Final Posting on the Final Project


For my final critique I showed three playful animated clips that were “études”, studies, that allowed me to explore the possibilities of After Effects. Through out the term I had been developing abstract “fields” to use as backgrounds and an inventory of images that were rendered in ink.  The images came in various categories:

1) Venus – drawings based on Paleolithic goddesses, they were rendered in a very sculptural manner, heavy on the cross-hatching.

2) Hermes- based on the roadside shrines to Hermes throughout the Greek empire.

3) Hermaphrodite, based on the intersexed child of Hermes and Aphrodite (Venus).

4) Filagree – with its association with historical modes of decoration and decadence of luxury.

5) Eyes and orbs – with their accompanying reference to Georges Bataille and the violence of representation (i.e. L’histoire d’oeil, The Pineal Eye) .

I moved all of these various components over colour fields and also tried to move the fields though various maneuvers (changing scale, creating lateral and vertical movements) and bleeding them into each other through layering and transparency changes. As I become more adept with AE program, all of this will be more visually complex, subtler and more layered. These clips are my very first projects using AE and I learned a great deal about which images work the best and the various ways to make the most of scale, rate of motion, the properties of the various rotational modes and the properties of transparency.

The meaning, the content, the subject matter:

I feel I should address the content of this work since the question took up much of my critique.  Obviously this work has something to do with sex, sexuality and gender.  I have  worked with such issues since the beginning of my practice.  I have friends who were born intersexed and I have other friends who have recently transitioned from one gender to another- mostly female to male – of late.

“Intersex” has replaced the old Greek-derived word, hermaphrodite, that is used to describe any individual who defies our expectation of the biological gender binary,the phenomenon is more common than we think. One of the leading researchers in the field, Anne Fausto-Sterling, has asserted that it occurs with 1.7% of the population and we should actually be talking about five sexes rather than two. There has been considerable controversy of late about the practice of surgically and /or socially forcing gender one way or another at birth rather than letting the individual decide as she/he matures.

All of this speaks directly to the deconstructive thinking of Derrida who sought to call binary thinking into question, and who is the lynchpin to my thesis questions.  Few other binaries as male-female dualism loom as large in our lives, and the fact that it is fictive gives credence to Derrida’s views. 

So questions around the dichotomies of gender and the reductive mechanics of binaries fueled my visual play, but forensic gravity seems counter to the whimsical spirit that I intended for these untitled clips.  Quite coincidentally, I recently reread Susan Sontag’s provocative 1964 essay, Against Interpretation, in which she ends with this dramatic statement: “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.”

As a professional critic, Sontag certainly wasn’t asserting that creative work should not be discussed and analyzed but she was saying that exegesis is not always a useful or productive methodology.  Paradoxically, I am an artist who has often been criticized for being too content oriented – making work about desire, identity, human vulnerability, mortality and loss.  This may be why I find it liberating to occasionally put meaning on the backburner and may well be why I have a greater appreciation of  art that is predominantly formal these days.


At the start of the term there was a bit of confusion between the trajectories of the projects for my two different studio courses, and I had trouble keeping them separate in my own mind.  However, as the term went on,  the difference between the two became quite defined in my mind. The project that I did for my other studio class was more like a prototype for my thesis project, The Philia Files, and it featured a friend reminiscing, while layers of images floated over her. It was much more clear in it’s meaning and intention than the studies for this class, because I have been thinking about that work for so long.  The final work, germinal as it was, confirmed to me that my intuitions about the video essay were on the right track.

On the other hand, as I previously stated, the three clips that I showed for this class were about playing, exploring, testing possibilities  in a phantasmagorical world. Diana’s referencing of Yellow Submarine was not off-base – that was the spirit that I wanted to capture and I had always imagined these figures submerged in a watery netherworld.  Because of my technical limitations (as a beginner who was just acquiring the skills with a far more complicated program than I had previously experienced), the constructing of images and their movement was laborious and frustratingly slow, but I believe I was still able to have fun and retain the intrinsically playful qualities that are inherent in animation.  After three clips, I felt like I had gained a momentum with the software and that I can work independently now without the big help from my friends.  By the end of the third clip, the dam had broken and creative ideas were flooding my mind with untried possibilities.

 Postscript: Here;s the link to view two of the three clips on Vimeo:

There wasn’t enough room on my site for all three clips. The two images included in this posting are a couple of photoshopped images that I made independently of the animations and they are reflective of the clips I made but not actually in any of the three.

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