‘Silent Signal’ by Animate Projects

“Silent Signal is an ambitious project that brings together six artists working with animation together with six leading biomedical scientists to create experimental animated artworks exploring new ways of thinking about the human body”

Image copyright Samantha Moore ‘Loop’ 2015

Image copyright Ellie Land ‘Sleepless’ 2015

The six animations are currently on a year long tour, with the latest exhibition at Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge until September 2016.

You can watch all of the films online on the silent signal website, alongside artist interviews and a useful science guide. Check out the every expanding events section to find out about screenings, public talks and workshops that support the tour.

http://www.silentsignal.org/

‘A is for Atom’ by John Sutherland

Well, what you might expect from a US 1953 public information film about nuclear power and weaponry: simplified science and a rather narrow political view!

This came from Public Domain Motion Pictures on Youtube, a ‘free channel devoted to Public Domain, Open Source and Copyleft movies, TV shows and serials’.

‘Health Issues and Animation’ blog posts by Animationstudies 2.0

Over on the Society for Animation studies blog, ‘Animationstudies 2.0’, there are a number of articles written on the theme of animation and health, two of which feature writing about animated documentary.

Samantha Moore’s piece called “Secret Architecture – the construction of  Loop” is about her recent work on the Silent Signal project with Animate! and Wellcome Trust, for which she paired up with scientist Dr Serge Mostowy. The r&d work they produced explored Mostowy’s work with zebrafish models in microbiology. In this article Moore discusses her exploration of the gap between theory and methods in the scientific process and her response to this through animated documentary. We featured the Silent Signal project here on the blog a few months back.

Dr Nichola Dobson in her article ‘From one extreme to another’ writes about two animations which explore genital cutting in women and questions the practice of female genital mutilation. Both of these animations have featured on this blog, ‘Everything was Life’ and ‘Centrefold’ and were directed by me –  Ellie Land.

A quick search for animated documentary on the animatiomnstudies blog, brings up many relevant posts about the topic and the blog covers many more areas of animation. Well worth exploring:

http://blog.animationstudies.org/?p=716

‘What is a Flame?’ by Benjamin Ames

The enthusiasm, charm and simplicity of Benjamin Ames’ approach to explaining combustion to school kids is thoroughly enjoyable.

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Ames, a physics doctorial candidate at the University of Innsbruck, created this cartoon for the 2012 Flame Challenge, a competition set up by the Centre for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Alan Alda, Hollywood actor turned visiting professor, helped set up the competition based on recollections of an unsatisfying answer a teacher gave to his schoolboy question ‘what is a flame?’  Ames’ film won first prize after being judged by thousands of 11-years-olds in schools around the world.

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An aspect of Benjamin’s ability to make learning enjoyable is his humour. For instance the film’s premise gently mocks the protagonist’s plight; a disembodied chipper scientist insists on explaining how flames work to a dead man chained up in the fiery pits of hell, whilst failing to acknowledge the characters suffering.

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Ames’ talents are diverse. Remarkably he managed to write a catchy song for the finale, that summarised all the key points and included an effective chorus that goes: ‘Pyrolysis, Chemiluminesence, Oxidation, Incandescence’.

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It must be mentioned that the standard of animation on this project doesn’t compare with most of the films featured on this blog. Despite the obvious limitations, the ‘my-first-Flash-animation’ feel to the project doesn’t put me off.  The film manages to achieve greatness in spite of the aesthetic flaws.

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It is impressive how many of the Vimeo comments demand that Benjamin quits his day job to make more educational films. According to the Flame Challenge website Benjamin seems to have got the hint and is finishing up his PhD this summer and is busy working on producing a kids’ science show.

Navigations with Alec Finlay and Iain Gardner – an Animate projects event

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‘On Tuesday 4 February, Alec Finlay and Iain Gardner will premiere two new animated works that have been developed over the last year in a special, free event for World Cancer Day at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre, London.

Navigations is a project about the brain, cancer, and the respective approaches of medical science and art to how we understand the impact of terminal illness.

On the night, Alec and Iain will join a panel of speakers to talk about their experiences of the project and engaging in a dialogue with the medical team and researchers about their respective disciplines. Facilitated by the writer, broadcaster and blogger, Dr Kat Arney, the panel also includes Professor Anthony Chalmers (Chair of Clinical Oncology, Beatson Institute for Cancer Research & Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, University of Glasgow) and Mairi Mackinnon (Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre).

The evening will begin with a screening of Down with the Dawn by Run Wrake featuring music by Howie B, made in response to being diagnosed with terminal cancer and also include a reading of poetry written by Alec over the year. Copies of Today Today Today, a booklet of recently published poems will be given away on on the night.

From Thursday 6 February the works will be viewable on animateprojects.org.

The event is free, but booking essential
Call 020 7942 4040 or e-mail tickets@danacentre.org.uk
#WorldCancerDay

Navigations is supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award and is a collaboration between Animate Projects, Paintings in Hospitals, and Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and Beatson Institute for Cancer Research.’

There’s also an interview with Iain Gardner here:
http://www.animateprojects.org/interviews/iain_gardner
and with Alec Finlay here:
http://www.animateprojects.org/interviews/alec_finlay

‘Silent Signal’ work in progress website by Animate! Projects

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Image by Samantha Moore for Silent Signal.

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.

http://www.silentsignal.org/

http://www.animateprojects.org/

 

‘Green Porno’ by Isabella Rossellini & Jody Shapiro

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No animation here, but a new way with documentary story-telling which we feel sure you’ll want to see!

Five years ago, the most iconic of David Lynch’s heroines, Isabella Rossellini, went from ‘Blue Velvet’ to ‘Green Porno.’ The actress and student of biology took on the characters of a mantis, a dolphin, a bedbug, a snail and many more, all for the purpose of enhancing our knowledge on the sex lives of animals.

These educational, experimental videos see Rossellini in full species costume, puppeteering her cardboard mates, whilst providing thoroughly researched narrative in her sultry accent.

Rossellini recently gave an interview for the Independent to discuss a new series for 2013, ‘Mamas’. This time she’s exploring maternal instincts in the animal kingdom.
For those who missed the online series (if you’re past the PG age) I’d recommend watching all of the ‘Green Porno’ videos.

In North America you can view them and lots more info on the Sundance Channel website http://www.sundancechannel.com/series/greenporno/

Elsewhere you’ll need to watch on Youtube:

Also available on iTunes for $9.99.

You’ll never look at an earthworm in the same way again.