Curator, Animator Statement

Vtape’s Curatorial Incubator v.5, “What’s Up, Doc? Video and Animation,” Vtape, Toronto, ON, February 8-21, 2008. 

Imagine an animated video. Whether you picture a two-dimensional Saturday morning cartoon, a stop-motion clay animation, or a computer-generated virtual world, chances are you did not imagine the presence of the animator. Video animation is traditionally a medium where the creative process is unseen. The final animation obscures the two contradictory forces of the creative process that produced it—the artist’s expressive effort and her strategic moments of self-censorship—resulting in a seamless animation that appears removed from the hand and body of the artist.

But what if we could see the animator when we watched an animation? What would this do to our perception of the animated world? What would the relationship between the animator and her creation look like? How would these moments of self-censorship be apparent?

This program explores a recent movement in animation that sees artists intentionally including their body or animated representations of themselves in the production and presentation of their animations. By employing a variety of antiquated and obsolete methods, the artists in this program open up new opportunities in video animation that allow them to directly and physically experience the strange and disembodying power of the world of the animation. The result is a series of videos that make the creative process transparent and document moments of self-censorship, challenging the conventions of seamless animation and making works that are decidedly “seamed.”

In these seamed worlds, the real and the fantastical (or animated) are conflated and it becomes difficult for us to distinguish the voice of the animation from the voice of the animator. Although the strange world of the animation may appear separate from the ‘real’ social world, these videos show that such a separation is impossible. For the artists in this program, the social world of the animator always infiltrates the machine world of the animation: and whenever an animation speaks, it actually makes the animator’s statement.


Daniel Barrow, Artist Statement (2007), 5:20
In this narrated video, Barrow uses a Commodore computer–an 8-bit home computer released in 1982–to illustrate a version of himself creating a “live animation” in front of an audience with the same computer equipment. The result is an animation-within-an-animation where Barrow says he is “gratuitously honest” and personal about his insecurities and aspirations as an artist.

Tadasu Takamine, God Bless America (2002), 8:45
Takamine and his lovely assistant shared a room with a huge clay face for eighteen consecutive days. Before the eye of the camera, they ate, slept, read, fucked and made continuous changes to the face, animating it to synchronize with a scratchy, halting recording of that American patriotic classic “God Bless America.” (Images Festival catalogue)

Zeesy Powers, The Beast (2005), 4:49
Originally executed as a projected performance piece, a silhouetted Powers meets a replica of herself in an idyllic landscape and then watches as it transforms into a beastly character. The artist and her doppelganger try to co-exist in the landscape together but ultimately face off in a violent struggle resulting in the artist’s death.

Jeremy Bailey, Video Paint 3.0 (2007), 20:38
Video Paint 3.0 is a software program designed by Jeremy Bailey that allows you to paint anywhere, anytime. In this video Bailey follows up on his “hugely successful performance software environment” of Video Paint 2.0 by walking the viewer through several of the new features in the program while telling a captivating story using the software. “The artist would like to note that Video Paint 3.0 is ideally exhibited as a live performance.” (Vtape catalogue)