Move Mountain is the latest stop-motion animation by Kirsten Lepore, a Los Angeles based director and animator. We’ve featured films by her before, and Lepore’s newest work does not disappoint. She describes the short film as “A girl journeys through a vibrant, pulsing, macrocosmic landscape, but a precipitous incident compels her to venture up a mountain in an attempt to save herself.” The story itself is a surreal tale, and at one point oscillates between dreams and reality. It also shows us that at any given time, we are at the mercy of our environment.
The film is Lepore’s Master’s thesis from California Institute of the Arts and took her two and half years to produce. The use of handcrafted characters and fully modeled sets is really impressive. With the current trend being slick-looking techniques, it’s nice to see evidence of the hand in this film. (Watch the behind the scenes video after the jump.)
In addition to Lepore’s own character designs, she’s enlisted the help of animator friends, including the likes of Julia Pott, Lizzy Klein, Ethan Clarke, and more. They make one of my favorite scenes in the film, which is an unexpected but welcome surprise.
The work of Dillon Boy (né James Dillon Wright) emerged from a street art and graffiti background, combining pop culture, branding, advertising, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to take these sources further than they were intended. This evolution (or devolution) is evident in his series DIRTYLAND, where the artist takes the ever-popular childhood icons of Disney’s princesses and removes their context, and clothes.
In works which collage smut magazine backgrounds with spraypaint stencils, drips and graffiti scrawls, these princesses become transformed representations of our combined high and lowbrow society, and take aim at the falsely marketed ideas of perfection and innocence. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Dillon talks about the series. “Most of my audience were kids when these princesses ruled their world, so now that they are all adults (and sexually active) they are all ready to hang paintings of naked Disney chicks all over the house. [laughs]. No for real though, I believe it’s my job as an artist to question the very things around me and to continuously break down the traditional and more conventional ways of making art. It is my intention to raise or lower your eyebrows in one way or another.”
This reappropriation of pop culture icons is nothing new, but seems to be happening at a rapidly increasing pace (Beautiful/Decay has recently featured several such reimaginings of pop culture symbols), indicating that artists are remaining relevant to many audiences by constantly questioning what we collectively see daily. Dillon Boy (surprisingly?) notes that he has not seen much in the way of criticism of his DIRTYLAND series, and that is his job as an artist to take things one step further. “Well, one thing is for sure, we live in a sexually charged culture. Walk outside and you will quickly find a billboard or an ad in a publication showcasing a woman as a sex object. Sex sells remember. I simply used the pure, untainted characters of Walt Disney to convey that message. But that’s obvious, I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before… but I’m ready to do it again!”
Yule Log 2.0 is a series of short films by illustrators, animators, directors, and creative coders, all revolving around the holiday Yule Log. Traditionally, the Yule Log is a hard, giant log that burns in a fireplace of traditional Christmas celebrations. In 1966, video of a burning log was televised by WPIX-TV as a gift to viewers, starting a phenomena that has yet to die. Urban Outfitters has even packaged and sold it at the appropriate time of the year, and you can view it on Netflix. Yule Log 2.0 takes on the log in a number of ways. Some are abstract representations, some are stories, and others rethink the log using different materials (including painted hands). Vignettes last from 10 seconds to a minute and half.
Yule Log 2.0 is a project curated by animator and illustrator Daniel Savage. He told Cool Hunting that he had the idea when looking for the original on Youtube, but was dismayed by all of the low quality videos. He explains, “So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to get a bunch of people to redo this?” Savage enlisted the help of 65 creatives and created 53 films, which all employ the quintessential wood burning noise. He was delighted by the quality of films, stating, “I didn’t really know what to expect from everyone; I know it’s a busy time of the year so I assumed they would be simple, but then some people blew my mind—like the marshmallow one [created by Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva, Bianca Meier]. Getting three people to work on one was amazing.”
Oscillate is the MFA thesis project of digital artist Daniel Sierra. The animation begins with a simple rolling sine wave. However, things quickly get complex. The waves fling dust, begin to smoke, and seem to catch fire. The waves multiply and mutate. Oscillate is an impressive animation by any standard, especially considering it is a school project (albeit an MFA thesis project). Also, you’ll notice the credits are especially short. While such animations typically have a staff of several, Sierra animated and composed the music entirely on his own. [via]
It’s problematic calling the work of Jake Fried either animation or painting – it is a bit more than both. Fried uses exceptionally simple materials: White-Out, coffee, ink, gouche, and paper. He creates and image, and adds countless layers. The result is an evolving and unfolding psychedelic image. Fried appropriately calls this type of experimental animation “moving paintings”. Using the image of a face as its foundation, Fried quickly elaborates on the painting barely allowing the viewer’s brain to keep pace. You can see more of Fried’s work previously featured here. [via]
Jason Mitcham paints scenes from everyday America, and for The Avett Brothers’ new music video, he was commissioned to use his paintings to tell the story of an American city. For the video, Jason made an animation by painting each “frame” over one another on the same canvas thousands of times over. I love it because you get to see the painting process in a really unique way–normally we only get a finished product, but in the video we get to see strokes that make something and are then covered, erased, and made into another image ad infinitum. Half of the pleasure of this video is watching the ghosted images from previous frames. It works in a more figurative way too, in that the trace images represent the lingering of history in the present. Check out the video after the jump!
Due to the horrifying amount of time it takes, stop motion animation is something of a dying art these days. Luckily, though, Kirsten Lepore is out there keeping it alive and keeping it real. I’ve been a huge fan of her work for a while now. If you enjoy animation, colors, laughter, or can at least appreciate someone spending thousands and thousands of sweat and tear filled hours to make something five to ten minutes long for an uncertain audience, then you might just be a fan too. Watch some of Kirsten’s greatest hits after the jump!
Take a quick break from work and watch this claymation piece from Australian animator Dave Carter. Entitled “How to Lose Weight in 60 Seconds”, the short vid is packed with quality animation full of gnarly expressions and even gnarlier action as a body-conscious protagonist makes his way through drastic weight loss measures. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m talking about VERY drastic measures, all depicted hilariously while Carter demonstrates the full breadth of his extensive talents. Watch the 60 second piece after the jump.