints at Hamilton’s Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts. This exhibition will also screen my two recent animated videos Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery and Domestikia, Chapter 3, La Petite Mort. Show runs from January 17 – March 1, 2014. The opening reception will take place Friday, February 14 at 7 – 10 p.m.
Just in time for Christmas: My Alphabet Of Anxieties & Desires depicts all twenty-six letters of the Roman alphabet in original, highly-rendered illustrations. While based on the format of a child’s alphabet book, this book is most assuredly for adults. If you prefer a book that you can actually touch, then you’ll appreciate the high-quality paper and printing. Ships directly to your doorstep, no matter where you are. Sweet.
The book is 40 full-colour pages, printed on a premium matte paper with a perfect-bound softcover. There’s a short preface written by myself, and a thought-provoking foreword by Judith Mintz.
An animated logo for my brand, Papercut Pictures. The logo emphasizes my low-fi, anti-realist and “anti-slick” aesthetic and approach to both paper cutouts and stop-motion animation. I also wanted to stress the vintage style that my films often possess. The butterfly, one of my repeating motifs, makes a brief appearance.
Back in July of 2010, I wrote a blog post entitled The Haunted Dollhouse in which I briefly discussed this interesting and unconventional approach to the miniature house. Created by artists and hobbyists alike, the haunted dollhouse can range greatly from the kitschy, Halloween-themed miniature festooned with cotton-batting cobwebs and tiny jack o’ lanterns, to epic, post-apocalyptic landscapes created in miniature scale by a team of artists. Now, before I venture further in my discussion, I should define my use of the word dollhouse and explain that I’m employing it in the broadest possible sense. While the spooky Halloween-themed dollhouse can be more readily defined as a house, the post-apocalyptic landscape — while still miniature in scale — is less traditionally identifiable as such. Both, however, are miniatures that share a common link to the uncanny (see below).
So, with semantics out of the way, let’s continue with a quote taken from my earlier post on the dollhouse that links our enjoyment of the miniature with the experience of the uncanny:
There’s something inherently unnerving about a dollhouse. While we can easily admire and delight in its minuscule detail, this admiration is frequently accompanied by a sense of unease. This simultaneous intermingling of delight-with-unease is a manifestation of the uncanny — a sensation of anxiety experienced when one encounters “something familiar, yet foreign.” The dollhouse, with its miniaturized approximation of reality, recalls the familiar domestic setting of the home. At the same time, it falls short of appearing truly real. It’s the tension that exists within this disconnect — the miniature’s approximation of scaled-down reality with its inevitable failure — that contributes to our experience of the uncanny.
To reiterate, the uncanny is a sense of discomfort within the familiar setting of the home. I would argue that since the dollhouse is already imbued with an element of the uncanny, it’s not a far stretch to imagine and reconfigure the miniature as a nightmarish, dystopic space. This may have been the thought-process behind the Apocalyptic Manhattan (in an Apartment) project created by Swedish artist Magnus Johannson and his team when they designed and constructed the fifty miniature buildings of their mangled landscape. This extraordinarily-detailed, post-apocalyptic Manhattan was later featured in a Swedish music video in which the band members stomp through the model in Godzilla-like fashion.
My favourite artist working in miniature, however, remains American photographer and diorama-artist Lori Nix. Blending a canny mixture of black humour with dread, she creates such varied post-apocalyptic miniature scenes as a burnt-out, long-abandoned beauty parlor, a subway car that has been gradually reclaimed by the surrounding sandy beach, and the interior of an empty mall which has been invaded by flora. Through her constructed dioramas, Nix “…imagines a human-less world where Mother Nature has reclaimed our cities.” (source).
Hello gentle readers. It’s been over a month since I last wrote in this blog, and I felt that I should share with you what has been preoccupying my time. As some of you may know, I’ve been working in the medium of stop-motion animation these past few months. Animation has a tendency to devour time like a hungry little baby, and my new animation is a greedy baby, indeed. Now, before I get too ahead of myself, allow me to backtrack a bit.
Back in October, I lamented over the large amount of time and effort required to properly prepare a media artist grant application. I wrote that “[the grant application] is a long, tedious, and painful process that I submit to only grudgingly.” However, as the old axiom goes “you get out of life what you put in”, and this past exercise in painful tedium was no exception to this rule. I received both media artist grants to which I applied. There’s a reason why old axioms are old: they’re generally true.
Above is a “quick & dirty” test I worked on today for one of my new paper puppets. And by “quick”, I mean that it took me several hours to produce those 7 seconds. This is a rough, and by no means a finished work. Lots of pop and flicker in the lights. There is no audio.
My short animated film Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery will be screened next month during the 2nd Winter edition of the King Street Alternative Film & Video Festival. According to the festival’s blog, they’ve programmed over 35 films & videos over the 8th and 9th of February (2013), ranging from the very short to over 20-minutes in length. The event is held at Betty’s, that stalwart Corktown staple located directly across from the Toronto Sun building on an otherwise desolate stretch of King Street East. The beer and nachos at Betty’s are glorious, and the evening should prove fun and entertaining. Come on out and support your local, indie filmmakers!
Wow! This blog Lady Lazarus: dying is an art received exactly 47,512 visits in 2012. That’s pretty impressive for a personal blog fuelled by the writing powers of just one individual. Many thanks to those amongst you who “follow” me and add your comments to my posts. It takes at least two to make a conversation, so keep those comments coming in 2013. This blog is a pure labour of love, and I plan to keep it that way. The drive that keeps me researching and writing about all things dark and macabre is a genuine, unslakable curiosity. I’m just a big nerd that way.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 47,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals
My full-colour “alphabet book for adults” entitled My Alphabet of Anxieties & Desires is now available as an eBook for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. All twenty-six letters of the Roman alphabet are rendered in original illustrations, all of which address either an “anxiety” or a “desire.” There’s also a preface written by myself, plus a foreword by gender-studies academic and PhD-candidate, Judith Mintz. All this for the princely sum of .99 cents (US).
The printed version of the book is available for $29.99 US.
My installation The Disobedient Dollhouse will pay a visit to the Art Gallery of Peterborough, starting this month. This exhibition will also screen my 2-minute stop-motion animation Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery. Exhibition runs from November 9 – January 6, 2013. The opening reception will take place Friday November 16, 7 – 9 pm. Visit the web site of the AGP for details and/or directions.
One of the activities that keeps me busy these days — other than teaching, of course — is applying to grant programs. This is a long, tedious, and painful process that I submit to only grudgingly. It’s also, unfortunately, a necessary one. As part of the application process, I’ve been forced to cobble together a storyboard for my proposed animation project. This is yet another ‘necessary task’ that I perform grudgingly — being a naturally lazy creature, I’ve never done one before — though the benefits of having a storyboard are immediate and the process certainly worthwhile.
I don’t want to reveal all of my storyboard just yet, but here’s a sneak peak. Below the storyboard sample is my artist’s statement/project proposal, which might prove insightful to those of you who follow the development of my animations.
My current series of stop-motion animations entitled Domestikia developed directly out of a previous sculptural-installation project, in which I constructed a three-dimensional dollhouse from paper and lithographic prints. This project, entitled The Disobedient Dollhouse, employed the setting of a Victorian-themed dollhouse as a means to critique the sentimentality of nostalgia, as well as the tiny, precious model of perfect domesticity that the dollhouse itself proposes. A dollhouse is a gendered space, one specifically codified as feminine – it is therefore a highly suitable space in which to focus attention on women’s roles within the home. Furthermore, the strange, hybrid creatures and giant insects that populated my Dollhouse hinted at a dark, secret fantasy world churning just beneath the veneer of domestic perfection.
As previously stated, the Domestikia animation series began as an expansion of the narratives that originally appeared in The Disobedient Dollhouse project. For instance, the bird-headed children and Nanny (a self-portrait) featured in Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery first existed as a paper diorama inside The Disobedient Dollhouse. The medium of stop-motion animation enabled me to — quite literally — bring that nursery scene alive. In addition to the scenes and narratives, the look and style of my Dollhouse has also carried over into my animations. Like the hand-drawn lithographs I created for the Dollhouse, the paper cutouts and articulated paper puppets from Domestikia possess the same grainy, textured quality of the lithographic crayon.
Similar to the other Domestikia films, the proposed project Domestikia, Chapter 3: The Little Death will employ the technique known as ‘cutout animation’, one of the earliest forms of stop-motion that uses flat characters and backgrounds cut from paper. The technical limitations of paper puppets, with their characteristically stiff and unnatural movements, make cutout animation particularly well suited to animations whose themes involve fantasy, surrealism, dreams, and that which otherwise lacks realism. Rather than being a technical limitation, the anti-realism of the paper cutout serves to amplify the strangeness of the events that happen throughout Domestikia – which is precisely why I’ve chosen to work with this technique. In Domestikia, Chapter 3: The Little Death, my plan is to further expand the technical and aesthetic possibilities of the paper cutout.
The storyline of Domestikia traces a series of strange, otherworldly events that take place within an imaginary dollhouse. The connecting thread between each narrative is the continual appearance of a butterfly, a creature that acts as a sort of ‘agent of chaos’, disrupting the daily domestic routines of the miniature household. In Domestikia, Chapter 6: An Unfortunate Incident Involving Her Hat, the appearance of the butterfly in the opening scene foreshadows the strangeness of subsequent events, in which the morning routine of dressing goes terribly wrong when a hat decides to grow out of control. The butterfly departs the scene, and in Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery, it appears once more to disrupt the daily proceedings – this time, rousing an infant recently rocked to sleep by the Nanny, creating a cacophony of screams. The butterfly is once again featured in my proposed project, entitled Domestikia, Chapter 3: The Little Death. In this latest installment of the Domestikia series, the ‘little death’ of the title refers simultaneously to the metamorphosis process of the butterfly, as well as to ‘la petite mort’ of orgasm, as the butterfly is shown to have originated from an amorous encounter between Madelaine and her octopod lover. The ‘little death’ also refers to the literal building up, and subsequent dismantling of the Madelaine paper puppet when she is ‘lovingly dismembered’ by the octopus. Ostensibly, Domestikia, Chapter 3 is about shifts in identity that occur as one’s role in life changes: from individual, to couple, to parent. In short, sometimes it is necessary to ‘die’ in order to reinvent oneself.