VIS340: artists + articles

William Kentridge

His "work combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism, his work is often imbued with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation that render his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent." (MoMa, n.d.)

History of the Main Complaint
William Kentridge, 1996

"Kentridge’s method of making films is highly labour-intensive. He films a carefully sequenced process of drawing, filming, erasing and refilming so that images seem to grow, disappear and move around the page of their own accord... Drawing is at the heart of Kentridge’s artistic practice. His drawings stand alone as powerful works of art, and they also form the basis for works in other media, especially film." (National Gallery of Australia, n.d.)

Felix in Exile
William Kentridge, 1994

Remnants of successive stages remain on the paper, and provide a metaphor for the layering of memory which is one of Kentridge's principal themes (Tate, n.d.).
Ali works with drawings, woodcuts, etching, paper sculpture and puppetry to layer emotion and story in stop motion animation. I love the stark darkness in the black and white and how she combines poetry, prose and music in her animations.

Elsewhere, the Survivors
Ali Aschman, 2014
"Two connected figures wander endlessly through a desolate landscape, haunted by anxiety and doubt." (source)

"Aschman's work is emotionally raw. "I create handmade worlds exploring emotional states and moral grey areas," she says. "Hybridity, transformation, alienation and guilt are recurring themes. I’m interested in the brutality we inflict on one another, physically and emotionally, and the impulses we suppress.... If my work can affect someone the way certain artworks, films or pieces of music affect me, then I’m doing something right,” she says." (Design Indaba, 2014).

Unnatural Growth 
Ali Aschman, 2017

"Unnatural Growth is a poetic expression of being a woman objectified, and the constant awareness of the proximity of violence and death. A vulnerable body makes its way through topographies of uncertainty, exploring feelings of discomfort, desire and defiance." (source)

Mark Jones

Mark Jones is an art teacher. He teaches animation in classes from kindergarten to sixth grade and makes YouTube videos from of his student's projects (often created from the work of hundreds of his kids). Usually made with coloured paper, paintings and drawings using static backgrounds, the brightness, simplicity and clear emotion of these animations appeal to me. I really enjoyed this clip of the process of how he works with the kids.


1. Basic Animation Aesthetics
"we can often explain why a story works or doesn't work, but the way pixels mix on the screen is just beyond our verbal grasp. Despite this we know that some things can just feel wrong in an image, even if we canʼt explain why. An animation can seem simultaneously real and unreal. Bad aesthetics can make a film say things itʼs not supposed to, look unprofessional and disengaging. Attention to aesthetics gains an audiences trust, makes them forget they are watching a film and by extension feel any emotion you can think of."

Although aimed at 3D animation, it's just as relevant to non-computer generated animation. One of the central ideas that intrigue me is how animation can be used to create emotional response despite it being blatantly artificial and instead of attempting to become more real, using the obviousness of the technology itself to enhance the message of the animation. Coherence and consistency are the chief aids to aethetics in animation and simplicty of the rules created to achieve coherency. The author also makes note of stylistic influences such as a surface style which aims to create that which sticks out and impresses and is mostly concerned with identity and the deeper approach to style that pursues a broader vision that contributes creatively rather than pursues short-term fame and commercial return.'

2. Drawn to Sound : Animation Film Music and Sonicity
"Animation films are produced around the world and attract sizeable audiences and much critical acclaim. No longer marginalized in genres such as children's or propaganda films, they are increasingly the subject of academic study. At the same time attention has turned to the music and sound, which contribute to both the emotional impact and the narrative drive, as well as the marketing appeal, of such films." This book is an anthology of studies that bring together the worlds of animation, music and film. On a brief read through, one thing that popped out was a parallel drawn between how sound (music) exploits time and space and the potentially abstract and malleable nature of animation does the same thing. I also appreciate the newness of animation being taken seriously in film scholarship - it's something that's worked hard to be taken seriously as an art form.

3. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin (1935)
4. On Photography by Charles Baudelaire (1859)
I've been pondering a lot lately the irony of studying visual art online. Of giving my full attention to something so heavily mediated in which the very medium it's being communicated via changes the impact of the artwork entirely, taking it out of context, adding an agenda that does not exist when viewing a work of art in three dimensions. The readings above ponder the influence of photography and reproducibility on art and are as relevant to this project as to the VIS220 project.



Baudelaire, C. (1859). On Photography, from The Salon of 1859. [Webpage]. Retrieved from

Coyle, R. (2010). Drawn to Sound : Animation Film Music and Sonicity. London: Equinox Publishing Ltd. Retrieved from,uid&db=nlebk&AN=547819&site=ehost-live

Design Indaba. (2014, October 10). A haunted, handmade world. [Webpage].
Retrieved from

MoMa. (n.d). William Kentridge: Five Themes. Retrieved from

National Gallery of Australia. (n.d.). William Kentridge: Drawn from Africa. [PDF File]. Retrieved from

O'Neill. (2011, October 11). So you want to make stop motion: Tips from a stop motion extraordinaire. [Webpage]. Retrieved from

OReilly, D. Basic animation aesthetics. [PDF File]. Retrieved from

Tate. (n.d.). William Kentridge: History of the main complaint, 1996. Retrieved from

Walter, B. (1935). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. [PDF File]. Retrieved from