futile/gestures, 7:44 (2022)
live action / drawings used as replacement animation frames
My MFA thesis project, futile/gestures, had three main iterations. In March 2022, we put on a performance with two dancers and two musicians, choreographed and composed to evoke conflict, deadlock, and deepening divides. The performance also featured 75 drawers sketching the dancers feverishly, producing roughly 2,000 drawings during the 25-minute dance. This dance/drawing performance was valuable in itself; it also generated raw material for my animation, which involves carefully analyzing, sequencing and photographing selected drawings to use as individual animation frames. The final result is “hand-drawn” animation that bears little resemblance to most hand-drawn films in its technique or its aesthetic of motion.

In April, we created a gallery installation with two large-scale projections juxtaposing my animation with a short live-action dance film directed by my primary collaborator and choreographer, Yolando Tianyi-Shao (韶天怡). Along with those two projected pieces, we had a five CRTs in the space showing various stages of choreography development, and we hung a random selection of about 250 out of the 2,000 drawings on monofilament in three stacked rows that bisected the space, forming  a “wall” of disorganized drawings. The hallways leading toward the gallery were hung roughly another 250 drawings, though these drawings had been ordered into sequences, giving people a sense of the animation as they walked to or from the installation. On opening night, we played music from the show in the space and the dancers performed for an hour.
Finally, in May I cut together the single-channel film you see at the top of the page. It’s a more carefully edited and coordinated version of the dual projection from the installation, with a significant amount of new animated sequences completed in April and May. I’m currently in the process of submitting this film to festivals, primarily targeting fests that focus on either dance film or experimental film. There is still much potential work to be done with the drawings, and I’m beginning to collaborate with a close friend who’s a programmer in hopes of using machine learning algorithms to automate some aspects of the image ordering process, hopefully creating strange sequences my human brain would never arrive at along the way.
currently in consideration for 2022 and 2023 festival screenings


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