Ann CourseStill from The Collaborators, 2009



In this international group exhibition drawing, by nature in flux and mobile, is combined with animation techniques to create disjointed, deeply affecting narratives.

The exhibition includes three new co-commissions, by London-based artists Edwina Ashton and Ann Course and Canadian artist Barry Doupé, supported by Arts Council England. The works will premiere online on animateprojects.org in January 2010, to coincide with their presentation as part of Shudder.

Esther Leslie has said that for Adorno “the shudder represents the very principle of life itself, barely findable today but sometimes emergent in the experience of art”.  In their attempt to imitate life, artists have the potential to trigger in the viewer genuine experience which is denied by modern rational society.  Since its first use over 100 years ago animation has been seen as a means to bring the subject to life.  In the earliest known example of drawn animation, ‘Fantasmagorie’ (1908) cartoonist Emile Cohl drew and filmed 700 drawings, double exposing each drawing and creating a two- minute film. The title is a reference to the “fantasmograph”, a mid-Nineteenth Century variant of the magic lantern that projected ghostly images that floated across the walls. The drawings are simple, a mere stick man, but in the two minutes the world is turned upside down, objects morph into animals and flowers, heads roll and the fractured narrative shifts constantly – 'Fantasmagorie is a stream of consciousness' which simulates lived experience.

The works in the exhibition tap into the cartoon tradition of anthropomorphism, shocking violence and deep psychological impulses but resist its narrative impulse.  These artists are interested in using animation to develop characters and to investigate personal states of mind or interpersonal relationships. The medium provides the necessary capacity for metamorphosis and startling juxtapositions.

The selected artists employ a diverse range of approach and a broad range of techniques. Their often painstakingly slow procedures dislocate perceived reality in order to reveal what lies underneath.  The process of the making is laid bare, leading to the de-animation of real time and the animation of rumination. Sound is often an important component, adding a sense of foreboding or absurdity at odds with the image.

As Barry Doupe points out, “Commercial computer animation has been on an unsuccessful quest for humanistic realism, in that it often tries to reproduce the human form precisely”. This exhibition exploits the capacity of drawing to bring characters to life, however basic they might be, a tradition much exploited through cartoons and caricature, and through simple animation techniques.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Drawing Room and Animate Projects, who develop projects that explore ideas around, respectively, drawing and animation in contemporary visual arts.


Edwina Ashton

makes drawings and videos, often creating room installations that combine the two.  Her drawings of anthropomorphized creatures are made directly onto scraps of paper, wall coverings or soap, with throw-away lines of text adding to the disjointed sense of chance encounters and rambling thoughts.  This sensibility is carried through into her videos of humans dressed in home-made insect costumes that render them unable to succeed in the physical task they struggle to perform. The absurdity and pathos of these scenarios speak of the human condition.

In the new commission, the artist’s first using drawn animation, Ashton creates a “bad tempered, removed and extremely precise elephant living in a crumbling hotel on the shores of a Swiss lake”.


Ann Course

“The first thing that hits the eye is the pure or downright brutal honesty that emanates from these simple, but very strong configurations. Superficially, the powerful, bold contours she uses to put her figures down on paper resemble the doodles of a bored schoolboy, who vents his boredom and frustrations in an exercise book or on a school desk. Explicit sexual fantasies, mutilation scenes, grotesque faces, ridiculous transformations and the occasional line or two of cryptic text. …And yet something doesn't quite add up. The drawings transcend their explicit brutality. They express compassion just as much as they conjure up violence.”

(Edwin Carels, luxonline)

In the new commission Course manipulates a restricted palette of language and imagery to suggest the instability of personal awareness, interpersonal relations, shifting roles and identities.


Barry Doupé

“The unnervingly seductive videos of Vancouver-based artist and animator Barry Doupé blend painterly skill with the look of early 3D video games in gothic dreamscapes, at once familiar and forever out of reach.”

(programme note, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago)

In his new animation Doupé is investigating formal aspects of image making and how hand drawn images translate into computer graphics through a series of video portraits. “I'm interested in the reproduction of personality and countenance, and in the artifice of facial expression through animation.  I'm also interested in how a characters' personality alone can carry a film, how their perception and reactions of the world provide a particular spectacle.'


Avish Khebrehzadeh

Avish Khebrehzadeh, who will be presenting a brand new work in this exhibition, creates animations that incorporate projections onto layered drawn or painted supports.  This technique creates a layering affect and together with her sparse, enigmatic imagery evokes veiled and remote worlds. Her work, in her words, “revolves around three main themes: time, identity and the man/animal duality”.  “I like to be frugal in giving the visual information to viewers. I want each viewer to participate and finish the story with his or her own imagination”.


Matt Mullican

For the past three decades Matt Mullican has used a range of media, much of it drawing based, to examine how we perceive the world around us and to demonstrate that ‘reality’ is a construct of our imagination. He has created his own cosmology of signs and symbols to convey his intuitive, subjective interpretation of the world.  His countless drawings of stick figures engaged in all manner of activities, a description of which is captioned beneath, form part of this investigation. As a series, usually displayed on a pin-board alongside alternative representations of the human figure (for example a photograph of a corpse or of a doll), these drawings animate the life of an imagined individual.

In ‘Dying Stick Figure’ (2001) we watch as the standing figure before us first falters, then falls to the ground and lies there motionless, dead.  The animation of the figure replaces the need for words.  It is alarming that so simple a form of representation can convey so powerfully the brevity of life and the fundamental fact of our impending death.


Raymond Pettibon

is best known for his ink drawings on paper which subvert the comic book form to create aggressive and sinister commentaries on contemporary issues. Pettibon combines imagery culled from popular American culture, including comics, cartoons, films and film noir in particular.   Symbols and characters of this culture constitute repeated and therefore emphatic quotations throughout his drawings. Personal commentaries and clichéd phrases, at odds with the images, are scrawled alongside,  producing hard-hitting works that belie the modesty of their production.  Rendered in ink on paper, and often in a loose, expressive style, Pettibon’s very personal style represents a non-ironic quest to explore the human need for truth or belief.

‘Sunday Night Saturday Morning’ (2005) is one of only two animations made by Pettibon. Like the drawings, these animations deny the viewer the comfort of narrative continuity and instead assault them with a barrage of pulsating, disjointed and repetitive sequences of images.

SHUDDER will include a brand new work, ‘Zephyr’ (2009), in which, in the words of the artist “a baby plays with the wind and travels in the sky”. ‘Zephyr’ continues the themes explored in ‘The Place, Where We Were’ (2008)


Markus Vater

Drawing is at the foundation of Markus Vater’s practice but he also makes paintings, photographs and animations.   Vater studied philosophy as well as art which has had a profound affect on his approach to art-making and in particular influences works that combine drawing and text.   Many of these take the form of short animations which are drawn on the computer.  ‘The Cave has been moved’ is an animation that marks a new development in the artist’s practice. Conceived to be projected outdoors, it uses Vater’s favourite imagery of animals, humans and vegetation morphing into each other.  The artists sets a grotesque and fairytale like scene in which trees undergo anthropomorphic metamorphoses in an endless chain of events – some positive or good, others negative or evil. This forms a backdrop to the humdrum comings and goings of everyday life – represented by cyclists passing by, a plane flying overhead and car head lights panning the scene.   The combination conjures perfectly the endless cycle of life and death.


About Animate Projects:

Animate Projects commissions artists to make work that explores the relationship between contemporary art and animation, for broadcast, gallery, cinema and digital exhibition. Over 100 groundbreaking films can be viewed on animateprojects.org, alongside interviews with artists, essays and other background material. Our recent projects include Primitive, a multi-platform project by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Jane and Louise Wilson’s Unfolding the Aryan Papers, where the artists were invited to make a work in response to the holdings of The Stanley Kubrick Archives. In September 2009, we will be launching Engine, a new online space for critical debate and discussion across the broad range of moving image and digital creativity, supported by UK Film Council.  Animate Projects is funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by Channel 4.

Visit www.animateprojects.org