Animate! projects with the Wellcome Trust has commissioned six artist/scientist teams to put forward ideas for possible animated works under a project called Silent Signal.
“Silent Signal explores how research into genetics, cell biology, immunology and epidemiology is advancing our understanding of how the human body communicates with itself, how it adapts to fight disease and how environment affects the chain reaction. Six biomedical scientists who are furthering these fields with cutting-edge research are collaborating with six artists who use a variety of animation techniques and new digital technologies in their artistic practice. Through these collaborations audiences will be engaged with the biological processes that their bodies perform with an artistic approach to communicating the science.”
They have published the process on their blog http://www.silentsignal.org/, which is a fascinating insight into the collaborative relationship between the scientists and artists. The site also shows work in progress of various applications of animation from animated documentary, participatory animated documentary, game art through to interactive experiences using animation.
Animated public information film ‘The Story of Cholera’ explicitly depicts methods of transmission, prevention and treatment of the bacterial disease in a simple and informative manner. The commissioning body, Global Health Media, explains the film ‘follows evidence-based guidelines, has been field-tested, and reviewed for accuracy and content’.
The entire sequence is strikingly utilitarian, breaking the conventional codes of pace found in mainstream film and television in order to emphasise the crucial learning points; for instance twice the viewer is left lingering on an image of a someone washing their hands properly. This film does not pull any punches; diarrhoea and vomiting is frequently depicted and explained in plain descriptive language.
Largely in black and white, colour is used to illustrate the presence of the invisible bacteria. As Western viewers we might take for granted how public health campaigns and detergent advertisements have helped us visualise how disease is spread. At the film’s resolution colour seeps into the black and white palette. This visual metaphor, despite it’s incredibly simplistic symbolism, is suitably optimistic.
The absence of lip-sync indicates one of the crucial functions of this film. Already it has been dubbed into nine languages and there are more in the pipeline. Global Health Media claim the film has been screened in 175 countries around the world. Animated Documentary wishes the campaign further success.