Art Review
April 2006

‘The Animators’
3 Dec 2005 to 4 Feb 2006 Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, UK
17 Dec 2005 to 25 Feb 2006 Spacex, Exeter

Reviewed by Charles Danby

Animation, like film is made of still images that when run in quick succession provide the illusion of movement.  There is, however, a fundamental difference between the two: with film the still image is ‘captured’ by the camera wheras with animation it is rendered or constructed. 

The curator of t his group exhibition, Angela Kingston, considers the still image of animation not just as a ‘constructed’ entity, but also as a manipulated, cut or erased one.  This notion underpins the work of each of the seven artists and provides a framework for the exhibition.

The most visible reference to the manipulation of the still image is in the markedly different frame rate of each animation. This is most clearly evident in Dryden Goodwin’s  two part work Two Thousand and Three (2003). Here Goodwin has meticulously reclaimed individual frames from footage taken during the anti-war marches of that year.  The resultant animation, projected across the space, is in fact more like a frenetic portrait in 2003 parts. The 16mm stills (individual portraits) are also presented on an elongated lightbox, placing viewers between the projector and the ‘animation’ provided
by their own eyes.

The rendered and manipulated treatment of the image dictates the structure of the animation from the other artists.

Paul Morrison’s Acrospire  (2005), the only work projected in complete darkness, is composed of multiple sequences of water and clouds in motion yet seemingly static. Film techniques are used to reduce further any sense of animation; only the flatness of a shape testifies to the presence of a mechanical or manipulatedprocess.

The bleeding watercolour of Katy Dove’s animated drawings pre-empts the slow mesmerising, transformative pace of her work, where mismatched shapes and colours repeatedly collide, forming loose rhythmic narratives.
In sharp contrast to the melodic structure of Dove’s work is the frenetic pace of Anne Course.  Her animations pitch their irregular stories in drawn and scribbled lines against the offbeat sounds of punk and disco.

While ‘The Animators’ affirms that animation is thriving in the advent of new technologies, it also reminds us that simplicity should not be ignored. In the end it is the slow, even pace of Simon Faithful’s eight-line animation Dog Breathing (2005) that captures most succinctly the essence of the exhibition – a slumbering canine tucked neatly under a ramp.  As an exhibition ‘The Animators’ says it looks beyond the form’s usual associations to determine ‘what animation is and what it can be’.  Well, to animate also means to excite; its Latin root denotes ‘to fill with breath’.