Saturday, 8 November 2008

Vera Neubauer @ the cornerhouse

Just got back from the cornerhouse, went to check out the drawing exhibit (the intertwining line, more about that later) and managed to catch another talk about contemporary animation (Tal Rosner was yesterday and again, more about that in another post...).

For those of you that are unaware Vera Neubauer is a two time BAFTA award winning film maker of more than 30 years.
Born in Chezchoslovakia, she moved to Germany to study applied art, then later on to printmaking at the royal college where she moved on to the moving image. Here, although it was not being officially taught in schools until about 1985, she began to study animation.

It is perhaps due to this unstructured, experimental, method whereby she was; "given a camera and told to go and find out how it worked herself", that her work is so loose and immediate.
The ink & brushwork she employs so often is intrinsic to the nature of her films, they convey a sense of immediacy and spontanaity and are a good tool for the process whereby, "the communication of the idea is more important than whether or not it is a fine, intricate, beautifuly crafted drawing..." In-fact she sees her drawings; "more as designs".

She was eager to stress throughout the interview that she felt it was more important to keep the energy up thoughout the creation of her films. That; "any loss of enthusiasm shows in the finished piece."

We saw a total of four examples of her films in the short time we were allocated, all incorporating the loose drawing style, we were infromed that these pieces fitted in more with the theme of the exhibition. They were;

"Cannon Fodder." c1971.
Her final piece for the Royal College, London.

"Lady Of The Lake." c1995.
A fairy tale type affair with that underlying moralistic theme, bewitching and clever.

"The Mummy's curse."c1987.
Of which we only saw five minutes, which was a shame ...It was only just getting started.

"I Dance." c1999.
Which is only about a minute long.

"Wheel of Life." c1996.
A biblical episode whereby the story of Adam and eve then Cain and Abel is told by use of a mix of stop frame animation using sand as the medium and film of the sea and other elements mixed together. She said that the story of the bible contained all of the elements she wanted to convey.

When asked who her influences were she became a little confused. She explained that we are bombarded by many, many things every day and to try to extrapolate only one or two influences from all of these things was foolish. She employs any medium which suits the purpose for her idea which in turn fuels her originality.
She did howerver (after some cajoling) mention Robert Breer.

I would say that there was a heavy influence of african style in much of her imagery.

Her films are an interesting mix of suggestions and visual metaphors and ideas that there is almost too much going on sometimes.
They are complex and yet simple they make a good representation of an emotional state, sometimes turmoil, sometimes joy, sometimes just plain awe. Any trick is employed to create the desired motion of the characters and elements and to portray their thoughts and feelings.
One moment the camera will shake back and forth to simulate a character sahking their head in hesitation, the next, the picture before us changes from a couple in coitus, then exploding into myraid shapes and forms.

She was a little perplexed that making one film with some adult themes in meant that all of a sudden she was percieved by the industry as somebody who only makes films purely for adults. She played down any mention of feminist angles in her films, although there was certainly a hint of freudian language.
It seemed to be a need for Vera to work in some isolation and out of the 'heirarchies and structure,' of animation studios, to retain her freedom and creative sense that she has ended up working this way. She takes her influences from things she sees around her and usually on quite a tight budget.

She has no immediate plans for the future, no comissions in the pipe line anyway. It seems that the peaks and troughs of demand for her type of work depand on the fickle nature of the fine art community.
And so it seems she has now earned herself a little 'play time'

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