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Animation

Kukuschka: An Ambitious Bird Passionately Follows the Sun in a Windy Stop-Motion Short by Dina Velikovskaya

April 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

For Kukuschka, motherhood is a hindrance. In a stop-motion film bearing her name, the avian character dreams of reaching the sun. She travels the beige dunes each day and braves the wind gusts that blow her gauzy clothing. When her similarly dressed baby breaks out of its shell, she tries to continue on her journey to follow the glowing orb, before slowing to a lope to find care for her child.

Created by Russian animator and director Dina Velikovskaya, the stop-motion film is an effort to complicate traditional notions of parenthood. Velikovskaya told Short of the Week that “Kukuschka” represents “women who ha(ve) dreams and how motherhood can be an obstacle to them.” Throughout the emotional production, the mother-baby duo struggle to coexist in their sand-filled world.

Since it was released in 2016, “Kukuschka” has garnered worldwide attention, winning Best Animated Comedy from the EACG Animation Festival in San Francisco and Best Director at the New Horizon Film Festival and National Animation Premium “IKARUS.” For more Kukuschka and the other avian puppets, check out the animator’s Instagram, where the characters periodically visit coffee shops and parks.

 

 



Photography Science

Synchronized Starling Flocks Undulate in Mesmerizing Patterns Captured by Photographer Xavi Bou

April 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

For starlings, there’s truth to safety in numbers. “In winter, starlings join in flocks of thousands of individuals to try to confuse the hawks that attack them, doing a mesmerizing dance,” said Barcelona-based photographer Xavi Bou, who recently released a video chronicling the birds’ synchronized swooping. In “Murmurations,” a name that refers specifically to the phenomenon, Bou captures the avian movements through a series of gray lines that swell and undulate with each obfuscated turn.

Set to a soothing track by Kristina Dutton, the video is part of the photographer’s larger Ornitographies project, an ongoing endeavor stemming from his childhood walks through nature with his grandfather. Bou previously focused on chronophotography for the series, which combines multiple images of flying birds into a floating pattern that resembles double-helices. “Murmurations” similarly blurs the starlings’ outlines and distinct features to focus instead on their heaving movements.

On his site, Bou has prints available of his composite images, and more of his phenomenological work can be found on Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

 



Photography

Take an Eerie Walk Through the Empty Streets of Amsterdam, San Francisco, and New York City

March 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

With one-third of the world’s population currently under some level of quarantine, the streets of major cities like Amsterdam, New York City, and San Francisco are an unusual and unsettling sight. Film director and cinematographer Jean Counet, who shot “Meanwhile in Amsterdam,” shows the capital city almost entirely deserted. Public transit is empty and a four-minute walk reveals less than a dozen passersby.

Counet tells Colossal that “Meanwhile in Amsterdam” came together like any other film, except that “this time there was no director, and no plan,” he says. “We walked through the old city centre of Amsterdam between 8:30 (and) 13:30 which is normally teemed by walking people and bicycles. What we witnessed felt like a dream. Sometimes beautiful and mesmerizing, sometimes scary and worrying.”

In a similarly bizarre look at San Francisco, stop lights cycle from green to red with no cars passing through and businesses are boarded up. One with a psychedelic facade even has signs that read “We will survive” and “We will get by,” a hopeful gesture derived from the city’s musical legends that directly contrasts the nailed plywood covering the windows.

To see how the global pandemic is affecting public life in New York City and Rotterdam, check out the videos below. (via Kottke)

 

 



Photography

A Collage of Overlapping Videos Creates a Wild Rube Goldberg-esque Motion Sequence

March 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Beginning with a man blowing his lips, an impressive compilation by Donato Sansone merges short clips of car crashes, fiery explosions, and punches thrown during a boxing match into a believable series of consequences. Ranging from nature to sports to destructive events, each seconds-long bit appears to lead right into the next in “Concatenation“—seemingly, a rocket launches straight into a pool ball that then causes a diver to jump into the water. A bullet impales a board, prompting two fiery masses in another section.

Head to Vimeo and Tumblr to check out more of Sansone’s sequence-based projects.

 

 



Animation

A Horse Struggles to Exist in a Ridiculous New Animation by AJ Jeffries

March 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

Norwich-based 3D illustrator and animator AJ Jeffries released a new animation that feels particularly relevant to modern life. Simply described as a story about “a horse, struggling to exist,” the short film chronicles the evolution of a pink animal as it morphs from a blob into a fully realized mare. Its body bends and contorts—at one point, its neck even shoots up to the sky, killing a purple bird—before it gets some encouragement from nearby plants and happily dances away. To check out more of Jeffries’s relatable projects, head to Instagram, Vimeo, or Behance.

 

 



Animation Art

In a New Stop-Motion Film, Swoon Explores Trauma, Memory, and the Body

March 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

Caledonia Curry, aka Swoon, is known for her street art utilizing paper that’s pasted onto building walls, but the Brooklyn-based artist has made a recent pivot that transfers her mythical style to stop-motion animations. Part of her solo exhibition Cicada, Curry’s short film “Sofia and Storm” is centered on a human-arachnid hybrid. After emerging from a dense mass, the gold-faced feminine figure opens up her chest cavity to reveal dark, hanging matter that eventually is absorbed.

Similar to her previous projects, the fantastical animation is linked directly to Curry’s family history and to her parents, who struggled with addiction and substance abuse. “Swoon’s stop-motion films emphasize the body’s ability to serve as a vessel carrying memories and traditions. A house, a ship, and human figures split and open to liberate a cast of imaginative and mythological creatures trapped inside,” a statement said.

So far, Curry has released three other animated projects on YouTube. You can also find her work that explores the relationship between the body and trauma on Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)


 

 



Animation Documentary

Bloomers: An Animated Documentary Recounts the History Behind an Undergarment Business

March 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Consumers are paying closer attention to the ethics and business practices behind the products they buy, and animated documentarian Samantha Moore is shining a light on one company creating everyday essentials. Last year, the Shropshire-based creator released “Bloomers,” a short film that chronicles the history of the Manchester-based lingerie company Ella and Me, which began production in the United Kingdom before moving abroad and back again.

From flowing silk to lace-trimmed underwear strung up only to be snipped apart, the detailed project colors mostly the garments, swaths of fabric, and spindles of string. The workers and machines remain black-and-white line drawings throughout the film as it walks through the manufacturing cycle from design to consumer purchases.

Moore helps illuminate the impacts rising production costs had on Ella and Me since its beginning as a mom-and-pop business. She documents its inception and even the employees’s familial connections to the textile industry. The animation is set to a diverse soundtrack that includes interviews with the company’s team, in addition to noises commonly found on the production room floor, like scissors slicing through soft cotton and the repetitive tick of sewing machines.

Since its release, “Bloomers” was nominated for the Best Short Film at the British Animation Awards 2020, was the winner of the Best British Film at London International Animation Festival 2019, and took home the top prize as the Best Documentary at ReAnima International Film Festival 2019. Keep up with Moore’s animated documentaries on Vimeo and Instagram.