Presentation by Verina Gfader @ FP, 25 September 2019
Verina Gfader’s talk, in the format of screening, reading and discussion, contemplates on forms–and legends–of visual abstraction and what can be called the expanded animation of today = an animation environment. As it happens, new media are increasingly pushing animation studies toward more holistic ways of thinking about animation as an ‘animating force of any kind’ (Timothy Morton, 2013: 54), something that could be said to exist in a liminal space between inanimate and animate, that is, between perceptually stilled and perceptually and experientially brought to motion, and thereby expressing a lively or living quality.
“Neighbourhoods & Aliens” uses this prompt laid out above in its approach to ‘abstract and lively materials of any kind.’ In response, this is a performance lecture organised around terms or figures; referring to home, living realities, inhabitations: what is close to us (proximate surroundings/neighbourhoods) yet is often overlooked, unnoticed, seemingly estranged or alien. The selected films hence may appear as a wild mix of things! Animate material, that features imagery from the garden; French suburban realms and architectural models; the CAT – a domestic animal in transformation and dematerialization; a mystery house, play-grounds and clouds formed from squares; as well as colors out of space . . .
“The long tale is, for one, Felix the Cat’s. Felix, an animated feline from New York, was originally a cinema character. In 1928 it became the protagonist of experimental television broadcasts, for which his rotating, 33-centimetre, 3D papier-mâché body was parsed through the mechanism of a scanner to an electric kinescope receiver. Thereby he became immaterial and omnipresent. To be broadcast is to pass through the ether, to circulate without wires: it involves something far less corporeal than film, with its clunky canisters and its images fixed in aniline on celluloid. Felix is a cat with a peculiarly animate tail, which detaches and leads a life of its own — including in some of Leckey’s artworks, such as the 16mm film Flix (2008) and the silkscreen print Tailchair (2008). It also has a capacity for language, as it curls into exclamation marks and question marks. When Felix the Cat provided the first TV test image, he arrived on screens dotted across New York, measuring five centimetres high and composed of fat grey lines. Miniaturised, flattened, dis- and reassembled, Felix greets us from the other side through the interface of a television set — our pal in the corner of the living room, and the most magical of boxes, in which the lives worth telling are lived on our behalf. Strangely Felix, or his animator, had already anticipated his dematerialisation.” (Esther Leslie, 2013)
* Timothy Morton (2013) Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality. London: Open Humanities Press.
Harun Farocki, Parallel I
A. Esther Leslie (2013) ‘Mark Leckey’s Anima Mundi.’ Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry, Issue 33 (Summer 2013), pp. 56–65.
This text begins with some notes on contemporary animation, then picking up Mark Leckey’s work, Flix (short animation in response to Felix the Cat).
B. Catherine de Zegher (2005) ‘Abstract,’ introductory text in 3x Abstraction New Methods of Drawing-Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin. Yale University Press in association with The Drawing Center, New York: pp. 12–37.
First longish paragraph on abstraction as such.
C. Ueno Toshiya (2006) Kurenai no metalsuits, “Anime to wa nani ka/What is animation.” Mechademia (published by the University of Minnesota Press), Volume 1, 2006, pp. 111–18.
On Oshii Mamoru’s animation work and that “For him, the world and reality itself are structured and schematized as animation.”
Figures and Films.
Abstraction The Universe
Rosa Barba, The Colour Out of Space, 2015.
Cats Domestic animal
Mark Leckey, Flix, 2008.
Margaret Tait, Garden Pieces, 1998.
Pierre Huyghe, Les Grands Ensembles, 1994–2001.
Voice Snow White Impersonation
Pierre Huyghe, Blanche Neige Lucie, 2008.
Tala Madani, Headbug, 2009.
In the Game Virtual home
Harun Farocki, Parallel I, 2012.
Masaki Fujihata, Mandala, 1983.
Marcel Duchamp, Anemic Cinema, 1926.
Properties of stars Stop-Motion Labour
Rosa Barba, Drawn by the Pulse, 2018.
Verina Gfader is an artist and researcher who orchestrates her practice as organised fields of research aided by drawing and animation, printed matter, text performance and fabulations, and fictional institutions. She is currently affiliated with the City University of Hong Kong (Meaning and Narrative in Abstract Animation research project), and is also Co-Director of the animation network, Animate Assembly (with Esther Leslie, Edgar Schmitz, Anke Hennig). Her recent postdoctoral fellowship on The Contemporary Condition at Aarhus University, Denmark, follows from doctoral studies at Central Saint Martins, London, and a prior research residency at Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) to explore the structural coherence between independent Japanese animation and geographical, institutional and social ideas.