Free Radicals: a critique of strict classification: animation experiments from Europe/US/Japan as examples 游離基 – 擺脫標籤侷限,向歐美日實驗動畫借鏡

Free Radicals: a critique of strict classification: animation experiments from Europe/US/Japan as examples 游離基 – 擺脫標籤侷限,向歐美日實驗動畫借鏡

Hangjun Lee

發表於: 30 Aug 2019

據點在城中:2019年8月30日下午 7:30 |《原格破裂》香港藝術中心古天樂電影院發放
FP in Town: 30 August 2019 7:30pm | Elemental Dynamite @ HK Arts Centre
1935-2015 / 90 min / DCP

As time passes alongside unceasing technological advancement, it is critical not to lose sight of the history and unique values of analogue film in moving image practices. Whereas the analogue is easily passed for being obsolete technology in the digital age, this screening program manifests the vitality of this medium through a range of experimental works in film-based animations and shorts. Curated byEXiS (Experimental Film & Video Festival in Seoul)program director Hangjun Lee, Regional Experimentation II: Free Radicals features two works by the late master Len Lye (1901-1980), an early work from 1935 and another from a later phase. In company also finds filmmaker / writer Malclom Le Grice’s experiments of varied technical means and Jeff Scher’s reinterpretation of historical found footage by overlaying abstract animation, plus contemporary artists Jodie Mack and Patrick Bokanowski’s recent experiments. Regardless of the audience’s prior knowledge of celluloid, this program calls attention to the genuine materiality and diverse aesthetics in analogue films.

時代變遷,科技不斷進步,在前數碼創作者的作品中,我們可窺見菲林在影像創作中的歷史面貌、實存和價值。在數碼時代,菲林的地位已無復舊觀。韓國首爾國際實驗電影錄像節(서울국제실험영화페스티벌 EXiS)策展及節目總監李幸俊為放映節目《地域實驗 II -游離基》帶來幾部歐洲的實驗錄像與動畫作品。觀眾可一窺已故大師 Len Lye 於早期 (1935) 及後期 (1957-1979) 的兩部經典作品,Malcolm Le Grice 如何以重疊印片等方式探索影像媒介,也有Jeff Scher 於現成舊日影片上添上一層抽象動畫去重新演繹歷史片段。節目亦包括由 Jodie Mack 與 Patrick Bokanowski 的兩部創作,以標示新近實驗的動向。不管你對菲林的認知如何,皆可從放映中看到它的特質與其在影像歷史中無可取替的獨特性。

A Defence for Experiments in the Animated Picture: collapsing the story-documentary-experimental triad
|Lee Hangjun

I couldn’t help but ask what experimental animation is when putting together this short program, in the presence of the broad history that stands between animation and experimental cinema. In the education system, animation is divided into three main categories: ‘experimental’ animation, ‘documentary’ animation, and ‘narrative animation’. However, the use of these terms is reductive and sheer reproduction of industrial norms without due reflection on the nature of animation. We should be especially cautious of the careless labeling of the “experimental” as it often takes away from the rich heritage and tremendous potentials of experimental actions in animation. 

First of all, we should look at the historical practices that aesthetically distinguish animation from the cartoon in the 1950s, which explored animation for its cinematic possibilities. Along with graphic designer Ryohei Yanagihara and renowned book cover designer Hiroshi Manabe, Yoji Kuri formed the Animation ‘Sannin no Kai’ (Animation Group of Three) in 1960. They expanded the subject of animation to raise its aesthetic level. The various animation methods they innovated as filmmaker have greatly contributed to the recognition of film’s material properties as an important means of cinematic expression.

On  another level, we may consider animation in the context of modernism in the early 20th century, namely the practice of “movement” that visual artists had constantly desired. Underlined by the effort to seal the gap between art history and film history, the meaning of experimental film was subject to revision as well. The works of Harry Smith and Robert Breer, whose works are not included in this program, are some of the most important filmmakers in the associated histories of experimental films as well as animation. 

The filmmakers I have mentioned always remind us of the delimiting realities produced by genre norms and boundaries, thus also  contend that everything that is meaningful could only happen outside the compartmentalising mechanism that segregates documentaries, experimental films, fiction and animations.. For his work The Chair (1964), Yoji Kuri asked a number of people from diverse walks of life to sit on a chair for 15 minutes in front of his single camera set-up. In the opening title card, he asks the spectator to imagine what they would do with the time, stating that the film is about the unease that modern people feel when they don’t have anything to do. 

Is this work an animation with documentary characteristics? Is it an animated documentary? Or an experimental animation? Or an experimental film?  In 1958, Matsumoto Toshio, in his article “A Theory of Avant-Garde Documentary,” sought a new level of possibility that is neither documentary about the past nor the avant-garde of the past. In the final chapter of his book Theory of Film Practice (1969), “Reflections on the Film Subject,” Noël Burch discusses how the themes and subjects that documentaries and fiction films are dealing with are changing dramatically in the day.

What should not be forgotten is that Noël Burch was discussing experimental films like Kenneth Anger did in ‘Non-Fiction’. Writers like Marcel Hanoun, who came up with new creations between fiction and documentaries beyond the genre norms of the time, are still undervalued after 50 years. As the boundaries between documentaries and experimental films become increasingly blurred over the past decade, many people use the term “essay.” This rather overused term, from among theorists to curators, is also an expression of anxiety over the fact that the normative definitions of documentaries, experimental films and animations, which we have also upheld with or without knowing, have lost their meanings 

Eleven works in this program, from Len Lye to Patrick Bokanowski, are far from enough to reconstruct the complex history of animation as experimental films. Hopefully this program suffices a starting point for the examination of the aesthetic impulses both animation and experimental cinema share.

**Details for individual works and artists []

Malcolm Le Grice. Berlin Horse (1970). Courtesy of Malcolm Le Grice and LUX, London

為動畫可作的實驗作辯:擺脫「故事-紀錄-實驗」三分法的囹圄(歐美經典) | 李幸俊 (「首爾實驗電影錄像節」節目總監)


先從別具一格的 1950 年代,動畫有別於卡通的堅持說起,以動畫的美學實踐作為重點,探索動畫作為電影媒體的潛力。1960 年,平面設計師柳原良平、真鍋博與久里洋二組成動畫組合 三人の会 (三人會議),他們不單延伸了動畫的討論,以電影創作者的原位開展各種動畫創作的方法,喚醒動畫作為電影的重要性,大大提高動畫美學的水平。

在另一個層面,我們亦可依據20 世紀初期的現代主義語境去思考動畫,察看當時一眾視覺藝術家渴望拿捏「動態」的各種想像。這關乎填補了藝術史和電影史之間的一些裂縫,也當然與重構實驗電影歷史的挑戰息息相關。舉例如 Harry Smith 和 Robert Breer, 兩位導演於實驗電影或動畫的論述中,無疑地佔據了相當重要的歷史地位。遺憾這次放映未能帶來兩位的作品。

上述的創作者時常都提醒著我們關於類型、規範或界限的含義如何限制了我們,因而確定一切美好的東西都在被分割開來的紀錄片、實驗電影、敘事和動畫之間或界線以外,我們可成就耐人尋味的作品,不受任何意識的規限。久里洋二的作品 <The Chair> (1964) 以單鏡拍攝,邀請各種各樣的居民在設置好的椅子上坐15 分鐘。在開場的標題卡中,久里要求旁觀者想像他們會如何運用時間,繼而指出作品的主旨:現代人在無聊時所產生的種種不安感受。

這部作品具紀實性嗎?是紀錄片還是動畫?是實驗動畫?還是實驗電影?1958 年,松本俊夫在 “A Theory of Avant-Garde Documentary” 論文中試圖找尋一種新的可能性,既不是過去的紀錄,也不是過時的前衛。在 <Theory of Film Practice> (1969) 的最後一章 “Reflections on the Film Subject” 裡,Noël Burch 提出了當時紀錄片與劇情片中,主題和主體的戲劇性變化。

可圈可點的是,Noël Burch 對於實驗性電影的論述與Kenneth Anger 提出的「非虛擬」,兩者竟有異曲同工之處。又如作家 Marcel Hanoun 50年前的創新作品,跳出了小說和紀錄片體裁的規範,到今天卻仍未得到相應的重視。隨著紀錄片和實驗電影之間的界線在過去十年間變得模糊,許多人開始使用「散文」一詞,這術語被理論家和策展人廣泛地甚或過度地使用,也許說明了當我們有意無意的供奉多年的「紀錄片」、「實驗電影」和「動畫」的定義失效不再有意義時所引來的焦慮。

放映的十一部作品,從Len Lye 到 Patrick Bokanowski,把我們從上世紀30年代 帶到今天,卻依然不足以重構動畫和實驗電影的歷史,但我希望以這些作品為宏大的歷史作一個簡單的註腳,以呈現它們一致的美學脈絡。

***個別作品及藝術家詳情 []


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