Pictoplasma 2 : Characters In Motion


Nobody showcases the diversity of character design better than Pictoplasma, so another DVD of 200+ minutes = double plus good.

Shuffling Pixels in Berlin
Yeah, another bunch of laptoppers in Berlin, who’d have thought? Aside from the DVDs though, Pictoplasma have maintained a character design archive since 1999, and organise annual conferences ( Berlin, NY, Argentina etc ), all dedicated to exploring contemporary character design, and ‘the importance of contemporary characters in today’s visual understanding’. Which’d maybe suggest an overdose of puffy vinyl toys, or cutesy cartoon creatures, but thankfully their approach is much wider than that.

Characters In Rhythm
Although the disc is organised into 3 sections, for the most part the clips could’ve fit easily everyone of the sections, generally being a music video of some sort, or short film, the character(s) displayed inevitably following some kind of narrative arc, exploiting the rhythms and unreal world motions that animation allows. Plenty of highlights in this section anyway. Daniel Garcia‘s clip for TV on the Radio ( whose recent shows in oz sold out far too early ), featured gorgeous model set design, within which a meek bird-human of felt(?) feathers gets to unfold it’s personality, framed from a range of nicely composed angles, foregrounded tree branches often hiding part of the character. Imery Watson‘s ‘Sloup’ presents a train-window view of a landscape passing by, complete with the ebb and flow of electrical power lines. Her visual punchline is satisfying though, as the tall electric power towers begin to run of their own accord. Nicely executed, and similarly well framed, nicely subdued animation. Others of merit include the well celebrated ‘War Photographer’ by Joel Trussell ( keywords : viking, flash ), and the ultra-minimal and macabre graphic stylings of Motomichi Nakamura for his Knife clip : ‘We Share Our Mother’s Health’.

Characters In Motion
Gangpol Und Mit get a mention here, not because this piece showcased here is necessarily their best work, but because they are a relentlessly inventive pair of audiovisualists, deserving of more credit. Not that the piece showcased here is terrible, it’s just not the best example of their demented lateral excursions into flash geometry and alternative realities. 1st Ave Machine’s jaw dropping and photo realistic mutant plant 3d animations are included as well, their sublime combination of outdoor video footage blended with organic otherworldly mechanical plants losing none of it’s power despite the clip’s saturation online.

Characters In Narration
George Gendi’s ‘Middle Dog Gets Angry’ is a delightfully tender portrayal of a world where neurotic whippets and humans share the same bodies, all personality conveyed with simple emotive illustration styles. Ben Hibon’s ‘Codehunters’? Stunning work – think Manga meets Jim Jarmusch’s b+w characters in Dead Man. Guilherme Marcondes manages to bend 3d animation into a more transcendent place than most. And Wayne Horse ( would’ve been a fun name at school), gives us ‘Tell Tales’, the large cardboard heads of real people in an apartment, providing the perfect canvas for animating facial reactions in an unfolding drama.

Coming Up?
The third Pictoplasma conference in Berlin March 2009, presumably another DVD, and plenty of time exploring the gallery at their site.

(And thanks to wunderkid Jaana from betamag.ee for the disc! )

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