synaesthesia in the experimental animated film

Curated by Suzie Hanna to mark the FAN International Animation Festival

Before digital technology made the interaction of sound and animation so accessible, some animators were already making ‘visual music’, seeking to correlate detailed audio and visual elements in their films in order to create an overlapping of the senses. All the animation in this exhibition, contemporary and archival, were made with this potential experience as part of the artist’s intention.

Kayla Parker is an artist film-maker whose work is exhibited worldwide in art galleries, including the Tate and the Whitechapel, at festivals, and in Arts Council and British Council touring programmes. Her award-winning short films have received numerous network screenings on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and have been broadcast in Australia, Canada, France, Austria and Germany.
Jeff Keen has been described as the last true maverick of British Cinema (A L Rees), and has referred to himself as a ‘motion picture poet’. He has been making films since 1960, many of which are rapid anarchic montages of mass culture detritus. His frantic use of sound reflects the physical nature of his imagery, and his predilection for onomatopoeic titles may serve as a warning to those with sensitive ears.

Clive Walley has won numerous awards for both his independent and commercial animated films. He refers to his art as ‘process animation’ or ‘moving painting’ deriving his original methods of production from his experience as a painter and as an engineer.

Oskar Fischinger was one of the most influential of the pioneer experimental animators, working without the benefits of modern technology. He saw animation as an art form with the power to express abstract thoughts and feelings, and his detailed synchronisation of sound and image is still as impressive as it was sixty years ago.

Len Lye is credited with the invention of what has become known as ‘direct animation’ that is working directly onto the surface of the film. “He used batik methods directly onto film, believing that the forms of aesthetic expression exemplified in the art of primitive cultures were more directly in touch with the actual neurological and physiological experiences of humankind.”(Paul Wells)

Norman McLaren had a similarly expressive approach to animating to music, formulating general relationships between colour and sound, and between music and animated movement. He attempted to correlate the stimulation of the eardrum with the stimulation of the retina.