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The transformations of context and visual/spatial relationships seen in Transfigured (1998) and Vision Point (1999) are characteristic of my work, from my early animated films and experimental live-action films of the 1970s to my digital experimental bitmap animation of the 1990s. For example, the scenes of the half-hour surrealist film, REM (1976), are linked by the kind of scene transitions pioneered by avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren in At Land (1944). The experimental film Splitstream (1978) uses a horizontally split screen to simulate two synchronized views of the same scene: a moving POV camera and a stationary wide shot, both framing the same action simultaneously. Look Twice (1980) repeats a single dramatic event with different visual approaches to convey two very different interpretations of the protagonist's emotions and motivation. Likewise, the computer-animated film The Recess (1995) uses an unexpected shift in visual perception and context to address the issue of personal identity. Even my commercial feature screenplays partake of this transformational perspective, including a serial killer's allergy that becomes synonymous with pollution and nuclear proliferation (Critical Mass, 1983); a cult deprogrammer who gathers followers for a fake cult (Placebo, 1979); and a man who discovers self-loathing when he meets the younger clones of himself (Take Two '82 and The Catalyst '83). (See below for selected animated films)
A related fascination is metamorphosis. As an undergraduate student in biology, my focus was on comparative morphology though time, as revealed in studies of macroevolution and developmental biology. The ultimate realization of this fascination is seen in Earth Moves, developed for the NFBC 1998-2000, where I was finally able to unite science and art.
For a complete list of films seeCurriculum Vitae
An experiential trip never before captured on camera. A cosmic zoom. A geography lesson. A secret ingredient. A celebration and a memorial. Click here for MORE on Tran Scan.
Produced by Stephen Arthur. Copyright © 2003 SXA. All rights reserved. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts which last year invested $12.5 million in media arts throughout Canada.
Vision Point Betacam SP, 1 min 20 sec, 1999
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Transfigured 5 min 30 sec, 35mm, NFB, 1998
"Unique... hallucinatory... an intense reflection on the vision of decay and rebirth that inspires Shadbolt's art." - POV Magazine
"In six minutes flat, the computer-aided animator brings 80 tableaux to wide-screen life, achieving a degree of plastic beauty previously obtained only by NFB superstar Norman McLaren."-- The Georgia Straight
(c) SXA 1995
2-D computer animation (on video, 1 1/2 min.)
The Recess is a visual approach to the idiom of the modern satiric grotesque. It was made by the animated warping of photographed faces to express emotions. It deals with discrimination and the problem of social identity, as seen most strongly among adolescents. Intended to provoke discussion, The Recess uses Down's Syndrome as a symbolic device.
DISTRIBUTOR: Maple Lake Releasing, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 204-474-1896
(c) SXA 1994
2-D computer animation (video, 2 min.)
Hybrid Vigour animates the surreal "biomorphs" created by celebrity zoologist Desmond Morris in his paintings. Morris wrote in The Secret Surrealist: "My greatest desire is to jump through the frame of one of my paintings, like Alice through the looking-glass, and disappear forever into my surreal world." To that end, he wrote a novel Inrock, where a boy enters a bizarre world inside the rocks, inhabited by creatures like his biomorphs. But he felt that ultimately the inclusion of dialogue had forced him to anthropomorphize his biomorphs, just as Disney anthropomorphizes ordinary animals -- they became Disneyfied versions, lacking the serious intentions of his paintings. The inscription on the copy of Inrock that Morris sent in appreciation reads: "To Stephen Arthur, who, for a few brief moments, brought Inrock to life!" A clip from Hybrid Vigour appeared in the BBC2 Personal Passions Series II - Episode One: Desmond Morris - The Surrealist, 1999
.... .... (c) SXA 1975
Loosely based on an Alan Watts Zen-Buddhist parable about the creation of the universe and the nature of God -- a platform for surrealist animation and transformation of abstract, non-representational forms. Live-action, rotoscoped, and cutout characters frame the abstract animation of the main body of the film as a story told to a grandson -- a creation story that eventually gets out of control.
Ink and paint on cels, drawing on paper, rotoscoping, cameraless, drawing under the camera, and cutout animation.
Animartian,1972 (16 mm, 10 min.)
(c) University of British Columbia, 1972
Educational film on animation techniques, as told from a Martian telecast.
Ink and paint on cels, stop motion (model, object, plasticine, pixilation), cutouts.
Absurdo,1971 (16 mm, 4 min.)
------ (c) SXA 1971
Surreal stream-of-conciousness character-animation involving metamorphosis, visual tricks, and symbolic interplay.
Drawing on paper.
[Live action films by SXA] click here
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