Brave New Old: Isolation, Loneliness and Change in the Modern City

Brave New Old: Isolation, Loneliness and Change in the Modern City

Brave New Old is an experimental 3-D animated short film created by the London-based motion-graphics designer Adam Wells. Despite its deceptively simplistic style, this little film is a clever piece of experimental filmmaking.

The film appears to take off from Aldous Huxley’s dystopian visions in his 1931 Brave New World, a frightening picture of the future with subjects like corporate tyranny and behavioral conditioning. Brave New Old is a contribution to the new body of experimental animated works that explores isolation, loneliness and change in the modern city. From chance meetings to poetic musings on lost loves, and from meditations on the decay and decline of industry, to the disorientating nature of modern urban living, this is a chance to explore the city experience through truly unusual animated cinema.

Brave New Old: Isolation, Loneliness and Change in the Modern City

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LGFUAD: A Grotesque Rampage of Jaded Sex, Drugs and Violence

LGFUAD: A Grotesque Rampage of Jaded Sex, Drugs and Violence

LGFUAD (an acronym for Let’s Get Fucked Up and Die) is an award-winning four-minute experimental animated short film created by Kelsey Stark. The short mixes a variety of animation styles, primarily focusing on an unwieldy hypnotic medium that looks like an organic crayon drawing. In the film, a young woman eats pizza and relates a series of surreal, richly psychosexual and violent stream-of-consciousness stories about how cool it is to be a ghost.

LGFUAD characterizes a jaded, dissatisfied personality type, exacerbated by a hipster-emphasis on cool and from growing up in media-drenched suburban environment where one is taunted constantly by what one doesn’t have, or hasn’t experienced. This is a controversial, love-it or hate-it film; LGFUAD is fresh, personal and conceptual, but edgy, uncomfortable and uncompromising all the same.

LGFUAD: A Grotesque Rampage of Jaded Sex, Drugs and Violence

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Dreaming of Lucid Living: A Fascinating Performance/Animation Mash-Up

Dreaming of Lucid Living: A Fascinating Performance/Animation Mash-Up

Dreaming of Lucid Living is a short film that’s a remarkable, beautiful performance/animation mash-up by the award-winning animator, designer and multi-media artist Miwa Matreyek. The film is a performance/installation piece constructed like a shadow puppet theater, integrating Matreyek’s solo live performance, nicely composed visuals and animation in a way that is both poetic and quite quirky.  It combines live performance with both pre-made animations  and semi-autonomous, rule based animations that appear to update based upon what a camera is viewing.  The film’s presentation of deceptively simple, deliciously playful illusions, a high-spirited sense of wonder, and creatively unexpected mixtures of live action and animation is just incredible.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this ever before.

Dreaming of Lucid Living: A Fascinating Performance/Animation Mash-Up

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Drux and Flux: The Flow of Progress into Tragic Social Decay

Drux and Flux: The Flow of Progress into Tragic Social Decay

It is only for the sake of those without hope
that hope is given to us
.”

Walter Benjamin

Drux and Flux: Visual Comments on Today’s Deepening Economic Crisis

Drux and Flux won the Canadian Film Institute’s 2008 Award for Best Canadian Animation, as well as an Honorable Mention for Best Experimental/Abstract Animation at the 2008 International Animation Festival in Otowa, Canada. Director Theodore Ushev’s Drux and Flux presents an oppressive and miserable vision of how both the contemporary commitment to an over-arching belief in progress and to the ever-expanding industrialism in society have effected modern life. The five-minute short film opens with shots of a printing press, which are used to present the film’s opening titles. That scene then switches away and shifts, through rapidly choreographed cuts, to an elevated train, a dimly-lit manufacturing city-scape, the interior of a factory, then to the manufacturing building’s inner workings. The cuts are rapid, and the fast pace is maintained throughout the film.

The quickly cut scenes track the rise and fall of industry and are accompanied by increasingly discordant sounds on its background music track. Scenes from Soviet propaganda posters and the clashing of gears and girders are juxtaposed, along with almost subliminal flashes of the words “1932” (the year of Hitler’s first election-run for Chancellor of Germany) and “Juggernaut” (a possible reference to perceptions of WWII Germany as an “unstoppable force”). The latter disturbing associations between ever-increasing industrialization, exponential technological advance and the rise of totalitarian political regimes can be quite unsettling. Drux and Flux culminates with clip-art style images of a human skeleton that is reinforced with building materials, yet it’s still unable to support itself. The overall result for the viewer of this film is a vision of the potential horrors of modern-day industrialization, which has been summoned like a nightmare brought about by watching too many hours of late-night horror films while listening to a constantly-looping off-speed recording of Verdi’s Il Travatore Anvil Chorus.

Ushev drew his inspiration for Drux and Flux from a variety of sources. Sociologist-philosopher-political radical Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1964) is cited as his starting point, a work that presents a wide-ranging critique of both advanced capitalist and communist societies. This book theorized about the inevitable decline of revolutionary potential in capitalist societies and about the development of new and potent forms of social control, especially over the common working person. Marcuse argued that “advanced industrial society” created false needs which fused individuals into homogenized particles that comprised the existing system of production and consumption. Advertising, industrial management, politicians and the mass-media cooperated to brainwash members of the working class, eliminating their potential for effective expressions of negativity, critique, and opposition. The result, according to Marcuse, was a “one-dimensional” universe of thought and behavior, in which the very aptitude and ability for critical thinking and for developing either opposing or alternative social positions was withering away.

As Drux and Flux travels through its series of dismal industrial scenes, one is left with a deeply sad mood about the frightening impressions of the enormous slabs of metal and rust, the smells of rotting death. By the end of this short five-minute journey, the viewer is left to wonder whether this is what things actually might be like when our industrial world finally reaches its end.

Drux and Flux: The Flow of Progress into Tragic Social Decay

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