Let England Riot

Channel 4
Publication Type:
Random Acts
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In August 2011 I was commissioned by Bang Said the Gun poetry collective and Channel Four Television to create an animation based on the poem Parable by Kate Tempest. The resulting short film was broadcast as part of the Channel 4 Random Acts arts strand on August 22nd 2011. Parable was subsequently added to the Random Acts website, where it went on to become the second most viewed film of the 260 originally commissioned pieces. The hand drawn animation for Parable explored conventions in aesthetics for animation, deliberately referencing cute cartoon characters, and then subverting audience expectations by imbuing these archetypes with sinister purpose. The final animation was intercut with footage of Kate Tempest performing Parable live at a popular poetry event, as she railed against the nihilistic consumerism of modern life in England. This work was designed to echo the anarchic spirit and stylised movement of the early black and white animations produced by the Fleischer Studios in New York between 1921-1942. In cartoons such as Betty Boop and Popeye Fleischer explored adult themes with adult characters before the Hays Code in 1934 stripped them of much of their power. This piece sits within a wider research question for me, which relates to ways in which hand drawn and digital animation work together. My current practice is involved in finding ways to challenge the geometric, perfection-oriented digital environment. The production process for the animation comprised of sequences of action made without using traditional methods of registration. This meant that characters did not stay in one place, or remain the same size and shape. The resulting shift of positions and volumes was employed intentionally to add a raw and unpredictable quality to the work. By abandoning a level of control in my animation and then feeding this material into the computer I am actively disputing the way in which digital software dictates forms of movement.
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