Translate

Monday, 14 September 2009

Robert Breer "Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons" (1981)













































Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons is presented as an introduction to the work of Robert Breer whose pioneering approach to animation has been illuminating the genre for over fifty years. (A most helpful on-line article in this respect, albeit from far back in 1996, is by Jackie Leger for AWN - Robert Breer: Animator.) Now the advantage of choosing a red Swiss army knife as the subject for an animation is that it can be anything one wants it to be. Using a rapid-fire fusillade of sketches, line drawings, photographic images and rotoscoping, Breer commences with a photograph of the red knife before launching himself into an exploration of how, through art, the knife can cut objects into whatever shape it sees fit. Using the occasionally incongruous and usually humorous figures of a pigeon and rat, the solid knife is transformed into free form drawings of a wind operated propeller, stars and stripes, a mouse trap. In effect, Robert has created a metaphor for his role as artist, shaping the world in a myriad of different forms. The images link together: knife becomes stapler becomes mouse trap; the angular sharpness of the knife is linked to the rodent's form, for instance, looking down at it from above, its head and nose sharply pointed. One can simply revel in the sharpness and pace of the editing, the use of colour, shape, the twists, turns and, crucially, the unpredictability of it all. The son of an inventor and engineer, Robert Breer was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1926 and has been a major figure in world animation for well over fifty years. He was overlooked for the list of the 100 important animators of animated short films covered last week. (Much to the very understandable chagrin of Lizzie Hobbs.)

4 comments:

Elizabeth Hobbs said...

Thanks Ian, it's very good to read about Robert Breer on your blog. I hope he'll make it onto the next list. One of the really important things about Breer to me is that he's still active and it's still possible to hear him talk about making his films. When I heard him at Aurora in 2007, it was especially interesting to hear him say that he said that he didn't plan the work in advance, the only thing that he knew was that he would avoid suggestions of narrative and continuity, not only to emphasise the 'plastic' nature of the work but also to imitate the fragmented way that we experience seeing things in daily life. I hope he gets back this way before too long so that more people can appreciate his work.

Ian Lumsden said...

Norwich's Aurora is a great event, Festival Weekend (13 - 15 November). If Breer returns to the UK I will definitely attend. Opportunities like that are rare in life and I'm sorry I missed him. Sorry also to report that this year's Aurora is to be the last! Lack of funding I understand.

Adam Pugh said...

Hi Ian - yes, it's true, unfortunately. We'll finish soon after the festival this year - not a happy situation, and the way it's been done even less so. But glad to hear you liked it, and interesting to read your thoughts on Robert B. It would be a pleasure to see him again. I hope someone else might have him over at some point. all the best, Adam (aurora)

swiss army knife said...

When I have watch this images I feel strange about this post but after read this post I think that it is very good and also likable to read this post.