Thursday, 21 February 2008

Brent Green "Susa's Red Ears"

Brent Green is a Chicago based animator whose work is distinctive to say the least. If I attempt to explain Susa's Red Ears I'll get it wrong so here goes anyway. Susa sticks a fire truck in her ear on the day the sun explodes and she doesn't. That much comes via the commentary so I'm on firm ground. She's playing with the truck on the carpet upstairs but nevertheless manages to stick the vehicle inside her head. Susa makes inventions, like the robot made out of bits and pieces and dressed in an army coat and, lying on her dresser, she thinks up other inventions - how to engineer a taller child. Fast forward to the day the sun explodes and whilst skin is melting, Susa's watching everything. That's it for meaning. Once upon a long time ago I used to haunt poetry reading evenings where performance poets gave recitals and the "in" crowd seemed to understand them and I was decidely "out" until I threw in the towel, learnt terms like cryptic, allusive, stream of consciousness, and prospered. Well Brent's work is a bit like that with the addition of holding one's attention visually - much better than a held up notebook or sheet of A4. And the animation is always watchable. He breaks the rules. His materials appears to be what he has to hand. If you look at the first screenshot you may see what appears to be sellotape (Scotchtape, maybe). At first I was working out how he'd created the shimmering effect. I'm still not sure but it just might be tape securing his cut-out figures or the characters could be holding sheets of plate glass. Whatever, his work has texture and style. Transitions in the tale might be a chalked blackboard with a phrase about the advantages of eating ice cream, or he simply dispenses with all that and has a blank screen; his narration has the quality of an artist explaining his work over dinner; the music is a hand straying over a keyboard or some cheery guitar riff. This lack of artifice is deliberate, endearing and clever. The second screenshot is a couple dancing on the dashboard; we get to enjoy it for quite a time. At the foot of the article is his sunset, a colourful scene that serves to show the richness of his work. Brent's website, Nervous Films, has several films on it, all posted by him on YouTube, as well as news about his talks, screenings and exhibitions - a busy man! It also has his gallery from which the two images are taken almost at random - I'm trying to learn from the allusive nature of Brent's work.

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