Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Brothers Quay | June 17th, 1947 - Present



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Fig 1 | The Brother Quay

Stephen and Timothy Quay or more commonly known as ‘The Brothers Quay’, whom have become a prolific pioneers of the animation industry. There works being at the fore-front of the 80’s period with the infamous 1986 short ‘Street Of Crocodiles’ which brought them to the attention of fans and critics.   The Brothers Quay are known for weird stop-motion animation which resides in a array of projects for music, film and theatre.  This not doubt down to being disciples of the Czech surrealist animator Jan Švankmajer and other early pioneers in the field.  The Brother Quay have become notorious for their mastery in creating a dreamscape of the unique and abstract style creating phantasmagoric fable. Most of their design having been put together with wire, springs, doll part and other oddities and homemade mechanisms.
There ground breaking works ‘Street of Crocodiles’ was prolific for it creative and uncanny feels with a dark ominous tone. The story follows the protagonist puppet whom (after being released by a man closing the lecture hall) warily explores his surroundings which come alive with screws twist out of objects and move about. A used and damage baby dolls toy with the protagonist and dress him as well as show him weird and wonderful things
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Fig 2 | Street Of Crocodiles screenshot
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Like Švankmajer the feel of the project leaves an uncomfortable feeling which the audience immediately connect with as they are gripped by the degrading look of the dolls and puppet. As a whole the environment feels dark and unnatural with some of the character feeling demonic looking with their eyes removed.  The gripping motion of the creature are uncanny in essence but also set a tone in which they (as Švankmajer did) try to convey a message. However in these term display a story of a young teenage wandering the streets at night and the influence and people he might face obviously pin pointing by the demonic become seen as villains. As Jon S. Kranser states absurd and incomprehensible images...exist in a chaotic, multilayered world where human characters live at the mercy of insidious machines’ (Kranser,2004;31). Moreover both Stephen and Timothy suggest there work to be as that from another universe of something we can’t explain much as an adult tries to understand the life of a teenage and the darkness it has with each passing generation. The go on to say ‘It is not so much a nightmare. We really believe that with animation one can create an alternate universe and what we want to achieve with our films is an ‘objective’ alternate universe, not a dream or a nightmare but an autonomous and self sufficient world, with it particular laws and lucidity; a little like when we observe the world of insects’ (Stephen and Timothy Quay, 2004, 31).  


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Fig 3 | Street Of Crocodiles - Re-dressing Puppet Screenshot

In conclusion there isn’t a complete alteration from what there predecessor have done to what they create as the where influence by East Europe surrealism. This is arguable however as there technique of using degraded objects gives a darker tone and really pushes their idea of a new world and isolation.  In term of ‘Street of Crocodiles’ the brothers suggest the protagonist as a teenager or any whom wander the streets at night and try to depict the unique world of the teenage-hood. In a sum up ‘The Brothers Quay’s contribution to the animation industry work ‘in the waking nightmares, symbolist art and literature of the fantastic’ (Rosenbaum, 2009;208) . No more than suggesting that they use the horror of real life to create nightmarish world in which they create an isolate universe to point out these issue in society. 

(26/03/2011)

Fig 2 Quay, The Brothers (1986) ‘Street Of Crocodiles’ Screenshot
[Film Still] Street Of Crocodiles

Fig 3  Quay, The Brothers(1986) ‘Street Of Crocodiles - Re-dressing puppet’ Screenshot
[Film Still] Street Of Crocodiles
 
Bibliography 
Faber, Liz (2004) Animation Unlimited: Innovation Short Films Since 1940, 71 Great Russell Street, London WC1B  3BP, United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing 
Kranser, Jon S. (2004) Motion Graphic Design & Fine Art Animation, Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK: Gulf Professional Publishing 
Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2009) Action!: Interviews with Directors from Classical Hollywood To Contemporary Iran, 75-76 Blackfriars Road, London SE 1 8HA , UK : Anthem Press



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