Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Theodore Ushev "Tower Bawher"

As part of World Animation Day on October 28th, the National Film Board of Canada screened different movies in their entirety for their Get Animated online festival. Thus we have the chance to enjoy Theodore Ushev's stirring Tower Bawher which at the time of writing is still available. It's a towering achievement (silly pun intended) moving at frenetic speed to the music of Georgy Sviridov. Theodore self-consciously draws it in the style of the early Soviet Constructivist art and architecture movement proclaiming the achievements of the communist era. Here the marching people, newsprint, vehicles hurtling along and, most obviously, the buildings that lurch into the heavens, scream out the supposed success of that ideology. As each burst of music surges so does the pace of the imagery, geometric shapes, abstract, then a little more realistic. It is absolutely no surprise when the whole edifice implodes given the pace, weight and expectation of an empire. Note this image of the Model for the 3rd International Tower, 1919-1920 by the Russian architect, Vladimir Tatlin, who was honoured in 1931 as Honored Art Worker of the Soviet Unions because he was deemed an 'artist of great culture, a true master, who is a devoted worker for the proletarian revolution'. (Source: In an excellent discussion on Cartoon Brew about the merits of what I deem to be a world leading organisation (NFBC) and the cost to the Canadian taxpayer, Theodore explained that the movie was created in his own time: "I did it in my freetime and nights, as I was working on another NFB project + designing several web sites there. Didn’t get paid for it, I gave it to NFB for free, and they did the postproduction+distribution." Apart from the blindlingly obvious quality of his work with Flash and design - the patterns and movement in his movie are astounding in their quality - Theodore is a marvellous illustrator. Judge, for example, his illustration for an article last April, again from Cartoon Brew, about the late Ryan Larkin on whom I have written on the Animation Blog. Theodore has also been in the past charm itself in replying to my schoolteacher's email and I featured two of his movies on the blog in September. For now though, back to Tower Bawher that has a lesson perhaps for us now as, to judge by the changing skylines in the British cities at least, upwards seems to be onwards.

I shall be in London on the Adobe Stand K40 at the BETT 2008 exhibition at Olympia on Thursday afer attending their dinner the evening before. My presentation is "Raising Achievement for Boys Using Flash Animation". So Friday will be my next post. I always enjoy BETT, Adobe are good hosts and I share one thing with Theodore, I work for free.

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