Saturday, 28 June 2008

Nick Uff & Portishead 'The Rip' & "We Carry On"

Bristol based Portishead's appropriately named third album, Third, was released in April and they selected forty something Nick Uff to animate their two official videos. Beth Gibbons's voice and the rather sombre lyrics dictate something of the style, though such is the ambiguity of what is written that a host of different interpretations are capable of being attached. Nick's images seem to me to enhance understanding, though I doubt his imagery and take on things was in the lyricists' minds when the songs were composed. The Rip, my favourite of the two, commences with men labouring away until they saw down the trees leaving a denuded forest of stumps; from thence to a thronged city whose inhabitants leer, scowl or howl into the screen as we move in for close-ups of an infant's tonsils. Cue for sky divers hurtling through the air though one bunch are in a hot air balloon, gentile ladies smoking from cigarette holders and accompanied in their basket by clowns, one of whom possesses a painting of fish which leads us into the oceans. This is free-wheeling subject matter indeed. Nick has described to his local paper, the Bournemouth Echo, how he does do not story-board letting the thing grow in his consciousness, an extended doodle I suppose. This is exactly how the video progresses as the subject matter grows darker with figures falling towards the city where they will join the congested streets of skulls. His work is drawn by hand on 16mm film, frame by frame. He must work quickly indeed because nothing stays the same from one instant to the next and there is a lot of distinctive content in his work. The movement of images is hypnotic and blends with the equally distinctive music. We Carry On is drawn and animated in exactly the same fluid style, its subject matter perhaps darker in tone to suit the song. To a thunderous beat, a woman's theft and sneaky read of her sleeping partner's letter launches a warning of the dangers of depravity, featuring some dark creatures from a modern Hades and just enough licentiousness to keep things interesting. Nice to read that Nick is a professional gardener though I have a suspicion that after this work commissions will flood in and the plants may have to be watered from the heavens. Whatever, another of his movies tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the 'We Carry On' video on Youtube, something that adds even greater urgency and menace to the song. Nick's work is so much more personal and eccentric than the self-conscious, cooler-than-thou animation and graphics coming out of the hip design studios. Hope we see more of his work, he deserves to be a big name in animation.