Jan 242014
 

I was invited to create an installation for a small exhibition space in Vienna called ASIFAKEIL. This is run by ASIFA Austria, the Austrian chapter of the international animation organization, and the artists presented in the space are also often filmmakers or animators. This exhibition will dovetail with a presentation I will be giving at an animation symposium also organized by ASIFA Austria on March 1st and 2nd (more details on that soon!).

The space is inside the MuseumQuartier, a complex of museums and arts organizations that I visited two years ago, when I presented the Inter-Action program of animated shorts. The space is an odd size, with a sloping roof, and whatever I made would have to be shipped.

I decided to create 12 large stencils that could be hung in a row in the space. These could also be hung from a sloping roof and could easily be rolled up and shipped. These stencils would comprise a one second strata stencil loop, that I would also photograph and turn into a video, which would also be playing the space on a monitor.

The stencils lined up for the shoot

The stencils lined up for the shoot

Strata stencil is an animation technique similar to drawn animation in that each frame is drawn on a piece of paper. But instead of just pencil or pen on paper, the images are cut out like stencils. And instead of being photographed one drawing at a time, the papers are aligned in a row facing the camera. As the camera photographs the front stencil, it can see through to all the stencils at the back. With each photo the front stencil is discarded and all the next stencils are moved up one slot. In my case, since I made a 12 frame loop, the top most stencil is not discarded, but is returned to the back of the row. Confused? Maybe this Making Of video will help:

Slices in Time: Making of video from Tess Martin on Vimeo.

Here you can see the evolution of the loop itself – first I am figuring out the movement of the wave and the boat, then I decide to add a second wave, but that is discarded (too much to happen in one stencil). Then I add the whale and am figuring out its movement, and finally I am finessing the little wave reflection, and changing the drawing into shapes I can cut out.

After transferring these A4 drawings onto the big paper (a laborious process involving dividing the image into quadrants and using my animation stance to trace) I cut them all out, and then hang them on a makeshift stand in my room. Yes, my room is a mess, because I had actually just moved house!

Some things I learned: Making big stencils is hard, and normally people use small paper for strata stencil. And now I know why! Gravity makes big bits droop. One really does need to be able to hang the paper in a straight row, otherwise the ‘tunnel’ seen through the front is skewed. Good thing I was only taking 12 photos, and my makeshift system worked out. But for anything longer one really does need to build something specially.

But the photos look beautiful and the loop will be online shortly for your viewing pleasure.

In the meantime, here is a still:

Still from the Slices in Time loop

Still from the Slices in Time loop

The video and the stencils will be on display in Vienna from February 1 to March 15, 2014.

Check out the announcement here.

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